The next day, Lakshman was inside the castle. The reason for him to be there was a certain meeting that he had to attend. He had only found out about this meeting yesterday and did not think much about it. However, his nerves were slightly on edge with nervousness.
The previous day, princess Venezuela had confessed her feeling for him. This was partially due to him being the Phoenix Titan and the other because she finally remembered he was the kid that saved her three years ago. Because of that, he was forced to come and he found himself feeling nervous.
In a few minutes time, he will be meeting with the king of Floria Kingdom. He was not the only one as it so turned out. Apparently, the reason for Venezuela’s desperate confession yesterday was due to her father arranging a political marriage for her. The to-be-wed groom turned out to be the prince of Mardana Kingdom.
Lakshman had arrived at the castle an hour ago and was told to wait in a private room. After being sent in, the doors closed and only silenced remained. He did not know what to think or do in the meantime. So he simply played with his clothes by trying to look neat so he does not make a fool of himself.
“I so dislike this sort of stuff!” he thought with annoyance.
He heard the Decisive Player say “I’m not surprised. This kind of political manoeuvring is always annoying.”
“No! I’m not talking about the stupid political marriage here! I’m annoyed I’m having to wear these kinds of clothes!”
Yesterday evening, Venezuela paid him a visit at the boy’s dormitory. Since there is a barrier making it difficult for girls to enter the building, he had to go out and meet with her. Once they were outside, she pulled out a set of clothes from the inside of a plastic bag she was carrying.
“How does it look?” she asked him eagerly when she unfolded the clothes.
Lakshman was speechless as he stared at it. The clothes she brought to him were a full hand sleave suit. There was a pale blue coloured shirt on the inside for him to wear. He had worn something similar three years ago when he attended the banquet at the very castle.
“I-It looks good,” Lakshman said honestly and she smiled in appreciation.
She folded the suit neatly and tucked it into the plastic bag before handing it to me.
“Here. I want you to wear them for tomorrow’s meeting,” she told him brightly.
“Eh? Wear this? But-,”he said in a surprised voice, but he was cut off by her.
“No buts! Okay? Just wear it. I’ll see you tomorrow,” she told him firmly.
Then she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek before leaving. He watched her go with the plastic bag in hand and a dumbfounded look on his face. Yet again, he was reminded of how forceful the princess was when she wanted things to be done her way.
Due to that, he had no choice, but to wear those clothes. So he came to the castle in his normal clothes so as not to dirty the suit. Once he was showed in and the door was closed, he quickly changed clothes. Now he waited for the time when Venezuela would come to take him to meet her father, the king.
“It sort of feels tight and strange to swear these,” Lakshman thought as he stretched his arms and legs while he sat in the silent room.
“You’re nervousness is causing you to notice them. Once you get going and focus on other things, you’ll totally forget about it,” the Decisive Player told him in a reassuring voice in his mind.
“I know, but I’m amazed she knew about my dimensions so accurately. I don’t remember telling her my sizes, have I?”
“No, you didn’t, but you’re underestimating the eye of the princess. She’s been observing you constantly and would certainly be able to get the measurements of your clothes right.”
“Yikes…! I suddenly feel exposed even though I’m wearing clothes!”
At that, the Decisive Player laughed and that was when the door finally opened. Lakshman turned around to see who was at the door and was glad to see that it was Venezuela.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Venezuela said and she entered the room.
His eyes shot up in astonishment when he saw the dress she was wearing. It was a lavishly decorated dress which he imagined a princess would certainly wear. Additionally, she was wearing a tiara over her head.
Lakshman could only describe her as the most beautiful person he had ever seen. Her beauty was amplified by the amazing dress she was wearing for the occasion. He could have mistaken that this meeting might be some sort of party.
Venezuela looked him up and down before nodding in satisfaction. Then she showed her dress off and asked “How do I look?”
“Uh… Um… R-Really beautiful!” he said slowly as he slowly recovered.
“Thank you!” she said and she beamed at him. Then she grabbed him by the arm and said “The prince of Mardana Kingdom has just arrived. He is already at the place faster is at. Now let’s go and show them our love!”
“W-We’ve just become lovers yesterday though…” Lakshman said hesitantly.
She smiled at him and said “Love is not bound by time or distance.”
With that said and done, she pulled him out of the room. After closing the door shut, she walked Lakshman while walking at his side. She had inserted her arm around his right arm and she leaned her head on his shoulders. He was a bit taller than her, but she was not worried about the height difference.
“Now remember to look impressive, okay? Father is strict and he does not like boys that do not exert themselves in public.”
“R-Right…” Lakshman said in a low voice.
“Don’t feel so nervous. I’ll be next to you so you’ll be fine,” Venezuela said in reassuring voice.
He did not feel reassured because past memories were rising up. Three years ago, he had beaten up several noblemen in his anger due to their mistreatment of his comrades. It made him feel nervous, but he was not afraid since he had to do what was right.
After walking for a while and climbing several stairs, they arrived outside a large door. Venezuela knocked on it three times and Lakshman heard the sound echo around the deserted corridor.
They heard a strong voice say “Enter!”
With the command given, Lakshman and Venezuela pushed the doors open. He quickly closed his eyes and looked away due to the bright sunlight hitting him hard in the face. As he blinked and his eyes got adjusted to the sunlight, he noticed two figures seated on chairs.
The king, Bernard IV Sargold, was seated at the head of centre. There were two chairs laid on either sides of the centre. While walking into the room, Lakshman noticed an unknown man sitting on the right side. He instantly knew the man was the prince of Mardana Kingdom.
Venezuela lead Lakshman into the room and they sat on the left side. This positioned so that Lakshman was directly facing the king. The prince was not looking at him nor did he acknowledge the fact that Lakshman was even there. This made him instantly dislike the prince.
Then three maids arrived while wheeling a table towards them. On the table were plates full of sweets and biscuits. Under normal circumstances, Lakshman would have eagerly dived into eating them, but right now he is here for a serious matter.
Once the maids bowed and left by closing the door, the king finally spoke.
“So… This is the man whom you’ve taken a liking to, Venezuela,” the king said as he looked at Lakshman.
Venezuela nodded and said “Yes, father. His name is Lakshman Chand and he is the only boy currently studying at Astral Academy. He is currently studying in the same year as me.”
Lakshman bowed towards the king and said “My sincerest greeting, you majesty.”
The king nodded and said “Yes. I see.” Then he gestured towards the man on his left and said “Lakshman. This man here is the crown prince of Mardana Kingdom, Adebola Gramstone. Unlike you and Venezuela, he is turning twenty next month.”
Lakshman turned to look at Adebola and said “Oh… Our senior.” Then he rose to his feet and walked over with his hand out before saying “Nice to meet you, prince Adebola.”
Adebola did not respond immediately. He glanced at Lakshman for a moment and at the hand outstretched to him. Then he turned away and said “I’m sorry, but I’m not in the habit of shaking hands with commoners.”
The king coughed and looked away. Venezuela looked shocked at the prince’s response to Lakshman’s good natured attempt at a hand shake.
“Oh,” Lakshman said and he looked surprised for a moment. Then he nodded and said “I’m sorry.”
He returned and sat back on his feet just as the prince sat cross legged on the chair. There was an arrogant smile on his face as he successfully displayed his superiority over Lakshman. Venezuela was unhappy, but for the sake of not causing a problem, she remained silent.
Adebola looked at Venezuela and said “Come on, my dear love. You’re saying you love this commoner? Come now. You’re jokes are stretching.”
Venezuela frowned slightly before she said “I am sorry my statements appear to be jokes to you, but I am speaking honestly here. I love this person with my heart and soul which is why I cannot agree to marry you.”
Adebola appeared to be stumped for words. Her clear voice and strong words left an impression on him. He realised she loved Lakshman more than she was displaying by sitting there. This angered him and he decided to go on the offensive with Lakshman.
“Okay. You love him, but what’s so good about him? Is he a noble? Is he a prince? Is he rich? At least, does he even get paid well? Oh wait…! You just said he’s a student so he doesn’t which means he’s empty!”
Adebola spat the last word at Lakshman who kept his cool. In an annoyed voice, Venezuela asked “I’m sorry you’re treating him so badly, but believe me. He is quite rich because he had conquered a Labyrinth Tower and defeated a C-Ranked Minotaur at a Monster Dungeon.”
“I see. So he is rich for now, but what about in the future? He will need money to live and support you. What will he do? Leach off the royal family? Hey! Is that what you’re planning on doing? You disgust me!” Adebola said and he spat at Lakshman again.
Venezuela got angry and was about to speak when Lakshman extended his hand to stop her. He faced him with a cool expression on his face. Listening to the prince talking to him in such a manner did not particularly bother him, but he was doing so to hurt Venezuela which he disliked.
“Forgive me if I’m rude, but you are currently living with your parents at the Mardana Kingdom castle, correct?” Lakshman asked him curiously.
“That’s correct,” Adebola said with a nod of his head.
“Your parents are the king and queen of the Mardana Kingdom, right?”
“And you are the crown prince of such a kingdom. Am I right?”
“You’re right. I am the crown prince of Mardana Kingdom.”
“Okay…” Lakshman said and he nodded his head in understanding. Then he smiled and asked “So doesn’t that mean you’re the one leaching off the assets of your parents and wealth rather than earning them on your own?”
Adebola became frozen with shock with wide eyes. Venezuela quickly looked at Lakshman with a look of astonishment on her face. She was surprised to see that he was taking the battle directly to the prince.
Lakshman smiled and said “After all, you just said that I will leach off the royal family in the future, but aren’t you already doing that right now?”
Adebola pursed his lips and looked very angry. He did not have any retort to throw back at Lakshman without making himself look bad. Additionally, his plan to trap Lakshman in his web of words was destroyed effortlessly.
With the prince not saying anything, Lakshman shrugged his shoulders and said “It’s true that I am rich right now, but in the future I will need money. I also have the duty of providing support and wealth for my other four lovers as well. So I quite understand where you are coming from.”
At those words, Adebola looked stunned with his mouth open. He quickly recovered and said “You have two lovers?! How shameless are you to dare love four and then go after a fifth! Venezuela, don’t you see? He’s trying to trick you with his façade of love!”
Venezuela smiled and said “About that, I actually met the four girls in question. All of them are quite beautiful, nice and are very understanding. I am positive we can lead a happy life together with minimum trouble.”
Adebola gritted his teeth in frustration and turned to look at the king.
“Why aren’t you saying anything in this matter, King Bernard? Your daughter is clearly going wild with this… this… loafer!”
Venezuela got extremely angry when she heard Adebola calling Lakshman a loafer. She started to raise to her feet, but Lakshman put a firm hand on her shoulder and made hit sit down again.
Bernard IV Sargold, the king of Floria Kingdom, shrugged his shoulders. To be honest, he quite liked the boy whom his daughter had picked, but he kept his silence. The final decision goes to his daughter which was why he forced the matter about the political marriage to make her think about the future.
“It seems my daughter is fine with the man she picked. On top of that, I had Felix report to me about the boy and I find him to be a suitable companion for her,” Bernard told them in a firm voice.
Lakshman, Venezuela and Adebola were surprised by his words. They had no idea that he had tasked Felix with the job of observing those two. Additionally, Lakshman and Venezuela were not aware that he already knew Lakshman was the Phoenix Titan.
Adebola was left speechless for a moment, but he began to slowly nod his head. He looked at them all with a fowl expression on his face that made Lakshman be on guard.
“I see that everything was planned from the beginning. Very well! I will not forget this insult!” Adebola said in a firm voice.
He rose to his feet and glared at them all one final time. Then he walked towards the door, opened it and disappeared out of it in a flash. After making sure he was gone, all three of them sighed in relief.
“I’m getting too old for this,” Bernard said before sighing heavily.
“Father? Did you know about… um… everything?” Venezuela asked him hesitantly.
Bernard looked at them and said “Well… I know about that fact that Lakshman Chand is Phoenix Titan, about his other four love interests and that you finally confessing your love for him yesterday!”
“Eh?!” Venezuela exclaimed in a startled voice.
“Wow! You’re really something, you’re majesty!” Lakshman said in awe.
Bernard inclined his head towards them and said “You’re the newly rising Phoenix Titan and my daughter’s the developing princess. I, however, am the king of an entire kingdom and I’m a Heroic Emperor! Naturally I would be aware of all the things happening around here.”
“Eh? Heroic Emperor? Does that mean that you’re…?”
Bernard nodded and said “That’s right. I’m on the same ranking stature as the Felix Phoron, the Phoenix Emperor!”
“Wow…!” Lakshman said in awe and he stared at Bernard with admiration.
Bernard sighed and rose to feet as he said “Well then, I have certain matters to attend to. The Mardana Kingdom won’t be happy with this move, but we’ll counter them, especially when we have the Phoenix Titan on our side. Now to go and inform Felix about this… Mmm… I’m sure he’ll love it.”
He laughed for a bit before leaving the room. This left Lakshman and Venezuela alone in the room. She moved her chair over to him and hugged his left arm with a happy expression on her face.
“Everything went more smoothly than I expect, but I never suspected father would be aware of what’s going on,” she said in a surprised voice.
“I think we’re stupid to not think about how powerful he is even if he says he is getting too old for this,” he said with a small chuckle.
Silence fell within the room and it stretched for several minutes. Then Venezuela sighed and said “It looks like things are finally going to go in our favour.”
“You’re right,” Lakshman said in agreement.
He looked at the sunlight streaming through the castle windows. It was a beautiful light full of power and energy. It brightens the day and, for them, it was the shining fortune of their future. Feeling happy, he closed his eyes and thought about nothing else.
Elsewhere, in the deepest parts where everything was covered in darkness, a voice could be heard loud and clear.
“Finally…! The time has come for me to make my move! The Demon Slayer will soon be mine!”
With those powerful words, the man began to let out a cackle of laughter. It was chilling laughter which caused cold winds and energy to flow everywhere.