In a flash, three weeks went by and time passed quickly. It would pass when students do nothing, but study to get all the work done in time. The teachers of Astral Academy had been giving their students work after work every single day that took more than a week to complete.
Lakshman was in his room and was busily writing on his notebook with a pen. Books and papers lay littered on the bed with him having to fold his to straight. Every now and then he would pull a book closer to him and push another book away to read.
Following his meeting with Felix three weeks ago, Lakshman managed to find some spare time to write a letter. He addressed the letter to his family by simply finding out how they are doing and if they need anything else from Floria. Additionally, he also asked his father, Indra, a question regarding nobility which Felix did not wish to answer.
After sending the letter through the usual mail service, he had not received a reply yet. At first, he did not think much of it since he knew it would take time for mail to get delivered, but soon he forgot he wrote a letter. His studies were making him concentrate very hard.
“Jewels embedded into a sword does not make it stronger, but makes it heavier. On the other hand, magic crystals have properties to enhance the sword and will be useful,” Lakshman muttered as he wrote the words he spoke.
Then he paused to think about what he wrote and nodded in satisfaction. Then he started writing while muttering “Comparing the usability of a sword and a spear, I would recommend—!”
At that moment, he suddenly heard a click in his mind which made him jump in surprise. Then he was even more surprised to hear the voice of someone familiar.
“Um… Is this Lakshman Chand?” the voice asked nervously in his mind.
“Eh? That voice…!” Lakshman said aloud which the voice did not hear. Then he thought “Is that you, princess Venezuela?”
“Ah. Thank goodness I managed to reach you. I was worried I might have accidentally connected to somebody else,” Venezuela said and she sounded relieved.
Lakshman chuckled and thought “Its fine. What did you contact me for, princess?”
“I… was wondering if it’s possible to borrow some of your time today.”
“B-B-Borrow my time?” Lakshman asked aloud in a surprised voice.
He did not quite understand why she would contact him and suddenly ask for his company. From how she sounded, the princess was safe and well. So the reason for her contacting him was a mystery he could not understand.
“Borrow my time? What for? You certainly don’t need my help with this week’s comparison of swords and spears, right?” he thought before chuckling sarcastically.
He heard her chuckle and say “No. It’s a different matter altogether, but I wish to speak with you privately. Is that alright with you?”
“Uh… Sure! I don’t see a problem. Where should we meet, princess?”
“Tomorrow, early in the morning, I will come by the boy’s dormitory. Then we can walk go train together while talking, okay?”
“Sounds good to me, princess! See you in the morning.”
“Have a good night, Lakshman.”
With that, the connection ended and Lakshman was alone once more. He was quite surprised the princess bothered to contact him so late in the night. He checked the clock which was eleven-thirty in the night.
He looked at the unfinished sentence and he decided he will do it later. Just then, he yawned and became aware of how sleepy he actually felt.
“I think I should get to bed now or I’ll be pretty tired for tomorrow,” he said with a sigh of tiredness.
“Yes, you certainly will be,” said a familiar voice from above him.
He looked up and saw Spectra floating there. Looking at her with her lower body like a white ended tail made him shake his head.
“It makes me wonder if ghosts ever need sleep.”
“No, we don’t, but that doesn’t matter. You’re a living being so you should sleep. So hurry up and go to bed!” Spectra said to him sternly.
“Geez. You sound like my mother telling me to go to bed early.”
“Mothers know best,” Spectra said with smile which made him sigh.
He closed all the books and stacked them on the bed side table. Then he rolled over in his bed and quickly fell asleep. The lights slowly dimmed and went out. Spectra lingered for a moment and watched him sleeping peacefully before heading into a cupboard.
The next morning, he found Venezuela standing at the front of the boy’s dormitory. She was there, as promised, but he was surprised to not see Mercia with her.
“Um… Where’s Mercia?” he asked her curiously while looking around as if she was hiding somewhere.
“She won’t be interfering between us,” Venezuela told him with a smile.
“Oh. So you told her we’ll be meeting then.”
To his surprise, Venezuela shook her head and said “No, I didn’t.”
Lakshman widened his eyes slightly and said “Huh? You didn’t?”
“I came out of the back window. I’m sure she’s realised by now that I’m gone.” she said before grinning at him.
“EH?!” Lakshman exclaimed in shock.
Elsewhere, in the girl’s dormitory, Mercia was shouting “No! The princess is gone! The princess is gone! I have failed as a guard! Waaaaaahh…!”
Meanwhile, Lakshman correctly guessed what Mercia was going through, he smiled slightly as he said “I think she’s crying right about now.”
“That’s fine. She never lets me go freely so she deserves some crying time,” Venezuela said with a smiling face. Then she turned around and said “Let’s go.”
Lakshman chuckled to himself, but was really surprised to see this side of the princess. It looked like she disliked Mercia constantly tailing her and wanted some payback. Which made him realise something.
“Wait… Isn’t she basically using me to get her payback?” he thought and his eyes widened in shock.
Just then, the princess turned around and asked “Come on, Lakshman or you will delay your morning training!”
“Ah! Yes! I’m coming!” Lakshman said and he quickly went after her.
“The morning is so beautiful and clean, the fresh air and the flowing of the breeze, ah… the freedom,” Venezuela said as they walked towards the arena. Then she turned to him and asked “It’s great to get out and go do whatever you light, right?”
“It certainly is, princess,” he said with a nod of his head.
“It naturally is and always will be blissful to be free. No constraints, no restraints and certainly no naggers.”
Lakshman looked at her in wonder. He did not understand why she was suddenly speaking like that. Most of the time, she would keep quiet and talk about the school and such. Then he noted that this was the first time he ever spoke to her directly while alone so he decided he was overeating.
They continued to walk, she asked him “How is your homework coming along?”
He chuckled and said “It’s coming along nicely, but I’m having quite the trouble with explaining the compounding effects of magic spells on magic crystals. I know they are connected, but it’s taking me forever to read the textbook from pages one-thirty to one-forty.”
“Haha. I see that you are strong with execution, but not analysing. Maybe you’re just slow at understanding the concepts?”
“It… takes me a bit of time to get my head around all that craziness. It’s alright though since I’ve managed to grasp the concept of antimatter which is how I came up with my attack techniques.”
“Ah. Now it makes sense how you were capable of using a highly specialised attack. I think it was that attack which took on the form of a lance you constantly use. Um… What was it called again?”
“I simply labelled it the Positron Lancer, princess, although I could’ve named it something else.”
Venezuela shook her head and said “No. I think it worked fine with the way it operates, but I’m surprised. You leant the difficult subjects ahead of most of Class A students.” When he chuckled and scratched the back of his head in embarrassment, she smiled and said “Perhaps this is why you’re girlfriends call you ‘Lucky’ so fondly.”
“Eh? Um… That is…” Lakshman said hesitantly while looking nervous.
“Am I wrong?”
“Uh… No. You’re right.”
“I see. Well, there is no law forcing you to only love one person so you’re not doing anything wrong by having four girlfriends.”
“T-Thank you for your kind words, princess.”
“It’s alright, but really it comes as no surprise. Everyone has been treating you with high regard and respect. I mean, there aren’t that many who are as strong as you at your current age. So I’m not surprised you got yourself a couple of lovers.”
“Oh, you exaggerate. I’m not as strong as everyone makes me out to be.”
“Yes, but you did not participate in the battles for the past three weeks. Is there any particular reason for you not playing?”
“I was fine with the first one, but thinking about it made me realise I’m too strong. The whole game becomes unfair if I start playing and that’s why I decided to not interfere in a game full of girls.”
Venezuela looked surprised by his words and she laughed heartily. After recovering, she smiled at him as she said “Yes… I understand what you mean. You certainly are an overpowering power… Phoenix Titan.”
Lakshman came to a stop with a surprised expression on his face. Venezuela came to a stop as well and turned to look at him. She was still smiling even though he no longer smiled.
“Um… I’m sorry, princess, but I believe I misheard you just now. Could you repeat your last line?” he asked her politely with a dreadful feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“You certainly are someone with overpowering power, Phoenix Titan,” she told him.
He was shocked by her words and the title she had used. Seeing his expression, her smile widened as she said “I am well aware that you are the Phoenix Titan, Lakshman.”
Thinking quickly, he decided he will pretend she had mistaken him for somebody else.
“Um… I’m sorry, princess, but I think you’re sorely mistaken. I am really strong and powerful, but there’s no way I could be that legendary figure! Besides, I hear that he lives somewhere in Rodfox region right now.”
Venezuela shook her head while she continued to smile. Then she said “I heard you and Felix talking three weeks ago about the Nobility Ranking System.”
“N-No way…!” Lakshman said in a hushed voice as she stared, wide eyed, at her.
“After that, I stayed quiet because I wanted to make sure. Since then, I kept an eye on you and watched you constantly even if you missed it. I recognised the resemblance of the Phoenix Titan from three years ago which also enabled me to finally remember his actual name. Lakshman! You and he have the same name and even your family names are the same!”
Lakshman knew he was done for. He had no idea the princess had been covertly observing him and taking notes while studying as well. She even went as far as to research about his background and finally learned the truth.
Venezuela walked closer to him and she was no longer smiling. Instead, she had a firm serious expression on her as she stared at him.
“Tell me… Why did you hide your title? Were you too afraid to appear in public? Explain!”
Lakshman gulped and hesitated for a few seconds. Then he sighed and told her everything about how it was Felix’s plan to keep him under wraps. He went to great lengths to how he initially wanted to follow it, but a promise made to a friend did not let him go easy or hold back.
“So a promise to a friend finally did you in…” she said finally once he finished speaking.
“Yes, but I’m not regretting. I was planning on revealing my identity in the future when I tackle that Nobility Ranking System. I mean, it’s as stupid as hell while making students fight over each other! It’s like only the strongest shall survive and the weak will perish! Ridiculous!” he said angrily.
He was angry at how things were being run. The principal and even the Phoenix Emperor disliked it, but due to the agreement between the nobles, they had no choice, but to see it through. Being part of the royalty, he was not sure how she will react to what he just said.
Surprisingly, Venezuela remained calm and said “Yes. I understand where you are coming from. It is truly a detestable system to make students fight each other instead of having fun together.”
Lakshman started to smile, but his hopes were dashed when she sighed and said “Unfortunately, my father, the king, is strict and will not agree to remove it.”
“Damn…! So he won’t listen, even if the princess tells him to stop it,” he said unhappily.
Venezuela nodded and turned away before saying “The idea originated from the king of Mardana. The Mardana Kingdom has assisted us greatly after the arrival of the demon army invasion. Due to that, my father is not willing to do anything that will make Mardana Kingdom be unhappy with our kingdom.”
“I see. So with them playing the role of puppeteers, we cannot do anything… That’s so annoying. This stuffs my plan in the junk…!”
Venezuela, from the corner of her eye, saw the displeasure in his face and she silently smiled. There was a plan she was slowly forming, but she needed him to make it happen.
“There… is another way to sort this out,” she said quietly, but firmly.
“Oh? There is?” Lakshman quickly asked eagerly.
She nodded her head with her back still facing him. Then she said “But, for that to work, I will need your help.”
“You need my help with something? What is it, princess?” he asked curiously.
“Before I tell you, I want you to promise me you won’t say no. If you do say no, I will spread word about you being the Phoenix Titan and make up all sorts of stories to make you look bad!”
“Eh?!” Lakshman exclaimed in surprise.
“The news will spread everywhere and people will start looking down on you. You will eventually lose your credibility as the Phoenix Titan and will be forgotten from the world! Heck! They might even start hunting you down like some sort of criminal!”
He could not believe his ears. The princess was threatening him, the very same princess whom he thought was soft and gentle. She was threatening to make him look bad and turn him into someone bad.
“Will you promise? Will you?” she asked him forcefully.
Lakshman was troubled because of the threatening words he just heard. The princess still had her back to him and he could feel her impatient growing by the second. His mind was so troubled, he was having trouble thinking straight.
Just then, he heard the voice of the Decisive Player say “Well, well, well…! That haughtiness and wanting things to be done her way… So much of her reminds me of ‘her’ from the past.”
“Who from the past?” Lakshman thought in confusion.
“Never mind. Anyway, what’re you hesitating for? Just promise. Go on.”
“But she’s threatening me and… uh…”
The Decisive Player laughed before he said “You won’t lose anything by helping her. Believe me. I know.”
“Alright. If you’re okay with it, then I’ll do it!”
“Well? Will you promise or not?” she asked again impatiently.
Lakshman sighed and said “Yes, princess. I promise I won’t say no.”
There was a moment of silence before the princess asked “You’re not trying to trick me, are you?”
“I swear on my powers that I’m speaking the truth!” he said firmly in a serious voice.
“V-Very well… I’m glad to hear you say that.”
“Thank you. Now what is it that you want me to do to help you, princess?”
The princess began fidgeting with her fingers nervously. Then she turned around and he was surprised to see that she was blushing with a strange smile on her face. Instead, he was drawn back to the picture of the cute princess he thought she was.
Venezuela took a deep breath and said “I want you to be my boyfriend!”
For a moment, Lakshman blinked in surprise and thought he misheard her. Then his suspicions were confirmed when she pointed at him and said “I want you to be my boyfriend and marry me!”
His eyes widened in shock and he exclaimed “WWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTT?!”