A week passed quickly after Lakshman arrived and the day of the Life Festival arrived. Their town was hosting several different competitions.
The players had to run ten kilometres and back. The earlier they finish, the more score that gets added to their team score.
Four players per team run between markers. Each player stands at an indicated marker. Once their teammate runs in with their baton. The next player takes it and races to the next maker or the finish line. The earlier they finish, the more score that gets added to their team score.
Two ropes attached to a medium sized rock. Two teams with many players pull as hard as they could. There will be a line to separate the teams and will mark that team the winner if the rock falls inside their line. If players fall inside the opponent’s line, they are to go back to the end of their team’s line and wait for the teammate to touch to enter again.
Players play inside a barrier with one ball and two teams. Players pass the ball to each other and score points. They can either throw the ball or kick it at each other.
The competitions were being held outside town in the warm sunlight. Many people neighbouring villages came to sign up for it. People busily moved around and handed the signup sheets to the people.
“Hmm… I think I should sign up to Running Race, Relay Race and Tug-o-Rock,” Indra said when he ticked the options on a sheet of paper that got handed around to the contestants. Then he looked at Lakshman and asked “Which ones are you going to participate in, Lucky?”
“I think I’ll just sign up for Tug-o-Rock and Shot Ball, dad,” Lakshman said when he ticked those two options.
“Really? Come on! Try the others,” Indra said as he tried urging his son.
Lakshman shook his head and said “No, dad. I’m just too strong and it’ll become an unfair advantage.”
“Ah… Fine. Suit yourself,” Indra said and he shrugged his shoulders.
After handing in their sheets, they returned to where their family were. Their family were sitting near the hill Lakshmi was holding the two babies and was playing with them. Ondine, Emilia and Tetra sat around and watched the babies with happy expressions on their faces.
“Here are your drinks, master and young master,” Mariana said and she handed them a glass of justice when they sat down.
“Thanks, Mariana! I’ll be needing this!” Indra said appreciatively.
They sat and watched people walking around. There were a lot of shops setup near the camping site. People were going to the shops and buying the merchandises. The whole place was emitting high energy due to the excitement of the competitions.
It was an hour later they heard the announcer say “Now if we could have the juniors for the Running Race!”
“You’re up, master!” Ondine said and she winked at him.
He looked at her sternly and said “No!”
“What? You’re not coming, Lucky?” his friend, Stuart asked when he stopped on his way.
“Sorry, but not this time, Stuart,” Lakshman said with a smile.
“Aww… I wanted to beat you for once!” Stuart said and they laughed.
Once they went on their way, the announcer began to speak to the runners. The people were making them wear numbered shirts to identify them easily. That way, they can score them without confusion.
When they were ready, the announcer began the hammer cry.
“On your marks…! Get set…! GO!”
With his shout, he fired an energy blast into the air. The next second, it exploded and made a loud noise. The spectators shrieked in surprise and the runners took off. All of them were running away as fast their legs could carry.
“Why did the announcer use an energy blast as the signal?” Lakshman asked curiously.
Indra laughed and said “They took the idea from when you trained the kids. They thought it was a brilliant idea and decided to incorporate it since people could miss the voice signal.”
“Ah. That makes sense then,” Lakshman said with a nod.
For several minutes, the race track was empty. The people were talking to each other and wondering who will be coming back first. Then, in the distance, they could see the rising of dust which indicated the returning racers.
Lakshman leaned forward and squinted into the distance. He was surprised to find six boys side by side and it surprised him even more when he realised all of them were the kids he trained.
They were running very fast with the goal in sight. Then, at the same second, Stuart pushed forward and just managed to come first place.
A few seconds later, the other racers finally caught up and finished. It looked like they were really pushed to try and keep up with the six boys. Afterwards, the judge marked down the order of who came at what order to give out appropriate points.
After that, it was time for the adults. Indra jumped to his feet and was pumped with excitement and energy. He went down to the race track and wore the number twelve shirt. Lakshman and his family could clearly see the sour look on his face.
Lakshmi laughed and said “He hoped he could wear a shirt between numbers one and ten. Anything below that is stupid in his opinion.”
“He’s stupid to think like that,” Ondine commented and they laughed.
Then the announcer bought counted down the hammer cry. When the energy blast was fired into the air and it exploded, the runners took off with a blast. The announcer was literally blown off his feet by the force of their take off. They returned within twenty minutes because of fast they were running.
“They should probably start thinking of making the track longer or maybe make it a circuit,” Tetra said and the others agreed.
Indra came first and he was very excited about it. After noting down the order of their finish, they gave back the shirts and they returned. Indra was beside himself with happiness at such a quick finish.
“I’ve really gotten faster!” he was saying happily.
“Yes, dad. You really did,” Lakshman said and he was happy for his father.
After that, they had lunch. The lunch took around thirty to forty minutes. Lakshman was not keep track since he and his family were eating happily the food the Kitchen Queens made. It was the term Indra made up which refers to Lakshmi, Mariana, Emilia and Ondine as the Kitchen Queens.
“We deserve to be called queens because boys fail at cooking!” Lakshmi said cheerfully.
“I can cook!” Indra said indignantly.
“Yes… You can fry and egg and that’s it!” Lakshmi retorted and they all laughed.
After the lunch break was over, it was time for the Relay Race. This was purely an adult only race because they wanted to display their strength to the kids. Lakshmi called it the Show-off Race, but no one was listening as the adults energetically walked down to the track.
There were four flags stumped onto the ground around the field. This indicated where three of the players will be standing at since the fourth player will be at the start line.
As it turned out, Indra was assigned to Team One while Stuart’s dad was assigned to Team Two. They found out when their parents walked to the last marked flag. Lakshman and Stuart watched excitedly to see whose father will finish first.
“My dad’s faster!” Stuart said excitedly.
“Maybe, but dad’s pretty good,” Lakshman said while smiling.
Then the announcer counted down and fired an energy blast into the air. The moment it exploded, the racers took off with their batons. They were really fast and raised dust with each of their running stomp on the ground.
They quickly reached the first markers and passed it and he took off. They were neck and neck when they reached the second marker. The third pair were neck and neck until Team One stumbled due to loosened shoes.
Stuart’s father took off very quickly and, a few seconds later, Lakshman got his baton. Then he tore after Stuart’s father with incredible force. Great clouds of dust kept rising up into the air with his heavy footsteps and he soon caught up to Stuart’s father.
“You can do it, dad! Do it!” Stuart was shouting at the top of his voice.
“Come on, dad! Push harder!” Lakshman yelled as loud as he could.
The finish was a close one, but Stuart’s father came first. Both fathers were panting quickly and then congratulated each other on the good run. Stuart was triumphantly smiling while Lakshman patted him happily.
“Good friends,” Ondine muttered when she saw them cheering each other.
“That’s what good friends should be like,” Emilia said quietly and they silently agreed.
After that, they took a break of half-an-hour. When they came back, the judge announced the scores the two teams were sitting at.
“Team Two is leading with a total of two-hundred-and-twenty while Team One is behind with a total of one-hundred-and-seventy-five.”
“Dang… We’re behind!” Indra complained and so did the members of his team. He quickly turned to Lakshman and said “Lakshman! It’s up to us to take back the score! Got it?”
Lakshman was surprised by how serious his father was looking at him. Then he nodded and said “You got it, dad!”
At that moment, they heard the announcer say “Calling to all teams for the Tug-o-Rock! All members of Team One and Team Two, please come over!”
“That’s our call! Let’s win this together!” Indra said and Lakshman nodded excitedly.
“Good luck, master!” the girls wished him and he grinned at them.
After setting up the playing field and putting the two wires with a large rock in the middle, the two teams stood there. It was an open age competition so all ages were allowed.
“We’re going to win, Lucky!” Stuart called from the opposite end.
“No way! It’s our win!” Lakshman called back and they grinned at each other.
Then the announcer said “In Tug-o-Rock, you simply have to make sure the rock touches the ground inside your line to win. If teammates fall inside opposing team line, they must return to their own team’s line and wait for someone to touch them back in!”
As the crowd roared and cheered, the two teams picked up their wires and pulled until the line was firmly in the air.
When he saw the teams were ready, the announcer began the countdown by saying “Ready…! Steady…! Rock!”
At his shout, there was a violent blast of noise from the air as an energy blast exploded. In an instant, Team One were suddenly pulled forward with great force. The force of the pull was so strong, every one of the team stumbled forward and fell into Team Two’s line.
“Oh my! Team Two certainly are not holding back with their effort. They already caused all the members to fall into their line,” the announcer was shouting.
As the crowd let out their pleasure and anger, Indra sat up looking bewildered. Team Two had used an incredible force to pull because they were aware of him and several others inside that team. So they did not hold back and pulled them in.
“Damn… We lost like that?” Indra said unhappily.
At that moment, he suddenly saw the line still holding up. Team Two were still trying to pull, but were having a hard time. Their faces were contorted by the sheer effort they were putting in.
“Oh my?! What is this?! There’s still one person from Team One who hasn’t crossed the line yet!”
At hearing the announcer’s shout, Indra and the rest of Team One looked around. They were stunned to see Lakshman desperately pulling the rope with all his might.
“L-Lucky?” Indra said hesitantly in disbelief.
Lakshman was holding with both of his hands and dug his feet in. He desperately held the rope with all his might.
Seeing his teammates just sitting there and gawking at him, he yelled “Get back in line already!”
“Huh? Oh! Oh yeah!”
“Let’s do it!”
“Come on, guys!”
Team One members quickly rose to their feet and ran over to stand behind their team’s end line. Lakshman gritted his teeth and pulled as hard as he could while stepping back. Then he began to round the ripe around his arm three times. Turning around, he began to walk towards his teammates.
“Oh my goodness! The kid’s wrapping the wire around his arm and is now walking towards his teammates! What a show of guts and force!”
Standing behind the lines, his teammates were shouting encouragement at him. A moment later, they began to shout the same word over and over again.
“Pull! Pull! Pull! Pull! Pull! Pull! Pull! Pull…”
“Ah… Stop that! It’s distracting!” Lakshman yelled, but no one heard him over the noise.
With great effort, he took one step after another until he was within reach of his teammates. They held their hands out for him to clap. Using his freed left hand, Lakshman began clapping them one by one and they quickly ran inside and took control.
“Okay, Lucky! You can let go now! We’ll take over from here!”
Hearing the shout, Lakshman unwrapped the wire and freed his hand. Then he sank to his knees while breathing very quickly. It took him a lot of effort to pull that wire with just his strength alone. He could have used his energy, but he believed it would turn into an unfair play.
Eventually, Team One won when Team Two’s strength slowly waned. Team One made one great heave and the wire came free. The rock fell inside their line and they automatically were the winners.
The crowd were cheering and yelling in joy. Team One members hoisted Lakshman over their shoulders in appreciation of his effort.
“An effort of one boy helped save their teammates from big trouble!” the announcer was yelling.
Lakshman was very tired, but he was happy. After getting down, Indra told him how proud he was off him. Even Stuart came over and congratulated him and said how he could never have been able to pull that off.
At that moment, his legs suddenly felt weak and he felt to his knees. Indra helped him and walked him back to the place his family was sitting at. It looked like he strained his body by using nothing, but his strength and one arm to pull more than twenty adults and several more kids.
There was an hour break of rest. Lakshman slept on the ground for that one hour because of how tired his body was. After that, he felt like he recovered some of the lost energy and prepared for the Shot Ball challenge.
“Do you think you can do it?” Lakshmi asked him anxiously.
“Don’t worry, mum! Remember! That was nothing compared to thousand times gravity! I was just taken by surprise and was forced to use only my strength. I’m fine now,” Lakshman told her reassuringly.
“Good luck, master!” Ondine said and she gave him a thumps up gesture.
“Yeah! Show them your stuff, master!” Emilia said and she grinned at him.
“Don’t you dare lose, master?!” Tetra said sternly.
“Thanks and sure! I won’t lose!” Lakshman said and winked at the girls before leaving.
The brought in long hoops and pushed them into the ground on either ends. Once the preparations were done, they called in the players and got them to enter it with the ball. When all the players were inside, the officials created a barrier around them. It looked like a full court, except with a barrier around it.
The announcer cleared his throat and everyone fell silent as he began speaking.
“The final coopetition of the day! It’s the Shot Ball!”
The crowd went wild, but the noise soon died down and he continued speaking.
“Basically, the players will be shooting the ball at each other and score points for their teammates. The team to score the highest within the next thirty minutes will be declared the winner!”
At that moment, two visible magical numbers appeared. One was hovering hear one side of the court while the other hovered on the other side of the court. The announced told them it was the points scored during the match and will automatically update per score.
“Now… Ready…! Start!” the announcer shouted.
With the signal given, the players spread out quickly. Lakshman was at the rear of his team and watched the opposing team closely. He knew this will be fast paced from watching it being played numerous of times in the past.
Team One were the first to start off with the ball because they won their previous competition. So, without waiting, they charged forward and began to pass the ball to each other.
One of them took a daring shot and threw the ball as hard he could. It shot ahead, but bounced away by hitting the outer ring of the hoop. Team Two took the ball and began passing it around while avoiding Team One members.
After receiving the ball at half-mark, a Team Two member jumped high and shot the ball. From the angle and speed of the shot, it looked like it was going to make the score. At that moment, Lakshman jumped high and caught the ball with his hand.
“Wow! That was close! Team Two’s shot has been blocked by the brave kid from before!” the announcer shouted as the crowd gasped in surprise.
Quickly taking the ball, Lakshman charged ahead. Using his quick reflexes, he looked around for an opening. Then he saw a teammate and he fired his ball at him at high speed. At that moment, when all attention turned to him, Lakshman charged ahead and raised his hand to indicate to pass the ball to him.
“Pass me!” he shouted to make it even more obvious.
The guy who took the ball, saw him and heard the shout. Nodding, he jumped over the heads of the people and fired it in his direction. Seeing the ball flying high, Lakshman jumped really high and caught it. At that moment, the gravity of his position shifted and found himself standing on the roof of the barrier.
Not waiting to feel surprised, he ran on the roof and shot into the hoop. There was a loud noise to indicate the scoring. At the end of Team One’s side, the number went up by one.
Team Two scowled up at Lakshman who was grinning broadly. Then he jumped and, at the centre, automatically turned around and landed his feet on the ground. The play continued and players headed towards Team One side.
At that moment, one of Team Two’s member kicked the ball as hard as he could. It rocketed through the air and a Team Two member jumped high and caught it. With people spreading around, he charged ahead and saw another teammate waving at him.
He shot the ball through the gap and it rocked away. The Team Two member caught it and instantly jumped into the air. Aiming carefully, he threw the ball towards the hoop and it went in to finally get their points up.
“Finally! Team One and Team Two have started scoring!” the announcer shouted over the loud cheering and clapping noise of the crowd.
After that, the battle raged on between the team passing the ball to each other at incredible pace. The ball would be thrown back and forth and sometimes even bounce off the barrier. With that pace, the players were quickly tiring out. Lakshman was also tiring out because he had never moved at such pace back and forth even while training.
Half-an-hour later, the announcer cheerfully began counting down the time.
“10… 9… 8… 7…”
Lakshman heard the countdown and quickly looked towards the team scores. Team Two was on ninety-seven while Team One was on ninety-five. They only need three more points to win and Lakshman quickly formed an idea.
“Pass the ball to me! Now!” Lakshman shouted at his teammate.
“Go for it!” his teammate said and he shot the ball towards him.
Lakshman caught the ball and jumped high into the air. In an instant, the opposing team member shouted “Stop him! Don’t let him shoot!”
In an instant, several of their teammates jumped high and landed on the roof of the barrier. Lakshman suddenly found himself in a tricky situation. He had intended to use the roof of the barrier to run and score and try for a second shot in an instant. Now he is left with only one choice.
At that moment, Team One shouted “Just shoot the damn thing!”
Lakshman widened his eyes in realisation. Close up shots were counted as two points while long shots were three shots. He was almost on the other side of the court, but he got his aim right at the other team’s hoop.
“Now or never!” Lakshman shouted and he launched the ball.
He launched it so hard, it rocked away. Team Two tried to stop it by putting their hand out to stop it and were stunned that it soared even faster than they predicted.
Lakshman looked on as, with great power, the ball slowly curved and slammed into the hoop. There was a sound of the score while, at the same time, a great blast of energy erupted in the air.
Lakshman landed and he quickly looked at his team’s score. He smiled when he saw it read ninety-eight. His last moment action won the team the match again and they cheered happily. Once the barrier was down, everyone was moving him over their shoulders.
Team Two looked on while breathing quickly. Sweat was pouring out of them like water. It was just that intense play both teams had going in the game.
Afterwards, Lakshman returned to where his family were sitting. Ondine, Emilia and Tetra jumped to their feet and hugged him tightly. It startled Indra and Lakshmi while Mariana watched on with a smile on her face. Then the final verdict came in and announced Team One as the winners.
“We did it! We did it!” Indra was yelling at the top of his voice.
The crowd erupted into celebration. Even the crowd, that supported Team Two, joined in on the celebration. They had a fun time after that and it was night time before they returned home.
“Ah… So tired…!” Indra said tiredly as he heavily sat on a chair.
“Don’t sit like that or you’ll break it!” Lakshmi said indignantly.
“Now, now. We just had a tiring day so give it a rest,” Indra said wearily.
“Hmph! Then take your shoes off before you sit down then!” Lakshmi said sternly.
Sighing heavily, Indra got up and took his shoes off. As he walked back to put his shoes away, Lakshman walked into the room. He sat down on a chair and Ondine, Tetra and Emilia sat around him. He sighed heavily while feeling really tired.
“I’m so tired…” he muttered. Then he said “I never exercised this much in like… forever!”
The girls laughed at his joke. Then Emilia and Ondine got up to assist Mariana while Lakshmi put the babies to bed. An hour later, dinner was ready, but performed a prayer before eating.
“Dear god of life, we pray our thanks for letting us living in this world and enjoy. We appreciate your effort to bring life into this world and we appreciate your existence very much! Please keep the flow of life going so that our world will continue to prosper.”
With that, they began to eat. Indra and Lakshman ate with great gusto and even went for a third serving. Once they were full, they put their spoons into the plates and patted their stomachs happily.
“Dinner sure was good today!” Indra commented happily.
“It is… because you’re tired!” Lakshmi said while chuckling.
Then, as they began to yawn sleepily, Lakshmi decided to call it a night. They tiredly walked into their rooms and bid each other good night. Lakshman closed the door to his room and collapsed on his bed.
He looked at the bed side table and saw the Crystal Clock Wolfenstine gave him. Looking at it, he realised it was ten-fifty in the night. So he yawned, closed his eyes and instantly fell asleep.
The next morning, when he woke up, he felt something strange. He did not know why, but something very squishy were pressing into his arm. He turned a little and his hand landed on the squishy thing.
A female voice suddenly said “Iyaaa…”
The noise somehow made his heart race. He quickly opened his eyes and looked. Sleeping on his right while hugging his arm tightly was a slender girl. She had flaming red hair and was wearing a night gown that seemed to be a bit tight.
Judging from her appearance alone, Lakshman assumed she was a few years older than him. She was probably in her teens judging from young her face was. Then he noticed his arm pressing into something squishy. Realising what it was, he yelped and sat up and tried to get away.
“Master…” the teenage girl said and continued hug tightly to his arm.
Lakshman’s eyes widened slightly and he asked “W-Who are you?”
The girl did not respond, but instead smiled and hugged him while continuing to sleep.