Three days passed since Lakshman received the invitation to attend the party that Slavemancer was holding. It seemed the Slavemancer wanted to meet him in person, which Lakshman intended to do anyway. Although they would become enemies eventually, Lakshman did want to assess his enemy to figure out what kind of tactic he would use if battle is inevitable.
During these three days, Lakshman spent his time mostly in the confines of the king’s office. That room is larger than Felix’s office room with a bigger desk and a bigger task to handle. Lakshman spent his time writing up documents and left the other details to be entered by the newly appointed officers, who also worked in the same room as him.
At first, they did not like the idea of working in the same room as the king, but Lakshman insisted on it.
“How am I supposed to talk to you when you’re in another room?” was his argument. “I can’t always make you lot run around and waste precious time! So, stop arguing and do it already!”
With the final orders given, the officers began working from the king’s room. Felix was also forced to move rooms, but now he was no longer had the problem of clutter or the cramped space to deal with. Together, they all worked together while passing each other the notes to proofread before doing the final detail.
Lakshman ordered the manufacture of multiple spears and the equipment for archery. The tools for the archery are mainly bow and arrow, but he also included gloves, protective gears and a snort knife. He was clear with his aim to train his soldiers to master all three types of weapon styles; sword, spear and archery.
When the drill master visited him during lunch, Lakshman was informed that there were only 7000 soldiers within the kingdom’s army.
Lakshman was surprised and he asked, “Isn’t that a bit low for an average army count?”
The drill master nodded and said, “That’s right, but the previous war threw a lot of fear into the men, so they quit the army and returned to the farms. Most of them turned into adventurers and continued to live that way. I and the Phoenix Emperor attempted to recruit them back, but they feared another war and refused.”
“I see. That’s understandable,” Lakshman said as he nodded his head. “I don’t need men that are not willing to protect the kingdom, however, I cannot allow their weakness to spread into the men we have right now. Call for the men that quit the army to meet me in five days’ time. Alright?”
“Yes, sir. That should be plenty of time to gather them while you visit the Slavemancer’s party in two days,” the drill master said with a nod.
Lakshman chuckled and said, “So, you heard of that. What are your thoughts about me attending that party?”
“There is nothing for me to say against you going there, but do please be careful, your majesty. The Slavemancer is known to be an extremely dangerous person and he has this strange magic that enables him to control people.”
“So I’ve heard…” Lakshman said quietly.
That morning, he finally got to see the list of people that would be attending the party. From the way the list was formed, it was evident the Slavemancer expected them to attend the party regardless of their circumstances. As he quickly went through the unfamiliar names, he was struck with surprise when he saw Darian Ronald, Hanuman Monkaggy, Darian Rutherford and the king of Rodfox Kingdom, Ragavendra Jagabadasen.
“Wait… Jagabadasen?” he had thought when the family name suddenly struck a chord in his memory. “That means, he is the father of Shalany Jagabadasen, who’s the princess of that kingdom…!”
He was amazed at the connection he missed until now and he chuckled to himself. It had been five years since they met and he clearly remember the happy playful girl whom he played with when they were young. He remembered the promise of playing together in the future and it made him feel sad to have forgotten that promise up until then.
“Oh well. I just have to explain I’ve been busy becoming stronger and fighting against evil numbskulls,” he thought dully. “Anyway, she’s not meant for me, I am certain of that. Her union is meant to be with somebody else, but who…? I just wish I had more information about it… Oh well. I’ll just ask her carefully when I meet her. Yeah… I could use this opportunity to visit the castle to meet her in person, although I do wonder if she will remember me…”
Later, Lakshman informed the girls about his decision to attend the Slavemancer’s party. Venezuela and Emilia were immediately worried and told him flat out not to go as it was dangerous. Cantia and Ondine, on the other hand, said they were being soft by not letting him go.
“If he doesn’t go, it gives the impression of a cowardly king,” Ondine said in annoyance and Cantia nodded in agreement. “Besides, what’s there for him to fear from that guy slave guy? Lucky’s super strong and won’t be beaten by a necro-uh whatever that guy’s name is!”
As Lakshman chuckled, Venezuela glared at her before saying, “Ondine! You’re underestimating that guy! Even Felix couldn’t get near him before being effected by whatever that magic was! Seriously! It’s magic that controls people! Lucky never met an opponent who controls his opponents!”
“It’s true I never met an opponent like that, but I’m also confident that I won’t fall for that man’s tricks,” Lakshman said confidentially. “Besides, I have to go regardless of whether you like it or not. It’s to show my courage and my loyalty to Floria Kingdom. Anyway, Darian, Rumble and Dominic will be there.” Then, in a firmer voice, he said, “Two of the Nine Pillars of Power will be there! So, I can assure you no problems will occur there that will cause me harm.”
Venezuela looked unhappy and Emilia weakly said, “B-But…”
He used both of his hands to pat them on the head and smiled at them. They liked the sensation of their heads being caressed by his hands, which is because he is careful in handling the ladies.
“I promise I will return safely,” he said with a smile on his face. “However, I’m not taking Tetra and Silvera with me this time.”
“Eh? Why not?” Tetra and Silvera asked at the same time.
“It’s because I’m having Felix as my escort.”
“Felix?” Cantia suddenly exclaimed in a surprised voice. “Why him? Vena just said that guy couldn’t even stand his own against the Slavemancer. Why take him?”
“Because, I want to observe the magic that Slavemancer uses,” Lakshman said firmly. “I’m confident I won’t fall for it, but that doesn’t mean I understand his magic very well. There are a few ways of controlling people and I want to know what controlling type his magic belongs to.”
Cantia looked aghast and said, “I feel sorry for Felix for being used like a pawn by you.”
“Ah! Don’t say that! It’ll make me look like the bad guy,” said Lakshman indignantly.
Thus, on the third day in the evening, Lakshman wore a pair of clothes befitting a king and met with Felix in the castle. Only Venezuela, Erza and Rasha were present to see him and Felix off.
“You be careful,” Erza said firmly. “I heard he is a dangerous person, but I’m confident in you in.”
“Thanks. That makes me feel better,” Lakshman said and Erza smiled.
Venezuela on the other hand did not crack a smile and simply said, “Do come back safely. There are a lot of us waiting back at home.”
“Oh, come on…!” Lakshman said in exasperation and with widened arms, he hugged the two girls. Once he broke apart, he turned around to ask Felix, “Are you ready?”
“Definitely!” Felix replied with a smiling face. “My wife’s totally fine with letting me go.”
Rasha sighed in exasperation and turned to Lakshman before she said, “Make sure he doesn’t do anything silly.”
“Huh?” he said indignantly. “Make sure I don’t? I’m afraid it’s the other way around with me having to make sure he doesn’t do anything silly.”
Lakshman laughed and said, “We can decide who does the silly things once we get there.”
He raised his hand and was just about to activate his magic when Felix stopped with by saying, “Hold on! You’re be using Phoenix Portal a lot lately. Now, it’s my turn to use it and besides, do you even know where we’re going?”
“Good point,” Lakshman said as he conceded. “Lead the way, Phoenix Emperor.”
“Naturally!” Felix said firmly. He held his hand out and said, “Phoenix Portal.”
In an instant, a black hole appeared in front of them and widened to allow a man to pass through. After turning back to wave to their respective wives, the two of them stepped into the portal and disappeared as it closed behind them. A moment later, they arrived at the other end of the portal and they found themselves standing near the entrance way of a brightly lit mansion. Lakshman looked around at the surroundings and he realised the location was slightly outside the compounds of the Rodfox capital.
“Wow…! This place is something,” Lakshman said in an impressed voice.
“Yeah… I never thought I’d come back after all these years to see this place again,” Felix said grimly.
“Cheer up. We’re not here to fight… at least,” Lakshman added the last word as an afterthought.
Just then, they heard a familiar voice say, “Welcome, welcome…! We’ve been expecting you!”
They looked to the entrance of the mansion and saw the beast man standing there. The beast man was wearing a suit and tie with his sleeves, which gave him a noble appearance. Lakshman was slightly taken aback from his appearance, but he quickly recovered to greet him back respectfully.
“Ah. I see that you’re doing well,” Lakshman said smiling while Felix simple nodded his head at him.
“Of course,” the beast man said with a smile. “Now, come this way please. Most of the guests have already arrived are now up in the open space.”
“Lead the way,” Lakshman simply said before he and Felix followed the beast man.
Instead of using the entrance, he led them to the side of the house and after turning a corner, they saw stairs leading upstairs. After climbing up the stairs, they arrived at an open space where tables were laid out here and there with food on them. People were standing around groups as a loud chatter being carried everywhere by the air.
“Has your master not come yet?” Felix asked the beast man curiously.
“Master is in the middle of getting ready, but don’t worry. He will make his appearance very soon. Until then, please get something to eat or go around talking to people,” the beast man said casually before going back down the stairs.
“Really…? I’m a king, yet this guy acts like a bigger king than me…” Lakshman said in an amused voice.
“Don’t be surprised. He believes himself to be a greater man than any other king. After all, he outlived all the kings, living for over 300 years,” Felix said before sighing. “Many brave warriors attempted to put an end to his reign, but they were immediately caught under his strange control and were forever his slaves.”
“Is that why you brought the Legendary Sword of Justice with you? In case you get affected by his strange magic, you have your legendary weapon to protect you?”
“It protected me the last time. Otherwise, I might’ve become a slave. Justina did say I was foolish to think my powers alone would be enough to make me stronger than him. That guy’s strong, but his magic is incredible, but I wish there’s a way to stop it from controlling everyone.”
“Let’s see about that after today. If he ever uses that magic, I will immediately know how he is managing to control and intimidate so many people,” Lakshman said with a firm expression on his face.
Lakshman suddenly sensed the presence of a friend and when he turned around, his smile widened. Darian, Rumble and Dominic were standing near a crowd and seemed to be talking to each other with serious expressions on their faces. Lakshman nudged Felix on the shoulder and they walked over to greet them. They sensed their approach and turning around, they smiled once they saw who they were.
“Hello, Lakshman!” Dominic said and the two men shook hands firmly. “Good to see you hear.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think you would come or were you that afraid of him?” Lakshman asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Not really, but I saw your name on that list of people he invited. I didn’t have anything important going on and I was curious about who the guy was, so I came to hang out with you,” Dominic said with a shrug of his shoulders.
Lakshman laughed before turning to greet Darian and Rumble. They visited him during his marriage, but he did not get to greet them properly due to the head maid keeping him away to not overexert himself. Now that he got a good look at them, he was surprised to see Darian looking much older than he did five years ago while Rumble looked slightly older than last time.
“You seem older than last time…” Lakshman said uncertainly. “Are you not eating well?”
Darian laughed and said, “I doubt eating is the problem here and Rumble just never stops eating. With him and his stomach, there’s never an endless supply of food.”
“It can’t be helped! I’m just hungry all the time with no meat around!” Rumble said unhappily. “Marilia’s been feeding me more vegetables and it’s beginning to make feel really like a rabbit.”
“Don’t say that! She won’t be happy to hear that compliment,” Lakshman said as Dominic and Felix laughed while Darian scowled.
Rumble shrugged and said, “I already did, but strangely, she just smiled at me and said it’s good I’m a rabbit.”
“Of course, she would say that! It’s better to be rabbit than a monkey brained idiot!” Darian said, causing Felix and Dominic to chuckle.
“Really? Did we come all the way here to make fun of me and my diet?” Rumble asked incredulously. “If you’re poke fun at someone, do it to that guy over there. Look at him, he keeps on eating and eating while I stand here getting jokes poked at my diet. I’m not fat nor am I hungry like that pig over there.”
“I think a battle between a hungry pig and an angry monkey would be one to watch,” Felix commented, causing Darian to laugh heartily.
“No thanks. I don’t plan on wasting my amazing fighting skills on a chubby pumpkin like him,” Rumble replied with a grin on his face.
“Now, now…” Lakshman said with a smile on his face. He turned to Darian and asked, “How is Marilia?”
“She’s doing fine back at the training centre,” Darian replied with a smile on his face. “Business is booming and we’ve decided to expand our base to the other three kingdoms as well. Actually, I was planning on coming down to Floria Kingdom a few days ago, but I received this invitation.”
“I see…” Lakshman said and he nodded in understanding. “Um… Darian. Don’t mind me asking, but did you stop using Saver Mode? You seem a lot older than the time I saw you five years ago.”
Darian sighed and nodded as he said, “That’s right. I just feel Saver Mode is not worth using anymore. I mean, with all the energy and power that it suppresses, I don’t believe I need it anymore. So, I’m growing older by the day like Marilia.”
“I see. So, you’ve decided to finally grow older like Marilia instead of staying young like you were five years ago,” Lakshman said as he understood the reason. “Guess, love for your wife trumps your desire to stay young and live a longer life. That’s probably why I or Felix don’t bother to use Saver Mode. Although, I did use Power Mode once.”
“What?!” Darian exclaimed in a shocked voice. “You used Power Mode? How long did you use it for and were you after getting out of it?”
“I… I exhausted myself using it for… I don’t know long, but it was for about twenty minutes… probably?” Lakshman said uncertainly.
“Unbelievable!” Darian said incredulously. “What were you thinking? Power Mode draws all the power and gathered it into one area, creating a lethal force! With such an amassed power at your disposal, your body becomes greatly burdened by the sheer amount of that gathered energy.”
“I didn’t have much of a choice and it doesn’t let you grow older.”
Darian shook his head and said, “That’s not the point. When you are in battle and fighting against strong opponents, you automatically activate Power Mode. That’s why, your powers get stronger with each fight you encounter. However, if you dive into the actual Power Mode, you’d seriously draw on more than just the energy of your physical body, you’re also using your spiritual energy. In a way, that’s foolish self-destruction.”
“I know, I know… I’m well aware it and I’ve trained to be strong in any case,” Lakshman said firmly. “You don’t have to give me such a lecture right now.”
“In that case, well done,” Darian said and he smiled again.
At that moment, the lights within the open space slowly dimmed and a bright line was shone on a man standing right at the front. He was wearing a suit and acted as a man who was going to announce something.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please… The time has come for the master of the party to arrive,” he announced and everyone turned to look towards the stairs leading up to where they were.
The mansion was a large building in this remote area and where they were was far from the main building. It seems this side was built so as to hold parties and such, which really was to keep the guests well away from the main part of the mansion. Now, the master of the building was about to enter the open space from what looked like stairs leading down into the mansion.
Everyone fell silent and curiously waited for him to arrive. A few seconds later, a handsome looking man in a well-dressed clothes arrived with a woman at his side, whom he had a hand placed around her shoulders. The woman appeared to be around Lakshman’s age and strangely familiar to him.
“Wait… Isn’t that… Shalany? Shalany Jagabadasen?” he thought in surprise when he saw her standing next to whom he took be the Salvemancer. “There’s no doubt about it. That lady is Shalany, but why is next to him? What connection does she have with him? Is he her destined partner…? I don’t know… I don’t feel that is the case…”
Lakshman suddenly was brought back to the present when his Elemental Sense triggered an alarm. It warned him about something dangerous, but he could see where the danger was being triggered from. Then, he looked towards the Slavemancer and his eyes narrowed slightly. With his normal eyes, there was no way he could have known whether something was going on or not, but he has a technique that allowed his eyes to see the change.
“Phoenix Eyes,” he muttered quietly.
In an instant, his black eyes were replaced by red crown shaped eyes. When he focused his vision, he saw the disturbance in energy around the Slavemancer, which was warping itself around Shalany like a snake. Although she was smiling, he saw the nervous energy surrounding her.
As he continued observing them with his Phoenix Eyes, he was surprised when he noticing something happening to Slavemancer’s eyes. Using Zooming Force, he focused on those eyes, which suddenly changed. Lines were forming on the eyes to cut the yellow circle to create a ring around it, which was filled with red colour and on the centre was a strange looking shape he did not recognise seeing before.
He got a clear image of such menacing looking eyes and he searched his knowledge bank for the information on such eyes. Within seconds, he figured out what those eyes were and he started at them in disbelief.
“Demon Eyes!” he thought in surprise. Quickly realising something undetectable to the eye was taking place, he muttered, “Elemental Sight.”
In an instant, everything around him quickly became grey as the colours were filtered out. Instead, the grey shapes of the people were coloured in blue and green. He looked at the Slavemancer and was startled when violet lines began to shoot out of the eyes and headed towards each and every one he made eye contact with.
Such a line was shot to Felix, Darian and Rumble and they began glowing without them realising it. A violet beam shot past him and headed straight towards Dominic, but got deflected by an energy field surrounding him. Lakshman turned to see Dominic’s side glowing in the form of a blade, which he realised was the Destiny Sword protecting her master against the controlling beams of light.
Lakshman turned around and was slightly surprised when he made eye contact with the Slavemancer. The next moment, a violet beam of light was fired and it shone straight at him, which was invisible to the naked eye. He reacted by raising his hand and extending his forefinger out before charging it with energy. Once the energy reached him, he easily flicked it aside with his energised finger.
As he smiled, the Slavermancer noticed him flick the violet beam away. He raised his eyebrows momentarily before smiling and turning away. Lakshman noticed him deactivate the eyes, which returned to their normal yellow colour. Lakshman deactivated Elemental Sight and looked around to see that no one had noticed the change in his colours.
“I see… You were using Illusionary Eyes to keep them from seeing the chance in your eyes,” he thought to himself with a smile. “Unfortunately for you, such a trick won’t fool me or hide the fact that you’re using your Demon Eyes to control people through eye contact. Yes… The Demon Eyes: Controller.”
Lakshman now knew how the Slavemancer had been able to control the people thus far. Within that party, he and Dominic were the only ones not affected by those violet beams of energy that no one noticed. However, he realised those eyes will most likely affect him if he ever dropped his guard.
“What’s wrong?” Felix asked him curiously when he noticed the grim expression on his face.
“Ah? Oh… Nothing,” Lakshman said as he was brought back to the present.
The Slavemancer and his partner Shalany, walked towards the front, where the announcer stepped away. He looked around at the people and once again, Lakshman saw the change in the eyes through the use of his Phoenix Eyes and saw the violet beams of energy fly towards and hit the people whom he made an eye contact with. As one flew towards him, Lakshman did not raise his finger and instead activated his Power Barrier with his eyes, easily deflecting the energy in the process.
Smiling around them all, the Slavemancer spoke and his voice was heard all the way to the back where they stood.
“Welcome and thank you for coming today’s party! It is lovely to see so many people show up on this special occasion where we are in the presence of two kings; one is Ragavendra Jagabadasen and the other, who only recently became king of Floria Kingdom on top of being a Phoenix Titan; Lakshman Chand.”
The people began clapping as they looked in the direction where both of the kings stood. Once the clapping died down, the Slavemancer began speaking once more.
“Now! Without further ado, I pronounce that it is time to eat!” he said cheerfully, which was following up by more clapping.
At that moment, large tables suddenly began their way from inside the mansion, which was being pushed along by a waiter or waitress. There were both human and non-human waiters that used hover magic to carry the food trays without letting them fall. They were aware of how dangerous it would be for them because a disaster would befall them at the hands of the Slavemancer.
“I’m hungry! Where’s the meat?” Rumble asked excitedly and he hurried over to the nearest food tray.
“Honestly…” Darian said wearily and he went after them, soon to be followed by Felix.
Once they were gone, Dominic leaned forward to Lakshman and whispered, “Lakshman… Just now, I sensed something weird…”
“Yeah, I sensed it too,” Lakshman replied firmly with a single nod of the head. “It seems that guy’s been controlling people through eye contact using Demon Eyes: Controller.”
“Really? I didn’t notice at all,” Dominic said in a surprised voice.
“Of course, you didn’t notice since you lack magic skills,” Lakshman said sternly, making Dominic smile in embarrassment. “Luckily for you, the Destiny Sword was by your side and protected you from those controlling beams.”
“Eh? How did you know I brought her with me?” Dominic asked in a surprised voice. “I made sure to hide her well in my pants.”
“Course you did, but I noticed her activated powers when I defended myself against those beams,” Lakshman said and he grinned at his friend.
“Oh… Anyway, what should we do about him? I think we can take him down right here for suing magic to control people, but…” he hesitated and looked worried. “There is the chance he will use them as hostages or make them attack us for him?”
“Those chances are likely, but let’s not worry about that right now. We’re hungry and we need food. If we don’t get food into our stomachs, we won’t have the energy to do anything,” Lakshman said and he winked at him.
Dominic nodded at him and together, they walked over to where Darian, Rumble and Felix stood with plates in their hands. Lakshman was eager to eat, but he still kept his Power Barrier up just close enough to protect himself from any direct or indirect attacks. From what he just experienced, he knew it was better to be safe than sorry.
The drawing of the Demon Eyes is my original, like the Phoenix Eyes.