It had been a week since Lakshman married the girls. They spent the first two days inside the walls of the castle until their house on the open plains were fully constructed. Lakshman and Emilia used their magic to construct the house while Ondine and Cantia kept a look out for them. In the meantime, Venezuela and Erza handled the kingdom work while Tetra and Silvera acted as their bodyguard.
“Should the house really be this big, Lucky?” Emilia asked him uncertainly after they built the foundation walls.
He nodded at her and said, “We need to. We’re a big family and that requires a big manor house. I know I did say to live peacefully away from the castle, but that didn’t mean we just live in cramped space. Let’s be comfortable while we live here.”
“Okay,” she said without further complaint.
Lakshman and Emilia were combining their magic to create the house using stone magic spells. Once the foundation was built, Lakshman used levitation magic to lift themselves into the air to focus on the upper floors. Every now and then, Emilia would return to the castle and come back with food through the Phoenix Portal. Only Ondine received a large jug of water, which she gratefully drinks from.
“Nothing beat the taste of water!” she said happily.
“I don’t know… Food beats water any day,” Cantia argued.
When the girls looked at each other through narrowed eyes, Lakshman chuckled and said, “Normal living beings require both food and water to keep themselves going. Ondine is not like the rest since she’s a Water Spirit and requires the natural water for her to keep going. As for Cantia and the rest of us, food and water go together.”
“Yeah, but still…! She didn’t have to say water tastes better than food!” Cantia complained unhappily.
Ondine chuckled and said, “Cantia, water is my source and it tastes good, better than the food that I tried a long time ago. Anyway, why are we even talking about this? This is so stupid…”
“Huh? Stupid? You’re the one who brought it up!” Cantia said indignantly.
“No… You started it,” Ondine said crossly.
Having had enough of them squabbling, Lakshman loudly said, “Alright! That’s enough! Whoever started it, I’m putting an end to it!”
At that, the girls became quiet while they ate or drank, but they still continued to throw daggers at each other with their eyes. Lakshman only sighed and Emilia patted him gently on the shoulders. Ever since he returned, he had noticed a strange relationship between Ondine and Cantia, almost like they are rivals and yet friends at the same time.
“Oh well. At least, they are getting along, which should be fine for now…” he thought before inwardly sighing.
Once they were done, the construction of the house continued with Lakshman and Emilia concentrating on building it. Felix did suggest for them to take the help of construction magicians, but Emilia declined the offer.
“It’s our house and we have the skills to make it on own on,” she said and Lakshman agreed with her.
Before constructing the ground, Lakshman used Burial Ground to create a large hole in the ground to serve as their basement. He also intended on building tunnels and such as escape routes for them in case something like an emergency required them to escape from there. He secretly wished a time would not come for him or his family to have to use them to quickly leave.
After a week of construction, the house was finally completed. Using utility magic, Lakshman painted the walls of the house pure white because he disliked walls to be any colour, became he believed white is the colour of peace. Once the exterior and interior of the building was completed, he and the girls sat down to write up a list of furniture, equipment and anything else they needed to start their lives there.
“Felix, is there a way we can arrange to get these items in the list?” Lakshman asked Felix later once it was done.
Felix looked at the list and raised an eyebrow in surprise. Then, he looked at him and said, “These are a lot. Why don’t we have them readied by different services? That way, the princes will wary and it’ll give you more of an advantage in how much in total you pay. After all, buying everything from one place can be pricy compared to buying them separately from different services.”
“That’s understandable,” Lakshman said and he nodded in understanding.
The necessary equipment arrived at the castle in less than two days, surprising the girls. Felix proudly stated how important his position as the Phoenix Emperor was within the kingdom, to which Lakshman just shook his head without saying anything. After moving them through the Phoenix Portal and arranging them at the house, Lakshman and the girls finally began to live from that house on that open plains.
“It’s beautiful to live here with the open air, the fresh breeze and the calm atmosphere surrounding us,” Erza said peacefully as she leaned over the balcony.
“Which was the point of buying this really expensive land and living here,” Venezuela said cheerfully.
“I thought it might be boring to live here, but I guess having its peace doesn’t hurt the mind,” Ondine said as she sat down to mend her sword with the toolkit.
Lakshman eyed her wearily and said, “Hey… Don’t say that while fixing your sword. It really throws a loop into what you say.”
“It doesn’t matter since the intended meaning was delivered,” Ondine said calmly as he eyed the sword.
He went upstairs to the master bedroom and saw Tetra, Emilia, Silvera and Cantia fast asleep. They were sleeping together peacefully after the exhausting task of moving the furniture and equipment everywhere. Lakshman did most of the work, but the girls were exhausted from doing the sudden work of lifting heavy things and moving them around, even when he told them to let him handle it.
“Really… They sure are impressive,” Lakshman said with a smile and closed quietly closed the door shut. “Right! Time to go and act like a king!”
With that, he informed the girls where he was going and using the Phoenix Portal, he returned to the castle. Upon his return, the guards quickly walked forward and informed him about guests waiting for him at the throne room. Thanking them, he quickly used Warp to move to the side room beside where the throne was located.
“About time you got back!” Felix said in relief.
“Who are the guests?” Lakshman asked curiously.
“They are the messenger from the other kingdoms that requested an audience with you.”
Lakshman wore the king’s cape and the crown, which he grumbled was slightly disgruntling to wear before walking towards the announcers near the throne. Once the announcer shouted the arrival of the king, everyone stood at attention. He entered the throne room from the side room and was followed behind by Felix. Once he arrived at the throne room, he turned around to face everyone before raised his hand in greeting.
Once he sat down, he said, “Be seated.”
The ministers sat down on the chairs lined a level down from the throne, which had steps leading down. Felix sat down on the chair to the left and picked up a list containing the names of the guests that have arrived to meet with the king. A line of seven people arrived near the stairs of the throne. Lakshman observed each of them and immediately recognised a beast man, whom he remembered as the one he beat up upon returning from his training.
Felix stood up and stated the name of the messenger and where they came from. It appeared that the first three were messengers from the other kingdoms sending their greetings and presents. Lakshman rose to his feet and took the presents from them before handing it over to the guards on the side. The next there were merchants that wanted him to observe their business and possibly promote it within their kingdom.
“I will personally ensure to visit to see for myself the kind of merchandise you sell and purchase. If they are indeed seem worthwhile, I will make sure to help you get your business going,” Lakshman said, to which the merchants bowed deeply, grateful for giving them his time.
“Now. The final one is from… uh… Slavemancer,” Felix said in a slightly nervous voice.
The moment he stated whom the last person came from, there was a gasp of surprise from the seated ministers. Lakshman narrowed his eyes slightly at hearing the name, but what surprised him was the nervous behaviour of the people. It seems they were not happy to hear the name, including Felix from the nervous expression on his face.
“We meet again, Phoenix Titan,” the beast man said casually.
There was a shocked silence within the room. Felix pointed at him and angrily said, “You dare to call the king—!”
“Enough!” Lakshman said firmly, stopping Felix in midsentence. “I still have my rank and title.” He turned back to the beast man and asked, “What brings you here?”
“I have informed your message to him and the Slavemancer was quite surprised. Now, seeing that you have become king, he has invited you to a party. Slavemancer is going to hold the party four days from now. Here is a list consisting of the others that he has invited to the party.” Then, he smiled and quietly said, “You must come.”
Lakshman raised his eyebrows slightly and took the list from his hands. Without glancing at it, he nodded and said, “Very well. Inform the Slavemancer I will attend his party and accompanying me will be Felix Phoron, the Phoenix Emperor.”
Felix quickly turned around and looked surprise as he looked at Lakshman. He asked him an indirect question “Why me?” through his eyes, but Lakshman chose to ignore it.
The beast man nodded in satisfaction and said, “The Slavemancer will be pleased.”
Lakshman nodded with a small smile and he spread arms wide before saying, “I’m holding a dinner party tonight and I expect everyone to attend it.”
Once the audience with them was over, Lakshman got out of the king’s cloak and took off the crown.
“Ah… That was tiring to wear,” he said before doing some stretches with his neck and arms.
“Lucky! What did you mean I’m going to accompany you to that party? In fact, why did you even accept that invitation? It doesn’t make sense,” Felix said with a confused expression on his face. “Aren’t you trying to abolish slavery? So, why are you trying befriend him?”
“I’m not trying to befriend him, Felix,” Lakshman said clearly. “Rather, I am using this opportunity to see what kind of guy he is. I know we will end up being enemies eventually, but it is best to play it strategically until I am able to call for the Conference of Kingdoms, where I will lay the plan out.”
“I see. Until then, you want to play it low,” Felix said in an impressed voice. “Good plan.”
“Yes, but I have other matters to take care of before that,” Lakshman said firmly. “By the way, where’s the grounds our soldiers train at?”
“This way,” Felix said and led the way.
They walked to the side of the castle and arrived to see soldiers training with swords. They were swinging the swords up and down while counting. Lakshman was fleetingly reminded of how he used to train when he was a kid, which caused him to smile. His father, Indra Chand, put him through rough training from when he was just seven until he became really strong.
When the drill master saw Lakshman and Felix walking towards them, he quickly reacted and shouted, “Attention! His majesty has arrived!”
The soldiers immediately lowered their weapons and came to a stop near the drill master. Lakshman stopped in front of them with Felix standing slightly behind him and to the side.
“What brings you here, your majesty?” the drill master asked curiously.
“Mmm… I came to observe how the men are trained to wield the weapons and how efficiently they use their skills,” Lakshman told the drill master. Then, he began addressing the men in a loud voice, saying, “Now, I want all of you to be at attention and relax while I assess your body conditions.”
“Yes!” they replied at the same time.
Lakshman nodded and said, “Phoenix Eyes.”
In an instant, his clear black eyes changed and were replaced by red crown shaped eyes. He began pacing around them with his hands folded behind him as he observed the soldiers. Often, he would stop at a soldier and tap them on the shoulder before nodding and moving on, causing the soldiers to become nervous.
Once he returned to stand in front of them, he turned to the drill master and asked, “Are the rest on break?”
“That’s right, sir,” the drill master said. “We usually have a session in the early morning, mid-morning, afternoon and in the evening. During that time, the soldiers take breaks and go rest before returning to train at their appointed schedule. It is a smooth system employed to keep soldiers feeling refreshed after a hard day’s training.”
Hard day’s training, huh…” Lakshman said quietly as he narrowed his eyes slightly. He spoke to the soldiers in a loud voice and said, “All of you are in good condition, both in health and mind. However, I would now like to see how great you are with your skills and abilities! Now, line up!”
The drill master began barking orders and got the soldiers to quickly form into a line. While they were doing that, Lakshman raised his hand and using the Stone Wall technique, he made five stone walls rise up out of the ground. They were slightly taller than a human’s average height and appeared to be strong.
Felix walked closer to him and asked in a whisper, “What are you intending on making them do, Lucky?”
“Just watch,” Lakshman replied quietly. Then, in a loud voice, he said, “I have create five stone wall and equipped them with high resistance to physical and magical attacks. Now, I want all of you to try and destroy those stone walls. I want all five of them destroyed in one go! The purpose of this is to demonstrate to me that you possess the skills capable of taking down such hardened objects.”
He walked towards a solider and asked, “Give me your sword, soldier.”
“Y-Yes, sir!” the soldier said and he quickly handed the sword over to him.
Lakshman looked at the sword with his still active Phoenix Eyes and nodded in satisfaction. He gestured for them to take a step back to watch from a safe distance. Once he was sure they were safe, he turned around to face the five stone walls near the opposite end of the field.
“This is what you should be able to do!”
Lakshman held the sword firmly in his right hand and changed energy into it using Weapon Force. The soldiers were surprised to see him holding the sword with one hand, leaving his other hand free. For them, they could only wield their one sword with both hands unless they need to hold onto a shield with their free hand.
Once he was ready, he dashed forward so fast that he created a gust of wind to blow backwards to buffet the soldiers. After charging forward, he quickly reached the stone walls and in a flowing movement, he cut down one stone wall after another until he went past them. As he came to a stop, the five stone walls slowly crumbled and hit the ground with a thud.
There was a stunned silence before loud applause were heard throughout. As he straightened up, he heard the claps of the soldiers from behind him. He smiled slightly before walking back to them and as he walked past the fallen stone walls, there was a sudden materialisation of a magic circle. The destroyed parts of the stone wall fell down and the remaining stone walls grew back to full height.
“As you see, the destroyed stone walls will automatically be brought back to their previous state,” he explained to them. “Now, go at it and try your best! For all those who have destroyed all five of them like me, they will receive a reward!”
After handing the sword over to the soldier he borrowed it from, he returned to the side and let the drill master take over. Lakshman stood there and through the use of his Phoenix Eyes, he saw the gathering energy of the soldiers as they channelled their energy into their weapons through the use of Weapon Force. Once they have changed their weapons up, each of them took turns in charging forward to destroy the stone walls. Ultimately, not a single soldier was capable of destroyed any more than one wall.
“Those are pretty strong stone walls…” Felix commented as he watched the soldiers try again. “How strong are they?”
“I applied an Emperor Rank magic resistance spell on it to decrease the force of impact from the soldiers. It would feel like you are facing a stationary opponent with high magic resistance against physical and energy attacks. You saw how easily I destroyed them earlier.”
“Yeah, but still… Isn’t this a little tough for them?” Felix asked uncertainly.
Lakshman turned and looked at him seriously before saying, surprising Felix in the process.
“On the battlefield, these soldiers must fight with all they got. I am just their king and all I can do is lead them into battle, but it’s truly up to them to change the outcome of that battle. They are not sacrificial pawns or dolls to be used and thrown away. Each and every one of them have life in them and have families they must return to. As such, I am simply providing them the necessary training to become stronger.
Right now, their bodies are fit and strong, but I don’t believe their energy levels are adequate enough. Remember Felix, Phoenix Clan doesn’t serve a nation. It’s true that Floria Kingdom is their home and they fight to protect, but it’s really up to the kingdom’s army to protect its people living in that kingdom.
If ever this kingdom goes into war, I want the soldiers of the kingdom to be fully prepared for the worst outcome possible. Death is not the worst outcome, living without being able to use your body properly once the war is over. That is worst part of war because it leaves many in a weakened state. That’s why, I want my soldiers to be well prepared to survive in that hostile environment!”
Felix was stunned by how heartfelt those words were. Lakshman cared deeply for the people of the kingdom and now that he became king, he planned on protecting them the only way he can. Lakshman knew the people have high hopes for him because of him being the Phoenix Titan, but they do not know of the fact that he currently only has fifty-percent unlocked with ten-percent bonus power. However, without letting it bother him, Lakshman was teaching his people with good intentions.
Lakshman turned to the drill master and asked, “Do the soldiers train with spears, lances and anything alike?”
“They do, but their primary method of fighting is with their swords,” replied the drill master. “It’s mainly the type that are usually preferred by the Grobula Demon Clan.”
“I see,” Lakshman said and he nodded in understanding as he remembered the demon invasion by the Demon Emperor. He then asked, “What about archery?”
The drill master shook his head and said, “Unfortunately, no. When the royal family went hunting in the forest, the soldiers carried the arrows and put the bow together, but that’s about it. We never considered archery a type of fighting style.”
“Not meant for fighting style?” Lakshman asked before chuckling. “Hmm… It seems a lot of things must be done to get the soldiers adapted to fighting with different weapons in different ways.”
“Is that so…?” the drill master asked curiously and Lakshman nodded.
“That’s right. Singularly focusing on using swords isn’t right. One must be quick to adapt in the face of danger and I want my soldiers to possess that knowledge instead of blindly running away,” Lakshman said with a firm expression on his face. “Very well. I’ll talk more on this later since this training of theirs will take a while.”
They turned their attention back to watch the soldiers attack the stone wall. Thus far, they managed to destroy only one stone wall in an individual attack. Seeing this, Lakshman inwardly sighed and realised how long their training to become strong is.
“Should I enhance their training with Gravity Rings? Hmm… That might be effective, but I need to take into account that these are grown men and above all, they are just normal humans. I am part of the human race, but I cannot call myself a ‘normal’ human because of my powers and destiny.”
Just then, a soldier screamed loudly and brought his attention back to the field. To their amazement, the soldiers destroyed one stone wall and quickly moved to destroy the second. His energised sword pierced into the stone wall, but unfortunately it did not cut through enough to make it fall over. With the energy exhausted, the man knelt down and stabbed the sword on the ground while breathing heavily.
“Did you see that?”
“That guy got his sword in, but couldn’t cut it.”
“Yeah. That’s a bummer.”
“He was so close to getting that second one down!”
Lakshman heard the men muttering to each other and he smiled before walking over to the exhausted soldier. Hearing the footsteps, the soldier looked up and was surprised to see Lakshman walking towards him with a smile on his face. He attempted to quickly rise to his feet, but he felt a little weak at the knees.
“Take it easy, soldier. You did a good job attempting to cut down the second stone wall in ten minutes that I was here. Well done!” Lakshman said and he patted the man on the shoulder in encouragement. “Keep it up and soon, you’ll be able to cut down all of these five walls with no problems!”
“Y-Yes, your majesty!” the soldier said gratefully.
“Whoa… He got commended by the king!”
“Alright! I’m going my best and get his majesty to feel proud of me!”
“Let’s all do our best!” said a loud voice and there was a chorus of voices that said the same thing.
Lakshman let the man go and walked back to where the drill master and Felix stood at the side. Felix was looked surprised by the Lakshman’s method of encouraging the soldier by personally going to him. That act alone encouraged the rest of the soldiers into doing their best. He knew the word would soon spread amongst the soldiers and they will soon be trying their hardest to be become stronger to please their king.
Felix leaned closer to Lakshman and whispered, “Well played.”
Lakshman just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I only intended to congratulate the soldier for his effort, but I guess it worked out in a whole to encourage the rest of the soldiers.”
Felix nodded approvingly and smiled. He felt confident in the efforts Lakshman was putting in to make his people feel happy with him.
Lakshman turned to the drill master and said, “Now then, I will take my leave and let the soldiers continue training. Tomorrow at lunch, I want you to come to my office and report to me the total number of soldiers that are part of the kingdom’s army. In addition to that, I have various other details that I want to speak with you about.”
“Yes, sir. I will be there by lunchtime,” the drill master replied firmly. He turned to the men and shouted, “HALT!”
The soldiers stopped and looked towards them with curious expressions on their faces
“I will be taking my leave, so don’t mind me. However, remember that I will reward everyone that has managed to destroy all five stone in one go. The reward won’t be costly, but it won’t be cheap either. It’ll be the kind of reward you deserve.”
“Yes, your majesty!” the soldiers replied at the same time before bowing to him.
Lakshman nodded in satisfaction and he began to walk back into the castle with Felix following right behind him. As they reached the entrance, he heard the drill master bark orders and let the soldiers continue their training. Once he was out of sight, he smiled and let out a hearty laugh. Felix shook his head before smiling.
“I thought you were going to make them use the Gravity Rings to get stronger,” said Felix with a surprised expression on his face.
Lakshman nodded and said, “I did think of it doing that first, but I quickly realised the soldiers just needed encouragement to get stronger. It’s their determination that makes the difference between hard work and talent. I don’t need them becoming so strong they will match us and that’s impossible for them to achieve in the first place.” He suddenly chuckled and said, “Anyway, I’m only using Gravity Rings in my early morning trainings. You see? I’m not wearing them right now.”
“Ah! I never noticed, but you’re right. You don’t have any rings on your fingers and I doubt I can see the rings through your long pants,” Felix said in a surprised voice. “Why don’t you use them all the time?”
Lakshman shook his head and said, “I’ve reached the maximum my current body can handle. In the future, when the final seal is unlocked, I suppose my body will go through some changes to accommodate the increase in potential and power.”
“Are you saying you’re satisfied with the power you’ve achieved so far? You aren’t planning on pushing yourself to become even stronger?”
“No, I’m not… There are still the Nine Pillars of Power and though I don’t want to admit it, I’m nowhere near enough to compete with them when it comes to our powers. In fact, I believe I’m stronger than Dominic when I transform into my Phoenix Titan: Burst form. For that, I will continue to focus pushing myself in the mornings so that I can spend the rest of my days doing my usual work.”
“I see. That is indeed the right thinking. I’m certain you will become truly strong to finally sit with the Nine Pillars of Power, whom you should stand above as the Phoenix Titan.”
“Yes. Thank you,” Lakshman said gratefully. “Anyway, lead me to my office because I have quite a lot of details to write out.”
Felix looked at the side of his face and saw the firm expression there. Lakshman was in a serious mood and he knew it was not time for making jokes. There is work to be done and Lakshman was ready to focus on them.
“As you wish, your majesty. This way,” Felix said and he led the way to Lakshman’s office.