After a month of journey, Lakshman and the group finally reached Rodfox region. It took them that long because Lakshman made the journey go easily. Due to this, they happily covered the distance within a month and arrived at the capital of Rodfox Kingdom, Calmitira.
Upon entering the capital, the first thing Lakshman saw was happiness and joy. Everyone was bustling around busily with cheerful grins on their faces. It looked like they were setting up for something like an event.
“Ah! Fighting King!”
Lakshman was startled when he heard that title. He had forgotten the people of Rodfox had called him the Fighting King. Although he was officially the Phoenix Titan, it looked like word has not spread yet about it.
“Hello!” Lakshman said brightly as he turned to smile at whoever called him.
He was surprised to see a tall slender person standing there. As the man smiled and walked towards him, Lakshman brought the carriage to a stop. He wondered who the man was since it looked he knew who Lakshman was.
“You are… Vika?” Lakshman asked incredulously. He looked at him up and down before saying “You’ve gotten slimmer!”
“Yes, sir! My wife got angry at fat I looked! So burst as much fat off me and I finally became this slim!” Vika said proudly.
“Sheesh! That’s a lot of effort!”
Lakshman snorted and said “How could I forget you? The numerous times you got beaten up by Rumble is hard to forget.”
Vika laughed and said “There was a time when that happened, but now I’ve changed! I’m now protecting the capital. Are the Sword King and Monkey King with you, sir?”
With that question, he looked into the carriage hopefully. Lakshman shook his head and said “No. I came ahead of them. They’ll probably be here by next week, hopefully.”
“Next week?! That’s great! So they’ll just make it to the festival!”
“Festival? I think I’m forgetting what it is was…?” Lakshman said as he tried to remember.
Vita chuckled and said “No need to worry, sir. It’s the Life Festival where we thank the gods for granting us life, strength, knowledge and freedom!”
“Ah! I remember now! The Life Festival’s always been a day of prayers for the gods!” Lakshman said as he remembered.
At that moment, someone called “Vita! Come over here! We need your hand!”
Vita smiled and said “Well…! Looks like I have to get back to work, but it was good seeing you again, Fighting King!”
“It was good to see you again and good luck with the festival!” Lakshman said and they shook hands before parting.
Lakshman watched Vita disappear into the crowd before he got the horses to move again.
Emilia poked her head out and asked “Master… Who was that?”
“Ah. He was once a bad guy that bullied the people of the capital until Rumble shaped him up. Now it looks like he’s doing a great job helping people!” Lakshman said cheerfully.
“He was quite the trouble maker, but he’s changed for the good,” Ondine said when she stick her head out.
“On top of that, he’s slimmed right down! Now he looks pretty handsome!” Tetra said when she also put her head out.
“Yeah, but I completely forgot it’s this time of the year already! I can’t believe I forgot the Life Festival was on twenty-third of Amdane. Looks like I can have some fun when we go home!” Lakshman said excitedly.
“Eh? Why?” Emilia asked curiously.
Then Ondine said “It’s because, during the festive day, there will be a lot of completions! The humans seem to like to perform competitions during festivals and such. I personally find it entertaining, but I have yet to see what those competitions are like.”
“R-Really? Wow! I don’t believe Mardana Kingdom ever had such a custom!” Emilia said in a surprised voice.
Ondine shrugged her shoulders and said “Well, you shouldn’t expect all the four regions to copy off each other. If you compare the people wearing saris here and the full robes people wear in Floria Kingdom, it’s only obvious.”
“Ah. That makes sense now,” Emilia nodded in understanding. Then she asked “I wonder what sort of competitions get held during the festival.”
“It’s usually the running race, baton race, shot ball and tug-o-rock. They are open for both kids and adults since my dad and I participated in the running race a few times,” Lakshman informed them.
“R-Really? Master participated in the tournament during the Life Festival?” Ondine and Emilia asked together in surprise.
“Yes! It was fun. Dad and I got to race in the running race. I participated in the juniors division and dad participated in the adult division. I was the best amongst the juniors, but dad always had coopetition with the adults.”
“How long was the track, master?” Emilia asked curiously.
“I think… it was around ten kilometres.”
“Ten kilometres? That’s not too bad.”
“Yeah and we often did circuits around town and the out villages.”
“Are you planning on entering it, master?”
“Probably not since dad will be entering.”
“Eh? You don’t to do the things you’re dad’s going to do?” Ondine asked in a puzzled voice.
Tetra sighed and said “Master’s just wanting to not fight against Indra, that’s all.” When the girls looked confused, she explained by saying “Master’s now a Phoenix Titan and he knows Indra won’t stand a chance against him. So to make it fair, he doesn’t want to participate.”
Ondine and Emilia looked at each other with expressions of amazement on their faces. Then they burst out laughing which caused Lakshman to scold Tetra for telling them that. Lakshman did indeed not want to oppose his dad, but he also wanted to participate.
“I think I might give shot ball a try since dad never liked it,” Lakshman said after a pause.
“Shot ball? What kind of competition is that?” Emilia asked curiously.
“Shot ball is a game played with a ball. Players shoot the ball at each other and try to score it through a high hoop. However, the player’s team will lose a point if they let the ball get captured by the opposing team. Putting the ball through hoop is worth two points and long shots are worth three points,” Tetra explained.
“R-Really? That sound interesting!” Emilia said and she looked curious.
“It gets more interesting when you’re playing inside a barrier. Because of the barrier, the ball bounces off it instead of going out of bounds,” Lakshman said as he grinned.
“Really? That’s amazing!” Ondine said energetically.
“Well… We’ll see about it later anyway,” Lakshman said and he winked at them.
While the girls talked about the festival tournament, they exited the capital. Then they headed down the roar and towards the town. After that, it took them three more days to finally reach their destination.
“So this is the town master grew up in…” Emilia said quietly when they entered.
“Not here. It’s just outside town,” Lakshman said as he looked around.
Just like at the capital, he could see the preparations for festival. They were really energetic as people gave each other hand in decorations.
When they passed, several people noticed and waved at him. Some even greeted Lakshman and he greeted them back restfully. The town still has not forgotten his effort and actions. They still treated him like their hero and showed preferential treatment towards him.
From inside the carriage, Emilia was looking puzzled. She did not understand why they were treating him and talking to him as if he was some sort of celebrity. Then she thought that maybe they received the news of him being known as the Phoenix Titan, but it did not make sense. The people at the capital did not act as though they knew about it.
Ondine noticed her expression and smiled at her. Then she said “Master’s been known as a hero around here for more than a year. He had saved the town twice from a Two-Headed Mutated Cerberus monster.”
“R-Really?” Emilia said while blinking in disbelief.
Ondine nodded and Tetra said “Master certainly did. On the first one, he went into a rage and unleased an explosive power that totally destroyed the monster. The second time, master used me and unleashed a Secret Technique called Sealing Slicing Wave. Ondine got very angry at him and she beat him up!”
When they looked at Ondine, she quickly raised her hands in a fluster and said “That was just an accident! I got really worried and I sort of…”
“Got carried away…!” Tetra finished heavily.
Tetra sighed and said “It’s because of your and my power clashed, master ended up getting bolted in the hair and face. He appeared all smoky when he we went downstairs later.”
Emilia looked at Ondine in surprise and chuckled as she said “Seriously? Ondine… I never expected you to hurt master like that.”
“I told you… I did it by accident…!” Ondine said weakly.
At that moment, Lakshman pulled the coverings aside and said “Alright, girls stop that. You’re making Ondine feel uncomfortable.”
“What’s happened in the past is the past. Talking about it now and complaining won’t change anything. Besides, Ondine says she did it by accident and I’m quite okay with that. After all, you girls would often pull my ear and hurt me even though you don’t mean to.”
At that, the girls turned slightly red and became silent. Suddenly pointing out their mistake made them feel embarrassed.
Lakshman sighed, but he suddenly smiled when he turned around. In front of him, a splendid looking home with a shed came into view. Two horses were tethered near the side and they were grazing peacefully.
Once the carriage reached the entrance, Lakshman brought the horses to a stop and got off. He looked at how splendid his house looked and shed a small tear. Up until now, he had not realised how much he loved this house.
Leaving the girls behind, he opened the front gates and walked in. Emilia, Ondine and Tetra got out of the carriage and waited. It looked like he wanted to see bring back his old memories of his home.
At that moment, a woman wearing maid outfit walked out. She had a cloth and was cleaning her hands as she asked “Who is it?”
When she saw Lakshman, she stopped with her eyes raised. As she stood there, she fumbled and lost grip on her cloth which slowly floated down and touched the ground lightly. Tears began appearing in her eyes behind the spectacles she wore.
“Mariana …” Lakshman said quietly.
“Y-Young master…!” Mariana said as she sobbed.
Then she rushed forward and hugged him tightly. He was startled at first, but he returned the hug. This was Mariana, the house maid, but Lakshman considered her like a second mother.
“Welcome back, young master! Welcome back…!” Marina said tearfully.
“Mariana…” Lakshman said softly while patting her on the back.
At that moment, another familiar voice asked “Who is it, Mariana?”
A moment later, another woman came out. She had a slim build, but seemed a little overweight due to her recent pregnancy. A beautiful face with was full of love and kindness as she looked at whom it was.
“L-Lucky?” Lakshmi stuttered in shock and her eyes widened when she saw him.
Mariana let go of him and he walked forward as he said “Mum… I’m back.”
There was a moment’s pause in which everything stood still. Then Lakshmi ran towards him and hugged him rightly. She began to cry and sob while hugging her son tightly with her arms.
“Lucky…! Lucky…! You’re back… You’re finally returned…!” Lakshmi said tearfully.
Lakshman hugged her and felt the warm of his mother wash over him. It was a wonderful feeling which he had forgotten. He suddenly felt nothing in the world could touch him while she was there. At the same thing, he also felt the rush of love and affection for his mother.
This was the feeling he had missed for a long time. The affection, the love, the caring and the connection of his mother.
Lakshman smiled happily and said “Yeah… I’m finally home.”