11.588.To See the Future–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 588
“To See the Future–Part 3”

“Hey sis, is something wrong?”
“What’s up, sis? Why do you look so sad?”
“Hey sis, are you in heat?”
Lirako’s face clenched and she smacked Aeisho’s ear with her tail. “Ow! You didn’t need to hit me!”
“Lirako, don’t hit your brothers. But boys, maybe I should talk to Lirako instead. You can go and play with your toys, okay?”
“We’re just worried about big sis,” Haekshi said.
“I know you are, but I don’t think you’re helping.”
“Aw, mom,” Jiushi whined. Their mother flashed them a sympathetic look, and the boys left the room, most looking dejected–though Lirako noticed that Baekihg seemed ready to play and skipped alongside his brothers.
“What’s wrong, Lirako?”
“…I don’t know if I wanna tell you.”
“Come on, Lirako. Would you rather talk to Aekvi about it?”
“I feel the same way about telling Dad that I do about telling you.”
Her mother sighed. “What’s wrong?”
Lirako lowered her head. ‘She isn’t gonna stop badgering me, is she? Might as well humor her.’ “Well…I was thinking, I’m gonna graduate next year. And I really don’t have any plans for what I’m gonna do when I graduate. I don’t have a job, I have no idea what my goal is, and I just…I don’t know. I keep worrying about the fact that I haven’t kept in touch with some of my friends from school who graduated this year and last year. And I don’t think that would happen with Deki-Tyunri, but what about everyone else? Will I just lose touch with them?”
“Graduation can be a confusing time, Lirako. It’s one of the big changes in your life and pretty much the last one before you become an adult. It’s not something you should feel like you should keep a secret. I’m sure most of the other students who are close to graduating don’t have much of a plan either.”
“I know.” She flattened her ears. “I don’t think I’d be so upset if it wasn’t for the fact that I really like my life the way it is right now. I can’t imagine some major change happening.”
“Well, I’m not going to tell you that you have to have a whole bunch of ideas right away. But you should at least start to plan for things a little. Why don’t you focus on what you think you should do first? You have to get ready to live on your own and start your adult life. Do you want a family? Is there some sort of career you want to pursue? How much time are you going to devote to the things you want to do?”
Lirako held her head. “I don’t know, Mom…”
Her mother sighed. “You don’t need to have all the ideas for your future right away. But don’t just run into it without a single one. I’m afraid that’s all the advice I can give you, though.”
“Thanks, Mom. I guess it’s at least something.”
Lirako sat there for a moment longer, her ears still flattened to her head, when they suddenly shot right up and a look of surprise crossed her face. “Hey Mom, do you mind if I go somewhere for a little bit? I just got an idea.”
“Sure, where are you going?”
“I’m gonna stop by school. I think our teachers have a little bit of work to do over the Summer. Maybe I’ll be lucky and one of them will be there!”
“You can go to school, sure, but why do you–”
Before she could finish asking the question, Lirako dashed out the room. “Lirako sure is a girl who runs on the spur of the moment…”

Lirako dashed to Malicerie, hoping she was right–that and that the school’s doors weren’t locked. Luckily enough, the second one was at least right, and so Lirako opened them and wandered inside and began to take a look around.
Malicerie seemed empty at first glance, but up ahead she could hear the sound of voices. Cautiously, she slunk ahead and listened in to hear the conversation.
“You do realize the Malicerie budget would be shot if we did such a thing, Mr. Sharai?”
“I know it would be. That’s why we need to do a fundraiser! C’mon, other schools do it, don’t they!?”
“Your ideas are impossible, Mr. Sharai.”
“Says you! You’ve thought some of them were pretty good in the past!”
“That doesn’t change the majority of them being duds.”
“While you two discuss that, I’ll go get us something to eat.”
Just as she was beginning to get comfortable, the door opened and sent her reeling backwards. She met the eyes of Theasis, whose eyes widened in turn when she saw her.
“Miss Sanyaow?”
“Shh,” Lirako folded her ears back, hoping it would help garner her sympathy. Theasis closed the door behind her. “What are you doing at Malicerie? You know as well as most of the other students that Summer is school break.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Are you here for a Weekend class? You do realize it’s Tuesday, right?”
“No, I don’t go to the Weekend classes.” She lowered her head. “I wanted someone to talk to. And since you’re here, I think you’d be perfect…but if you can’t, can you please promise me you won’t tell the rest of the faculty I was here? I don’t want to get in trouble because of something like this.”
Theasis sighed. “Come with me, Miss Sanyaow.” She took her paw and led her to one of the empty Weekend classrooms. Lirako took a seat and Theasis took her seat nearby her.
“What is it you wanted to talk about? By the way you worded what you wanted to say, I’m assuming that means anyone would go, so that must mean it isn’t about math.”
“No, it’s not. Y’see, I’m just having a bit of trouble deciding what to do after school. I wanted some advice, and maybe a little bit of perspective.”
Theasis gave another sigh. “There are plenty of things you’ll have to focus on first before you get down to what you want to do. Like where will you go for college? Most Vaelis people go to college, so there are plenty of options. What are you going to do to sustain yourself? Those sorts of things. Sometimes you can incorporate your goals too. I went to college to study mathematics and also took on a part-time job that dealt with math. I was trying to become a mathematics professor, but where I ended up isn’t too bad, I guess.”
Lirako’s eyes widened. “Miss Sanyaow? What is it?”
“What I want, huh…”

***

“Principal Sharai, I’ve got the greatest idea ever! You know how the students have seemed pretty lazy nowadays? Well I thought, remember back when we did the 28th Running Event?”
“Oh yeah, we haven’t done that in five years!”
“I was thinking, why don’t we make it a monthly thing!? No, maybe even biweekly! Although we’d have to change its name…oh! And it can count for extra credit! The students will get more exercise and they’ll have more fun doing it, especially if we offer prizes!”
Sharai slammed his hands down on the table. “You’re a genius, Sanyaow! Ah, it’s so nice to have someone working under me who understands my ideas. Your old Principal, bless her soul, just didn’t get it.”
“Well, I’m sure she’s somewhere watching us and silently disapproving. But hey, Malicerie’s never been better, if you ask me! Class A’s even become slightly less radical, though I still question what some of the teachers are teaching them.”
Sharai sighed. “Yeah, I should probably fire Neowang. Her name’s just so funny though!”
A bang sounded against the door. “Hey, careful, Deks. Don’t just slam your head against the door like that.”
“Come in!”
The door opened, and Deki-Tyunri peeked his head in. “Am I intruding?”
“Nope, Mr. Elyshen, you’re fine! But what are you here for? Weren’t you sent home for the day?”
“I was, but I wanted to see Lirako–er, Miss Sanyaow.”
“Hopefully someday Mrs.,” Lirako said with an empty laugh. “It’s beyond me how you ended up married before me, Deki-Tyunri.”
“Loopholes,” he said cheerfully. “I really am sorry to intrude, I just wanted to see you. We don’t see each other as often as we used to.”
“Are you kidding me? You’re Malicerie’s flight instructor and I’m its vice principal! You call that not seeing each other often?”
“Sanyaow has a point, you do see each other a lot,” Sharai said.
“I guess so. But usually only during work, when we can’t really talk…Shu-Taka is taking up a lot of my home time.”
“He’s a baby, what’d you expect?” Lirako’s face became blank. “I’ll never forget the day my little brothers were born. The days they were babies…I don’t think my parents have gotten over that trauma even years later.”
“How are they now, by the way?”
“They plan on buying a multi-family house so they and their girlfriends can all live in the same place! Most of their girlfriends are Pureblood Catori, so I’m kind of scared to see how many grandchildren our Mom and Dad end up with…” Lirako shook her head. “Ooh, that’s not the point here! It’s nice to see you, Deki-Tyunri. We should meet up more outside of school. But I have a little bit of work to do right now.”
“I understand. Maybe we’ll meet up this Saturday?”
“Sounds like a plan!”
“I’ll discuss it with Cea-Va, then.” He smiled. “I’ll see you soon, Lirako.”
“Me too! See ya soon!”
Lirako turned back to Sharai.
“A lot of your old friends came back to work at Malicerie, huh? Or were they all your old friends?”
“You’re right, most of the people who used to come here are my old friends. Though Miss Murana was Deki-Tyunri’s–I mean, Mr. Elyshen’s.”
Sharai giggled. “It’s okay. Back when I was the vice principal, it took my all not to call your old Principal Miss Priya or Miss Maa-Gu. I even sometimes just wanted to call her Maa-Gu without the miss…anyway, I don’t mind so long as you do it around me and not around the students.”
“I try not to.”
“Still, it’s been nice to have you around again. You’ve definitely mellowed out over the years.”
“That’s because I have a purpose now. I realized something while I was in school, Mr. Sharai. I really like going to school. And maybe I’m not here for the same reason I used to be, but I just…I like things staying the same as much as possible.” The insides of her ears turned bright red. “Of course I still wanted to grow up, of course I did! But I mean, um…you know what I mean?”
“I think I do! And I’m glad to have you here. Most of the students like you too.”
“Yeah, except for Dslellular’s little brat. He always tells me his dad says I harassed him so he doesn’t like me either. But that’s not the point here.”
“I wonder if you’d like it so much if your old friends didn’t work here, though?”
“I think I would have. You wanna know why? Because I’ve gotten to make new friends here too. I don’t mind making new friends at all. You used to be more of a weirdo who I sort of had to respect, but now you’re like my boss, so…” She chuckled.
“Yeah. Well, anyway, we should get back to ideas.”
“Yeah, we should. Hey, have you ever considered a multi-class competition of some sort?”
Sharai’s eyes widened. “Ooh, elaborate!”

—–
“Miss Sanyaow!”
Lirako flinched.
“Miss Sanyaow, please, don’t space out on me like that.”
“Sorry, Miss Theasis. But thank you, Miss Theasis!”
“Huh?”
“I think I have a little bit of an idea of what I want to do now. I know I need to think about college, but you can’t really go to college unless you know what you want to study, can you?”
“Um…I suppose not.”
“Well, now I think I have a bit of an idea. And you know what? I think talking to you helped me a lot.” She hugged her. “Thank you, Miss Theasis!”
“Er, you’re welcome!”
Lirako dashed out the Weekend classroom. When she stopped by the faculty room, she spotted Sharai talking with the Principal.
“I look forward to maybe working with you in the future, Mr. Sharai!”
“Huh?” Lirako dashed off. “Was that Miss Sanyaow? What’s she doing here, and what was she talking about?”
The Principal sighed. Theasis returned to the room. “What took you so long?”
“Didn’t you say you were bringing snacks?” Yukhoe said, sounding dejected.
“I was going to, but I guess I forgot. Sorry.”
“Did you see Miss Sanyaow just now?” Sharai asked.
“I did, actually.”
“What was she doing here?”
Theasis smiled. “Oh, just trying to figure some things out. There are a lot of things to contemplate when you’re a teenager, after all…”

30.576.Harem Master San-Kyung

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

26.572.Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 8

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 572
“Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 8”

“San-Kyung, is something the matter? You look a little down right now.”
“It’s nothing you’d care about.”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus glanced at each other. “If our son’s upset of course it’s something we’d care about.”
“…”
“Come on, San-Kyung, please tell us what’s wrong.”
San-Kyung glared at them. “I don’t think you two would understand how hard it is when you’re evil and your parents are not.”
“Oh, is that all?” Salsh-Era asked.
“See, you don’t care.”
“We do care, San-Kyung. And we do understand. After all, we’re good and you’re evil. But this isn’t something we can change about ourselves. Isn’t it good enough that we let you be evil?”
“Yeah, that’s fine, but…” San-Kyung pressed his lips together. “I don’t get it. If I’m being raised by good parents, then according to school I should’ve ended up at least neutral. But I understand why I’m evil. And knowing that, I don’t understand why you two aren’t.”
“Well, all three of us are different people. And no matter what you learn at school, remember this: there are lots of families with good parents and evil children, and evil parents with good children!”
“It does depend, yes,” Salsh-Era said. “But maybe you shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, we are the Molsheis, and aside from that, your mother and I aren’t any strangers to evil…”
“What does that mean?”
“Salsh-Era, I don’t think that’s necessary to tell him,” Del-Kyuus said.
“Nah, I think he should hear it. But for your sake, Kyuusie, I’ll leave your story out of it. When I was a kid I actually had some trouble with my morality. Mostly because of circumstances at school.”
“How come I’ve never heard about this?”
“I didn’t think it was necessary to bring up.” He gave a nervous chuckle. “But now seems like the right time. Also, you didn’t seem interested in hearing about our past after you heard a few stories.”
“I would be interested in hearing something that has to do with you two being evil.”
“My story isn’t exactly about that,” Salsh-Era sighed. “But I think you might find it interesting anyway. But it was a long time ago. Back when this happened, I was younger than you are now. I think I was about nine years old…”

***

“Isn’t Molshei Dasdorian for evil?”
Salsh-Era had been worried he would hear that question. His parents had warned him before he started school about the possibility of the meaning of his name coming up. He had hoped against it, but now a young Catori boy approached him with the question.
“Um…yes,” he said. “Why?”
“Does that mean you’re evil?”
“No. The Molsheis are a good family, promise.”
“Are you sure?” Asked a Skeletaltype with hair in messy ponytails. “You’re Dasdorian, right?”
“I’m descended from Dasdorians.”
“My mom told me that Dasdoria is where evil comes from!” She said. “So are you really really sure?”
“Yeah! I’m good, not evil. Evil people are just horrible.”
His classmates glanced among each other. “Okay, Molshei, we believe you. Well, see you tomorrow!”
“See you!” Salsh-Era gave a content sigh. ‘That wasn’t too bad!’ Happy, he head home with a skip in his gait.

That calm would not last forever.
“I didn’t take your stupid dolly! Why are you even bringing dollies to school anyway!? You’re nine! And besides, when you’re nine, you barely even call them dollies anymore. You call them dolls.
“Why did I see my dolly’s dress in your book, then?”
“Ugh! It’s a bookmark, stupid! Just because it looks like your dolly’s dress doesn’t mean it is your dolly’s dress!”
Watching the two girls fight, Salsh-Era couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. ‘I don’t think Jiheni took Ygori’s doll, but how could I show that without them getting the wrong idea’
He watched their fight closely, thinking up something he could do to help them, when he spotted Ygori reaching up a hand. Panicked, he ran for her and reached for her hands. His hand scraped against one of her claws and he recoiled.
“Molshei, don’t butt in!” Moments after she said that, Jiheni screamed. From Salsh-Era’s injured hand, flames were spurting forth. Jiheni and Ygori, along with their classmates nearby them, recoiled. They began to yell and shriek and cry while Salsh-Era set to work putting his hand-fire out.
“What’s going on in here!?” A teacher yelled, then gasped. “Molshei! What did I tell you all about using powers in school?”
“I hurt myself!” He said.
“That’s not true! I saw him! He struck his hand when he was tryin’ to stop Ygori from hitting me!”
The teacher narrowed her eyes. “Molshei, you don’t stop violence with more violence. That’s ridiculous.”
“But I wasn’t–”
Under her breath, Salsh-Era caught the teacher mumble, “What was I expecting from a Dasdorian, though…”
Salsh-Era put his hand flame out and head back to his seat with his head lowered. The gazes of his classmates meant nothing to him–they couldn’t send his mood lower than it already was.

The whole incident gave Salsh-Era a new reputation at school.
“Molshei really means something!” One student said. “Did you know it’s Dasdorian for evil? And that’s just what Molshei is!”
“I heard he tried to set Ygori on fire!”
“What!? I heard he was trying to set the desk on fire!”
“I heard he was trying to set them both on fire!”
“Those are the kinds of things they keep saying!” Salsh-Era complained. “And…and I don’t know how to prove it otherwise. I just don’t know…I don’t want them to think I’m evil.”
“You might be able to get away with them thinking you’re evil.”
“What!?”
“Er, what Nienie Kigyuk is trying to say is, sometimes they won’t care if you’re evil or not.”
“Not at this school! And I’m not evil!”
“You know, that gives me an idea, now that you’ve said it,” Kigyuk said. “Salsh-Era, if you really want to be seen as good, why don’t you show that you can embrace the evil?”
“How’s that going to help!?”
“I think Nienie Kigyuk means by showing that you love even evil people.”
“People will only think I’m even more evil if I do that. You have bad ideas.”
“Salsh-Era, I don’t know if you realized, but a lot of evil people don’t actually like each other.”
“How would you know?”
“I grew up in the evil part of town,” his mother said with a grin. “Well, anyway, you’re not going to prove that you’re not evil by getting hot-headed about it. Give those kids some proof otherwise. But really, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do this.”
“I wouldn’t if they would believe me,” he sighed. “I told them I was good. I told them…they’re just two-faced and stupid. I bet they’re the actually evil ones.”
“People can be two-faced sometimes, Salsh-Era, but you need to give them a chance. Don’t let this incident make you think everyone is like this.”
“Even the teachers don’t believe me, though. So what am I supposed to think? Nobody gives me a chance, so why should I give them a chance?”
“Do you want us to pull you out of that school?” His mother asked. Salsh-Era deliberated the idea. He could imagine starting anew in a different school where the students didn’t care about his last name–but at the same time, he could imagine the situation being worse, in which they cared about his last name so much it wouldn’t matter what he did, they would never believe that he was not evil.
“No. You know what? I am going to prove to them that I’m good. If I transfer, they’ll just think that I’m evil and that’s why I left. But I’m going to show them. And maybe I’ll use a bit of Nienie Kigyuk’s idea.”
Kigyuk smiled.
‘But what should I do? What could I do that would make them believe I’m good without a doubt?’

School was abuzz with noise when Salsh-Era arrived, and before entering the classroom he listened out to hear if any of it was about him. He was unsure of whether to be relieved or worried when he discovered that with so many voices contributing to the noise he could barely understand what they were talking about.
The teacher was nowhere to be seen in the hallway, so when Salsh-Era entered the classroom he took his place behind the teacher’s desk and cleared his throat.
“Molshei’s tryin’ to be our teacher!” One student yelled.
“No, I’m not. I wanted to tell everyone here something.”
The students watched him with mostly blank expressions, though Salsh-Era spotted a few who looked uneasy.
“Everyone at this school seems to think I’m evil, at least in this class. And I can tell you, just ’cause my name’s Molshei it doesn’t make me evil, and I just hurt my hand that time when the flames came out. But I realized there’s no way you can believe me. After all, people do things for their own reasons, and you never do actually know if an evil person would do something good for their own gains, or if someone good would do something evil when they’re desperate.”
“So you are evil?” A student asked.
“I’m not. I’m good. But I understand there’s no way you can believe me. So believe what you want, just don’t hurt me, okay?”
“Molshei?” The teacher asked. “What are you doing behind my desk?”
“Um, nothing!” Salsh-Era head back to his seat. The teacher gave him a curious look.
“Sorry I was mean to you before, Molshei,” Jiheni said. “I understand now. You’re neutral and that’s okay.”
“But I’m not…” Salsh-Era sighed. “Oh, well, whatever you think.”

***

“…”
“Er, why are you looking at me like that?”
“So…you thought people were two-faced too…”
“For a time, yes. But not everyone’s that way.”
San-Kyung huffed. “That Nienie-Kigyuk sounds like an idiot.”
“Hey, don’t insult my Nienie! And it doesn’t have a hyphen.”
“Maybe I should tell you my story,” Del-Kyuus said. “I think you’ll find that one interesting.”
“What, mine wasn’t?”
“It was disappointing. And I find it hard to believe that Mom would have any evil in her. You didn’t really.”
“Actually, mine is a lot different than Salsh-Era’s. When mine happened I was a bit closer to your age, but I wasn’t a teenager just yet. Almost, but not yet. And twelve-year-old me, she would have loved to have been a Molshei back then, trust me!”

***

“Zahelahe sure is demure, isn’t she?”
Del-Kyuus overheard the comment while preparing treats in Home EC. She smiled to herself and continued to work.
“Yeah, sure is. It’s kinda weird. I never really expected an Animated Pumpkin to be like that. What with their faces and all…”
‘I wonder why they’re talking about me?’ Del-Kyuus didn’t mind the attention, but the conversation piqued her interest. She couldn’t remember having done something to garner attention.
It didn’t matter moments later: her treat was finished and the conversation had changed. The teacher took a bite of her cookies.
“Hm, those are pretty good. I’m surprised. Did you taste these?”
“I always taste them!”
He smiled. “Zahelahe, you’re one of the most talented Home EC students. It’s weird, because, ah…excuse my indelicacy, but Animated Pumpkins don’t eat, do they?”
“That’s not indelicate! We don’t have to eat, but we always can!” She said cheerfully. “And you never know when you’re going to marry that special someone and they’re a different species than you!”
The teacher chuckled. “I suppose you have a point there. Though that isn’t all that common.”
“Well, it’s a possibility, isn’t it?”
He nodded, then went to check on the other students. Del-Kyuus was beaming. ‘Maybe I don’t need to eat, but if I did marry someone who does, that would be so nice. I love cooking so much, it’d be so fun!’
She could almost imagine herself serving a Werewolf man a large meal. ‘Of course, I wouldn’t want to gorge him…’

That day, when Del-Kyuus was heading home from school, her friend Bigyore accompanied her. Del-Kyuus wondered if she was concerned about something–the look on her face seemed to imply as much.
“How do you put up with all this demure stuff, Zahelahe?”
“What are you talking about, demure stuff?”
“You’re the epitome of demure when you don’t need to be! You cook, you clean, you talk about marriage, you’re super-demure, everyone’s noticed! Haven’t you realized that the time Huufa asked you to help with his homework he was taking advantage of you?”
“He was just asking for help.”
“No, I saw him cheating on the answers. Look, I’m worried about you! Sure, I guess it’s okay to like dresses and all that stuff, but you’re gonna get taken advantage of! And you don’t need to eat in the first place, so why do you cook so damn much!?”
“You really shouldn’t say damn, Bigyore.” Del-Kyuus covered her mouth. “Oops!”
“Girly and demure is a stupid thing to be. All it is is a detriment. Be yourself, Zahelahe, but I’m tellin’ you, sooner or later someone’s gonna use your behavior as a loophole in order to take advantage of you. Maybe even your future husband!”
“I’m smart enough to notice when someone’s taking advantage of me, Bigyore!”
“Yeah, you say,” she sighed. “Just take my word. Demure is a detriment. So try and toughen up a little, alright?”
“I think I’m fine the way I am.”
“If you say so…”

Ultimately, Del-Kyuus was unswayed by Bigyore’s concerns. ‘I’m smart enough to know if someone’s taking advantage of me. i’m not stupid! She just thinks that demure equals stupid, I bet! Just because she’s a tomboy…’
“Hey, Zahelahe!”
“Mm? What is it, Huufa?”
“Home EC is soon, an’ I need your help,” he said. “Could you show me how to make those cookies you’re always making? I’d like to make some cookies and put my own spin on them, but I don’t even know where to start! I thought you’d be a big help.”
“Sure, I’d love to help you!”
Huufa smiled. “Thanks, Zahelahe!”

“So, I like to use chocolate in my cookies, but you might also like to use vanilla. Ooh, vanilla cookies are so good!”
“I see,” he said. “Can I watch you make them? I learn a little better watching than doing, eheh.”
“Okay!”
Del-Kyuus set to work on making the cookies. “Remember to taste them. Otherwise they sometimes end up tasting a little strange!”
“You taste them while they’re still uncooked like that?”
“Yes.”
“Isn’t it bad for Animated Pumpkins to eat?”
“No, it’s just unnecessary.”
Del-Kyuus began to cook the cookies. “Even if you set a timer, you should always watch them, even when you get really good at making cookies. You never know when you’ll need to adjust the timing!”
“I see!”
When the cookies were finished, Huufa took one and bit out of it.
“Wow, that’s good! Thanks, Zahelahe! Hey, um…can I use these?”
Del-Kyuus blinked. “Why?”
“I’m kinda out of supplies…”
“It’s cheating to use someone else’s cookies, you know,” she scolded. “You won’t win any points for that!”
“Is everyone done with their Home EC projects?”
“I am!” Huufa said. He took the vanilla cookies from Del-Kyuus. Del-Kyuus watched as the teacher bit into them and smiled.
“He just took them….”
“Haven’t you realized that the time Huufa asked you to help with his homework he was taking advantage of you?”
“Demure is a detriment.”

Del-Kyuus lowered her head. ‘Maybe Bigyore had a point. Maybe I really am easy to take advantage of…maybe, I need to change that.’
As she watched the teacher compliment Huufa on her cookies, a dull rage began to stir in her.

“Who is that!? Is that Zahelahe?”
Del-Kyuus had come to school the next day wearing torn-up black clothes. She had decorated her face with paint. The students around her were confused by her new look, but they were even more confused by her new behavior.
“Zahelahe, you shouldn’t wear torn-up clothes to school!”
“Suck on yourself!”
“Wh-what!?”
“Um, Zahelahe–” Bigyore whispered. “This is not what I meant by toughening up!”
“Shut up, Bigyore. I didn’t do this for you.”
While thinking on what she could do to keep herself from being taken advantage of, she thought of giving herself a tough look and acting tough. She had figured it would be enough initially, but just before she went to school she had decided to add in a new, evil behavior.
‘Evil people are the people who take advantage, not those who get taken advantage of,’ she thought. ‘It’s perfect.’
She knew her classmates wouldn’t believe her without actions, however. That was something she quickly set to work with. She created grass knots using her vines, picked fights with other students, destroyed parts of the school and nearly set Home EC on fire with the power of her flames.
At the end of the day Del-Kyuus felt satisfied. She could see that her classmates were terrified of her.
‘Bigyore was right, but she had the wrong idea. This power over the other students is pretty amazing.’
She chuckled to herself. ‘I bet I could even control them. No wonder people go evil sometimes! It’s such a rush.’

Del-Kyuus wouldn’t feel so positively about her new behavior forever.
Ever since becoming evil, she felt as though she had a new power over her classmates–the look she saw on Huufa’s face each time she entered the classroom excited her. Her parents would kowtow to her and she could get what she wanted. Even her teachers, who were more stern with her, were starting to let up, and she felt she could get away with nearly anything.
Yet despite the rush of power, there was another feeling that had come along with the transition. She felt as though she were behaving artificially. Occasionally she would find herself daydreaming back on the days she was baking cookies in Home EC and creating small trinkets for her family. She always tried to push the thoughts away, but they were somewhat pervasive.
‘What’s the point in going back to that way of acting? I can have anything I want now! …I guess that’s not exactly true if I can’t do what I used to anymore…’
Del-Kyuus tried to translate the feeling into something else. It gave her a taste for something sweet, and she prepared to cut in line for a stand that advertised ‘hotteok-like waffles’.
“You know, it’s so weird. I know this neutral girl who got married recently. She’s all untrusting of her husband and stuff. And I’m thinkin’, why marry him if yer not gonna trust him?”
“Yeah.”
“I seen it a bit with those types,” the man sighed. “Weird. You’d think two evil people would be the first not to trust each other.”
“We’re different from goody-goodies and neutrals. We’re careful about who we put our trust in. You should know that.”
“I would, if I put my trust in more people than just you.”
When Del-Kyuus overheard the last part of the conversation, she stopped herself from cutting in line and felt as though something had clicked.
‘Those men over there are evil, aren’t they? Yet they’re conversing like friends and…oh my gosh, they actually paid for the waffle!’
It seemed to be a revelation. ‘Just because they’re evil they don’t give up on friendship. They’re just careful about who they put their trust in. Evil didn’t make them all different. They’re still normal. I bet even they get taken advantage of sometimes…’
Del-Kyuus smiled to herself. ‘Boy, I’ve been acting pretty silly, huh?’

“Huh? Zahelahe’s not wearing torn up clothes?”
“Hi,” Del-Kyuus said shyly. “S-sorry about recently. I was kind of going through a phase…”
The students gave her an uncertain glance.
“Attention-grabbing phase?”
“Y-yeah, you could say it’s like that.”
Near the edge of the crowd Del-Kyuus noticed Huufa staring at her with wide eyes. He bolted off towards the school. “I would’ve kept going like that, but I realized I need to be my authentic self. Evil people are. Not all of them put on acts just because they’re evil. And I realize my authentic self is pretty goody-goody, but it’s who I like to be!”
Bigyore sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t have given you so much trouble, either. You acting like that made me think…being demure’s definitely a lot better than being evil. I’ll take demure Zahelahe over evil Zahelahe any day.”
“So will I!”

—–
“…”
“And that’s my story. So maybe now you understand. Even though I do wish sometimes you were born good, I’m okay with you being evil so long as you’re being your authentic self. …and not murdering anybody. I draw the line there.”
“I can’t believe it…”
“Well, I guess we are the Molsheis,” Salsh-Era sighed. “Kid me would have killed me for saying this, but it’s not too surprising we’ve had brushes with evil.”
“I was still Zahelahe Del-Kyuus when that happened!”
“Geez…”
“What is it, San-Kyung?”
“Nothing. Just…”
“Are you smiling?” Del-Kyuus said.
San-Kyung looked away from them. “Just…it made me a bit happy to hear that story, that’s all. I wish you had stayed evil, Mom.”
“Well, I’m more me this way,” she said. “And you know what? That’s fine. Like I said, I wish sometimes you had been born good. But we can’t change who we are!”
“Yeah, I guess not.”
“Although you can try, you two,” he said. “I’m not trying to say anything bad. Just saying, you should be who you want to be, but if you aren’t already, there’s always room to try and become that person!”
“Yeah…I guess it can go both ways, huh?” San-Kyung cracked a smile. To him, their advice almost sounded as if it were directed at his primary problem. He kept this thought silent, however.

1.547.Plan Dosa-Mina

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 547
“Plan Dosa-Mina”

“As you all know by now, today is a half day. We’ll only be doing the classes that all of our students must attend. While because of higher grade numbers this year this means that biology will be one of the classes this year, otherwise it is exactly the same as last year. We of the faculty are very grateful that Miss Cahongyun and Miss Sanhuun are here today for this half-day…”
“I’m not,” La-Iin whispered to Fer-Shi. “I hate Hyungdarou. She’s so stupid.”
“That’s pretty mean, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi whispered back.
“Miss Cahongyun? Look, I know you just had an incident, but can you please shut up? Now, anyway…”

***

“Those girls took away precious time with my Dad yesterday. I had to be home alone for a while thanks to them. It’s already hard enough t’get any time with him with how much work he’s had to do lately, so I don’t appreciate it, like, one bit.” Airy-Aekok blinked. “Hey, Sanyaow, am I bothering you with my rambles?”
“Huh? No, you aren’t. Sorry your Dad’s been busy.”
“Nah, no reason to say sorry. I’m mad at the criminals who’re makin’ his life harder. Still, uh, sorry if it sounds pryin’, but if it isn’t my ramblin’, what’s makin’ you upset?”
Lirako sighed. “I figure you’re just going to keep asking until I tell you, aren’t you…”
“Yeah, that was kinda the intention.”
Lirako beckoned her close. Airy-Aekok leaned in. “It’s the last day of school for a while. I really thought we’d have a better idea of Dosa-Mina’s species by this time. I know we have an idea, it’s just, we don’t have any concrete proof, which is kinda what I wanted…”
“Well, the fact that he doesn’t wanna sing to prove otherwise is pretty damning if ya ask me,” Airy-Aekok said sympathetically. “Maybe we can just pretend that’s the case and leave it at that.”
“No. I don’t want to. Llanni, police work as hard as they can to find concrete evidence, don’t they? That’s what I want to do. I want concrete proof that he’s a Siren or something else.”
“I want that too, Sanyaow, but I’m really not sure anymore how we could find what we’re lookin’ for. Like, we’ve got his suspicious behavior, but what’re we s’pposed to do next? Follow him home? Look for a birth certificate or somethin’?”
“I don’t know. I just want it figured out. It’s the perfect revenge for how he treated me. Besides, I…I don’t really have all that much time left here at Malicerie. It’s still a pretty long ways away, but come March 2016 I’ll be graduating. It’s not as if I can really do anything about it then. I don’t even know where he lives, and I bet if we tried to follow him he’d notice.”
Lirako sighed. ‘Geez, never thought I’d see the day where someone’s getting depressed over something like this…’
“Class’ll probably start again like, soon, but I’ll try and figure somethin’ out, alright? After all, I’m the daughter of a cop!”
Lirako smiled. “Well, I look forward to seeing what you come up with, then.”

‘How could I get her concrete proof that he’s a Siren or whatever? Geez, I’m good at tying up teenage boys but apparently figuring out the truth behind these kinds of things is a talent I didn’t get from my Dad…so what could I do…well, he talks pretty quietly to Molshei, so maybe his species comes up in their conversations sometimes!’
Airy-Aekok strained to hear their voices over the din of other students.
“You know what I think you need, San-Kyung? A good old-fashioned day off for the both of us!”
“What are you talking about? After today pretty much every day is going to be a day off.”
“I know! That’s why we should take advantage of the opportunity at hand! I think it would be great for you!”
“That’s what you say, but your intentions mostly have to do with visiting my house, making me visit yours, go out a few places close by and shower me in affection. Is that it?”
Dosa-Mina looked away. “I never said that, so stop kidding yourself.”
‘Dangit, they aren’t talking about anything damning, that’s for sure. Unless it’s a sign of their sordid relationship…but even so, it’s barely even that.’ Airy-Aekok sighed. ‘Sanyaow would’ve been better off asking someone else to help her with this. I’m going to be completely useless obviously…’

When the last class ended for the day, the students were invited to a small event in the reception room. The students seemed fairly high-energy, and most of their teachers watched them with smiles.
“Sanyaow?”
“Yeah, Llanni? What’s up?”
“Hey, uh…I’m sorry about this whole situation. I literally have no idea how to handle this. I thought I picked up a lotta skills from my Dad, but I guess this isn’t one of them.”
“Don’t worry about it. I guess there is still plenty of time before March to figure it out. And I’m not completely sure how we’d get the right evidence anyway. We can’t exactly follow him home.”
“Yeah…if we were cops, we could. ‘nfortunately this isn’t a piece of fiction where we could dress up as cops.”
“Well, instead of stressing over it, why don’t we just kick back and enjoy the free time that’s coming up? I’m gonna have plenty of time to spend with my brothers. They always dogpile me in the Summer. It’s so sweaty under all that fur. Or should I say Catoripile?”
“I’m not all that looking forward to it. Like, my Dad, he’s probably still gonna be busy, especially if the school-aged active evils decide to participate in this sudden crime surge. I always look forward to any time I can spend with him, but he’s so busy nowadays…”
“Well, I certainly don’t mind spending time with you over the Summer. Though my first priority is to get in a good visit with Deki-Tyunri. You and I have been talking so much I think he’s kinda jealous!”
Airy-Aekok smiled. “Yeah, I could see how that could, like, happen. You two were close before me, after all.”
The two girls officially joined the reception. Airy-Aekok went around bidding farewells to the teenage boys of her class, to mixed responses. Meanwhile Lirako went off for the time being with other friends including Deki-Tyunri.
During the reception a few special events occurred.
“The top grade this year in Class D goes to Mr. Molshei! Good job, Mr. Molshei! Last year you didn’t make it over Miss Vampiris, but this year you certainly did! Miss Vampiris made it to second place, however. Mr. Dslellular in third, and Miss Sherry in fourth, along with Miss Hangdul in fifth! Good job, all of you!”
“Congrants, San-Kyung!” Dosa-Mina said. He pulled San-Kyung close and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“I wish I could have made it above Molshei this year. Damn. Well, it’s something to strive for in the coming school year.”
After the grades were read, Xao-Bu called up his students in the Weekend class, and the teacher of the normal music class did likewise, and both began to perform a song for the students.
“Everyone wants to celebrate the fact that we don’t have any school for the Summer, but they forget that all this celebrating is taking time out of our free time,” La-Iin said bitterly.
“Well, we won’t see each other for a while! Not all of the students are like you and me, La-Iin. They don’t all have contact with each other during the break.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t care because I have contact with everyone I need to, even Sara a little bit. Besides, isn’t getting to leave right away celebration enough?”
“Why are you here if you’re going to complain? It’s an optional event.”
“I came here because I thought there would be worthwhile snacks, but apparently not and we can’t even eat them here. That wouldn’t be a problem if they were good snacks…”
“Huh?”
“If they were good snacks I could sneak them right now, but they aren’t.” La-Iin sighed. “All this celebrating is going to take as long as a normal school day if not longer.”
After the music ended, Sharai gave one last speech, then stomped his foot and opened his mouth wide.
“Now, my students! Say it with me! –”
Before he could even say “Ma”, he was dragged off the stage.

***

Airy-Aekok felt dejected as she joined the crowd on their way out of school. ‘Everyone’s all looking forward to spending time with their family and friends, but who do I have? My Dad’s gonna be busy, Sanyaow’s got other friends too, and no teenage boys actually like me. Summer’s gonna be a crapshoot this year.’
In one last desperate attempt, Airy-Aekok strained her ears to listen in on San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina’s conversation.
“Are you going to try wearing short sleeves this year?”
“San-Kyung, you know I can’t do that.”
San-Kyung sighed. “I guess not…you know, if you’d go into your true form, you wouldn’t have to worry about it, at least on one side.”
Airy-Aekok gasped. “Yes, but I’m covered in fur on that side. I think that would be more of a disadvantage in the Summer. I’ve dealt with this for years now, San-Kyung. It won’t be a problem.”
“It’ll be a problem for me once you get too sweaty.”
Dosa-Mina gave a half-hearted chuckle. “Don’t worry, I won’t cling to you as much this Summer. Or I’ll try not to, anyway.”
Airy-Aekok was stunned. She glanced around the crowd for any sign of Lirako. Spotting her chatting with Deki-Tyunri on their way out, she ran over to her.
“I need to talk to you like, right now!” She exclaimed.
“Whoa! Um, Deki-Tyunri, could you give me a moment?”
“Certainly,” Deki-Tyunri said, although judging by his expression he was less than pleased. Airy-Aekok pulled Lirako away and dropped her voice to a whisper.
“Okay, I don’t, like, have definite proof yet, but I overheard Molshei and Dosa-Mina talking, and I heard him say something about a true form and being covered in fur on one side!” She squealed. “I think he might be a Dualbreed, Lirako!”
“Covered in fur on one side? There are a lot of species with fur, but that definitely narrows it down! Let’s see, Bearperson, Werewolf, ugh…Catori….I certainly hope it’s not that. But if he is a Dualbreed, that makes me wonder if he’s even a Siren at all!”
“Siren songs still do bad things when they’re not Pureblood, just not as bad. Least that’s what my Dad told me.” Airy-Aekok grinned. “This is a big breakthrough! Hey, you know, now that I think about it, when my Dad gets time off maybe we’ll look for this together!”
“That’s the spirit, Llanni!”
“Thanks, Sanyaow, for not givin’ up on me. Completely, anyway,” she said with a nudge.
“No problem! If we can figure this one out, I don’t care how long it takes!” Lirako blinked. “Actually, that’s a lie.”
“And don’t I know it!”

—–
“Dad! Welcome home!”
“Hello, Airy-Aekok.” He pat her on the head. “Sorry I’ve been so busy lately. I just don’t understand why the evil in this world sees 2015 as its year…”
“Aw, that’s alright. It makes the time I get to spend with you sweeter. And now that you’re home, I wanted to talk about a little pet-project I wanna do over the Summer.”
“Oh?”
“Yeah. It’s a little like this….”

30.546.The Adventure in Bledger–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 546
“The Adventure in Bledger–Part 2”

“Bledger Police Department. Uh-huh. Two missing females…ages nine and seven….long brown hair, fair complexion, Normal…oh, sorry, I tend to repeat a lot. I got all that, don’t worry.”
‘Wonder who he’s talking to?’ Wondered Cheu-Sheam. The man nodded and set down the phone. “Hey, what’s going on, Aheni?”
“We’ve got a missing child case. Apparently two young girls went down to the local park and haven’t been back to their parents in hours.”
“Ooh.”
“Don’t ‘ooh’ at this!” He snapped. “Friggin’ rookie.”
“Well, sor-ree that they sent me to Bledger as part of my training! I don’t even want to work here. I’d rather do all my stuff in Yeongsham.”
“Yeah, well, while you’re complaining about all that there are two little girls who are missing for any number of reasons. And we at the Bledger Police Department have to deal with it, meanwhile you just have to stick behind here.”
“Grr….I swear, one of these days I’m gonna help with a big case.”
“Don’t be so immature.”
“I’m not. I just want to help. And I can’t stand you, Aheni.” She sighed. ‘I miss my friends…I hope their training is going well, too.’

“Students, today Miss Cahongyun and Miss Sanhuun won’t be attending classes. I think you all have noticed their absence already, but it seems the reason could be far worse than initially thought. Those two girls have been missing since yesterday, last spotted at the park.”
The students began to murmur.
“What happened to Fer-Shi?” Shan-Zetsu asked.
“Sanhuun…” Sighed Cae-Bougen.
“I wonder what happened?” Dosa-Mina said.
“We’ll have to go on with classes as usual, but if any of you students spot the girls, remember to report your sighting to the Bledger Police Department. …and don’t tell them I asked you this, but if you spot them and you have the strength for it, try and bring them back with you, too.”
“Got it, teach,” Yefu-Shenhao said. Hyungdarou sighed and went on with biology class; the students soon noticed she was teaching far more than she usually did when in a brighter mood.

“Hm…”
“Something wrong, Sara?” A student from Class B asked.
“Don’t ask that, Weishen! Sara’s best friend went missing!”
“It’s alright,” Shuu-Kena said. “I was just wondering. Yesterday, when they were outside, I overheard them talking about something…”
“What?”
Shuu-Kena lowered her head. “I think…I think they were talking about…going on an adventure,” she said. “I want to tell the police, but I’m scared to…”
“Don’t be scared! If you really heard that you should tell them! The police aren’t scary!”
“I know…I’m not scared of the police, actually…I’m scared of something else…”
“If you want, we can help you,” Weishen offered. Shuu-Kena glanced up. “Well…I’ll see.”

***

When La-Iin and Fer-Shi had woken up, it was bright outside, so the two girls immediately set out on the continuation of their adventure.
“I hope Mom and Dad aren’t too worried,” Fer-Shi sighed. “Maybe they think I’m staying over at your house.”
“They won’t. When Mama thinks I’m up to something she tends to call your Mama and Dami. They’ll find out.”
“Mm…well, I hope they aren’t too worried…”
“Instead of focusing on our parents, why don’t we focus on the adventure? We’ll have more fun that way.”
“Um, alright!”
La-Iin kept a steady lead over Fer-Shi as the two traversed a neighborhood that appeared to not be in the greatest condition, but still in better condition than many of the others La-Iin had seen. People played outside with their children and friends and though the houses looked to be in bad shape, the people there seemed fairly happy and healthy.
“Bledger sure has a lot of shoddy houses.”
“Huh? Oh, I guess they do. It’s a surprise that we ended up with as nice houses as we have, I guess.”
“That’s because we’re lucky enough to have parents who know what the word ‘quality’ means.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “It’s kind of surprising to hear you say that.”
“I don’t think all negatively about certain people, you know.”
The two girls head out the neighborhood and onto a clearing of street. La-Iin dashed across the street to a patch of grass up ahead. Fer-Shi soon joined her, and they waited for a car to pass before heading forward to a large stretch of grassy plain. Ahead of the grassy plain sat a park on their left, and to their right, another set of houses.
“I think I know what’s the obvious choice here.” La-Iin switched to flight and zipped off towards the park. Fer-Shi chased after her.
The park was filled with many young children–younger than La-Iin and Fer-Shi. Their parents mostly watched from afar as the children climbed over all the equipment, and the park was spattered with sand, snow, fur and feathers.
“Why would Snowlivs take their baby out in this heat?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Look closely.” La-Iin pointed towards the young Snowliv boy who was climbing his way up the slide. He was covered with a full-body plastic shield, though there was a small hole near the foot of the shield.
“Oh.”
“His parents are too.”
Fer-Shi nodded. “This park seems like it’s for really little kids, La-Iin. Even younger than you. Do you wanna stay here?”
“Oh, just for a little bit and then we can move on.” La-Iin walked towards the children, some of which stared in her direction and smiled. A mischievous grin spread across La-Iin’s face, and she turned around, spread her wings, and yelled at the children, who began to cry. The parents rushed to their children’s side, all except one pair who head for La-Iin.
“Run!” La-Iin shrieked, though Fer-Shi could hear excitement in her tone. She took off ahead of Fer-Shi by flying, and Fer-Shi only kept pace behind her out of sheer fear of what might happened if the angered parents reached her and La-Iin.
Eventually, the parents fell out of sight, and La-Iin and Fer-Shi came to a halt, taking deep breaths. La-Iin took off her backpack and reached for a snack.
“Geez….never do something like that again, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi yelled.
“I ake o haranees!” La-Iin said through a mouthful of food.

***

“We’ve gotten in a report from a young lady who says the two girls were planning to adventure across Bledger,” a police officer told Den-Matsu.
“Why would they do that!?” He exclaimed.
“Even if they were planning something like that, there’s no reason they should have been gone this long! They’ve been off on adventures together before and they’ve never been gone this long…”
“It’s possible they could have met with trouble on their way. But don’t worry. We’re sending out the majority of our force to scour all around Bledger. It’s only really a problem downtown anyway.”
“Would that really be so smart?” Asked a Llamaki officer. “Bledger’s been so dangerous lately–”
“And that’s exactly why we need to work fast, Officer Llanni! With how dangerous Bledger has been lately these girls could be in a lot of trouble, if they aren’t dead already!”
Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu gasped and began to tear up.
“Err, not that they are, of course! We’ll keep searching for your daughter and her friend, Mr. and Mrs. Sanhuun. You have my word that we will not rest until they are found!”
“I understand your concern, Mr. and Mrs. I have a daughter too, and if something happened to her I would want the entire might of the police force out there looking for her. I just hope this focus on your daughter’s disappearance doesn’t distract us from other important matters at hand…”

After the two girls had left the playground, they entered dense forestry and thus far had not found their way back out. On their way they stumbled upon a few signs of civilization, but none of them had led them back to the main path of Bledger. The further on they walked, the darker the forestry became.
“Where are we, La-Iin?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I have no idea.”
“What are we gonna do if we can’t find our way back out?”
“We camped out yesterday night, we can do it again. And if you’re worried about eating we have plenty of snacks to sustain ourselves. Even if we run out we should be able to get more food anyway, and I have your blood.”
Fer-Shi whimpered. “You sound like you’re preparing us for living like this forever…”
“Not forever. But I can’t fly high enough to check where we are and I don’t know all of Bledger. I just want to be prepared. I definitely don’t intend on staying out here forever. If I did I wouldn’t have much chance of seeing San-Kyung again. But this is a good experience for the future.”
“I just wanna go home…”
“I do too. But let’s keep going otherwise we’ll never find it.”
As the sky grew darker, Fer-Shi found herself feeling more hopeless. ‘What if we never do find our way back home? It’s starting to get dark again. We probably missed school and Mom and Dad are probably super-worried…geez, I’m the older one here and yet La-Iin’s the one who’s keeping a cool head. Maybe she really doesn’t care, or maybe she’s just trying to save face around me. I still can’t believe she can do this even in this scary situation…’
Fer-Shi smiled to herself as she kept behind La-Iin.
The two girls continued to walk on, with both keeping an eye out for any sign of civilization. To her left, La-Iin spotted what appeared to be a streetlight and head towards it. Soon after heading that way, something began to rustle up ahead.
“What is it!?” Fer-Shi exclaimed.
“We ran into plenty of animals yesterday. Don’t get so worried.”
Fer-Shi swallowed hard. La-Iin bit into her arm and took a few steps forward. The rustling grew louder until a black-furred Catori peeked her head through and stared directly at La-Iin. She glanced past her at Fer-Shi.
“Hey, I think I found them, Officer Llanni!”
“You did?” A Llamaki man followed the Catori and stared at the girl. “This matches their description. Oh, thank you, Bhengai! I’m sorry we had to ask for your help.”
“Not at all! This is what I’m training for! You girls okay?”
Fer-Shi began to cry. La-Iin took a step backwards and hissed.
“I think they’ll be fine, right?” Llanni sighed. “Come on, girls, let’s get you home. Your parents are incredibly worried.”
“Come on, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi said, her voice wavering. La-Iin didn’t budge. “If we don’t leave with the officers, we’ll be lost and you won’t get to see San-Kyung again.”
La-Iin grimaced and sighed. She followed behind the officers and Fer-Shi as the three left the forest.

—–
“We were so worried!” Tei-Sheu cried. “Please be extra careful from now on, alright!?”
“I will be!” Fer-Shi said.
“I’m glad you’re alright…I was really worried that something bad happened…”
“You didn’t need to worry, Mama. That’s just annoying. Besides, I always kept my cool.” She struggled out of Mit-Sun’s grasp and tapped Fer-Shi on the shoulder. Fer-Shi turned away from her parents and leaned in close to La-Iin when she noticed her in position to whisper.
“That adventure was pretty fun. Maybe we should do it again when certain people aren’t so worried that they call the police.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “Maybe. But that won’t be for many more years, that’s for sure!”

24.540.The Ability to Reach Out

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 540
“The Ability to Reach Out”

“In this case, you’d have to multiply this problem by three,” Ai-Reia told her. “And that’s the hardest I can help you with in this aspect of math. Anything harder and you’ll have to ask one of the twelfth-graders.”
“You’re so smart, Ai-Reia. I don’t think anyone could help me much as you.”
“That would be a lie. While I’m dubious on how smart Sanyaow is, I know for sure that Sherry’s grades are about my equal, and I have to do easier homework than she does. I think Molshei and Dslellular are fairly high up there as well, and they aren’t even in the twelfth grade yet.”
“Well, you’re the smartest one who is my friend,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “In-Dei is smart too but I don’t think even he could get this!”
“The average grade for this level of math is about tenth to eleventh,” she said. “Not to show off…now, is there something else you want to say? Break time should be just about over soon and I don’t want to chance getting in trouble. Sharing tips might not be against the rules but being out of your seat at class time certainly is!”
“Hm, I know.” Shuera-Kaizima blinked. “Actually, there is one more thing I wish to say to you, Ai-Reia.”
“What’s that?”
“Well, um…or, maybe I shouldn’t say it…”
“You’re welcome to say whatever you wish. Don’t hold back. If you’re worried it will upset me, don’t. I’m actually in a fairly good mood today and I think only La-Iin could bring it down. That or one of Ca-Miela’s massive diaper mishaps…”
“If you say so,” Shuera-Kaizima said, though she seemed uncertain about continuing on. “Well, even though you said you are okay, and everything that happened on the school trip was fine, it was pretty scary when you freaked out last Monday. And I am still worried you will do it again…maybe it sounds…irrational, but I do not want you to be upset like that again.”
Ai-Reia smiled. “Wanting that is not irrational. We’re friends, Kokohara. But trust me, I am a lot better now that I have you and Fyuori. I might have underlying problems but that’s a source of great healing for me.”
“Still…” Shuera-Kaizima’s ears shot up. From the hallway she could hear footsteps. “Er, we’ll have to go over this later, Ai-Reia.”
Ai-Reia shook her head. “Do not worry about me, Kokohara. I promise, I am fine.”

***

“Do you think we should try to talk with Ai-Reia again, In-Dei?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I’m really worried about her. She seems happy right now, but there are times I will be happy and then end up upset soon after. With Ai-Reia, when she gets upset, it can be much worse than just sad.”
“I’m worried about that too, but maybe she means it. Remember, when we talked to her last month, she was worried about befriending us because we won’t live as long as her, but she seems to have gotten over it by now. Maybe she does feel a bit better.”
“Or she could be hiding it…and isn’t it better to handle things before they get too bad? Do we just wait until she is upset again, or should we handle it while she is not? Would that simply upset her?” Shuera-Kaizima groaned. “I just want her to be okay…”
“I know you do, Shuera-Kaizima. I guess we could try. She might be more open to talking about these kinds of things while she’s not upset. But don’t keep pestering her about it. That might just make her more upset.”
“Do you want to ask her then, In-Dei? I worry I’ll just get desperate.”
Im-Dei shrugged. “I guess I can. But we should focus. I hear the science teacher.”

“Ai-Reia!”
Ai-Reia smiled. Im-Dei was walking up to her desk. “It isn’t often you and I talk between break times. Hello there, Fyuori.”
“Hello.”
“It’s strange to me. When I first came to Malicerie I got the impression that you were shy. But you barely seem it around me and Kokohara.”
“I am actually pretty shy,” he admitted. “But you see Elyshen talking just fine with Sanyaow. It’s like that. Also, I’m a lot more shy around girls than I am around boys…”
“Kokohara and I are girls, though. And I might be young, but Kokohara’s around your age.”
“I know she is, but it’s still the same kind of situation.” He shook his head. “Anyway, I wanted to ask you something. I know you’re happy right now and I like that you are. But I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk with me and Shuera-Kaizima now. We figured that maybe you’d do better getting your problems off your chest while you’re in a good mood than you would while you’re in a bad mood. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to!”
Ai-Reia stared at him blankly, and Im-Dei felt certain she would refuse. “I don’t really want to talk about these sorts of things. I’ve been trying to put them out of my mind so they don’t come up. But I realize, my outlet for my feelings was destroyed recently. So I suppose you and Kokohara could be worth a shot as a new one. I just don’t want to upset you or her, nor do I want to think about these sorts of things. I’m in a happy period right now. I want to keep it that way for as long as possible.”
“Well, you do what you think is best. I’m sure you’ll come to the right conclusion.” Im-Dei lightly ruffled her hair. “If you want to talk to us you can come see us after class. But do what you think is right.”
As Im-Dei walked away, Ai-Reia was left with his words: “Do what you think is right.”
‘What would be right? Should I really unload all my concerns onto those two? They’ve been nothing but nice to me while I’ve been fighting them and showing them my darkest moments. But I have no outlet. They’re my only relief most of the time. They’re understanding–they might have a solution. But should I really do that to people who have treated me with so much kindness?’
Ai-Reia shuddered. ‘Not all my problems are so dark that I’d want to keep them from those two. Maybe telling them a little bit wouldn’t be too bad…’

***

After classes that day Ai-Reia had made her decision. She approached Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei and, by their expressions, she could tell they already knew what she had come there for. They walked out the classroom alongside the crowd but soon broke off from them and head into a weekend classroom.
Both of them stayed silent and sat down, staring at her with neutral expressions. Ai-Reia felt nervous, but she took a deep breath and began to speak.
“Well…this is sort of silly, but I’ve told you two about my situation with my family before. It feels as though things soured around the time my younger sister was born, that and around the time La-Iin would follow me around the school. Since then I’ve had some on-and-off troubles. Some months I’ll be on fine terms with my family. I’ve even started bonding with my younger sister, it’s just, I have difficulty dealing with babies, I suppose. Other times we barely talk to each other at all. As for La-Iin, I suppose she hasn’t been in my way much recently, but the times I’ve been at odds with her has only made those problems worse…
“In any event, I had hoped things would stabilize this year, but they haven’t really gotten better yet. I had started keeping a diary so that I could write down my problems, but my older sister found it and basically told the whole family about its contents. Now I think that they think I’m a ticking time bomb waiting for another one of those nervous breakdowns, and the fact that I had one at all probably just adds fuel to the fire.”
Ai-Reia began to tear up. ‘Damn it, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this…’ “I know these problems are silly, I just want to go back to being normal again. I half-wish I wasn’t a prodigy so none of this would have ever happened. I’d still be at home in diapers with Ca-Miela. Or if I hadn’t insisted to go to school, I might still be at home as well. I’m glad I met you two, really I am, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But all the other things that have happened since I came to Malicerie, if I could, I would wish them away. …sorry to bother you two with these stupid problems.”
“You aren’t bothering us, Ai-Reia,” Shuera-Kaizima said. Im-Dei nodded. “Not at all.”
“Thank you.”
“I think you should try and show your family that you’ll be alright. If you keep hiding away from them and avoiding them, that might only make them think that you’re getting worse. Talk to them and show them you’re fine.”
“It’s okay to show when you’re not fine as well, though,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “They won’t think you are unstable if you cry because something bad happened. Well, they shouldn’t, at least!”
“Of course they’ll think you’re still upset if you avoid them as much as you can. And sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands. So try your best to set things right. …well, that’s all the advice I can offer.”
“I suppose it’s worth a shot. It can’t make things worse, in any event.” Ai-Reia hugged Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei. “Thank you two. I am so very grateful for your friendship.”
“We’re happy to have you as a friend, too!” Shuera-Kaizima said.
Ai-Reia let go of them and turned around. “See you tomorrow,” she said, then head out the Weekend classroom and went to join the sparse crowd heading home.

—–
“Reuf-Bu?”
Reuf-Bu glanced at Ai-Reia. “Yeah, sis? What’s up?”
“I know you’re a fairly grown Vampire and all, but would you mind doing some finger-painting with me?” Ai-Reia felt embarrassed just to suggest the idea. “I heard some of the other children around my grade talking about it, so I was curious–”
“Sure, why not? Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do a puzzle, though? That seems more your style.”
“A puzzle does sound nice. Maybe we could do that afterward.”
“You’ve got it, Ai-Reia.” He smiled. “Glad to see you asking to play with your big brother again.”
“I’m glad to ask,” she sighed. “Now let’s hurry before Ca-Miela starts screaming her head off!”
Just as they arrived in the playroom, they heard loud crying. “Too late.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got it!” Their mother called. The two gave a sigh of relief and went back to setting up their craft.

15.531.Mental Breakdown

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 531
“Mental Breakdown”

Ai-Reia felt as though she was once again on the path to despair.
She desperately wanted to write down her thoughts in her notebook, but she felt that Zih-Amo would get her hands on it again and read it and tell the whole family of its contents. She felt she could fix Ca-Miela, but for the effects to show it would take a while–and she had no idea if her influence on her baby sister would be vastly outweighed by the influence of her family.
Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei had also reached out to her as friends, but a constant reminder of their limited lifespan was always on her mind whenever she talked to them. It made ,any conversations she had with them unenjoyable, and in the end only served to depress her further when she arrived home from school.
There was no out. No matter how hard she tried, it would always find her. This was how it was even before she had encountered La-Iin. Nothing would ever go her way the way she wanted it to. Her family would never think of her in the same way they thought of her siblings. It was an endless loop that would never cease.
The idea of continuing on the way she was for hundreds of years was maddening. Living was becoming a chore, and she wasn’t quite sure what it was she wanted anymore.
If Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei somehow extended their lifespans, would that fix the problem?
If La-Iin died, would that fix the problem?
Would she recover once Ca-Miela grew up and proved her wrong?
Was it something with her family? Was she waiting for them to reach out to her?
Or was the only option her own death? Perhaps all along it had nothing to do with the fault of the world and it was just her, herself. Whatever monsters lie inside of her manifested themselves in the form of a violent dream, and if that and daydreams of La-Iin’s murder were capable of nagging at her, perhaps the truth was all along that there was no fix for her. It wasn’t as if
Maybe she really was insane, just as she was certain her family thought she was.
Whatever the case, Ai-Reia desperately wanted the night to be over. In the darkness she was left alone with her thoughts which had begun to barrage her with ideas that all along there was no cure to her sadness.

***

“Ai-Reia, aren’t you going to have breakfast?” Her mother asked.
“Hey, Ai-Reia, you don’t look so good. Get enough sleep last night?” Reuf-Bu asked.
“Ai-Reia, you okay? Your clothes are on backwards.” Zih-Amo asked.
Ai-Reia responded to none of them and head outside and on the path to Malicerie. The door opened behind her.
“Ai-Reia! You’re not ready for school yet! Come back inside!”
Her mother’s voice barely registered, but the angered tone hurt Ai-Reia. She continued on in a run, hoping to outrun the voice and make it to school.
Though her mother started to fly after her, she soon noticed that Ai-Reia was in a desperate run, going much faster than she had ever seen her daughter go. She was certain she could catch up with her, but she was momentarily stunned.
What could have happened to Ai-Reia to make her break out in that sort of run?
Ai-Reia continued on the path, her eyes bleary. She couldn’t tell with what, but either way, she continued on, occasionally tripping on the path there. She felt she could hear the sound of wings flapping behind her, but couldn’t tell if there was actually someone flying behind her or if she was just imagining it.
Something told her it was both. Ai-Reia continued on running.
The path to school was filled with students from all four classes as Ai-Reia dashed into the crowd.
“Is that girl okay?” A Class B student asked.
“She seems upset. Maybe we should do something.” Said one from Class C.
“Probably nervous that some boy’s gonna do something to her!” Said a student from Class A.
“Vampiris!” Shuera-Kaizima called. “Vampiris, are you okay?”
“Is everything alright?” Im-Dei asked.
When Ai-Reia closed in on them, the two noticed that her clothes were put on improperly; her shirt was on backwards and so her wings were underneath the fabric, and her skirt was not properly fastened and was slipping down. Her hair didn’t seem to be brushed and her normal wing hair clip was gone. Most notably to them, her face was streaked with tears and she seemed desperate to reach the school as if being pursued. While Shuera-Kaizima chased after her, Im-Dei checked the crowd to see if anyone was pursuing her, and noticed a Vampire woman flying above the crowd.
The woman spotted him and landed next to him.
“Excuse me,” she panted, “have you…did you see a Vampire girl running by?”
“I did.”
“Where did she go?”
“Into the school?”
“Thank you.”
Now on ground, she ran past the crowd. Im-Dei was confused, and hoped that the woman was Ai-Reia’s mother.
Ai-Reia scrambled into the classroom and into a random seat.
“What are you doing?” La-Iin asked as she walked by.
“Are you okay, Vampiris?”
Ai-Reia shrieked. She ducked under the seat.
“…okay…”
“I don’t think Vampiris is okay,” Fer-Shi said. “Did you notice she had her shirt on backwards? The wing-slots were in the front!”
La-Iin peeked under the desk. Ai-Reia was holding her head and shaking slightly.
‘This has nothing to do with her. It’s all because I’m a monster. There’s no escape. I wish I hadn’t been born with this stupid brain!’
“She seems messed up.”
“We should tell one of the faculty members!”
“Who? I don’t think the school faculty has anyone who deals with crazy people.”
“Well, I think anyone on the faculty would call her family to deal with this!” Fer-Shi dashed out the classroom, nearly crashing into other students who were heading in.
Ai-Reia’s strange behavior soon caught the attention of most of the Class D students, who peeked at her under the desk or watched from a distance. Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei remained at a distance, both looking horrified at the sight of their friend shaking under the desk.
“…go away…”
“No. This is too amusing.”
Ai-Reia’s eyes widened. She crawled out from under the desk and grabbed onto La-Iin’s shirt. She said nothing further, and La-Iin wondered if she should break from her grip before she reacted any further. The other students watched on in fear and curiosity, wondering what she might do to La-Iin next.
“You really are crazy,” La-Iin sighed. ‘It’s a shame. I could have used this to my advantage.’
Ai-Reia’s grip on her shirt became stronger, and La-Iin flinched, ready to break away, when a Vampire woman walked into the classroom, heading for Ai-Reia. She seemed oblivious to what she was doing and scooped her up, hugging her close.
“Ai-Reia, are you okay?” She asked. Ai-Reia didn’t respond. The woman blinked and looked at La-Iin. “Are you okay?”
La-Iin stared curiously at the Vampire woman, who seemed to lose interest in La-Iin’s response in favor of comforting Ai-Reia, who had started to sob.
While the students were distracted, Xhuzsha walked into the classroom and over to Ai-Reia’s mother. The two conversed for a short while before leaving the classroom. Fer-Shi ran over to La-Iin’s side.
“Did you get Xhuzsha?”
“Mm-hm. He sounded pretty worried when I told him about how she was acting. I hope she’s okay…”
La-Iin felt conflicted about Ai-Reia’s behavior. She chose not to dwell on it and head for her seat.

***

“I hesitate to say whether or not she had a mental breakdown, but it could be possible. Has Ai-Reia been under any particular stress lately, Mrs. Vampiris?”
“I don’t know…” She sighed. “She hasn’t been talking to us much lately…”
“Hm.” Xhuzsha glanced at Ai-Reia, who laid silent on the office’s bed. “We’ll let you take her home for today. I don’t think she’s in any condition to stay at school. I can’t claim to know her stressors and I am not a mental health professional, Mrs. Vampiris, but I did dabble in the subject before focusing on physical health. And even had I not I would recommend finding out if there is something wrong with her. With young children, especially Vampires, it can be hard to tell if it’s an actual mental illness or some other cause, but you should get her checked out regardless.”
Ai-Reia’s mother gave an absent nod. “We will, Mr. Xhuzsha.”
‘Just as I thought. It’s all a problem with me. They think I’m crazy.’
“Ai-Reia, are you okay?”
“Take her home, Mrs. Vampiris. She’ll be better off home than at school forcing herself to manage this.”
Her mother picked her up, waved to Xhuzsha, and left the room.
Ai-Reia couldn’t help but feel deeply embarrassed, and more depressed than she had been feeling just moments before.
‘Everyone witnessed that, didn’t they? Now there is no secret. Everyone knows I’m a monster. There’s no out. But no matter how much I prepared myself, I still wasn’t ready…’

—–
“Oh, the Principal wanted me to relay a message to the students of Class D–Miss Vampiris won’t be joining us for classes for a little while she recovers. We don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her, but she will be staying home for a short while.”
“If Ai-Reia needs to recover from being crazy, then why don’t I get to?” La-Iin grumbled.
“You’re not crazy. And I don’t think Ai-Reia is either, but there’s definitely something wrong with her.”
“Huh. Say whatever you want, Fer-Shi. This is all overblown.”
“You should be more considerate, La-Iin. You wanted Ai-Reia to be your friend.”
“She proved to me that she doesn’t want that in a violent way. I don’t owe her my concern.”
La-Iin still felt conflicted as she left the classroom. Although she genuinely felt no sympathy for Ai-Reia, she did find herself slightly concerned about what had happened.

9.525.Shuu-Kena’s Reason

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 525
“Shuu-Kena’s Reason”

“I dare you to hang on the monkey bars upside-down with your panties showing!”
“I’m not going to do that!”
“So you’re not up to the challenge?”
“That’s just embarrassing, La-Iin. But something tells me you don’t care about that.”
“I don’t. But if you’re really so prissy as to reject my dare, then I have another one for you. How about instead you ask Veiner to fly you around the recess area? I’m sure he has the strength to hold you up.”
Cae-Bougen turned around and pointed at himself.
“Isn’t that kinda rude? He looks like he’s having a lot of fun with Shan-Zetsu.”
“Shan-Zetsu’s your friend though, isn’t he? Would you rather do this or the panty dare!?”
“This one! Geez, La-Iin, you can be so pushy sometimes! When I’m done with your dare, I’m gonna dare you the biggest dare of your life!”
La-Iin relaxed on the bench and smirked as Fer-Shi approached Cae-Bougen. The two seemed uncertain at first, but he soon wrapped his arms around her waist and began to fly off with her with relative ease. Seeing that sight made her feel just the slightest bit jealous that she didn’t share his strength.
‘But with my new power, I might,’ she reminded herself. ‘After all, they call the strength of a Minomix a power!’
“Wow, Cae-Bougen’s really strong!” Shuu-Kena said. La-Iin groaned. The young girl was sitting nearby her, though on the ground instead of on the bench.
“Do you always have to stalk me?”
“I’m not stalking you, Cahongyun.”
“That’s what you say, but I’m a stalking expert. I know when someone’s stalking me as well as I know how to stalk.”
“That’s a little weird.”
“Says you, goody-goody.”
“Hmm. Do I really annoy you that much, Cahongyun?”
“Yes, you do! I don’t want to be friends with you, Sara. I’ve said so already. Besides, I’m sure Veiner is going to let Fer-Shi down soon enough. I have someone to play with.”
She glanced back up at Fer-Shi and Cae-Bougen, who by now were both smiling as they flew above the recess area. La-Iin narrowed her eyes.
“It looks like they’re having lots of fun.”
“You know, I think Fer-Shi would like you. Why don’t you try befriending her, hm? Anything to get you to leave me alone. Unless you’re using me to get to Fer-Shi?”
“No, I’m not. I like Sanhuun too, but I get kind of shy around her. She’s so nice she probably has lots of friends.”
“You must not be looking hard enough.”
“But you really interest me. You made friends with two teenagers even though you’re younger than me. I could never do that. I have a hard time even making friends with people my own age.”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “I made friends with one teenager.”
“Actually, Cahongyun, there’s one other thing that interests me about you aside from all that. You see, my family is evil, just like you. I’m kind of weird compared to them, because I’ve been told I’m more neutral. But my Dad has been arrested lots of times before. In fact, just at the end of last month he got out of jail.”
La-Iin gave a curious glance in her direction. “Is your family evil too, La-Iin? You’ve done a better job of not disappointing them then I have if so…”
“…” La-Iin was stunned. Of all she had been expecting Shuu-Kena to say, the admission that her family was evil came as a surprise.
“Your parents get arrested?”
“Them and my big brother. My sisters are still too little to get arrested, but they’re as evil as everyone else. My family wants to make Bledger scarier. They’re doing their best to make sure that people see Bledger as a place to fear. They want it to be that way so that nobody will come here, nobody will do anything about it, and they can make this the crime hub of Vaelyn. That’s what they said to me.” Shuu-Kena covered up her mouth. “Oops! I shouldn’t have said that! Please don’t tell them, Cahongyun. I’ll be in a lot of trouble if they find out!”
“I can’t tell them,” La-Iin reminded her. Shuu-Kena breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh yes, right.”
Cae-Bougen landed, and Fer-Shi ran over to La-Iin. “Now I’ve got a big dare for you! I want you to fly around the recess area until your wings are exhausted! That’ll show you!”
“What a mistake, Fer-Shi! Flying is one of my passions! You’ve only given me something to enjoy!” She spread her wings. “You have fun on the recess area, Fer-Shi. I won’t be coming back to play with you.”
“Don’t fly away from Malicerie! It can’t be too long before the last class!”
La-Iin flew above the recess area, then glanced below her. Shuu-Kena watched her with a smile. She flew closer to the ground and above Shuu-Kena.
“Tell me more about this evil family of yours, Sara. My curiosity has been piqued.”
Shuu-Kena’s eyes widened. “Well, my parents aren’t murderers, but they do as many bad things as possible. They believe that you should keep torturing people until the last moment. They made a rule that they would only kill old people because young people have so much potential for torment. My brother and sisters believe that too.”
“Hmm.”
“My parents commit a lot of crime, and my big brother does too. My sisters have this notebook where they keep a record of all of their ideas. They kind of think I’m a disappointment. They even gave me my name because they thought I was going to be a great force in their fight to make Bledger a crime hub. Maybe you don’t know this, but the name Shuu-Kena comes from two meanings. One meaning is water lily, but the other one is more like blood stream…but nobody uses that meaning except my parents.”
“Hm.”
“You know, you’re the first person I really got to talk to about this. Everyone else would try and arrest my parents, but I’m so scared of going to live with a new family, and I still love my family even though they’re evil. I don’t know if they love me, though. I would rather become a painter than do all those crimes, and I don’t really care if they do crimes so long as anyone isn’t too badly hurt, but they just seem kind of disappointed with me. If I was your daughter, do you think you’d be disappointed with me?”
“I am the wrong person to ask. Sara, living with an evil family perhaps you realize the whole reason I’m so curious is because I’m evil myself.”
“I figured. But it’s still all nice to talk about. I really do want to be your friend. You’re friends with Sanhuun, so I thought even if you’re evil, you might be okay with being friends with a failure like me.”
“Perhaps we can make a deal then.”
“Huh?”
“I’ll play with you in exchange for hearing about the doings of your family. I’m always interested in getting a different perspective. I want to hear about these things to see what works and what doesn’t. So maybe you can help me.”
Shuu-Kena nodded. “Okay then.”
“Tell me more!”
“Um, well, I think my little sisters killed a dog once, actually…”
La-Iin blinked. “I’m kind of scared that one day when I get older, they’ll find where my family lives and arrest all of us including me. Dad makes jail sound really scary. He says they don’t monitor the main jail as closely as they used to, so now the criminals are free to be really dangerous, but they still can’t escape because they use power suppressants on non-Normal criminals. I know a lot about jail. My Dad tells me and my sisters jail stories like bedtime stories. Does your family hear bedtime stories?”
‘She’s chatty about this. I wonder…’ “No.”
“Too bad. I was hoping you could tell me some.”
La-Iin opened her mouth to speak, only to notice a sharp pain in her wings. She landed and gasped, then walked back over to the bench.
“I saw you talking with Sara,” Fer-Shi said. “Are you two becoming friends? She seems like a weird choice. I thought you didn’t like her.”
“I don’t really. But she has some endearing qualities. And she has something I want, I figured out. You might like her too, but I think you’d like her for a different reason.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised. So, you got tired before recess ended, huh?”
“I flapped my wings harder than I expected to, is all.”
“Mm-hm. Well, I think the last class is in a few minutes. Why don’t we head in early?”
“Because we’ll have to wait longer.”
From the recess area the students could hear the sound of many footsteps as classrooms were exchanged. “I think we won’t have to wait too long.”
La-Iin sighed. “Fine.”
As she and Fer-Shi head inside, Shuu-Kena smiled at her. La-Iin flashed a smirk back.

—–
“Sister, what are you painting?”
“Is it a painting of an enemy?”
“It’s a painting of my new friend at Malicerie,” Shuu-Kena said. Her sisters sighed.
“You would have thought a school called Malicerie would be more evil than that.”
“How disappointing.”
Shuu-Kena lowered her head, but when she looked at her crude painting of La-Iin, she felt a bit better. She continued to work on the painting as her family discussed at the dinner table what their next course of action should be.

8.524.Inspiration of Confidence

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 524
“Inspiration of Confidence”

La-Iin head out for school that day feeling as though there was something she had to do. She strode onto the path with confidence in her gait.
“Hi there, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi called. “Wow, you look confident today! Something good happen over the weekend?”
“Good has been happening for longer than that, Fer-Shi. But it’s not the goody-goody kind of good. It’s more of…a wonderfulness.”
“I figured that,” she chuckled.
“It’s not only that. I have something I know I need to do today. I’ve been stewing over it for a short while now, but I finally know how to do it.”
“Really? What is it?”
“You wouldn’t care, Fer-Shi, so I’m not going to tell you.”
“Oh, come on! You’ve told me plenty of things I don’t care about before, so why is this one different?”
La-Iin opened her mouth to respond when out the corner of her eye she caught sight of both San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina walking to school, their heads bowed slightly and their expressions somber as they had recently been. That sight only increased her determination further.
“It just is,” she said. Fer-Shi narrowed her eyes, but she didn’t push any further, and the two soon got into a conversation about a recent shopping trip Fer-Shi had been on, which La-Iin found immensely dull.

***

“Gee, La-Iin, you seemed pretty lost in thought all throughout class,” Fer-Shi said as the last class came to an end. “Taking studying seriously, or are you just thinking about that thing I’m not supposed to know about?”
La-Iin had still been lost in thought when Fer-Shi spoke, and she flinched slightly when she realized she was talking to her. “What do you think?”
“It’s that thing I’m not supposed to know about,” Fer-Shi sighed. “I wish you would tell me what it is, La-Iin. I might not be interested, but I’m your best friend! I tell you lots of things.”
“Best friends may trust each other quite a bit, but would best friends tell each other about their secret of pooping their pants if that happened? Would you tell me all about how you pooped in your panties?”
Fer-Shi gaped. “No!”
“So best friends don’t have to tell each other everything.”
Fer-Shi lowered her head. “I suppose not…”
“But since I can be a sap sometimes, I’ll make you a deal. If it succeeds, I’ll tell you all about my success. I prefer to dwell on success rather than failure anyway!”
La-Iin spread her wings. “You’re not supposed to fly in class,” Fei-Zhust said.
“Quiet, peon! I wasn’t going to.” Folding her wings to her back, La-Iin jumped off her desk, bit into her arm, then head over to the desks of San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina, who were just starting to stand up and head out the door. Before they could, La-Iin grabbed their hands and dragged them out the school as her transformation completed.
“What the hell!?”
“What’s all this about, La-Iin?”
“You’ll see.” She continued to drag the two boys across the school hallway, garnering the looks of mostly students from other classes–though she noticed that Deki-Tyunri and Airy-Aekok were both staring wide-eyed in her direction. She dragged them around until they were out of view of the crowd and the sound of students chattering was nothing more than a background din.
“Nobody told you you could do that!” San-Kyung spat.
“I don’t listen to what people tell me to or not to do, and neither should you,” she said, pointing at San-Kyung. “I have a very specific reason for dragging you boys out here today. Namely, the two of you lately have been utterly pathetic!
“What!?”
“What did you say!?”
La-Iin smirked. “That’s more like it, San-Kyung! You’re on the right track. Look, San-Kyung, you’re determined to get your true form back and rule the world with me at any cost. You have much more experience under your belt than me because of Hledshess and also, you’re sixteen and I’m just seven. So instead of wasting it moping around, instead of just sitting here wishing you could eat me so you could get your true form back–”
“You seriously have a lot of that messed up,” San-Kyung said, sounding disgusted.
“But you understand what I want to say, right? You should have a fire, a determination to do evil! If you’re evil but you mope around, you’re just a failure at evil as far as I’m concerned! When it comes to being evil, unlike with goody-goodies there’s more to it than just thinking certain people should die and wishing for the apocalypse. It’s actively taking steps towards making the world worse! You used to be doing that, yet you aren’t anymore! As the person who messed you up, I seek to fix you!”
Her gaze fell on Dosa-Mina. “And as for you. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, and I really don’t care.”
“Then why bother bringing me out here in the first place?”
“Look, whether I like it or not you’re San-Kyung’s best friend. And if you’re sad while he’s sad then what do you think is going to happen to him? You’re really annoying when you’re being a smart-ass, rival-boy, but I’ll take that over whatever this is any day. You’re just dragging San-Kyung further down with you into some….pit of sadness or something!”
“Um…”
“In short terms, the both of you need to shape up because you’re pissing me off!”
Silence reigned.
“…what.”
“That is one of the silliest things I’ve heard all day. What, it’s not ‘I love you, San-Kyung, so cheer up’ and ‘Cheer up for San-Kyung’? It’s ‘you’re pissing me off’?”
“It’s what you said too, rival-boy, but it’s also that you’re pissing me off.”
“…”
“You are possibly even more annoying than usual when you’re sad like this, and everyone else in class can see it. As for San-Kyung, it’s just not right. San-Kyung should be striking his hand and tangling vines, not sitting there looking depressed! San-Kyung, let me tell you this–if I can wield the power to possess any other species’ powers, then you can have your true form at all times!”
La-Iin was about to start her next sentence when vines sprout up from below her and quickly tied her up. She stared wide-eyed at San-Kyung.
“Is that what you meant by more confidence? Around you, La-Iin, it’s difficult to be depressed.”
La-Iin smiled. “That’s a good thing, then. Maybe we should spend more time together. I mean, after all, we are friends, and if you hang out with that depressio all the time you’ll only get even more depressed.”
“Depressio?” Dosa-Mina questioned.
“I might spend more time with you if you didn’t act the way you did.”
“At least I’m honest!” She huffed. “But if I could make you even a bit more happy or confident, that’s a good thing. The San-Kyung I truly love is always striving, never stopping! Take this from someone who had her own depressed moment–it will pass and soon once again you and I will be on the path to ruling the world!”
“Yeah right,” San-Kyung scoffed. “Come on, Dosa-Mina. She isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Don’t you think you should let her down?”
San-Kyung didn’t respond. La-Iin began to struggle against the vines, hoping they would loosen. She was surprised to see that in the middle of these struggles, San-Kyung had returned and was standing in front of her.
“One question. Were you in my house the other day?”
La-Iin’s smirk widened. “What makes you think I was?”
“Were you!?”
“That’s my secret. If rival-boy can have his, I can too.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. The vines around her tightened, and La-Iin began to feel lightheaded, but they just as suddenly unraveled and she fell to the ground.
“There’s no point to harming you. Useless or not, you’re still a….friend.” San-Kyung turned away from her. “Though, I think I might have just found a new use for you…”
“As a lover!?”
“In your dreams!” He yelled, before taking off. La-Iin smiled.
“I think I can chalk this mission up to a success!”

—–
“So La-Iin, do I get to know about your secret yet?”
“The mission was a success, so I guess so. I think I finally made it through to my future husband…he won’t be looking so sullen in class now, that’s for sure!”
Fer-Shi looked confused for a moment before her eyes widened and she cringed. “Suddenly I don’t really want to know what happened…”
La-Iin huffed. “I knew it.”

“Hey, sorry to have eavesdropped, but I overheard you say something about a new use for La-Iin. So that leaves me with two questions–one, what is it, and two, you didn’t already have a use? You were keeping her around why?”
“Second one first, I was too down to actually tell her to back off. That and I figured she would have a new use sooner or later. And now I think she does.”
“What?”
“La-Iin is an inspiration.”
Dosa-Mina shook his head. “I don’t mean it in some corny way like her little motivational speech. I mean how stupid she is. Her own stupid brand of evil gives me inspiration for how I could do similar but worse. Although I doubt she’s going to be much more use than that.”
“You know, you’d probably get the same effect not being friends with her too.”
“Well for now, it’s more convenient to leave things as they are.”
“If you say so.”

7.523.Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 7

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 523
“Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 7”

“Yong-Hin, take a look at this. I managed to recover some details about this ‘Startimatum’. I even nabbed a picture. Take a look at this face. I have no doubt in my mind that this is Mr. Hyusen. Our science teacher is a part-time pornographer.”
Yong-Hin giggled. “How devastating it would be if such information was leaked to the world!”
Yul-Hiis relaxed in his seat. “‘Twould be, but I think it will be all the more satisfying to watch him out himself. It’s not like we’re kids, exactly. I wouldn’t call adolescents children. We’ll understand what he’s done.”
“We’re only barely adolescents, though.”
“We’re adolescents nonetheless,” Yul-Hiis said. “Whatever the occasion, I look forward to seeing the look on his face when they all learn that Startimatum and Mr. Hyusen are the same person. Heh!”
Yong-Hin giggled. “My oh my do people love to hide the parts of themselves they’re ashamed of.”
“That can be said without a doubt!”

***

Yong-Hin had found herself with an insatiable curiosity for all things in the world ever since she was young. Her parents interchangeably described her as a treasure hunter, investigator and just a nosy young girl. In her early life, many of the facts she sought after were subjects that would help her in school or taught her tidbits she personally found quite interesting.
However, as she grew older and after having met the equally-curious Yul-Hiis, Yong-Hin’s curiosity extended past that and she focused most of her energy on finding out far darker things about the world–and the tidbit she and Yul-Hiis had found on their science teacher being a pornographer made her want to laugh each time she remembered it during class.
“Ah, I hope the discovery of information becomes even easier in the future,” Yong-Hin said. “Already you almost had to pay for a bimbo in order to find out that tidbit about ‘Startimatum’.”
“What did you say?” Mr. Hyusen asked. Yong-Hin and Yul-Hiis giggled. “Absolutely nothing, Mr. Hyusen!”
Mr. Hyusen gaved them a concerned expression. He pushed his glasses up and stared down at a book.
“Oh, he’s so blatant it can’t be long now.”
“The risk was far higher than paying for a bimbo, fair Yong-Hin,” Yul-Hiis sighed. “Had I gone any farther it would have been more of a man-bo I was paying for. That district is truly curious. I might have to visit it again someday.”
“The idea of you getting with a man-bo isn’t all that unappealing,” Yong-Hin giggled. Yul-Hiis gave her a wry look. “Your idea of entertainment confuses me, Yong-Hin. Now, what say we go looking for another piece of information today?” Yul-Hiis blinked. “Damn it!”
“What’s wrong?”
“I’d love to go searching the murky depths of downtown with you today, but I just remembered I and my parents have an obligation to some stupid butcher Narwhaltae family. We promised them we would go fishing and talk on something or another. My parents truly want me to befriend their young son, but he is simply so boring!”
“Oh, what a shame,” Yong-Hin sighed. “Well, I have plenty of time, so I’ll make sure to go and look for plenty of juicy tidbits to share with you when you come back from your boring obligations.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“You always find the best ones,” Yul-Hiis sighed.
“Well then, tomorrow we’ll meet again?”
Yul-Hiis squeezed her hand. “Tomorrow for certain, Yong-Hin. Find something delicious, alright?”
“I’ll never find anything half as delicious as your Startimatum,” Yong-Hin giggled. Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed that Hyusen was staring in their direction, again looking perturbed as if he had overheard what she had said.

Downtown was fairly sparse that day, but to Yong-Hin it felt as though people were everywhere. She spotted a man rustling through garbage. A woman handing out pastries, dark circles under her eyes. A Normal walking by wearing a bulky shirt through which she could see the bulge of wings. Everywhere she looked seemed to be a treasure-trove of people with new stories for her to learn, but she had no idea where to start, nor knew which people she could approach and successfully learn the stories of.
‘Yul-Hiis has a better way of going about this. He actually goes to the place these sorts of people inhabit. Meanwhile I have no idea how I might learn about these people in any way, nor any guarantee that they are actually anyone interesting.’
She strained to listen for any sort of conversation that might be going on nearby her. Only a minute passed before she heard a voice off to her left.
“…and they act like, ‘Oh, because you’re a celebrity, you must be infallible!’ but the truth is, most celebrities have a dark secret to hide. It pretty much goes hand-in-hand with being a celebrity, having some dark disgusting part of you that you want to lock away.”
“Do you have one, then?”
“No way! I’m open about myself because this kind of behavior pisses me off! But you wanna know what? Don’t go blabbing it to the public just yet, but I found out that Veu-Nil keeps a fetish diary. And they say that Bes-Kaal beats on her family behind the scenes for dragging down her fame!”
“Whoa!”
“No duh. You might hear a lot of things as fans, but we hear even more within the industry–dark secrets they want to be kept secret…”
Yong-Hin smirked. The story interested her, not just because of the tidbits being exchanged but the mere fact of the celebrities gossiping about each other to fans. She jot down the notes, then sighed.
‘But this isn’t enough. Maybe Yul-Hiis would think it’s a tasty tidbit, but he always lets me off easy because he likes me. This isn’t enough. After Startimatum, I need to outdo him. And in order to outdo him, I’ll have to head off to a darker side of the world and do some serious investigation.’
She stood behind to listen to the rest of the conversation, then clapped her hands and flew off in search of a story.
‘One of these places has got to be less bright than the others.’ She checked around for any sign of someone familiar or someone interesting for her to watch. Flying over an alleyway, she caught scent of a strange smell that made her retch, and at the same time enticed her. Curious, she landed and folded her wings, taking a check around.
The alleyway was filled with dumpsters and strange powders lying on the ground, but the scent got stronger the more she walked on. Yong-Hin took her chances and walked out of the alleyway, only to be greeted by the sight of many more. She wanted to remark aloud, but reminded herself she had no idea what was awaiting her in this strange place.
She checked down each of the alleyways, and each one held a surprise–down one was a group of people who appeared to be doing drugs, while down another a Vampire man chewed from an Animated Pumpkin’s arm. Down one even further along, she spotted two people in what appeared to be just prior to intercourse–and it took a lot of resistance for her to look away.
Each alleyway held a curious secret and seemed to have its own tale, and the people down one seemed to be oblivious to what went down the other, even when a group of children chatting casually was right across from a Goathoof man being beaten by a furious Minomix yelling curses. Yong-Hin made sure to jot down a note on each alleyway, though even she felt a little off-put by the strange place and made sure not to stay close to one for two long.
The alleyway strip seemed to come to its end, a small stone path leading into a slightly forested area. Yong-Hin followed the path and found herself in a small neighborhood, the houses fairly symmetrical yet all showing some significant sign of damage that differentiated each one from the other.
Yelling sounded from one of the houses, and Yong-Hin peeked in through a murky window. A Minomix man was yelling at his wife and children, looking just as furious as the one she had spotted earlier. In another house she could hear faint sounds of nervous mumbling, but in yet another despite the poor condition of their house a small family was eating dinner and laughing.
The sight of it all was fascinating to Yong-Hin, who made sure to write down every bit of what she saw. ‘Anyone who says this world doesn’t have more to offer is lying. This neighborhood is proof of it!’

***

When Yong-Hin arrived home, she was surprised to see Yul-Hiis sitting on her bed.
“Hello there, Yongie,” he said. “You look even fairer now than at school.”
“What are you doing here, Yul-Hiis? I thought you had obligations. And who said you could come into my room?”
“That is something you’ll have to take up with your mother,” he sighed. “But the obligations ended faster than expected because my father decided to pick a bit of a….fight would sound better, admittedly, but it was more of a disagreement. So I figured I’d come here and wait for you.” He laid down on his stomach. “So, do you have juicy tidbits for me to hear? I’m curious about what’s in that notebook of yours.”
Yong-Hin hopped onto her bed. “I did find quite a bit. I felt adventurous today. I think I worried my parents a bit with how late I came home. But, not much. Now, take a look.” She opened the notebook.
“Celebrities are apparently gossiping about how one or the other has a dark secret they prefer to keep from the world. Apparently Banta Veu-Nil keeps a fetish diary. And when I went a little further into a dark area near downtown, I found a whole little alleyway strip that held all sorts of nefarious doings. Go past that alleyway strip, and you find a small neighborhood. In this neighborhood you’ll find the occasional nuclear family, but most of the families here are abusive drug-addicts. My curiosity made me wonder if that was a connection to the fact that most there were Dualbreeds, but, being one myself and my best friend being one I should be the last to judge. Either way, it’s a true showing of the dark underbelly of the world, don’t you think?”
“The dark underbelly of the world has existed for a long time, Yong-Hin, long as good and neutral have been around. We on the more neutral side of the spectrum are lucky. We benefit from the good and avoid arrest in this good-dominated society, and yet we are open to the evil and are able to see it without becoming disgusted or sick. Merely, curious. But what prompted you to head off to such a dangerous part of town anyway? Weren’t you scared?”
“Not at all. A Demon’s powers, even a half-Demon’s, are made for combat, for the most part. And I’m a succubus-type Demon–I could always use my virginity to my advantage.”
“I suppose you could,” chuckled Yul-Hiis.
“Seeing all this made me wonder. Do you think someday when I’m older, I should open a business dedicated to collecting information?”
“They have something like that already. It’s called the government.”
“I don’t mean like that. I mean for my personal use, and there would be nothing the government could do about it.”
“Sounds like a fairly far-fetched dream, my dear Yong-Hin. But if anyone could do it, it would be you. Just make sure you have your head screwed on straight if you do pursue it.”
“You should know better by now that it just doesn’t do to underestimate me, Yul-Hiis,” Yong-Hin said with a wink.

—–
Eteibreit relaxed in her chair at her office, dwelling back on her earliest discoveries. Her business had flourished since its opening and now she had access to several bits of information. She couldn’t suppress her smirk at the memory of the small investigations she had used to do.
‘Now I have far more power,’ she thought. ‘The old me would have been overwhelmed if she knew her musing had become a reality!’