The air felt empty, the space was filled with emptiness and all was covered in darkness. There was no knowing where anyone would be in such a place of eternal darkness. In it, a consciousness was slowly drifting in this empty space.
At that moment, a voice echoed in his mind which did not startled him. It was a voice he had known since three years of knowing who he was.
“Time to wake up, sleepy head. Time to open your eyes.”
“Mmm…” Lakshman moaned softly as he slowly awakened.
Lakshman slowly arose from what felt like a long sleep. He felt groggy and had the sensation as if he was going to fall asleep.
“Oh, geez… WAKE UP DAMMIT!!” the Decisive Player suddenly yelled as loud as he could.
“Oww… Okay, I’m getting up…” Lakshman said slowly and he finally opened his eyes.
For a moment, he was confused. Everything around him was dark and he could feel the ground beneath him. It was not like the sensation that he always had whenever he drifted in his mind. Instead, he was faced with a reality that was covered in darkness.
“Um… What?” he asked uncertainly while looking around.
Lakshman was confused when he suddenly found himself lost in the dark. There was not a glint of light in the location he was at. He could only heard the sound of his heart beat and feel his surroundings.
“What the? My hands…!”
He tried to move his hands, but suddenly found that he could not. There was something that tied his hands behind his back. No matter how hard he tried to free them, it was no use. Additionally, he also noticed that his legs were tied up.
With the effort of trying to free himself, he suddenly fell sideways to the floor. He felt stupid as he rolled pathetically on the ground in this darkness. After several seconds of painfully moving his body, he finally managed to lie on the ground as he faced the ceiling which was covered by the darkness.
“I’m tied up and I’m struggling to use my strength and energy… Dang!”
“Sounds quite the tough predicament you’re in,” he heard the Decisive Player comment lightly.
“Decisive Player! Tell me! Why am I tied up? In fact, why am I even here? Decisive Player? Do you know what happened?” Lakshman asked nervously.
The Decisive Player cleared his throat and said “Try to remember what happened last time.”
Upon those words, Lakshman thought back to the recent events. The last he could remember was holding onto the box containing the Demon Slayer Sacred Spirit. That was when the Demon Dragon King, Razzel, appeared right in front of him and placed his hand. Then a wave of pain coursed through his body and everything went blank after that.
“Uh… So I was easily defeated by the Demon Dragon King? How?” Lakshman asked incredulously.
“You used a Time Crystal to stop you, Felix’s and Sevedant’s time. Then he walked over to you and flooded you with an electric attack called Thunder Cracker. Because you took the full force of the Sage ranked attack, executed at full power, without any defence, and you were knocked out cold.”
“Oh… Wait! Doesn’t that mean he kidnapped me? Huh? He kidnapped me?! Why? What does he need me for? Hostage?”
“No. I do not believe one from the Dragon Clan would dare sink as low as to use a hostage.”
“How do you know? Do you have some sort of history with the Dragon Clan?”
“The Dragon Clan are proud and honourable warriors that fought for respect and dignity. Well… That’s what they were like eight-thousand years ago…”
Lakshman was surprised to hear the doubt in the Decisive Player’s voice. It was the first time he had heard the Decisive Player sound uncertain about something.
“Why do you sound like you’re not sure? Is there something you’re not telling me?” Lakshman asked him quizzically.
The Decisive Player sighed and said “It’s like everything else. As times change, so do the people and their beliefs. Compared to how the Dragon Clan were over eight-thousand years ago, they sort of became arrogant about their powers. They started believing themselves to be a superior race compared to the humans and the Phoenix Clan.”
“Mmm… That sort of makes sense…” Lakshman said in an understanding voice much to the Decisive Player’s surprise.
“You do? How?” the Decisive Player asked him quickly.
“I mean, yeah they certainly are quite different from the humans. They possess the Dragon Blood that enables them to live long lives, have dragon-like abilities like breathing fire, transforming into dragons and the natural ability of flight. On top of that, they also are said to be naturally strong from birth. So yeah… They are superior in a way.”
“Unbelievable… I can’t believe I’m hearing this from the future Phoenix Titan!” the Decisive Player said heavily.
“What? I’m telling how it is,” Lakshman said indignantly.
The Decisive Player sighed in resignation. Then he said “Getting back to the point, make sure you don’t reveal yourself as the Phoenix Titan. I suspect he’s taken you here to experiment with you. If he finds out you are the future Phoenix Titan, he will take advantage of it and will try something that can’t be fixed.”
Hearing that, Lakshman shivered reflexively and said “Seriously… Razzel is staring to creep me out by the minute! Geez! Is there no end to this guy’s craziness?”
“It will only get worse when he begins to experiment with you and the Demon Slayer.”
“Huh? Why would he want to experiment with me and the Demon Slayer? First of all, I’m not that Sacred Spirit’s Contracted Master. Secondly, why experiment with me in the first place? I barely revealed any power except for delivering some really fast blows to his body to grab the box.”
“I guess you didn’t notice because you were preoccupied by Razzel. The fact is, the Demon Slayer reacted to you.”
“Um… Decisive Player, please explain it to me in a way I can understand… Please?”
The Decisive Player sighed and explained.
“I’m certain he could’ve knocked you all back, taken the box and gotten out of there via the Teleportation Magic Circle. However, he was forced to use a Time Crystal which got broke and fell to pieces because he took the extra time to take you with him. This was because he noticed the dark energy the Demon Slayer was emanating and how it was warping around you.”
“Warping around me? Um… Sorry Decisive Player, but I don’t remember noticing any unusual energy warping around me,” Lakshman said slowly.
“Of course, you wouldn’t. Who the heck would pay attention to that when the enemy is right in front of you? Anyway, he noticed the flow of its energy as it warped around you and noticed that it was reacting to you. Just like the Phoenix Blade, the Demon Slayer was beginning to recognise you as its master.”
“Ah…!” Lakshman said as he finally understood what the Decisive Player was trying to tell him.
The Demon Slayer was a Sacred Spirit, just like the Phoenix Blade. Just like Tetra, the Demon Slayer shut herself off from reality and cut her own power. She had totally intended to die, but her small hope lingered in the form of that tine bit of energy.
And so, the Demon Slayer waited for a whole hundred years for a new master. Then Razzel came along and tried to forcibly take passion of her. In her self-defence, she automatically attacked him. Unable to control her, the Demon Dragon King was forced to lock her inside a Containment Box.
While stuck inside the box, she could do little, but hate the one who was forcibly trying to take control of her. Then Lakshman appeared and took the box from him after delivering blows that knocked him unbalance.
Now she felt a change. She was now in the hands of a different person even though she was still stuck inside a Containment Box. Even so, she felt a strange sensation when she was near Lakshman. Due to this and her desire to connect with him, caused her powers to slowly awaken and even penetrate through the box to warp around him.
Lakshman nodded his head in the darkness and said “I see. The Demon Slayer took a liking to me, huh… It’s so strange how Sacred Spirits choose their masters.”
The Decisive Player chuckled and said “There are so many Sacred Spirits out in the world that choose masters on a specification. Sacred Spirits, like Tetra, are rare because they are duty bound to only serve one specific type of master. In Tetra’s case, it has to be the Phoenix Titan and the Dragon Slayer serves the Dragon Titan.”
“Wait, what? Dragon Slayer? Is that the title of the Sacred Spirit the Dragon Titan wields? Wow! What is with these Sacred Spirits using the ‘slayer’ term so much?”
“Only their maker would know about that. Anyway, I don’t know why, but the Demon Slayer has taken an interest in you which made the Demon Dragon King take an interest in you. Now you better be prepared for the worst case scenario here…!”
“Worst case scenario?” Lakshman asked and he suddenly sounded nervous.
“Yeah. Like torture, suffocation, interrogation, possession and various more things he would use. Believe me, if there’s one thing the Dragon Clan are, it’s that they are stubbornly persistent and resilient. He won’t stop until he is satisfied with the results if he became a sort of ruthless scientist.”
Lakshman gulped and said “I actually feel I’m in more danger from him than Wolfnestine! Dang it, Darian and Rumble! Those two got it lucky while I’m stuck with this mad scientist!”
“A mad scientist bent on doing whatever it takes to achieve the results.”
“Gah! That’s even worse! Besides, why the hell does Razzel want to experiment with me anyway? It’s not like I asked it to choose me or anything. Besides, what makes him think he can get hold of it once he was satisfied with his science experiments?”
The Decisive Player offhandedly said “To naturally understand the flow of your energy and add it to his already filled collections.”
“Hold on… Back up! Add my energy to his collection? Am I missing something here because I don’t know this collection you’re referring to, Decisive Player?”
“Of course. You definitely wouldn’t know about it because you haven’t touched Spirit Theory.”
“Spirit Theory? Is that a subject?”
“It is, but it will take far too long for me to explain it than you studying it on your own.” Then, ignoring Lakshman’s disappointment, he said “Anyway, the Death Titan had said this when he revealed what happened three years ago when he did not appear of what Razzel does to restore his lost energy. Remember what he said?”
“Um… He said that Razzel restores lost energy from constantly using the Time Crystal to restore the energy force that was permanently removed,” Lakshman said with distaste.
“Yes, but it’s more than that. Along with absorbing their life, he incorporates their energy, memories and skills. He’s basically absorbing the energy components, the memories and the various skills that person possessed while alive.”
Lakshman was left speechless when he heard this. Although it was dark, his eyes wide with horror at how crude the Demon Dragon King was leading his life. He is basically killing people, absorbing their being into himself and then uses it as if it belongs to him. Yet, he shows no compassion, no mercy and no regret for his actions.
“He’s a heartless monster.”
The Decisive Player softly said “You achieve nothing by mouthing badly like that. Sure, you are taking your stress out on others, but be different. It’s no good to let your reason get crumpled by your feelings. Reason should outweigh feelings in such delicate situations, but listen to your heart as well. In some cases, your heart knows best that reason will fail at.”
“Yeah…” Lakshman said and he thought about Ondine, Tetra, Emilia, Cantia and Venezuela.
At that moment, he heard a strange sound. Lakshman silent and listened to the sound getting louder and louder. He instantly recognised it as the sound of footsteps and there were multiple sounds of them. It looked like they were headed where he was tied up on the ground.
The footsteps came to a stop followed by people issuing orders. Then the there was a split that opened in the centre from not far away. The split widened and light streamed in the room. For the first time in a while, Lakshman welcomed the light. It lifted the gloom from inside the dark room.
Several people entered the room and paused when they saw Lakshman’s moving body.
“Anyway, we have our orders.”
Once they were done talking to each other, two of them walked over to Lakshman. Being unable to move his arms or legs, feeling too weak to use his energy or strength, he was easily lifted by the two men. Then they began dragging him out through the doors into the bright light.
As soon as he got adjusted to the light, Lakshman began to struggle. He might not be able to move his arms or legs, but his body was still in good shape. So he struggled his hardest while shouting at them.
“Let go of me! Release me, dammit! Let go! Let go!”
His reward for his valiant struggle was four severe blows to the top of his head. He cried out in pain as his head stung painfully.
“These guys are really strong!” Lakshman thought painfully.
“No. It’s more like you’ve become weak. Really… really… weak!” the Decisive Player said bluntly.
“What? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Relax. I don’t know why either, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Now stop struggling because that head blows are painful to take right now!”
Heeding those words, Lakshman allowed himself to get dragged. The two men were using their hands to carry him by the shoulders while his feet got dragged on the ground. It was as if these two men were purposefully making the ride painful for Lakshman.
Lakshman noticed there were several others that were walking outside. It looked like they were in a formation to make sure nothing happened while Lakshman got dragged. Lakshman felt a little dizzy
After several minutes of going straight and turning in different directions, they finally stopped outside a door.
After knocking twice, one man said “Sir! We’ve brought the package!”
“Huh?! Package?! Me? They’re referring to me as a package?!” Lakshman thought indignantly.
There was a moment of pause before the door opened to let them in. Lakshman groaned when his legs hit the door frame, but the people dragging him did not care. They had a task to complete and they were set on doing it without delays.
Lakshman got dragged for several more seconds before they stopped again. This time, they were in a brightly lit room which caused Lakshman to close his eyes reflexively. Without the slightest bit of gentleness, the two people raised him into a standing position. Then they made him stumble into a walk before forcing him to sit on a chair.
With their task complete, the men left him on his own. Lakshman heard the door close which puzzled him because he still had his eyes shut tightly. The suddenly blinding light caused his eyes to hurt and he was taking it easy to reopen them. He was forced to change his plan when he heard voices.
“Ah. He’s the one alright. You did a good job bringing him here, Razzel,” a familiar voice said.
“It was nothing, but I am surprised my soon-to-be guinea pig interests you, sir,” Razzel’s voice spoke calmly.
“Oh! I don’t think interest is the right term here. I think the term hatred fits nicely here,” the man said and he laughed. Then the man directed a question at Lakshman and asked “Isn’t that right, future husband of princess Venezuela of Floria Kingdom?”
“That voice…!” Lakshman exclaimed in alarm.
He had heard the voice before, but he could not immediately remember from where. So he forced his eyes open as they slowly adjusted to the bright light. He blinked for a moment because his vision was blurry. Then it cleared and he was able to see clearly.
Lakshman blinked twice flatly. Then his eyes widened in shock when he saw someone he immediately recognised. The handsome face of a prince with an arrogant expression on it. The man was smiling at Lakshman, but his eyes were cold as rock as he stared at him.
“I’m glad you recognised me, plebeian,” the new king of Mardian Kingdom, Adebola Gramstone, said with an evil grin on his face.