6.583.Eul-Bok’s Potential

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 583
“Eul-Bok’s Potential”

Baal-Mist watched Eir-Tyuj’s house closely. A sudden flash of light illuminated the windows. He smirked.

Sale-Dessu opened his eyes. He was in Eir-Tyuj’s house. Eir-Tyuj herself was sitting nearby, and she seemed a bit startled by his sudden appearance.
“Why hello, Sale-Dessu,” she said. “Hello to you too, Eul-Bok.”
“Hello, Grepeta! You sound awfully cheerful today.”
“Ah, old age can do that to ya. Don’t go thinking I’ve lost my vigor, though, or you’ll be sorely disappointed!” She let out a cackle. “What brings you here today?”
“Yeah Father, you never did tell me why we were coming here.”
“It’s something I’d like to discuss with Apeta alone,” he said. “Apeta, would you mind if Eul-Bok went off to do something else while we speak?”
“Why?”
“I have my reasons.”
Eir-Tyuj huffed. “Well, I know your boy has more sense than to go around messing things up. Go on and do what you will, Eul-Bok. We’ll call you back later.”
“How come I can’t be involved in this discussion?” He huffed.
“There’s a reason for it, Eul-Bok. Please, go off and do your own thing for now.”
“Listen to your father, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok pouted slightly, but soon head off, though Sale-Dessu could tell by his gait that he wasn’t happy.
“What is it you want to talk to me about? Your expression and tone tell me it’s serious, and considering you sent Eul-Bok away, I’m assuming it has something to do with him?”
“It does,” he said. “Apeta, both you and me know of Eul-Bok’s potential. He has the same innate potential other Warlocks have, and he seems to have a natural talent for these sorts of powers. But something’s concerning me. You and I are skilled in our powers too, but we struggled a bit, didn’t we?”
“I’ve always told you that I was one who had to work for her ability,” Eir-Tyuj said. “You likely could have been more skilled earlier on, had you not gone through the trauma you had. Eul-Bok having a natural talent for it does mean that he might be able to pull off more skilled spells earlier, especially if that’s what you’ve been teaching him.”
“But that’s the problem. Not everything he’s been able to do I’ve been teaching him. Apeta, have you ever heard of Subconscious Shift?”
“Yes, I have. There were plans to bring back the initial experiments when I was a young girl, but it was still deemed too intrusive to toy with. I would agree–such a power is really beyond what we should be using.” Eir-Tyuj scoffed. “Sale-Dessu, you’re not going to tell me Eul-Bok was able to pull off such a spell.”
“I have reason to believe that he was. I had a strange, rapidly changing dream recently, and I found Eul-Bok collapsed outside my bedroom door with a spellbook open to that page when I woke up. All the signs point to him having successfully completed the Subconscious Shift spell. I had never told him about this spell prior to him using it.”
Eir-Tyuj gave him an uncertain look. “Are you certain?”
“Apeta, would I lie to you? I already know how you can get when I do. Would I risk that?”
Eir-Tyuj sighed. “Fair enough. But if that is true, that really is beyond what I was expecting of him. I knew he was talented, that much is obvious, but that’s going above and beyond for such a young and inexperienced Warlock. Still, I may have a theory as to why he has this ability.”
“What’s that?”
Sale-Dessu gave Eir-Tyuj a curious look, but it soon became obvious it was not her who had spoken. Eul-Bok was standing a short distance away from them, watching intently.
“Weren’t you told to listen to your father?” Eir-Tyuj scolded. “Goodness.”
“How much did you hear, Eul-Bok?”
“I heard a little,” he admitted. “Well, actually, everything except the beginning of the conversation. Father, I can tell when you want to talk about me. No matter how hard you try, you’re not all that good at hiding your emotions.”
“I used to be good at that,” he sighed. “Becoming a father has made me softer…”
“That’s strange. It was fairly contrary with my husband and your father,” she said coyly. Sale-Dessu glared at her. “In any event, it was not your place to listen in.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. But I really want to know, you two think I’m really talented because I pulled off that spell?”
“Research on it was cancelled, so it counts as an incomplete spell. Performing an incomplete spell or finding your own is indicative of talent. …Apeta told me that, anyway.”
“And it’s certainly true.”
“Geez, you two are too nice.”
“We aren’t saying all this to be nice, Eul-Bok. After all, I don’t believe it’s because you were naturally blessed with such talent. I think there’s an explanation for it.”
“What’s that?”
“You, Eul-Bok, came into this world as the result of a power. You were reliant on a power to move around for a long time. You became autonomous because of powers. Well, putting aside your other exposures, you are a V-Puppet! V-Puppetry is a power. Owing your existence to power, that is likely the reason why you have such skill. Aside from being somewhat related to people such as Sale-Dessu and myself, of course.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Eul-Bok said. “If that’s the case, that’s pretty cool!”
“You have a troublemaker on your hands, Sale-Dessu,” Eir-Tyuj sighed. “In any event, of course you’ll still have to hone such power–you can’t just expect everything to work perfectly the first time. Even assuming you have such a talent for power thanks to the means of your birth, even those whose power is immense need to practice.”
“I know that.”
“And please, don’t try unfinished spells like that again,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Why not?”
“They still pose a risk,” Eir-Tyuj said. “And seeing as Sale-Dessu here has become far more nervous in the years I’ve been gone–”
“Apeta, please!”
“Don’t I know that,” Eul-Bok giggled. “But that is really cool. It has me wondering though, are you sure it’s ’cause I’m a V-Puppet and not just because of how Father gave me powers? He’s powerful, so couldn’t that be why I am, too?”
“It could be both. But remember, your case is currently one-of-a-kind, and your other case rare. Who knows? I do sincerely doubt that it’s just natural talent, however. There is a cause for this.”
Eul-Bok nodded.
“Perhaps you should teleport us back this time, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said.
“I guess I could try. Though the teleportation spell is so easy to trip up on!”
“It certainly is, isn’t it? But it’s one every Astineth should know.”
“Why’s that?”
“…” Sale-Dessu fell silent. “Oh.”
“Ah, it was meant to be humorous, Sale-Dessu.”
“Sorry, Apeta, I know. It just reminded me of those Witches and Warlocks who nearly found out where we lived. It still unsettles me.”
“Well, don’t worry about it! You haven’t had trouble with them in a while, have you? And with Eul-Bok on your side, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“She’s right, Father!”
Sale-Dessu cracked a small smile. “I suppose she is. Just as she is oftentimes…”
Still, Sale-Dessu couldn’t shake his unsettled feeling.

—–
“Baal-Mist, what did you call us here for?”
“No particular reason. Aside from sharing my message of hope with you all. I really do think we’ll have a breakthrough. We were just too hasty the first time we tried things. Timing is still everything, though. Too early and we risk sabotaging the mission; too late and we might not have a chance to do everything as intended. I need to plan things carefully, however…I do think things might be working in my favor.”
“What makes you say that?”
He smirked. “Oh, nothing in particular. Maybe wishful thinking. I suppose you could say I’ve been living in the past lately. Thinking on how much I want this goal to come true…”
“I honestly don’t understand you sometimes, Baal-Mist. You’re a handsome Warlock and your ability isn’t half bad. Why waste your time on this project?”
“True, it might seem useless to you. But to me it’s more than a mere ‘project’. I need closure. Without it, good looks and powers are useless to me. So quiet down and let me handle this. Trust in me. I give you my guarantee that now, I know what I’m doing.”

14.560.The Morals of V-Puppetry

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 560
“The Morals of V-Puppetry”

“La-Iin, I have a question.”
“What?”
“Do you really think it’s fair to shove me into such a tight space while you’re doing your homework? You take FOREVER to do it. And I can feel discomfort, you know.”
“I know, that’s why I did it. I hate doing my homework, so seeing you like that out the corner of my eye gives me motivation to go on.”
“How!?”
“This homework is but a momentary distraction while I wait for puberty to enhance my abilities. Sooner or later I’ll become taller and stronger and I’ll be able to shove more than just you into a small space like that!”
“If you shove a person into a tight space the way you’ve shoved me, they’ll die, I hope you know.”
“Oh, I know.”
“I thought your niche was torture, not murder.”
“Given the choice I’d never choose to murder. Torture’s more entertaining. But don’t think I’m above murder, because I’m not.”
“Like you’ve ever killed anything before.”
“I’ve killed bugs and plants.”
“Oh, woop-de-doo.”
“If I killed a cicada in front of a Cicadin they would go crazy.”
“Yeah, amaz–actually, that might be pretty entertaining to watch.”
“Mm-hm.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that you’re an evil f@%ker for shoving me in here, though. Being a V-Puppet is equal to suffering. They’re almost the same thing.”
“Yeah, when you’re evil you do stuff like this.”
The bedroom fell silent, save for the sound of La-Iin’s pencil against paper.
“Hey, I’ve got a fun idea for you and me once you’re done with that.”
“I can do it now, you know.”
“Oh yeah. I was thinking, after what I said earlier–V-Puppetry is pretty evil. You bring this thing to life knowing that it will never be able to move on its own, well, unless you’re crazy like Sale-Dessu, but he’s a massive exception. And even if you COULD, everyone would want their hands on you for research. Before you become a V-Puppet, you’re an empty husk and people would think nothing of losing or breaking you. Maybe not even when you are already a V-Puppet.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty horrible. But don’t blame me because even if I wasn’t evil, I brought you to life when I was just a baby. Babies are pretty much always neutral.”
“Yeah, yeah, but you forgot the fun idea part. So Sale-Dessu calls himself good, right? And I know he made Eul-Bok autonomous and that kid’s his devoted toadie, but think we might be able to mess with his mind by telling him this stuff?”
“Ooh, mental torture.”
“Exactly! I wanna see if we can get a reaction out of him. Can we go?”
“Certainly.” La-Iin set down her pencil, maneuvered Bes-Isa out of the cramped space, and walked downstairs. Choungetsu greeted her with a happy bark.
“Not today, Choungetsu.”
Choungetsu stared at her in confusion.
“Where are you going now?” Mit-Sun asked. “I was about to make a snack.”
“Why, because you’re bored?”
“Don’t use that tone with me. Summer isn’t as fun for me as it is for you, you know. Meanwhile you get to go out nearly every day if you want to.”
“Yes, well, I’m going somewhere now, too. Over to Sale-Dessu’s. Just so you don’t kill me. You know, Mama, there are plenty of things you can do. Haner being useless doesn’t change that. You have your Dami and other friends and me, but today Bes-Isa got to me first so you’re out of luck. I’m going over now.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Just come back soon. I might take you up on that offer of doing something with you.”
“So long as it’s not annoying.” She walked out the door and head over to Sale-Dessu’s house. The door was locked as usually recently, so she kicked on the door. When Sale-Dessu arrived, he looked frazzled.
“Spell gone wrong or is this because La-Iin kicked the door?”
“What do you think!?” Sale-Dessu said. “You really scared me, La-Iin. I had to check out the window to make sure it was you!”
“Who else would it be? The police?”
“Um, no. Well, you two can come in. Oh, La-Iin, what do you think about tea?”
“Unless you fill it with milk it’s disgusting. Mama made me drink it once and it made me want to throw up until milk was put in. It makes my mouth go crazy!”
“Well, I boiled this tea with milk, so maybe you’ll like it? I agree, tea tastes best with milk.”
“You mean it only tastes good with lots of milk.”
Sale-Dessu beckoned La-IIn into the kitchen and set down cups of tea.
“Father, should I even bother trying to drink this?”
“That’s up to you, Eul-Bok. Try if you want. By the way, La-Iin and Bes-Isa are over.”
La-Iin heard Eul-Bok groan. “Father, why do you even bother letting them in anymore?”
“They’re my allies, Eul-Bok.” Sale-Dessu set the cups of tea down on the table. La-Iin climbed into the chair next to Eul-Bok, who glared at her out the corner of his eye.
“Milk tea? Why are you doing something as mundane as this?”
“Not all my experiments are power-related. And I had a craving. I drank this once when I was young…” Sale-Dessu shook his head. “Anyway, you can have as much as you want, La-Iin.”
La-Iin took a sip of the tea and gave it a curious look.
“What did you come here for today, La-Iin? Did you want the books I promised you? I have them in a bag somewhere. I’m sorry I didn’t get them to you last time.”
“Actually, we’re here at my request, because there’s something curious I wanted to talk with you about, Sale-Dessu. It has to do with V-Puppetry.”
“What’s that? Have you changed your mind about autonomy, Bes-Isa?”
“I still want to be autonomous as much as ever, and not in the way you have right now. That hasn’t changed, and it has nothing to do with that. In fact it’s incredibly contrary, because it has to do with V-Puppetry prior to becoming autonomous like Euly-boy there has.”
“You know, if you don’t like me, you don’t need to give me a nickname. I don’t call you Bessy.”
“If I ever hear that out of your mouth again, the day I become autonomous I’ll slug you!”
“Don’t fight!” Sale-Dessu snapped. “Er, yes? What is it?”
“I’ve been thinking about all the times I suffered at the hands of La-Iin. All the times she flung me around and all the times I’ve been left on my own, just to my thoughts…I know as much as I do because I’ve been left by the radio a lot. Eul-Bok probably knows as much as he does because you dote on him like a son. But when you really get into the nitty-gritty, V-Puppets are pretty evil, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re bringing an inanimate object to life, and even though lots of people make little dolls specifically to become V-Puppets, there are lots of people who buy mass-produced V-Puppet shells and make those into their V-Puppets. How would you feel if you knew that someone was mass-producing Sale-Dessu look-alikes somewhere in the world?”
“…”
“Lots of people see V-Puppets as just a toy. And when they outgrow their ‘toy’ they put it away and forget about it for years. And what about when you die? V-Puppets live until we are too destroyed to be repaired. If our master dies, we will never be able to move the same way again. We’ll just rot away, left to our thoughts, stuck in the same dark place for all eternity….”
La-Iin glanced at Sale-Dessu’s expression. During Bes-Isa’s rant it had gone from a curious one to one of horror. She smirked.
“When people have babies, most of them are looking to care for the baby, and raise it to become good, neutral or evil, but still they want to love and cherish the baby and watch them achieve a goal. They want the baby to survive and such. Some people think otherwise, but lots of people, even some evil people, think it’s horrible to use a baby in that way depending on what they did. Even some evil people think killing babies is going too far. But with a V-Puppet? We’re more disposable. Some people don’t even believe we are able to talk on our own. We’re mostly seen as the sign of a child’s first power, and are equated as being as precious as a disposable toy the child will eventually get rid of or in a best-case scenario pass down. In short, even good people tend to make V-Puppets suffer. Even when we’re carried around and loved, we’re essentially like a person who’s become little more than a vegetable. We cannot move. We can mostly just think. And only a person who really takes us seriously would care for us in a way that makes us happy. Some people even torture us like La-Iin does to me. And what she does isn’t even the worst that can be done. It’s all pretty sick, huh?”
“What’s wrong with you?” Eul-Bok asked.
“I hear a lot on the news. …hey, why’re you crying?”
“I wasn’t taught that V-Puppets are disposable,” he said. “I was taught they were just like a baby, and they should be loved and cared for. I think it’s horrible that people would do that to V-Puppets! I don’t think they’re disposable or like a child’s toy that they’ll outgrow, and I’m certain plenty of people would agree with me! I would never just abandon Eul-Bok like that!”
“Yeah, because you basically adopted him. Ah, but, well, I guess we’re not all the same, and not all of us have miserable lives. I just wanted to give you something to chew on.”
“I wish I could help make more V-Puppets autonomous,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “But I don’t want to compromise Eul-Bok, either…”
“Don’t get so worked up over it. I just wanted to make you think.”
“You’ve definitely made me think.”
“You guys upset Father. Now he’s going to be miserable for the rest of the day.”
“I didn’t say anything,” La-Iin said. “The milk tea came out okay, Sale-Dessu.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Thank you, La-Iin.”

—–
“Father, what Bes-Isa said to you isn’t still stressing you out, is it?”
“No, not really,” he sighed. “But Apeta and Mamun, they taught me a V-Puppet isn’t just a glorified toy. I know you’re just like all living beings. You have your own feelings. And you have hopes and dreams just like us people.”
“If it weren’t for what would happen if you did, do you think you would tell the world you knew how to make us autonomous?”
“I would if I could,” he said. “But with the danger my name’s caused me, the sudden fame, the changes to my life, the disruptions in yours…I could never do it, Eul-Bok. No matter how much my soul wants to.”

2.548.The Contents of a Shell

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 548
“The Contents of a Shell”

Sale-Dessu closely examined Eul-Bok, checking him over in all sorts of places. Eul-Bok watched him as he did, curiosity in his gaze. La-Iin and Bes-Isa sat on the sidelines, confused for the most part about what was going on.
“I don’t get any of this. What exactly is the point of you examining him?”
“I thought I told you before. As far as we know, Eul-Bok is the first V-Puppet who has become autonomous. He’s been fine for almost six months, so I’m sure nothing bad will happen, but I still would rather keep a close eye on him. It helps me understand more too.”
“I’m used to it by now. It was weird at first, but now it’s just a part of my life.”
“Alright, Eul-Bok, you’re about done,” Sale-Dessu said, backing away from him. “La-Iin, you said you wanted to see the books I used for reference on that paper?”
“Yes.”
“Are you sure? They’re pretty long and wordy books and I can’t give you all of them. Some of them are in the Warlock language.”
“I can read Vaelis though. And worst comes to worse I guess I always have Mama. Or Dami! He’d be even better!”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “Well, even if you need help I’ll go and get those books for you. But where did I put them…I know they’re in the book room, but…”
“Hey, Warlocky, before you go.”
“Hm?”
“There’s something I’ve been wondering about little boy Eul-Bok here. Namely, he’s autonomous, but you never did tell us what you put into him to make him alive. Obviously if you used the power of V-Puppetry, he wouldn’t be able to move on his own, so what exactly did you use to help make him autonomous?”
Sale-Dessu paled. La-Iin blinked. “It–it’s complicated, Bes-Isa. I’d have to explain it to you later. Let me go get those books for La-Iin now. And if you have any other questions, feel free to ask those!”
Sale-Dessu left the room at a faster pace than normal. La-Iin, Bes-Isa and Eul-Bok watched him off.
“Well that was awfully suspicious.”
“I know. It just makes me really curious.” La-Iin turned to Eul-Bok. “Do you know what Sale-Dessu put in you to make you live?”
“He never told me. Well, I know a few things, but Father can make all sorts of things, so I was never suspicious about it. If he needed something big he could make it out of just a tissue!”
“Like the tissue in a real person’s body…but even if he could do that, who’s to say it would actually work?”
“Huh?”
“It doesn’t make much sense to me still how you’re alive and moving around whether he made you organs or got them through some nefarious way. And I’ve been curious about that for a while. Someday what you have might be what I have.”
Eul-Bok glared. “No way are you looking the same as me!”
“I never said that! I wouldn’t want that either!”
“I’m curious too. But not for the reason Bes-Isa is. I just want to know. Let me see…”
La-Iin approached Eul-Bok, who backed away from her. “Hey, what are you doing? Don’t try and fight me! I have Warlock powers, a-and I’m a little bit taller than you!”
“But that’s how tall you’re going to stay, unlike me,” La-Iin said, puffing out her chest with pride. “Besides, it’s nothing bad I’m going to do to you, eh heh heh…you should be more worried about what Bes-Isa might do to you, and she isn’t autonomous.”
“The day that I am, though…”
“So come here!”
La-Iin flew at Eul-Bok, mouth open wide. Eul-Bok tried to both move out the way and begin to cant the teleportation spell, but La-Iin knocked him down before he could do either. Stunned, he could only lay there in horror as La-Iin brought her fangs close to his neck. When her fangs met his neck, however, they crashed against wood and La-Iin recoiled, covering her mouth and muttering a curse.
“Ha ha! You forgot that I’m not fleshy like you!”
La-Iin growled. “Well, just because that doesn’t work doesn’t mean we can’t find out what’s inside of you a different way! I don’t think your blood would taste all that good anyway.”
“Says you!”
“That’s not really something you should be indignant about, you know.”
“Let’s see.” La-Iin lifted up Eul-Bok’s robes, and he squealed. “I don’t see any sort of compartment…”
“There’s actually one right here. You can see it if you look real close. But it’s one of those sealed shut compartments that you might see on a well-built toy. If anyone could open it it would be Sale-Dessu and not us.”
“Damn.”
“Why do you girls want to know what’s inside me so bad anyway!? You don’t like me, why should you care!?”
“Bes-Isa gave you an answer already. But here’s mine. Eul-Bok, do you know what’s inside us?”
“You’ve got organs, and you’ve got stuffing.”
“Precisely. Just because I don’t care for you doesn’t mean I can’t still be curious. Especially if the answer is violent. I like violence.”
“You’re so one-dimensional…”
La-Iin’s wings began to flap wildly. “That’s what you think, puppet-boy, but if I was one-dimensional my every move would be predictable!”
She flew up behind him and lifted him above the ground. Eul-Bok began to cry. “Please let me down! I–I’m begging!” He reached for his wand. “And if you don’t do it peacefully, I’m gonna have to use force on you!”
“Ooh, he’s threatening you, La-Iin. Either he likes you or he’s really scared.”
“San-Kyung is the only one for me. Besides, he’s probably scared. Okay, Eul-Bok, I’ll let you down.”
She swooped down to the ground, and Eul-Bok let out another cry as she slammed him onto the couch and beckoned Bes-Isa close to her. She maneuvered Bes-Isa across his body.
“What do you see, Bes-Isa? Anything interesting? No other compartments, I bet, but anything good?”
“I don’t see anything else, and I also don’t appreciate you slamming me against Eul-Bok. If I ever become autonomous, you’ll pay for that physically and with vuyong. But aside from that, when you slammed me against him, I thought of something. This kid’s made out of wood. You’ve got some strength to you. With a little force you could probably bust him up a little without Sale-Dessu noticing and banning us from here forever.”
Eul-Bok shrieked and began to struggle under La-Iin’s grasp.
“You’re right, Bes-Isa, I do have a lot of strength. And I like that option. Even if Sale-Dessu notices and does ban me, I have a backup plan for that!”
She bit into her arm and held Eul-Bok down as she transformed. Though he struggled before, during and after the transformation, the further along she got the easier it was to restrain him, and by the time her transformation was complete Eul-Bok’s struggles felt weak to her.
“Don’t worry, Eul-Bok. I never had any intention of killing you–my ally wouldn’t forgive me if I did. So sit tight and rest assured in the knowledge that this all for the sake of curiosity!”
She raised a fist and was ready to bring it down on Eul-Bok’s chest when a familiar voice hit her ears.
“Is everything alright? I heard Eul-Bok cry out and–Eul-Bok!”
Sale-Dessu ran to Eul-Bok’s side and forced La-Iin off of him, then hugged him close.
“What happened, Eul-Bok!?”
“They–they tried to break me opeeeeen!” He cried. “I was so scared! I thought she was really gonna do it!”
“Why did you do that, La-Iin?”
“You wouldn’t tell Bes-Isa what’s inside of Eul-Bok, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. If he made it easy I wouldn’t have had to knock him down like that.”
Sale-Dessu narrowed his eyes. “There are no excuses for what you did, La-Iin, and that was an excuse. I told you, it’s too complicated to explain what’s inside of Eul-Bok. I was going to tell you someday, but what you did here makes me think I should never tell you.”
“Are we banned from your house now?”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “No, but I don’t want you here any more today. Go home, La-Iin.”
“Alright. But don’t forget this, Sale-Dessu: we’re allies. One way or another I’ll get the knowledge of what’s inside of Eul-Bok out of you someday.”
La-Iin and Bes-Isa head for the door.
“Thank you, Father…I was so scared…”
“It’s alright, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu soothed. “I would never let any harm come to you.”
Eul-Bok smiled. “You’re the greatest Father, Father. I bet if you had a real kid that’d be true too.”
“You are my real child, Eul-Bok.” He stroked his head. “I’m sorry that happened to you. Next time I’ll make sure to keep a closer eye on La-Iin.”
“Yeah. …hey, speaking of, did you ever give her those books?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “Oh sh–oh, I forgot to…”
Eul-Bok chuckled. “It’s alright. She didn’t deserve them anyway.”
“Ah, I’ll get them to her some other day…

—–
Later on that night, while in the midst of practicing a spell, Eul-Bok tripped and fell over.
“Oof! Aw man, that really hurt…”
His hand in particular felt the most painful, so he checked his hand out of sheer instict. Blood was dripping down his arm, and inside of the crack in his hand he caught a glimmer of what looked like muscle and bone. He shuddered.
‘Ahaha, Father just made those so I could live…’ Even feeling assured in that fact didn’t help the disturbed feeling he got from the sight in the first place.
“Um, Father? I hurt myself a little…”

29.453.The Clone Cause

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 453
“The Clone Cause”

It was a bright Sunday morning, the temperature chilly but otherwise fairly neutral. Some of La-Iin’s younger neighbors were outside, playing with their toys, parents, or friends. Gran-Howas was even outside with his V-Puppets.
La-Iin, however, was hopelessly bored. She tried to draw, but found she had no inspiration. She picked up her game, before remembering that she had recently completed her new one and now only had extras to do. She took Choungetsu on a walk, but quickly became frustrated by all the noise outside, and returned back home.
“I bet Dami’s doing more interesting things right now. He’s probably traveling to someplace like Aena.”
“Has he ever actually gone that far?”
“I don’t know! But he’s probably not the only one. Fer-Shi might be doing something fun with her parents….well, for her, anyway. But she’ll still be doing something even if it’s stupid. I bet San-Kyung is having a good time right now too. How I’d love to join him…”
“Are there any guarantees about that? The way you talked about San-Kyung gave me the impression that all he cared about was evil and his friends. Which is a weird combination, if you ask me.”
“I’d say it’s all you need for a fun time, but I found out that sometimes, you really do need an idea for evil. Anyway, it’s probably not just him. Rival-boy seems to be having fun a lot of the time. Or maybe today he’s just lying on his bed and feeling sorry for himself. Either way, he’s probably doing more than I am. Ai-Reia’s probably cramming more information into her head. That’s fun, for her. Sale-Dessu’s probably doing something fun with Eul-Bok, or something stupid…”
La-Iin blinked.
“First off, that’s a lot of probablies. Second off, you know, for those people you mentioned there are things you could do to find out if they’re up to anything. I know you can call Fer-Shi and Asul-Zenza. Now, San-Kyung, Dosa-Mina, and Ai-Reia, those three I understand, but Sale-Dessu lives right next door.”
“I know. Bringing him up gave me the perfect idea.” La-Iin smiled a sly grin. “There’s something I had been wanting to ask him lately. Something V-Puppet related.”
“Well, if it’s V-Puppet related, I sure hope you intend on taking me with you when you tell him this thing.”
“Oh, I do,” La-Iin said. “Come on! Let’s go now!”
La-Iin flung Bes-Isa off the bed and ran down the stairs, through the kitchen, the small hallway and into the living room. She head outside, closed the door behind her, and made a quick dash across to Sale-Dessu’s house, then tried to open the door. It was locked. She gave a frustrated huff.
“Looks like Sale-Dessu’s pulling that shit again,” Bes-Isa groaned. As La-Iin began to knock rapidly on the door, Bes-Isa yelled, “HEY! SALE-DESSU! OPEN UP! WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU!”
La-Iin began to bang on the door harder and more rapidly, so much so that when Sale-Dessu opened the door, her fist slammed into his stomach.
“Oops.”
Sale-Dessu sucked in a breath. “I could have sworn a long time ago I made you promise not to bother me randomly…”
“But that was a long time ago. This is now. And how would I know if I’m bothering you? Anyway, I want to talk to you about something.”
“What’s about”
“Something V-Puppetry related.”
“Oh.” Sale-Dessu nodded. “Come on in.”
La-Iin casually walked inside, glancing around the house and heading for the area she and Sale-Dessu normally held their meetings. Sale-Dessu followed close behind her and took his seat.
“Hey, Father, I heard you open the door. Is something–” Eul-Bok peeked his head into the room. As soon as he spotted La-Iin and Bes-Isa, he glared and walked out the room.
“Good. That means we don’t have to see him today.”
“So, um, La-Iin, what was it you wanted to know? Was it something about autonomy?”
“No, it wasn’t something about autonomy.”
“Really? But that’s what most of my V-Puppet studies were focused on.”
“Well, maybe you’ll have an answer for me anyway. I’m sure you had to study other things while trying to find out how to make Eul-Bok autonomous. So I wanted to know, do you think it would be possible to clone V-Puppets!?”
“WHAT!?”
“Huh!? Where did you get that idea?”
“So it’s not possible?” La-Iin asked, pointing at Sale-Dessu.
“Now what’s going on?” Eul-Bok asked, peeking his head in once again. “Do you need me to deal with her, Father? Maybe cramp her wings or something?”
“No!”
“Well, look who decided to show up again. Way to make this situation worse than it already was!”
Instead of looking agitated by Bes-Isa’s complaint, Eul-Bok looked confused. “What did I miss?”
“Well, Sale-Dessu? I’m waiting.”
“Why do you want to know something like that?”
“Because I do. You’re giving me mixed signals, Sale-Dessu. I don’t like it!”
“What does she want to know?”
“La-Iin wants to know if cloning V-Puppets is possible,” Sale-Dessu said. Eul-Bok snorted.
“What? That’s ridiculous. V-Puppets are just like you and Father in that regard, La-Iin. We’re all our own people. We could never be cloned, right, Father?”
“Well, not exactly,” Sale-Dessu said. Eul-Bok gaped. “When you said ‘cloning’, what exactly did you mean by that, La-Iin?”
“I meant cloning the original V-Puppet completely. Just curious.”
“Why would you want to know something like that!?”
La-Iin shushed Bes-Isa. “I have a reason. It’s not as bad as you think it is.”
“I’m not exactly sure what to make of that, because what I’m hearing so far sounds pretty bad!”
“That’s complicated,” Sale-Dessu said. “There are ways to copy the appearance of a V-Puppet entirely. That one is common knowledge. Lots of items can become V-Puppets, and if they’re mass-produced, they’re going to look a lot alike. I think I read a book once that mentioned companies that mass-produce plushes for the sole purpose of making them into V-Puppets.”
“There are companies that do that,” La-Iin said simply.
“The ways of cloning I know would only make an exact replica of their appearance. It wouldn’t copy them completely like you said.”
“Really? That’s all?” Eul-Bok gave a sigh of relief. “For a moment there you had me worried.”
“Geez, don’t make it sound so ominous. Is that all you know how to do, Warlocky-boy?”
Sale-Dessu raised his eyebrow at Bes-Isa. “Er, yes. As far as I know, there’s no way to copy a V-Puppet’s personality. I don’t think even cloning a V-Puppet’s appearance and bringing that one to life too would do anything about it. A-anyway, why would you even want to clone a V-Puppet?”
“I was curious. It was for an idea I had. But that’s none of your business. If you can’t help me with cloning V-Puppets, you can help me in other ways. I always expected that anyway.”
“Huh?”
“So, La-Iin, now that you’ve found out you can’t copy me, mind telling me why you wanted to do it in the first place?”
“Once we leave,” she whispered. “Okay, I’m good.”
“La-Iin, sometimes I don’t understand you,” he sighed. “Why would you want to copy a V-Puppet entirely? What benefits would you gain from having two of the same person? Wouldn’t you be disturbed if there was a copy of you running around?”
La-Iin stared at him. “My copy would always be inferior,” La-Iin said. “She might think that about me too. Or maybe we could team up together. Anyway, does it matter? I can’t copy myself or a V-Puppet. So I don’t care about hypothe….hypotheticals like that.”
She stood up and head for the door. “Good-bye,” Sale-Dessu called out. Once he heard the door close, he bowed his head.
“You know, I felt a little bad when she asked that question,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Why? You told her you couldn’t do it. You haven’t even cloned a V-Puppet’s appearance before, have you? So what do you have to feel bad about?”
“I know I haven’t done anything like that, but I wondered the same thing some years ago,” he said. “But cloning anyone, whether they’re a V-Puppet or not, would just be wrong. It would be harsh towards both the original and the copy.”
“I agree! …Father, are you alright? You look down.”
“I know it’s impossible. I know that very well. I’m just wondering, if I can make a V-Puppet autonomous, is it perhaps possible that there’s someone out there who could clone a V-Puppet entirely? Who knows? I don’t think anyone will ever completely understand about powers, whether a Warlock’s or not. That’s what makes them so fascinating…”

—–
“So, now that they can’t hear us, could you tell me why you wanted to copy me?”
“I didn’t want to copy you. I just wanted to know if it was possible. I keep thinking about the possibility of a V-Puppet army who helps me in the initial stages of ruling the world. At first I didn’t like it, but then I thought, I control V-Puppets anyway, so I’ll still be the one ruling the world. But I was thinking of making a new V-Puppet with a more obedient personality and copying them. I just figured it would be faster than bringing to life a whole bunch of separate ones.”
“That actually sounds like a fairly solid plan. Except, you’d need a V-Puppet who could hit hard enough for it to matter. An army of plushies, unless they were plushies stuffed with rocks or a LOT of plushies, probably wouldn’t be very helpful in ruling the world. And also, you have me to put into consideration.”
“Why? I wouldn’t make you fight with them.”
“That’s not the point. I’d gladly fight if there was something in it for me. And while I’m not sure I would trust you to hold to your word if you promised me something, there’s another issue I’m thinking about. And that’s that I just don’t like it when you make other V-Puppets. Tae-Kyok pissed me off. I bet an army would too.”
“But they would just be a disposable army. And I can’t believe you remember Tae-Kyok. I completely forgot about her.”
“Well, I can’t change how I feel. And I couldn’t do anything about it, either. I just figured I’d tell you.”

24.420.A V-Puppet’s Choices

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 420
“A V-Puppet’s Choices”

With La-Iin at school, Bes-Isa was left to lie on her bed, thinking over Eul-Bok’s recently gained autonomy.
‘It’s so close. If La-Iin would just say yes, I could have that autonomy.’
The desire to see what it was like to move around just as Eul-Bok did, just as everyone else did, was strong. She wanted to scream at La-Iin until she accepted and took her to Sale-Dessu, but she knew it wouldn’t work.
For ever since she had that nightmare, Bes-Isa had been thinking about the cons of autonomy as well as the pros.
‘If I become autonomous, then I can finally move. But then I’ll be responsible for myself. I wouldn’t be able to sleep in La-Iin’s bed anymore, and I’ll need new clothes. But if I was autonomous, I could finally go girl-watching without hoping La-Iin takes me someplace where there’s a lot of girls….but there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t call me a creeper. And if I became autonomous, I might be stuck inside the whole time…Eul-Bok still looks a little fake even now that he’s autonomous.’
She sighed. ‘I want this so bad, but there are a lot of disadvantages to it as well. And Eul-Bok might be fine being a shut-in like his master, but the first thing I’d want to do after becoming autonomous is move around outside.
‘And then….who’s to say that La-Iin won’t follow through on what she did in my nightmare? She seems like the kind of person who would turn on people she thought betrayed her…’

***

“La-Iin, mind having a discussion with me? It’s about something you don’t like, but humor me here because it’s not really anything bad.”
“If it’s autonomy, the answer’s no,” she said.
“It IS, but, uh….I’ve actually been thinking about the cons of autonomy as well as the pros….and I wanted your help in thinking more about it. Because, well, you can actually move around…so maybe you can tell me a little more about it.”
La-Iin gave her a quizzical look. “Maybe I’ll help you if you talk about some of these cons.”
“Of course you’d say that. Well, whatever. I was thinking, it’d be nice to finally move around. But then I’d be responsible for myself.”
“You would be.” La-Iin blinked. “That might be one good thing about you becoming autonomous. Mama would know you’re the one badmouthing her and not me. Then I wouldn’t get in trouble for no reason because she’s being stupid.”
“Well, but still…then I thought, I’d need new clothes. Although, I guess if Sale-Dessu made me about Eul-Bok’s size, I could probably fit some of yours.”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “No. You’d need new clothes.”
“You selfish little girl. Er, don’t hurt me! But then I thought, without you, I could go girl-watching all on my own. But then they might think I’m a creep.”
“They would,” La-Iin said simply.
“…uh-huh. And that made me think of another thing. …if I became autonomous, it might show that there’s a little something wrong. Eul-Bok still looks kinda fake, I mean, come on, he’s got some ball joints in places. Nobody could think he’s a Pureblood Warlock. And there’s no such autonomous species as “Doll”….people would be able to tell, and then I might be stuck inside a lot…”
“I wouldn’t want people taking you away and opening you up. You belong to me. And I mean that literally.”
“I figured. What other way would you mean it? And that’s my biggest issue. I could become autonomous and finally get to move my body on my own and be responsible for my own actions, do whatever I want….except I couldn’t, because I’d only be the second V-Puppet ever made autonomous, and the first by public standards since Sale-Dessu keeps Eul-Bok inside all the time.”
“And Sale-Dessu said Eul-Bok almost died, so there’s that,” La-Iin said. “I don’t think you should do it, Bes-Isa. But I guess that’s pointless to say since it’s up to me anyway whether you do or don’t.”
“How rude. And technically it’s up to Sale-Dessu, isn’t it? He’s the one who has to do the procedure. …but you have a point. Autonomy Sale-Dessu’s way has a lot of cons I didn’t think about before. It’s not a perfect procedure, and he’s only done it once before. I could end up dying, or being stuck inside, and I can’t really imagine what’s worse. I mean, I’m stuck inside a lot right now not being able to move, but I wonder, would it be more frustrating if I actually could?”
“I wouldn’t like being stuck inside all the time,” La-Iin said. “I take Choungetsu on long walks for a reason.”
“Ah, I’m going to regret this, but…I think you’re right, La-Iin. Trust me, I still do want to become autonomous, and if there’s ever a day I can do that perfectly, I’ll take my chance no matter how many obstacles you throw in my way. …but right now, there’s too many cons. I mean, think about it. My pros are that I get to move around. My cons are that I need new clothes, I’m stuck inside, I’ll look weird….”
“Is there something else?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“You sounded like you were going to say something else,” she said. “Oh well.”
‘Well, I guess there is, but she doesn’t need to hear that,’ Bes-Isa thought. ‘After all, the idea of being her enemy is terrifying….I’ve seen those drawings of ‘rival-boy’ before…’

“Did you make a decision, Bes-Isa?” Sale-Dessu asked.
At La-Iin’s coaxing, she and Bes-Isa had head over to the Astineth house to tell him once and for all that Bes-Isa had decided against getting autonomy from him. Still, the whole time Bes-Isa felt agitated, at La-Iin, at the situation, and at the look of hope on Sale-Dessu’s face that indicated he most likely thought she was going to ask for her autonomy now.
“Yes, I did. Although something’s telling me it’s not the decision you thought I was going to make….I’ve decided against becoming autonomous, at least for now.”
Instead of looking disappointed, Sale-Dessu looked confused. “Well, that’s fine, but why? I thought you really wanted to become autonomous, Bes-Isa. You even said once that you wanted to get your autonomy before Eul-Bok did.”
“Thank goodness she didn’t,” Eul-Bok said, sounding snide.
“I was only thinking about the pros of autonomy beforehand, which is basically just I can move around. I thought there were a lot more, but instead I found a whole bunch of cons. Some were just simple ones, like maybe looking weird or needing new clothes, but then there were ones like being stuck inside all the time so people don’t dissect me, or the chance of death you said exists in getting this procedure done…although I’ll admit that I did find a new pro after coming here–I’d be able to sock Eul-Bok hard across the face!”
“No you wouldn’t. I’d be stronger than you. I can use Warlock powers!” He said proudly.
“Since when!?”
“Only since recently,” Sale-Dessu said quickly, pushing Eul-Bok away. “And I wouldn’t let him use them to attack someone.”
“You don’t control me anymore, Father,” Eul-Bok said. “…although I wouldn’t unless she attacked me first.”
“You weakling. Anyway, that’s my decision for now. Unless there are some pros I’m forgetting?”
“I can only think of another con,” he said with a nervous chuckle. “Eul-Bok has to have check-ups every day to make sure everything’s alright with him, so–”
“Now I’m definitely sure I don’t want this right now.”
“I’m glad, Bes-Isa. Finally you’ve learned that trying to go against me is futile.”
“No, I haven’t. I just figured out that autonomy in its current state is not for me. So I hope you get to work on improving your skills so that someday it can be what I want. Because even if I won’t accept it right now, I’ll still hope for the day I can walk around with no problems. But if I have to stay inside all the time and get constant check-ups, well that doesn’t sound all that fun.”
“I understand, Bes-Isa,” Sale-Dessu said. “Although I don’t know how long it will take for that to happen. I don’t intend on making any siblings for Eul-Bok, at least right now, so you might be better off waiting until another person learns to do what I did. Still, I wish you all the best, and if you ever change your mind, I’ll be willing to do it for you, alright?”
“I hear you. Well, we told him what we needed to. Let’s get home, La-Iin.”
La-Iin nodded and the two began to leave the Astineth house. Sale-Dessu waved after them.

—–
“I hope that someday I can become autonomous normally. Hopefully…”
“Hm.”
“Although now I know for sure that you don’t want me to become autonomous for your own selfish reasons. Your Normal shows strongly whenever you oppose me becoming autonomous.”
La-Iin glared. “I’ve told you before. I need someone there when I’m an old lady. Otherwise I’ll go crazy.”
“I might go crazy having to stick by you all those years. But I guess it might be better than being alone. Hey, La-Iin, do you think Eul-Bok will live as long as you?”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “But probably not.”

12.408.Conflicts of the Plush-Heart

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 408
“Conflicts of the Plush Heart”

“I’m so jealous of Eul-Bok…”
“How long are you going to keep whining about that?” La-Iin asked as she took off her pajamas.
“Until you let me become autonomous like him.”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “There’s no body you could be put into, though.”
“I could wait better if I knew one was being made. My impatience comes from the fact that nothing is happening, so therefore I have no guarantees that I will ever become autonomous. What do I do if Sale-Dessu dies before I can become autonomous? Warlocks don’t live as long as Vampires, I hope you know!”
“I know that,” La-Iin scoffed. “But how do you know Sale-Dessu won’t botch it if he tries to do it to you?”
“It’s a chance I’d be willing to take.”
La-Iin sighed. “You were used to the idea of staying like this forever a year ago.”
“But now I know my dream is possible.”
“So?”
“Maybe it will make more sense to you if I explain it like this. Say there was a way for you to rule the world tomorrow, or soon, anyway. But there was potentially a time limit. And if you waited too long, your chance would disappear in front of you, possibly forever….what would you do? Wouldn’t you want to take it?”
“My ruling of the world won’t work like that, though,” she said as she started to put on her dress. “There will always be chances available.”
“How about if San-Kyung was in love with you and his little best friend. If you went to him first, obviously he’d accept you instead of his friend. But you’re limited by whether or not that woman lets you go outside. What–“
“If San-Kyung was in love with both of us at once I’d never forgive him,” La-Iin said through grit teeth, her wings flapping wildly with anger. “Fine, I get your point. But you’re still my V-Puppet and I have final call. If Sale-Dessu hadn’t wanted to make Eul-Bok autonomous he wouldn’t have and there would have been nothing Eul-Bok could have done to prevent that.”
“But then he wouldn’t have known whether he could actually become autonomous or not! I KNOW it’s possible now. I saw Eul-Bok moving around without Sale-Dessu making the motions! Now I know that I can move around just like you and that woman and him and your little best friend and EVERYONE who’s not a V-Puppet! I know I can try and chase some of my dreams I thought were just pipe dreams! And for whatever reason you don’t want that for me! What, is it that you need me just in case your kids kill each other and you have nobody else when you’re a little old lady? God!”
La-Iin glared. “Getting mad at me like that isn’t helping you get what you want. But fine, go ahead and get pissed as much as you want. I have to go to school anyway, so it’s not like I could even take you over there right now. You know, I might be considering letting you do it a little more if you hadn’t been so annoying! And don’t think trying to be nice to me now will work. I’m not stupid no matter how much you say I am!”
La-Iin stomped out the room. Bes-Isa huffed.
“I’d have thought she would put me to sleep. But I guess she’s too angry to think about that. Hmph.”
Bes-Isa felt a mixture of frustration, sadness and anger at both La-Iin and herself building within her. She lay on La-Iin’s bed, unable to do anything about it, as La-Iin head off to school.

***

“Wake up, Bes-Isa.”
Bes-Isa slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was blurry, but she could make out Sale-Dessu, standing in front of her. Sale-Dessu heaved a sigh of relief.
“Oh, thank goodness. I was worried I’d killed you…”
“I just had the strangest dream…”
“Does it have to deal with becoming autonomous?” Sale-Dessu asked with a smile. “Because it wasn’t a dream if that’s the case.”
“No, it wasn’t about that,” she said. Then she flinched. “Wait a second, what!?”
“Don’t you remember? You asked last time you were here if you could become autonomous. I didn’t want to go against what La-Iin wanted, but I thought you would be happier from becoming autonomous than she would be from losing you as a V-Puppet, so I performed the procedure and here you are.”
Bes-Isa lifted up her arm. She tried to sit up, but fell over. She twitched her fingers. Then, she smiled.
“I’m really autonomous!” She squealed. Sale-Dessu chuckled. “Your reaction is reminding me of Eul-Bok’s.”
“Did you call for me, Father?” Eul-Bok asked as he ran into the room. Laying eyes on Bes-Isa, he began to scowl. “Oh. I see you finished her.”
“Does that mean I can throttle you?” She asked, reaching out a shaky hand.
“Don’t start fighting again!” Sale-Dessu snapped. “I believe the way your new body was created leaves you with less starting strength than Eul-Bok.” Eul-Bok puffed out his chest and his expression changed to one of conceit. “You’re autonomous now, but you’ll need a little work.”
“Hmph.” Bes-Isa frowned for only a second before smiling once again. “Well, at least I can move now…”
“So it’s too late now, is it?”
Bes-Isa knew that voice all too well. La-Iin entered the room, her expression obviously one of fury. ‘I can’t remember ever seeing her so angry…’
“La-Iin? …did I leave the door unlocked again?”
“Apparently fools never learn,” she said, her gaze focused on Bes-Isa.
“La-Iin, I can barely move in this new body as it is. Besides, it’s not all going to be different.”
“Shut up!” La-Iin yelled. Tears made her eyes glisten. “I don’t want to hear anything from you. You’re nothing to me now.”
“I–I’m sorry, La-Iin…” Sale-Dessu said. “If you want, you can have Bes-Isa’s original body back…”
He handed the small plush doll to La-Iin. Staring at it elicited a strange feeling in Bes-Isa. ‘That used to be me…that was the body I was born in. And now…’
She stared down at her new hands and knees, which looked almost like that of a person’s save for a ball joint in one knee.
“If I have this,” La-Iin started, motioning to Bes-Isa’s old body, “then I don’t need you. I’ll never need you ever again. You said you would be my greatest ally. My ally who was evil and who wouldn’t leave my side at all. But you betrayed me. Oh, but that’s fine, though. I don’t mind having one more person to exact my revenge on when I take over the world. Know, though, that it won’t be a simple revenge. No, you deserve much worse. Cahongyuns don’t back down when faced with an enemy.”
“You’re taking this too seriously,” Bes-Isa sighed. “I can still help you if I’m autonomous, La-Iin. Maybe I can even help you better than I could have when I was a V-Puppet.”
“But I bet you’ll just die years earlier than you would have in this body, won’t you?” La-Iin sneered, wrinkling her nose. “Not that it matters. I have Tae-Kyok. And with this, I can probably make a new Bes-Isa. A better Bes-Isa who will actually stay by my side and listen to me.”
“She could end up good,” Bes-Isa pointed out. “Come on, La-Iin.” Standing on the sidelines, Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok looked away, as if unable to bring themselves to watch the debate.
“She won’t. That, I will make sure of. And she will want to take you down. That I can assure. You’ve betrayed me, Bes-Isa, and now I have no use for you. So stay out of my way unless you want to die!”
La-Iin ran out the room faster than normal, clutching Bes-Isa’s old body tight.
“If you want, you can stay with us for now,” Sale-Dessu said. “Don’t worry, Eul-Bok. I’ll keep you two in separate rooms.”
“So you say! But I can’t make any guarantees I won’t pour water on her while she’s sleeping.”
“Eul-Bok!”
The conversation between those two went mostly unheard by Bes-Isa. She just stared at the door through which La-Iin had left.
She had known this girl all her life; she had met La-Iin before she had even turned one. And just now, she had said she hated her.

“Be careful. Try not to run into anyone you don’t know out there, alright?”
“I’ll be careful. Th…well, whatever.”
Bes-Isa walked outside the Astineth house and took a deep breath. ‘I haven’t had fresh air in so long…’
She was almost scared to keep walking along the sidewalk; she was still having trouble walking around on her own. So she took slow, cautious steps, hoping she would be able to keep her balance.
Only a few steps in, she noticed La-Iin standing there on the sidewalk, staring up at her and holding her old body close to her chest.
“La-Iin?”
“Not you again,” she hissed, baring her fangs. “Look, Bes-Isa. This is the faker who thought she was you for so many years.”
“Ugh, how ugly! I have a hard time believing what you say. I doubt a V-Puppet can really become autonomous!”
“We’ll say this faker’s case is a….special exception,” she said, then glared at Bes-Isa. “Now get out of my sight before I maul you!”
“La-Iin…come on, we were stuck together for so many years. You can’t just turn against me now…”
“I guess I know your choice now,” she said, before biting into her arm. Bes-Isa tried to back away from La-Iin, but tripped and fell over. Before she could get back up, La-Iin flew at her.

—–
Bes-Isa was surprised to find herself waking up, staring at the ceiling in La-Iin’s room.
“Oh, so you’re awake,” La-Iin said, by her tone obviously still upset with Bes-Isa. “Look, I’ll talk to you, Bes-Isa, but only if it’s not about autonomy.”
“I wonder if autonomy is really worth it if that might happen…” She whispered.
“What did you say?”

30.395.Eul-Bok’s Shell

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 395
“Eul-Bok’s Shell”

“Are you ready?”
“I’m ready! Let’s do this, Father!”
Ever since that brief exchange, Sale-Dessu had been enacting the final part of his V-Puppetry project–transferring Eul-Bok’s consciousness into the new vessel he had prepared for him. The procedure had been taking hours, and Sale-Dessu had to keep his focus on it the whole time.
‘This almost takes as much out of me as Hex Change Operation…’ His breathing had become ragged and loud, and on occasion Eul-Bok would let out whimpers and startle Sale-Dessu, which made it worse. His whole body ached and felt as if he had just run a long marathon and used many powers at the same time. Mentally and physically, he was drained, and his focus on the project at hand was getting harder to keep.
But whenever his thoughts tried to stray, he reminded himself of each day he had spent with Eul-Bok–the first day they had spent together, all the times he had consoled him when he became sad, and all the things he had dreamed of letting Eul-Bok do. Those things fueled him to keep going even when exhaustion threatened to overtake him.
“I’m warning you, Eul-Bok. This is a dangerous procedure and obviously I’ve never done it before. I don’t know if you’ll actually survive this.”
“I think I’ll be fine, Father. You’re the strongest Warlock I know. Even if you are probably a little weaker than Grepeta.”
“That’s not a surprise. She’s leagues better than me…” He had looked away from Eul-Bok. “But, I don’t want to get you killed, Eul-Bok…while I really want to do this, I also really want your confirmation that this is exactly what you want.”
“It is, Father. And if I don’t make it, I’m still valuable research information. But I’m confident I will survive. I consent, Father.”
“Then, if you’re really alright with it…we’ll do it.”
Sale-Dessu recalled their earlier exchange as he continued on. Breathing felt near impossible by this point in the procedure, and tears were streaming from his eyes. Pressure was building all over his body and Sale-Dessu began to fear that he would soon start to bleed. Still he pressed on.
‘I’ll go down with Eul-Bok if I have to.’ That one thought had crossed his mind during the procedure, but now, Sale-Dessu was beginning to fear it would actually come true.
In that room of Sale-Dessu’s house, an immense amount of power had built. It reached a peak and then began to fizzle. At that moment Sale-Dessu’s sight failed him, and shadows building at the corners of his eyes quickly advanced until his sight went dark.

***

Sale-Dessu felt he had relived almost every moment of his life in the span of two hours by the time he woke up. Rheum had built around his eyes and his whole body throbbed with pain. It took him what felt like a half-hour before he could actually sit up to observe the situation around him.
The room seemed mostly undisturbed after the procedure, save for a few items that were thrown around now. Sale-Dessu gasped when he noticed the bodies lying nearby–one the body he had always known to be Eul-Bok’s, and the other one the new body he had prepared for him.
Neither body looked disturbed, but Sale-Dessu still stayed fixed to the floor in fear, for there was no guarantee Eul-Bok had survived the procedure. Neither body was reacting in any way.
‘Please, please still be in this body.’ He performed the hand motions to wake a V-Puppet, but Eul-Bok’s plush body did not respond. His dread was starting to build as he went over to the new body.
He half-expected for Eul-Bok to wake right that moment. Save for his ball joints, Eul-Bok looked like a normal Warlock, fast asleep. But there were no signs of life. Sale-Dessu felt cold as he tapped Eul-Bok’s face, hoping for a reaction from him.
But nothing happened.
Tears blurred over his vision and his breath caught in his throat. The idea of Eul-Bok not having survived the procedure seemed unreal to him. But by now, it seemed that was the case, so he sat there in shock, unable to see his new body clearly.
‘My son…’
The room fell silent, and Sale-Dessu was alone in the quiet, the weight of what had just happened feeling like it would crush him. Carefully, he tidied Eul-Bok’s body to make it look more like he was asleep, hoping that would reassure him, but instead it only made the reality feel more obvious.
Now he felt a feeling he hadn’t felt before. Parts of it felt similar, but one thing in particular was hurting him most.
The knowledge that this was not a case of not being there to save his loved one, and that instead, he had sent him to his death by performing the procedure in the first place. Had he not tried to make Eul-Bok autonomous in this way, he would still be here.

Hours seemed to have passed, and Sale-Dessu still hadn’t moved from his spot. Although his body still ached from the procedure, he barely felt it while so lost in the memory of what had just happened.
“Father…?”
He shut his eyes tight. He contemplated whether he should teleport over to Eir-Tyuj’s house to seek consolement from her. But thinking on that only reminded him of her age, and in how dangerous a situation she was with her identity being open.
‘Everyone I love seems to die,’ he thought to himself. ‘And always, it’s because of something I probably could have done differently. If I had been smarter, or just been alert…’
He opened his eyes, feeling that the most comfort he would get now would be from going to lie in his bed, when he met wide green eyes that were staring directly at him.
“Father, what’s wrong?”
The voice was weak and didn’t sound quite as it used to. But Sale-Dessu recognized it all too well.
The body that had been lying down with his hands folded across him was now sitting up and staring at him, his eyes even blinking once. Sale-Dessu’s vision began to blur over worse.
“Father, are you okay?”
“Eul-Bok, I…I thought you had died!”
“I’m okay,” he said. “But are you gonna be? You look like you just relived your childhood!”
“I…” Sale-Dessu trailed off. He was so overtaken with joy that Eul-Bok was alive that he had almost forgotten what the project had been for in the first place. But he wasn’t sure quite how to react just yet, and his first instinct was to hug Eul-Bok close.
Eul-Bok didn’t respond that time save for a squeak.
It took a while for Sale-Dessu’s emotions to stabilize enough for him to talk again, but Eul-Bok stayed still that entire time, and let out a sigh of relief when he finally let go of him.
“Did you do all that crying because you thought I died?”
“You don’t understand, Eul-Bok. I’ve dealt with death before, and I’ve blamed myself for it so many times, but just then, just then…I thought I murdered you, I…”
“I’m fine, Father! Please don’t start crying again. I’m not sure I can take it.”
“You talk normally now,” he chuckled. “Your voice doesn’t sound warped at all.”
“Yeah, it sounds so weird. Actually, I feel really weird.”
“Speaking of that!” Sale-Dessu gasped. “Can you move? Can you stand? Was the project a success?”
“Um…” Eul-Bok stared at his arm, and Sale-Dessu watched in awe as he lifted it up in front of his face. Eul-Bok began to grin.
“I can move!”
“You can move!”
Sale-Dessu threw up his hands, ready to wrap Eul-Bok in a hug, when Eul-Bok did the same. Sale-Dessu gave another chuckle. “You were happy too, weren’t you?”
“Uh, no, I didn’t do that of my own voliton!” He said. “I was happy, though. But when you threw up your arms just now, it felt the same as when I was in that body…”
Eul-Bok trailed off and began to stare at his old plush body. He crawled over to it, unstable as if each movement felt unnatural to him, and picked it up, dropping it at first but soon holding it in the palm of his hand.
“It’s so weird…”
“So if I make a big movement, you make that same movement?” Sale-Dessu asked. “Oh, um….sorry to interrupt.”
“No, it’s nothing, really,” Eul-Bok said. “Just weird to see yourself lying there, is all. And, uh, I guess? You can try it again if you want.”
To test, Sale-Dessu stood up abruptly. Eul-Bok followed.
“But you can still move on your own, right?”
“Didn’t you see me just now?” Eul-Bok said cheerfully. He started to smile. “Oh, Father, I’m so happy! Now I can move around and be like your actual son! I…I….you did something amazing, Father!”
“And amazingly dangerous,” Sale-Dessu sighed.
“But nobody else has been able to make a V-Puppet autonomous before, have they? You’re the very first! It’s amazing! I was right to trust you, Father. With someone as powerful as you, how could I have died?”
“You put too much faith in me,” he said.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I have no faith in you when it comes to your social skills,” he said playfully. Sale-Dessu began to toy with a mat.
“I guess I have to get ready for the new autonomous Eul-Bok,” he said.
“It’ll be fun, Father,” Eul-Bok said. “I’m really looking forward to this. Hey, can we tell La-Iin and Bes-Isa?”
“Sure,” he said.
“Yay! I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces!”
Sale-Dessu smiled. The immense sadness and immense joy he had felt earlier had dissipated into a relaxed happiness as he watched Eul-Bok gush about his new life. His heart felt at ease and he was happy.
It was one of the best moods he had been in in his life.

—–
La-Iin stared wide-eyed at Eul-Bok the moment she saw him and her expression had not changed since then.
“You…you actually did it! You made him autonomous!”
All three around her could only wonder what Bes-Isa was feeling at that moment.
“Now I could throw you if I want,” Eul-Bok said.
“You won’t throw Bes-Isa,” Sale-Dessu said.
“I could, though,” Eul-Bok said.
“How did you…”
“A long, painful procedure,” Sale-Dessu replied. As he spoke, La-Iin noticed that he looked exhausted. “Eul-Bok almost didn’t make it out. Well, he says he made it out fine, but he wasn’t responding at first. And he still responds to my movements when they’re sudden enough.”
Sale-Dessu lifted his hand high up into the air in one swift motion. Eul-Bok did the same.
“I can’t believe this. I could finally become autonomous if I wanted to.”
La-Iin wanted to protest, but she kept her mouth shut. Still, watching Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok, her heart felt heavy, and she felt as if now she would have no choice but to eventually let go of Bes-Isa.
“You could. But you’d need a new body and I think the procedure has a chance of failing. So you would have to be really sure. I’m not kidding when I say this! I’m not going to be responsible for a V-Puppet’s death or any sort of disappointment you might feel as a result.”
“I–“
La-Iin snapped her fingers.
“Why did you put her to sleep?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“No reason,” La-Iin said gruffly. “I’m going home.”
She stomped out the Astineth house with Bes-Isa in tow. Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok were confused as they watched her off.
‘I’m just going to lose Bes-Isa now. Now I won’t even have her when everyone else dies.’ Her eyes started to sting. ‘I hate Sale-Dessu! I wish he’d never succeeded! I wish Eul-Bok had just died!’

1.335.A Common Goal

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 335
“A Common Goal”

“It’s starting to get pretty cold outside,” Bes-Isa said. “But I think I like cold fabric a lot better than hot fabric.”
“When it’s cold it seeps into my wings and makes me cold all over,” La-Iin replied. “December can be an evil month.”
“Hey.”
“What?”
“I don’t remember saying anything about YOUR birthday month, so you could be quiet about mine.”
La-Iin huffed. “You should take that as a compliment. I called your birthday month evil. And anyway, your birthday isn’t all that important.”
“Well, excuuuuse me! I seem to remember a certain someone getting all excited about the birthdays of people she cared about! I’m your best friend, the doll who supports your evil the most!”
“San-Kyung supports my evil the most,” La-Iin sighed.
“He didn’t even like you until earlier this year.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“But I’m your one and only evil buddy.”
La-Iin stretched in place. “I know you are. I’ll celebrate your dumb birthday, but I don’t know how I can do that without you getting mad at someone.”
“Keep me away from the furball, Eul-Bok, and as far from that woman as possible. I’d love it if you could get some….entertainment ladies…but I know that probably won’t happen.”
“I didn’t have San-Kyung as entertainment on my birthday, so why should you get what you want?”
“For a six-year-old you’re awfully horny.”
“What’s horny?” La-Iin asked. Bes-Isa sighed. “And we’ve been walking in circles.”
“I noticed. I was going to ask you about that eventually.”
“Were you really?” La-Iin scoffed. “We should get to Sale-Dessu’s house already.”
Before she had gone to school that day, she sent Bes-Isa over to Sale-Dessu’s window and had her tell him she and La-Iin wanted to hear any news he had on V-Puppetry.
“I do have a little news, actually,” he had said. “If you want, you could come over after school. I can make us a little something and we can talk about it.”
La-Iin was starting to wonder if Sale-Dessu might be done with his autonomy project before Bes-Isa’s birthday. She still didn’t like the idea of her doll becoming autonomous, but after her disastrous birthday and her decision to withhold from interfering with other’s, she wondered if she might actually be alright with it if she could give it to her as a birthday present of sorts.
“Aaaand now we’re not going anywhere,” Bes-Isa sighed. “I hope you know this is really annoying!”
La-Iin blinked and tried to bring herself out of her thoughts. She started to fly over to Sale-Dessu’s door, knocking on it with the hand she was using to control Bes-Isa. For that moment Bes-Isa briefly fell from the sky, but La-Iin caught her before she could land on the ground.
“You should consider yourself lucky I’m a doll with all the shit you put me through,” Bes-Isa grumbled. “And what’s with that knocking the door, goody-goody?”
“It’s locked,” La-Iin said, pointing at the doorknob.
“How can you tell?”
She jiggled the doorknob.
“Don’t tell me he’s out….he’s like a total shut-in, so why would he leave? AND he was expecting company!”
“I don’t know,” La-Iin said.
The two waited at the door regardless. It started to unlock not too long afterwards, and Sale-Dessu peeked out at them, smiling.
“Hello.”
“Hey, Sale-Dessu! Care to explain why the door was locked!?”
“Oh, this?” He said. “…I get a little startled when you just barge in,” he said. Sale-Dessu felt like shrinking away at the irritation in La-Iin’s gaze as she walked in past him. Sale-Dessu closed the door and locked it.
“I hope you know she’s inside now,” Bes-Isa said.
“It’s instinct. And my studies are….well, they would be big if everyone else found out about them. It’s better I keep the door locked…”
“Do you plan on telling the world what you’re doing anytime soon?”
Sale-Dessu shook his head. “This is our secret for now,” he said. “Even if it gets out…that’s up to you, not me. I don’t want any sort of infamy.”
“Humble, aren’t we,” Bes-Isa said sarcastically.
“More like shy,” La-Iin said.
“La-Iin’s not exactly wrong,” Sale-Dessu said. “But I have my reasons….”
La-Iin started to grin.
Sale-Dessu led La-Iin into a dark room. He pointed toward a table.
“What’s with the dark mood in here? This definitely feels like witchcraft, but not like Sale-Dessu,” Bes-Isa said.
“I keep some of my experiments in here. Some work better in the dark, and there are some things it’s good to keep in the dark around you and La-Iin…”
La-Iin wondered what that meant as she sat at the table. “Is there a way to light up the room?”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “Even if there was, I wouldn’t fall for that, La-Iin. This room’s lighting is completely powered by me. I use my powers to light it whenever I need it to be lit….or sometimes a candle,” he admitted, turning away from them.
“So, where’s the something you were making for us?”
“Sitting in front of you?” He said quizzically. La-Iin looked down.
“Oh.”
“I can’t see what you’re talking about.”
“Because you can barely see in the dark,” La-Iin said.
“You can barely see in the dark too!”
“But I’m half-Vampire,” La-Iin said proudly. “I’m supposed to have better dark vision.”
“…dark vision,” Bes-Isa scoffed.
“I hear it gets even better when you transform into a bat,” Sale-Dessu said. La-Iin flinched. Even having her other transformation, she still felt self-conscious about her lack of that power. Ei-Tio and Ai-Reia came to mind and she instantly felt jealous, trying to chase away her thoughts of the two girls.
“What is this stuff?”
“It’s a Warlock dish. It has a texture like jelly. Try it.”
La-Iin poked it, then tried to suck it up with her fangs. She recoiled at the texture.
“Do you like it?”
“No!”
Sale-Dessu seemed slightly dejected. “Oh. Alright.”
“There’s goop coming out my teeth!” She whined, poking them. Sale-Dessu sighed.
“You’re not supposed to suck it up like blood,” he said. “Try it again, but this time, don’t suck it.”
La-Iin glared at Sale-Dessu, but she lifted the plate up and slid the stuff into her mouth. The texture still made her shudder, but not nearly as bad as earlier.
“Now?”
“I don’t like its texture,” La-Iin said.
“That’s alright. It takes getting used to.”
‘I don’t want to get used to it…’
“Are we going to get to the V-Puppetry news anytime soon?” Bes-Isa said.
“Oh, yes!” Sale-Dessu said. He cleared his throat. “From what I’ve been finding out about V-Puppetry, I think in order to make someone autonomous, they need to have a separate vessel.”
“A separate vessel?”
“You wouldn’t be able to become autonomous in that form,” Sale-Dessu said. “You’d have to get a new body. If I’m right, then making a V-Puppet autonomous could be a really high-risk procedure…and I’m not completely sure yet if I’m right, or if I am right, what kind of vessel would you need? Would you just need a brand-new one? Would we need to use people’s corpses?” Sale-Dessu paled. “If I have to use corpses you and Eul-Bok might end up staying like this forever…”
“Yeah, I guess already-rotting flesh isn’t exactly my idea of fun. And I don’t mind about getting a new vessel. I like my fabric, but I’ve always wanted to be a little taller. Taller than La-Iin would be a good start.”
“If you were in a growing vessel I think you’d probably get taller than La-Iin quickly,” he said, sounding cheerful.
“Why?” La-Iin asked, an edge to her tone.
“You’re pretty small…but you’re only six, so you still have time to grow.”
“I’m almost seven,” she said proudly.
“She always does this at this time of year,” Bes-Isa said.
“Maybe for your seventh birthday I can do something for you,” Sale-Dessu said. “It’s been nice, having someone who listens to all my V-Puppetry study reports.”
“Don’t I count as well? My birthday is sooner,” she said.
“When is it?”
“The eleventh.”
“Too bad I probably won’t be done by then…” He said with a sigh. “Maybe I can do something else for you, though…”
“You know, thinking about it, it’s kind of sad that your only friends are a little girl and her doll.”
“Maybe it is…” Sale-Dessu started. “But I’m fine with things the way they are. I’m not really all that good with people. V-Puppets are a lot easier.”
“Friends?” La-Iin asked.
“Well, I guess maybe not friends,” Sale-Dessu said. “I guess I thought that, though…I’ll be honest with you about one thing, La-Iin, I’m…I don’t have all that much experience with friendship….so I don’t really know what makes two people friends or anything like that. I have my own ideas about it, which is why…” He sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize. That’s just annoying.”
Sale-Dessu prepared himself to apologize again, and tugged on a mat in order to keep himself from doing so.
“Maybe we’re not friends, but I consider you an ally. …of sorts.”
“An ally?”
“Because you have so many powers. You could do a lot for me.”
“I’m not going to help you do anything evil,” Sale-Dessu said.
“How could you call someone like him your ally?” Bes-Isa asked.
“Because I think it’s better if we stay close.”
La-Iin began to think back on her daydreams. Depending on the day how she felt about Sale-Dessu varied–somedays she found him incredibly annoying, while others she almost liked him. But ever since the two had started to get to know each other, he had become a key part of her daydreams of the future.
She didn’t need Sale-Dessu to give her any powers, or even help her directly. But he could still help her, and not only for her plans for the future.
“Really?” Sale-Dessu said, sounding meek.
“Really. I think you can help me out. …and not for evil things. You don’t even need to get worried about that. I’m handling all the world-ruling myself. But you can make potions and glitch the world. And you might be able to make Bes-Isa autonomous. You can help me. So you’re my ally. And I already have goody-goody allies anyway.” She turned to Bes-Isa. “Fer-Shi, remember?”
“I suppose you have a point there,” she said. “I can see you as an ally of sorts too, Sale-Dessu. No matter how annoying you might be, you could be the key to helping me get something I’ve always wanted. If you can do that for me, then I might just owe you.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Allies…that’s good enough for me. I’ll help you two so long as it’s not something crazy.”
“It might be sometimes,” La-Iin said.
“Well, I like crazy too…”
“Then we’re allies.” La-Iin held out her hand. Sale-Dessu stared at it as if it were a foreign object, then reached out his own and shook it. La-Iin moved Bes-Isa over with her free hand.
“Now it’s official.”
“Okay,” Sale-Dessu said, feeling slightly amused as he let go of La-Iin’s hand.
“Now I want to ask you for something!”
“What?”
“Make me mincemeat pie!”
Sale-Dessu smiled and nodded. “Alright!”

—–
‘An ally…’
“You have a stupid look on your face,” La-Iin said after swallowing a mouthful of mincemeat pie. Sale-Dessu blinked.
“She’s right, you look dumb right now.”
Sale-Dessu sighed and smiled at them. “Neither of you have any emotion on your faces,” he said.
La-Iin hissed.
“I’m just joking,” he said. “Do you like the mincemeat pie?”
La-Iin didn’t respond and continued to eat. Sale-Dessu decided to take it as a yes.
‘I think us being allies could be good for me too,’ Sale-Dessu wanted to say. He decided to keep silent, almost certain that La-Iin would tell him that statement was stupid.

18.291.Between Two V-Puppets

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 291
“Between Two V-Puppets”

“This month is going too fast….no, don’t panic. It’s not even the twentieth yet. I have time…”

“Sale-Dessu, all you ever do is show me V-Puppetry stuff.”
Sale-Dessu glanced at her over his shoulder. “I thought you liked learning about my studies, though. And that’s what you’re here for, isn’t it? You want to make Bes-Isa autonomous?”
“I’m curious, but you haven’t made much progress at all!”
Sale-Dessu reached for one of his mats. “I’m sorry….”
“You never really show me any of your other projects,” she said. “You glitched up Bledger but you never showed me how except the stupid button. I want to know about other things too.”
“You do? I didn’t think you were that interested.”
“I have my reasons for wanting to know….”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Well….if that’s how you feel, then we could look at something else for now…Eul-Bok deserves a break from all I’ve been putting him through lately. But anyway, what would you like to see?”
“I want to see about that glitchy stuff you have….”
Lying on the table were two cloth dolls, there next to each other.
“….what the f@%k. They just left us here on our own. ….with each other.”
“Father was so nice to me though. He was worried about overworking me. I’ve told him he doesn’t need to. I don’t feel exhaustion the same way except for getting tired…”
“Oh, shut up! Having to lie here next to you would be so much more easier if you were asleep.”
“Do you think it’s any easier to listen to you? And you started talking first. I’m not upset that Father went to show your girl something else, mostly anyway, but why did he have to leave me with you!? He knows how I feel about you!”
“Stop saying Father for one day and then maybe I’ll put up with your annoying voice.”
“So I’m just supposed to call my Father Sale-Dessu, huh? That’s really respectful towards the man who made me. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised from the doll who calls her girl La-Iin. Though I suppose your relationship is different….anyway, Father isn’t upset by it and he’s the type of man who wants people to call him by his first name and not Astineth.”
“Stop. Please. Just stop. I’ll make a deal with you, just STOP.”
“You know I don’t like you, so why tell me about something that makes you upset? You know I’ll just say it more now. But I could talk about Father for days. I may not be even a year old but my life’s been a good one and it’s all thanks to him. Unfortunately I had to run into you….I wish we weren’t next-door neighbors. I’m not all that fond of your girl either. But she does make Father feel better, so I guess she has some benefits as opposed to you.
“…..’makes Father feel better’? What the hell, is he a pedophile or something?”
“Huh?”
“Does he fantasize about having kids with her or something? God, you’re stupid!”
“Being called stupid by the true idiot is ironic. And of course not!? I meant she keeps him from getting lonely. He doesn’t have any sort of indecent feelings like that towards anybody and I’m certain your girl would be the last person he would have feelings like that for!”
“So you say! But you only met Sale-Dessu this year. Even I’ve known him longer, even if I don’t live with him, so–“
“So you can’t really say anything, can you? You might have known him longer, but I know him better. I know things about him he’d never dream of telling either you or your girl.”
“I’d almost like to know what those things are, but I won’t let morbid curiosity get the better of me. Besides, you’d never tell me anyway.”
“Well, that’s one smart thing you’ve said….probably the only one as well.”
“By your standards that makes me smarter than you because at least that’s ONE smart thing I’ve said, as compared to your nothing.”
“Shut up.”
“You wouldn’t can it even when I asked you to, so why should I?”
“I wish Father had succeeded in making me autonomous already! What I would do to get you to shut up! I bet someday Father will succeed. That day will be the best day of my life!”
“You’d probably be too weak to do anything to me.”
“Even if I was weak, all you are is a doll. You’d never be able to fight back. You’d be weaker than me.”
“That’s the problem. You’re just a doll too. You don’t know any more strength than what you have as a doll, which is none. Even if he succeeds, even if someday you can walk around on your own, at first you’d probably be falling down all the time and crying your eyes out because of the pain. I’d love to see that. I hope La-Iin and I are here if he ever does succeed, which I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t.”
“Don’t doubt Father! He can glitch the world and randomize it. I’d suggest not underestimating him.”
“Might’ve just been a show for all I know. I wasn’t even around for the glitching. Or maybe I was…I don’t remember. Anyway, you were around for none of it, so shut up!”
“You shut up first!”
“Asking gets you nothing whether you’re asking nicely or demanding. Don’t bother trying to persuade me. I hate you. I’ll never do anything for you that wouldn’t possibly benefit me. Hell, I might do nothing for you even if it WOULD benefit me. And you can’t exactly stop me from badmouthing Sale-Dessu. If it’s any consolation, I don’t hate him. But he’s awfully weak-hearted and he can be really annoying.”
“Alright then, Bes-Isa, it’s my turn to cut a deal–stop badmouthing Father and you can say whatever you want about me. I’ll shut up. I’ll listen to your horrible voice. Just don’t say anything bad about Father. Because in the end you don’t understand his true power. You don’t understand everything about him.”
“I never said that I did. And didn’t you say earlier that telling you not to do something I didn’t like was a surefire way to get you to do it MORE?”
“…”
“Ha, see? You can’t even answer that question. Absolutely pathetic. You know, you may have a point. Sale-Dessu may be a weak-hearted sissy, but at least he’s got more strength than you, both powerful and physical. I bet if he made you autonomous all you’d ever be is a Normal.”
“There is nothing wrong with Normals.”
“Yeah whatever, except that they’re powerless…”
“Their strengths don’t have to lie in powers like other species. And I find that statement to be idiotic. You’d probably be a Normal too if you were made autonomous–I don’t see any defining features from another species sewed onto you. And you’re saying this, as the doll whose girl is half-Normal, to the doll whose Father is a Pureblood Warlock.”
“How do you know for sure La-Iin is half-Normal?”
“I have multiple reasons for calling my Father Father, I hope you know. Not only did he make me and bring me to life, he’s also been teaching me about the world so that the day he makes me autonomous I won’t go out knowing nothing. Pureblood Vampires are grey. Light grey, dark grey, doesn’t matter, but La-Iin is peach. I’ve never heard of a Pureblood Vampire being peach. And she doesn’t have any traits from other species who can be peach. No wing-arms or feathers, not a tinge of pink–”
“You are so annoying.”
“Think you aren’t?”
“I seriously mean it when I say I’d rather date a guy if it would mean I’d never have to deal with you again.”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’d rather….I’d rather Father could never make me autonomous if it meant I’d never have to deal with you again!”
“That will probably happen, Sale-Dessu never being able to make you autonomous. And you’ll still have to deal with me. I don’t want to deal with you either. But I want to be autonomous so I can do the things I want without it getting awkward or having to have La-Iin constantly trailing after me. If Sale-Dessu really succeeds, and despite my doubts I really hope he does, I want in on it.”
“I’ll tell Father to never make you autonomous! He works on several projects each day. He doesn’t have time for you.”
“Then how come he has time for you, hm?”
“I’m his son!”
“Not technically you aren’t.”
“Who cares if it’s not genetically? He brought me to life!”
“Oh, shut up. And by the way, Sale-Dessu told me before you were around that most of what he does, he does out of curiosity. Being that he’s so nice and weak-willed, which do you think he’d rather do–continue on his projects of morbid curiosity or bring a friend’s dream to life?”
“How dare you call yourself his friend!?”
“I feel I can, so there. Besides, you think it’s all fun and games, but if you became autonomous, things could end up becoming difficult depending on how well it goes. And also, Eul-Bok, tell me–what are you going to do when Sale-Dessu dies?”
“…what?”
“I’m only a little bit younger than La-Iin, and she’s part of an extremely long-lived species. I know Warlocks can be long-lived, but I’ve also noticed that whenever extremely long-lived species are noted, it’s always Vampires and Groundisers. Because for as long as Warlocks can live, they still can’t reach the thousands as those two can. We can’t die from old age like Sale-Dessu and La-Iin. Even if we become autonomous, that probably won’t be the case….with La-Iin, we’re thinking about that. Maybe she’ll finish me off before she dies or leave it to someone else. What about you? What will you do?”
“….I–“

“Eul-Bok!” Sale-Dessu called. He ran over to him and picked him up. “You weren’t fighting with Bes-Isa, were you?”
La-Iin levitated Bes-Isa over to her. “We realized we left you in the same room together. I didn’t want there to be trouble…”
“I just don’t want you to keep talking about how mad you are at Eul-Bok,” La-Iin said.
Both V-Puppets were silent.
“….I guess we should end today’s visit here,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “Did you like what I showed you, La-Iin?”
“At least it was something.”
“Maybe I should show you some of my other experiments too from now on. It’s actually easier to concentrate on the autonomy studies alone….”
As Sale-Dessu and La-Iin talked, both Eul-Bok and Bes-Isa were left thinking on Bes-Isa’s final words in the argument.
‘What will I do?’ That was the question on both of their minds.

—–
Even as the day went on, both V-Puppets were mostly silent.
‘What happened between them?’ La-Iin and Sale-Dessu wondered.

2.275.Hex Change Operation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 275
“Hex Change Operation”

Sale-Dessu focused himself as he gently moved Eul-Bok around. His nervousness was starting to affect him; his hands became jittery and Eul-Bok would occasionally jerk to the side. La-Iin, who was sitting behind him and watching intently, only served to make him feel worse.
He lost his focus, and Eul-Bok flopped on the table.
“Ow.
“This is going worse than I expected,” Sale-Dessu sighed.
“You won’t be able to do it, Sale-Dessu. You’ll just fail!” La-Iin squeaked.
“I won’t!” Sale-Dessu said. “I’m going to succeed. I want Eul-Bok to be able to move on his own. I have to try…”
“Isn’t there something you haven’t tried yet? Because it looks like you’re just doing the same thing over and over again even though it’s already failed.”
“Stop saying fail…” Sale-Dessu groaned. He slammed his face on the table. “I’m sure there’s something else I can try. I just can’t figure out what…”
“Father, you know so much about Warlock powers, I’m sure something you know might work.”
“You altered reality, yet you can’t find something to make a V-Puppet move on his own. Actually, other Warlocks altered reality and they couldn’t find it!” La-Iin started to pout. “That’s just stupid.”
“Altered reality…” Sale-Dessu sighed. “Hm…alter….Hex Change Operation?”
“What’s a Hex Change Operation, Father?” Eul-Bok asked.
“Sounds medical,” La-Iin said.
“Hex Change Operation!” He gasped.
“…explain, please?”
“Oh, sorry,” Sale-Dessu said. He cleared his throat. “When La-Iin mentioned altering reality, it made me think of some of the harder-to-perform Warlock spells. One of those is Hex Change Operation.”
“What does that do?” La-Iin asked.
“Well, it completely or almost completely alters the makeup of, well anything, really. There’s a simpler version of it which changes items into food and things like that….but Hex Change Operation is powerful and…failure-prone.”
“You need to explain a little more clearly, Father, especially since given the last conversation it sounds like I’d be the subject of this spell!”
“You would be,” Sale-Dessu said. “Hex Change Operations are long, hard, and prone to failure. They’re an immense strain on the given Warlock. I only successfully performed it once on a dead animal. I can’t bring animals back to life, but the animal was in bad condition….I couldn’t even tell what it was at first. So I undamaged its body by using Hex Change Operation. I tried it before, when I was younger, but it failed back then. I’ve used the simpler version a lot though.”
“What’s the simpler version called?”
“Existence Change….which sounds a lot more dramatic than Hex Change Operation,” he said. “The difference is, with Existence Change, you have to completely change whatever you’re transforming, and it only works on objects or things that are not living. I couldn’t make a pig out of a tissue with Existence Change, or vice-versa, for example….Hex Change Operation lets you change what you want at your discretion, and it works on living beings, but that’s why it’s so prone to failure. You have to have a good knowledge of the various “hexes” inside whatever you’re changing…”
“Um…?”
“Think of it this way. Existence Change gives you a machine. This machine gives you a set of options to change an item you drop into it into something else. You press a button and then, so long as the machine didn’t backfire, you have something new. With Hex Change, you get a high-end machine which gives you a ton of individual options…which means it’s a lot for the machine to process, so it’s more likely to mess up somewhere and give you something, er….different.”
“I sort of get it?”
“Since you can do so much with Hex Change, I thought maybe it would be possible for me to change Eul-Bok from a doll into a Normal, since it works on living beings….but it’s a lot more risky. The usual type of Hex Change backfire is that it just resets and goes back to normal, so nothing happens….but if you change things wrong, you can get some strange results. Also, Hex Change isn’t unlimited–I, if I knew how, could probably make you look like a Siren. But that base voice that causes people to die, you could never get that….it’s too complicated even for Hex Change.”
“….”
“Father, this sounds dangerous….I’m not sure I want to try it….besides, what if I change, but you still have to move me around? Then I’ll be messed up and you’ll have to take care of me in…horrible, horrible ways…”
“I’m not going to try Hex Change Operation on you if you’re not up for it, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said. “To tell the truth it’d be a nightmare for me to deal with too, so I would prefer not to do it. My only successful Hex Change left me with a headache and I could feel the effects for a few days…besides, it’s risky and I could hurt you. So…whatever you want to do.”
“Do it!” La-Iin said. “You want to make V-Puppets autonomous. So do the Hex Change!”
“This is Eul-Bok’s decision,” Sale-Dessu said. “It’s dangerous, potentially useless, and would be hard for both my and his body to handle. You can’t make that decision for him.”
“But I want to see it.”
“To repair that dead animal, I spent almost seven hours,” Sale-Dessu said. “This is trying to change a V-Puppet into a Normal. That would probably take much longer. Do you really want to stand around, watching as I do basically nothing? You won’t be seeing much.”
“…” La-Iin glared at Sale-Dessu.
“Whatever you want to do is fine, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said. “If you’d like to, I’ll be as cautious as possible…but if you don’t want to, that’s fine as well.”
“….I don’t know, Father.”
“Stop waffling!” La-Iin yelled. Sale-Dessu glared at her.
“I’m just sort of scared. I trust you, Father, I really do, but…”
“That’s fine, Eul-Bok. I understand. There are other ways I can try…”
“Bes-Isa has a point. You’re stupid sometimes, Eul-Bok,” La-Iin said. Sale-Dessu sighed.
Eul-Bok was starting to feel guilty. Sale-Dessu’s words had initially reassured him that even if he declined, nothing would change–but guilt had started to gnaw at him, especially given La-Iin’s words. Within that moment of silence, his guilt overcame his fear, and he spoke up despite his better judgment.
“Um, Father….”
“Yes, Eul-Bok?”
“I…I think I will try Hex Change Operation.”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “You’re not just saying this because La-Iin complained, are you?”
“No…I just had a few moments to think. When you brought me to life, you wanted me to be able to move on my own. I was created for your experiment…so, what’s the point if I back away from something that might help you reach the goal you want?”
“Eul-Bok…don’t talk like that,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “To me you’re more than just an experiment, so when you say that, it…it hurts.”
Behind him, La-Iin rolled her eyes.
“Think of it this way, Father. You wanted to experiment with making V-Puppets autonomous, so you made me. But you didn’t make me just out of morbid curiosity. You made me, wanting to experiment with making me autonomous, because you wanted me to be able to move on my own! You wanted your son to be just like any other kid, and he could do that if he was autonomous. So you may be experimenting with me, but in the end, you’re doing it because you want the best for your son.”
Sale-Dessu lowered his head. “…that’s a good point, Eul-Bok. I guess I really can be transparent sometimes…”
“Does that mean you’re going to do the Hex Change Operation?”
“If Eul-Bok really wants to…”
“I know it’s dangerous, and I am scared…I am…but I trust you, Father…I’ll take that chance, for you.”
Sale-Dessu still looked uncertain, but he stood up and grasped Eul-Bok. “Alright….if you really want to, then I’ll do Hex Change Operation. But…no guarantees it will work, okay?”
“I understand, Father. But I want to do it.”
“You’re better than I thought, Eul-Bok,” La-Iin said.
“…you should go home now, La-Iin,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Why?”
“I told you about the risks of Hex Change Operation…and how long it takes to pull off. I can’t have you here while I do this. You’d be here all night, and you might distract me…”
“…”
“You’ll get to know the results tomorrow, but…I need peace. Please?”
La-Iin glared. “…I guess it wouldn’t be much fun to watch anyway.”
“Exactly. But you’ll be the first to know how it goes. So please?”
“…fine.”
“Thank you,” Sale-Dessu said. He put a hand on La-Iin’s back and led her towards the door.
“I can go myself,” La-Iin said. She spread her wings and flew out his house.

***

When La-Iin had returned home, Mit-Sun had commented on her sour mood. She ignored her and continued on with her day.
La-Iin had several things on her mind, including the Hex Change Operation. She was curious about what the results might be if Sale-Dessu succeeded, or if he failed.
“Bes-Isa?”
“What?”
“If there was a way you could maybe become autonomous, but there were chances that you’d die, would you take it? I was curious.”
“That depends. Why do you ask? Is there really something out there like that?”
“Sale-Dessu was going to perform a Hex Change Operation on Eul-Bok. He thought it might work, but he also said it might backfire.”
“It might be nice for it to backfire on Eul-Bok….then again, if he does it right, I might be able to become autonomous….I don’t know how to feel about this.”
“I know.”
“Know what? How I should feel about this? No you don’t!”
“No, I mean that I know how we can find out whether he did it right or not.”
“….ask him tomorrow?”
“No.” She grabbed Bes-Isa and stared at her intensely. “You go ask him now.”
Bes-Isa was barely able to respond. La-Iin quickly checked the time, then sent Bes-Isa flying at one of Sale-Dessu’s windows. She knocked against it a few more times before the window opened.
“Be…Bes-Isa?” Sale-Dessu said.
“Good…evening, maybe.”
“Why are you…?”
“La-Iin sent me. She said she wanted me to ask you how the Hex Change Operation went.”
“Why couldn’t she wait for morning, damn her…” Sale-Dessu yawned. “It didn’t go well.”
“Is Euly dead?”
“Euly….? No, Eul-Bok is fine. I’m just drained and nothing has happened to him. Either I don’t know the correct way to Hex Change a V-Puppet into a Normal, or…but seeing all the hexes, I don’t think it would have worked correctly…”
“Huh?”
“I think even if I had changed him, he would have still needed to be moved around just like a normal V-Puppet…” Sale-Dessu said. His eyelids started to droop and he started to yawn in the middle of his sentences. “So he….he would look like a Normal, but that’s it….he’d be a V-Puppet still, maybe with a few Normal disadvantages such as hunger so….it would have been pointlessly painful.”
“Okay…”
“I’ll keep looking for a way to make him move, though,” Sale-Dessu said. He put his hands on the window. “Good night, Bes-Isa.”
“Er, okay. You definitely need sleep. See ya. Bring me back, La-Iin!”
La-Iin flung Bes-Isa back into her bedroom.
“Stop hurting me so much.”
“Never. What did he say?”
“It was a failure and nothing’s changed for Eul-Bok. He’s not changed for the better nor the worse, and Sale-Dessu learned that using Hex Change on him might have produced…undesirable results, anyway.”
La-Iin started to glare.
“Now what?”
“I wanted something to happen.”
“…of course you did.”
“Lights out, La-Iin!” Mit-Sun yelled. La-Iin rolled her eyes.
“Today was useless.”
“Sure felt that way, didn’t it?”

—–
“…I wonder, Bes-Isa.”
“What?”
“If there’s really even any way for V-Puppets to move on their own. Why V-Puppets exist at all. V-Puppets confuse me.”
“You’re confusing me. ….but I hope there is a way I can move on my own someday. I mean, after all, I don’t want to still be reliant on you during everything…I’d hate it if you really followed through on having those children you want and I had to watch them be conceived…”
“I wouldn’t let you watch that.”
“I don’t know, La-Iin, you can be pretty sadistic when mad…”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “Good night, Bes-Isa,” she said with a snap of her fingers.