It was dark when Lakshman finally opened his eyes. He was again surrounded by an empty space of nothing, he was again feeling lonely from how deep the darkness was and he was again feeling that his arms and legs were bound.
“Wait, wait, wait! Stop! This repeat of finding myself in this darkness is annoying! Earlier I was in another place and covered in darkness only to get taken away into the light which I liked. Then I disliked how I somehow became a punching bag to a total freak! Now, here I am, surrounded by darkness once again!”
He sighed and said “Only thing different is that I’m bleeding… I’m feeling pain… I’m feeling very angry!”
“I feel for you. I really do,” the Decisive Player told him in his mind.
“This isn’t funny, dammit! First of all, where am I? Where the hell did those people take me and why is it that I’m always surrounded by darkness?”
“Didn’t you know? Darkness is your friend. It’s only natural to always be with your friend, right?”
Lakshman was not impressed by the joke that the Decisive Player made. He was in no mood for suck jokes because his body was aching.
The beating he suffering at the hands of Adebola Gramstone did not ease. He continued to bleed from multiple wounds on his body, but he felt his head and stomach hurt the most. Adebola threw lots of punches and kneed him with powerful impact.
Lakshman, for the first time, felt how it was to be helplessly beaten up. He found it sickening and hated Adebola for doing it to him. However, what hurt Lakshman the most was Adebola’s arrogant attitude and disregard to the fact that his opponents was in no way of defending himself.
Lakshman prided himself for being someone who fought on even terms. He always fought straight and never once tried underhanded tricks. He was aware that he constantly disappeared and reappeared behind the opponent’s backs, but he always used only the strike. Unlike Zenahart, who stabbed him from behind three years ago, Lakshman preferred a fair play style.
“Coward…” he muttered weakly.
Then he moaned softly from the multiple wounds on his body. He wished he could move his hands, but it was no use. For some odd reason, he just could not muster the strength to free himself.
“This is so annoying…!” he finally said before wincing as he accidentally moved a little.
“I agree with you,” said a man’s voice from the darkness.
Lakshman instantly became alert and began using his sensing ability that he developed. He was startled to find that there were more than twenty-eight people in the same place as him. For some odd reason, he was situated in a place away from where they were all huddled together.
“Um…? Who’s there?” he asked into the darkness.
There was a pause of silence and he waited for the reply. Then it came as the woman’s voice said “Lots of people.”
At her words, Lakshman snorted with laughter and he immediately wished he had not. He winced in pain when his body ached from his sudden laughter that caused his body to move slightly. Now he lay flat on the ground and looked up at the dark ceiling.
“Did those guy trap you in here?” the man’s voice asked him a few seconds later.
“Trap me? What are you talking about?” Lakshman asked in a confused voice.
There was a short pause and he heard the sound of muttering from the other side of the room.
“Are you not one of those noble family’s kid?”
“Uh… No. I’m just a guy that got taken hostage due to… um… weird circumstances.”
“I see…” the man’s voice said softly. Then he asked “Who are you?”
“My name’s Lakshman Chand.”
“Lakshman… Chand… Mmm… Doesn’t ring any bells,” the man’s voice said slowly as he tried to remember if he ever heard of his name. Finally, he asked his fellow inmates “Any of you recognise the name Lakshman Chand?”
There was a murmuring of people as they shared the name with each other. For a moment, the people talked to each other about whether they recognised that name or not.
The room seemed to be large because Lakshman could hear their murmuring, but he was unable to hear their exact words. He waited patiently while knowing, full well, none of them would recognise him.
Suddenly, a loud woman’s voice asked “Lakshman? Did you say Lakshman Chand?”
“Yeah. He’s over there lying on the ground.”
There was the sound of someone as they rose to their feet. Then the sound of footsteps on the floor could be heard as they quickly walked over to him.
“L-Lakshman?” the woman asked in a breathless voice as she finally sat down where he lay.
Lakshman tilted his head to see who the woman was, but it was no use. The room was too dark to let him make her out.
“Um… Who are you?” he asked her hesitantly.
At this question, the woman flinched in the darkness.
“It’s me, Lucky. Erza Flameheart. Remember? Remember me?”
He was rendered speechless by the woman’s desperate questions. He racked his brain to try and remember the person called Erza Flameheart. After a few seconds, he finally concluded that he could not recall ever meeting such a woman before.
“Decisive Player. Do you think we’ve met this person? This Erza Flamerheart?”
Lakshman asked the Decisive Player in his mind. He did not know what else to do because he certainly did not remember ever meeting a woman with that name.
“No. I don’t believe we’ve met,” the Decisive Player finally told him in a flat voice.
With the final verdict given, Lakshman sighed and said “I’m sorry, but have we met? I don’t remember meeting you before or ever hearing your name.”
Erza gasped in shocked and she clapped her mouth with her hands.
Lakshman guessed the news really upset her, but he was curious now as to why she knew his name. He was quite proud of how good his memory was because of all the people he had met and gotten to know. However, she clearly knew his name, but he did not know her name. He was seriously troubled by this more than her.
“Um… Ms. Flameheart? How do you know my name? Have we met before and I simply forgot about you? If so, I’m truly sorry… Ouch!”
While speaking, Lakshman winced when his body hurt again. He seriously wished he could move his hands so that he could heal his body. Regardless of whether he was powerful or not, he knew his Advanced Ranked Healing Magic Spell will work.
“No, no. It was my mistake for mistaking you for somebody else. Please forgive me for my mistake,” Erza said apologetically.
Lakshman chuckled and said “It’s alright. I’m sure you just imagined I was the person you dearly missed and automatically thought I was him.”
Erza nodded her head in the dark and said “Yes. I really do miss him very much.”
“Ah. He’s lucky- oww!” he said and winced at the sudden pain.
“What’s wrong? You’ve been moaning for the last few minutes. Are you perhaps injured?”
“Haha. I kind of am…”
“Oh my. Please let me see. Light Ball!”
At the woman’s command, a ball of light suddenly materialised in her hand. With that, she gently threw it into the air and it shone the entire room. Thanks to the light, Lakshman became able to see the woman sitting near him.
He was surprised to see that she was around his age. She had long blond hair that fell down to her waist and she had a charming smile on her face. Her face was slightly muddy, but he thought she would look pretty once all clean and neat.
Then he was startled when he heard noises erupt in the room. There were gasps from the women and groans from the men when they saw him. He was not aware that his blood had spread all around him and stained his clothes in the process. All he was aware was the slowly depleting energy in his body.
“Oh my goodness! What happened to you?!” Erza exclaimed when she saw him and he charming smile disappeared from her face.
He chuckled and said “Adebola Gramstone beat the heck out of me when I spoke rudely to him.”
There was a shocked silence within the room when they heard who did it.
“A-Adebola Gramstone did it?”
“Oh my god…!”
“Doesn’t that mean he’s hated…?”
With apprehensive looks on their faces, the twenty-seven people distanced themselves from him. Lakshman easily understood why they were fearful to be near him. He was beat up which meant that Adebola disliked him. If any of them got close to him, they feared they will receive the same kind of punishment as him.
“Man… That bastard sure is controlling people by scaring them!” he thought in exasperation.
“Fear is a powerful element and is one of the greatest enemy of all life. Using it, you could bend the will of anyone that fear of something bad. Adebola is using the element of fear to rule over his people well.”
“What the? Is it just me or did I hear you praising him just a second ago?”
“I’m admitting his cleverness in using the one element that works against all those that fear. It is the perfect strategy to ensure no one would dare to challenge one’s authority.”
Lakshman sighed in resignation and looked up at Erza. Seeing that she was staring down at him with a worried look on her face, he spoke to her in a voice full of concern for her.
“Erza. You should keep your distance from me like the rest of them. I don’t want to become a burden to any of you. Please do yourself a favour and go join those people over there.”
He was genuinely worried about others getting hurt because of him. This kind of attitude had been in him since he was just a kid. Whenever someone got hurt or injured, he would help them out and would even defend even if it sometimes got him into trouble with his parents.
He was doing it again. In order to keep complete strangers safe, he was willing to isolate himself. It was not like he was alone because of the presence of the Decisive Player. Even without him, Lakshman had gotten accustomed to being alone when he lived at the boy’s dormitory a few days ago.
“Erza. Please go over there. I can heal my own injuries if you just untie me,” he finally told her.
Erza did not respond because she was still stunned from seeing his injuries. Then her eyes narrowed which surprised him. A frown appeared on her face and she looked down at him. For a second, he imagined himself looking at his family maid, Mariana, when she found his actions to be unsatisfactory.
“Just because you tell me doesn’t mean I will quietly listen. I’m not like those people over there who scurry away like rats in the face of trouble and danger. You are injured and need immediate attention. I have no interest in abandoning those that are in need of help.”
She spoke to him firmly, yet Lakshman thought there was something strange. The manner of her speech was elegant and refined. It was as if she was from a royal birth or something because he was suddenly reminded of Venezuela Sargold, princess of Floria Kingdom.
This time, it was his turn to narrow his eyes as he said “Like I said, I can heal myself if you just untie me. So please do me a favour and then go away.”
Erza shook her head firmly and said “No. You are tired and badly injured. To make matters worse, you’ve lost a lot of blood. If I don’t heal you now, you will be in serious trouble.”
“Ah come on…!” he said in a frustrated voice.
Erza shrugged her shoulders and said “You’re choice. We can argue all we want, but you will still need me in the end.”
At that moment, the Decisive Player said “Listen to reason. This girl is right. You’re badly beaten and need healing, but you don’t have enough energy to do it. So just listen to the girls and get this over with.”
“B-But…! I’m a man and always being cared by the woman is… bad.”
“Now that’s just silly. Currently, she is the only one who is offering you help. Take it without questions or she’ll start thinking you’re some sort of eight year old child!”
Lakshman finally sighed in resignation and said “Fine…! Please take care of me, Erza.”
Erza smiled that he would let her take care of him. Without pause, she outstretched her right hand towards with by saying the magic spell out loud.
She began healing the several wounds on his body by hovering her hand over them. It took some time, but it was worth it. Within several hours, all of Lakshman’s wounds were healed.
Then she turned her attention to the blood he had lost due to the injuries.
With effortless efficiency, the blood was wiped clean off the floor. Then she raised her hand and cleaned the blood off his clothes as well.
Once all done, she nodded in satisfaction and said “All good.”
Lakshman appeared to be surprised. He no longer felt the injuries that were causing him so much pain before.
“Wow! I’m all healed!” he said in a happy voice.
He quickly tried to sit up when he suddenly felt dizzy. He lost the strength in his arms and he fell sideways onto something soft. For a moment, he was puzzled by what the soft thing was. Then he came to the realisation that he had fallen on Erza’s lap.
“Ah! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to fall on you like that!” Lakshman said quickly and he tried to get up. Then his strength failed him yet again as he said “Ah!”
He landed with his face lying on her lap and found that his body stopped responding. His arms were tired and so were his legs as he rested on her lap.
Then Erza patted his head and quietly said “It’s alright. You should sleep and get rested. Your body is tired and you know it.”
“B-But… Sleeping like this is…” he said anxiously.
She smiled at him and said “Go on… Sleep…”
Lakshman was surprised and soon sleepiness began to welcome him with open arms. He did not know that Erza was applying her magic to make him go to sleep. She knew he will not listen which will result in an argument like before.
“Wow… So sleepy…” he muttered and slowly closed his eyes.
In a matter of seconds, he was fast asleep with his head on her lap. Erza stopped applying her magic spell on him and smiled as she looked down at his peaceful sleeping face.
“Sweet dreams, Lucky,” she said quietly.
With that, she deactivated the balls of light. As soon as they disappeared, the room was covered in darkness once more.