“Hey! Where’s my husband?” Emilia asked Amaranda once she returned to where they were.
“Currently, I put him to train inside one of my training zones to realise his weakness,” informed Amaranda through telepathy.
“Oh…. Wait! What? Why does he need training? He’s really strong as he is!” said Ondine with a confused expression on her face.
“I will agree that he is strong, but he is also weak at the same time. First of all, his blind belief in showing mercy to every single enemy he meets. This has caused him to get badly wounded before finishing them off. That worries me because he is the Phoenix Titan and is supposed to be the protector of the world, so it makes me wonder how indecisive he can be with that heavy responsibility riding on his shoulders.”
“Mmm… Now that you mention it, I feel Lucky had been holding back his powers or something for a while now,” said Venezuela in an understanding voice.
“Explain!” Ondine demanded and Cantia nodded in agreement, together with Erza and Sumara.
“Well… It was during the time Lakshman fought against Dominic. You know, the Sword Titan,” began Venezuela with her explanation. “Their fight was great and epic to watch, but something about it felt off. I knew Lucky was fighting to his best, but it felt as though he was holding back without realising it.
Believe me, he easily defeated the Demon Emperor over ten-years-ago, but had trouble fighting everyone else. I just thought they were tough opponents, but I felt he was unconsciously holding back the power he required to defeat them. Also, it felt like he had been giving his enemies plenty of changes at redemption, which always back fired on him.”
“Ah… Now that you mention it, I did find it weird that he was behaving in such a soft manner…” said Erza with a puzzled look on her face. “I mean, from the time that I knew him in my world Alzard, he is an extremely powerful person and he didn’t accept nonsense from anyone. So, for a time, I felt I was seeing someone totally different to the Lakshman I knew and loved.”
“Wait-nyaa! He was like that really decisive warrior-nyaa?” asked Cantia with an amazed look on her face.
Erza nodded at her and said, “That’s right, Cantia. He was… superb and I also believe he had awakened his full powers at that time, but I never asked him. The truth is, I only learnt about the seals when after marrying him and it made me question the powers he had in the future.”
“Interesting… Perhaps, he will become like that in the future…?” Sumara asked with a doubtful look on her face.
Emilia turned to Tetra and Silvera, who were his Contracted Spirits, to ask them a question.
“Do the two of you know whether he is unconsciously holding back his powers and deliberately giving his opponents the chance to stop and change themselves for good?”
Tetra and Silvera looked at each other for a moment before Silvera answered the question.
“Actually… Lucky never used powers above a certain point and that left him fighting opponents at almost their level, even though he is clearly stronger than them. Like the fight with Dominic, he was fighting him seriously, but he was also giving Dominic the chance to show off his skills.”
Hearing that, the rest of the girls widened their eyes in surprise. All this time, they believed their husband had been fighting seriously with all his got, but they could not believe all of that was false. It left them feeling doubt about why he was doing all this, which eventually weakened him into beliefs that potentially put him at risk.
“How… How did he come to be like this…?” Venezuela asked uncertainly.
For a few seconds, none of them answered and thought about it while Amaranda watched them. She was slightly taken aback at how believing the girls were of their husband, including Sumara even though she is not his wife. It made her wonder the powerful bond that they share with their husband, yet they missed something this obvious, yet not so obvious at the same time.
“I think I know,” began Emilia and they looked at her. “Remember the time the God of Energy, Engraut payed us a visit?”
The girls nodded at her and she continued speaking.
“Well… Remember the answer he responded to the question that Engraut asked him? About his decision to give his enemies opportunities instead of killing them outright?”
The girls nodded once again and looked at each other with surprised expressions on their faces.
“When Lucky answered that he didn’t want to be a killer and such, I thought he meant he will not kill people outright. However, I never thought he would come to actually take those words to heart and have the mindset to actually show mercy to every enemy he meets, despite knowing they are evil.”
“Oh… You’re right! He was rather badly wounded when he came back to us after the battle yesterday,” said Erza as she suddenly realised the implications. “The enemy warriors were tough for us since they were all equipped with two Amplification Rods per warrior, but they shouldn’t have been that difficult for Lucky to handle.”
“Actually… I had expected him to arrive to help us within minutes, but it took longer than ten minutes and by then, we had mostly defeated the enemies on our own,” admitted Sumara with an unhappy expression on her face.
All the girls appeared to be unhappy from this revelation and did not what to say anymore. It was Amaranda who finally broke the silence to speak once again.
“Whatever happened in the past is unnecessary right now. What matters now the most is that he changes that mindset that potentially puts him and the rest of us in danger. I am aware that he had been the king of Floria Kingdom, but I believe he keeps forgetting his main duty; towards the world.
To keep the world safe, evil must not exist. The right decision is to kill them, no questions asked and no options given. That is the belief that I follow through as I destroy plan after plan in the past when the Demon Lord, Delon attempted to take over Bazaraka Continent.”
When she finished, the girls all nodded their heads at her in agreement. Each of them had their fair share of trouble and all came to agree that no mercy should be shown towards evil doers. History has proven that they will never learn, no matter the mistakes that were already made by their predecessors.
At that moment, the Eternal Turtle suddenly let out a loud roar that caused them to clap their hands over their ears. They felt a great shudder at their feet as the entire body of the giant turtle shook with fear.
“What’s the matter, Telker?” asked Amaranda telepathically.
The Eternal Turtle roared once more and this caused Amaranda’s eyes to widen with shock. They soon narrowed as she formed a serious expression on her face before turning to face the girls.
“It seems our enemies are charging towards us at high speed. Telker sensed around forty demon warriors in total heading our way and they appear to be stronger than the last ones you girls fought!”
“What?! Forty demon warriors are headed here and they’re stronger than the ones we fought before?!” Venezuela exclaimed in shock.
“Damn…! They just keep coming…!” Erza said angrily.
“They are most likely trying to stop us from escaping from the continent,” said Emilia in an understanding voice. “Makes sense since with the Magic Titan and us here, we could place a barrier over us to shield us from tracing our location again.”
“Good point. In any case, please prepare for an immediately battle,” said Amaranda and they nodded at her.
Inside the battle building, Lakshman was still in a heated battle against his copy, which fought just like him. They were battling in close combat fighting style by moving from one location to another in the brightly lit room the size of a building. Dust erupted off the ground and rose into the air with their speedy battle.
This battle had been going on for almost fifteen minutes since Amaranda left and the two of them appeared to be evenly matched for some time. However, it soon became obvious that Lakshman’s copy was far better suited to fighting than the real Lakshman. It delivered punches, kicks and landed blows more accurately on Lakshman without the slightest hesitation.
The real Lakshman was slowly losing ground as the battle prolonged and it became evident the copy Lakshman was better. Even so, he did not give up his fighting spirit and he continued to push himself further to match the speed of his copy and delivered his blows against it.
The battle itself was turning fearsome as the two attacked each other with both energy attacks and magic spells. Unfortunately, Lakshman’s copy constantly used Maga Distrab to disperse the real Lakshman’s energy attacks and cancelled the flow of energy around him, making it difficult for him to focus his energy.
Suddenly, the two of them suddenly delivered power punches to their faces and this caused them to push each other back. However, Lakshman’s copy quickly recovered and stepped forward to lift its leg and place it on the real Lakshman’s chest. In an instant, a powerful wave of energy got released and was blasted against Lakshman. He got blasted back, but not before he aimed at his copy and activated the magic spell to attack him with.
Many magic particles gathered around him and they soon formed into large pointy stones that flew at Lakshman’s copy. The real Lakshman landed on his feet and reached an energy beam to fire when the copy dodged them. To his shock, Lakshman’s copy charged its arms and legs with Energy Force before destroying each and every stone bullet that flew at him.
In a matter of seconds, it destroyed all the stone bullets and cleared the view one more. Then, he charged forward and before the real Lakshman could attack him, he was slammed hard in the gut by both of the copy’s hands. The impact stunned Lakshman and blood got spit out, but the attack was not over.
Lakshman’s copy moved its hands upward and delivered four powerful uppercuts straight to the real Lakshman’s jaw that almost blasted him into the air, but his face was grabbed and got slammed by the copy’s knee. Staggering from the stunning blows, Lakshman’s copy used its left hand to fire a yet of blue beam at Lakshman and blasted him back until he smashed into the door, causing dust to erupt all around him.
As the dust slowly cleared, it showed Lakshman lying on the ground facing sideways while moaning softly. He was not physically wounded, but the damage he took was making him mentally think he was weakening due to the barrier placed around the building. Fortunately, his will of fire was not smothered and he slowly pushed himself back to his feet while glaring fiercely at his copy.
“Dammit… Why is he better than me?!” Lakshman exclaimed angrily.
Suddenly, he heard a voice near him say, “How pathetic you look, Phoenix Titan…!”
The surroundings had gone white and Lakshman whipped around to see someone that made his eyes widen with shock. Standing there with an evil grin on his face was the deceased Demon Emperor, Halquza.
Lakshman glared at him and shouted, “You…! How are you here? I killed you!”
Halquza laughed and said, “Yes, you did! You tripled the output of my Revenge Death Ball and blasted it back at me, killing me in the process. So, when you were capable of defeating me, can’t you defeat yourself?”
“I… I can!” Lakshman shouted angrily.
He whipped around to glare fiercely at his copy before rushing towards him. They resumed the battle and for a moment, the real Lakshman gave his copy quite the beating. However, this did not last long and his copy quickly took charge of the battle before delivering rapid blows on him and blasting him to the other side of the room.
The dust slowly settled from him crashing there and as he slowly rose to his feet, he heard his copy quietly say, “Weak.”
Lakshman widened his eyes in shock and stared at his copy, whose face was expressionless. For a moment, he thought he had imagined it, but then he saw his copy tilt its head back and look at him with a pitiful expression on its face.
“So weak, I want to cry,” it said in a pitying voice.
“W-Weak…? I’m weak?!” Lakshman exclaimed angrily and he began powering up greatly and this increased both his speed and power.
He kicked off the ground and quickly covered the distance separating him and his copy before landing a powerful blow on the side of its face. For a moment, he thought he had done it, but was shocked when he saw the fierce look in its eye. The next instant, it brushed his arm aside with its left arm very easily and unleashed a powerful punch straight into the real Lakshman’s shocked face.
The power punch pushed him back and he got lifted into the air, but his copy quickly grabbed him by his legs. Then, with strong force, swung him overhead and slammed him onto the ground. Lakshman groaned painfully from hitting the ground before he was lifted once again into the air. As he fell, his copy unleashed a power punch and landed it straight into the real Lakshman’s gut.
The shock of the blow caused Lakshman’s eyes to widen with shock and the impact sent shockwaves in all directions. With the blow completed, Lakshman’s copy stepped aside and let him fall limply onto the ground, where he lay while groaning softly. It took him a whole minute to finally rise to a kneeling position while having difficult focusing his eyes.
“T-This can’t be… I’m… weaker than my… copy…?” the real Lakshman asked in disbelief.
All of a sudden, he heard a familiar voice from nearby say, “Of course, you’re weak! It’s obvious!”
Everything had gone white again and Lakshman turned his head to see the Demon Dragon King, Razzel standing there with an evil smile on his face.
“Seriously…! To think I got killed at the hands of a weakling like you! How pathetic am I?” Razzel said disdainfully.
“I… I’m not weak…!” Lakshman said firmly and he pushed himself to stand to face his old enemy.
“Oh, really? Then, explain to me why it took you so long to use that Spirit Burst Cannon?” asked another familiar voice and he turned to see Adebola standing there with a furious expression on his face.
“When you had such a thing up your sleeve, then why fight us, cause so much destruction and waste precious time?” Razzel asked him with an evil smile on his face.
“If you had used it on us a lot quicker, then you could’ve come back in time to stop me from stabbing your dear wife, Venezuela’s father with that cursed sword!” Adebola said and he grinned broadly.
At those words, Lakshman widened his eyes in shock at the suddenly realisation. He could have settled the matter in Mardana Kingdom had he acted sooner by simply ending their lives. That was something he could not do because of his firm belief in giving chances to his enemies at redeeming themselves.
“I… I gave you all chances so that you can redeem yourselves! Everyone deserves that opportunity!” Lakshman shouted at them angrily.
He was surprised to see that Adebola and Razzel had disappeared and instead, heard another familiar voice speak in a sad voice.
“Really…? Is that why you let me live when you could have used that technique to kill me off as well?”
Lakshman turned around and saw the Slavemancer standing there with a really sad expression on his face.
“I wanted the Demon Eyes: Controller to control the evil people and help people. However, I was taken advantage of and corrupted by the twisted power of those eyes. In my corrupted state, I committed great crimes and evil that fed the Calamity Titan. Instead of giving me chance to change, I would’ve happily accepted death as my penalty for causing so much sadness in the people.”
Lakshman’s mouth slightly opened as if he was paralysed with shock from hearing those words. Suddenly, Halquza, Razzel and Adebola appeared to form a circle with the Slavemancer. The three of them grinned broadly at him with sheer delight while only the Slavemancer appeared to be really upset.
“You were strong, but became weak and pathetic because of your foolish beliefs! Because of your mistakes, you ended up losing the people you should’ve protected! Even you and your wives nearly approached because you were an indecisive bastard!”
All four of them shouted and began repeatedly saying the same word over and over again.
“Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling! Weakling…!”
Lakshman clutched his head and started shouting, “Stop it…! Stop it…! That’s enough…!”
He clamped shut his ears and closed his eyes desperately to not listen to their voices of accusations. All this time, he had believed that everything he did was for right, his confidence began to crumble. Questions arose in him about his actions thus far and it made him become very aware of the devastating results because of it.
“I… I don’t believe this…! Was I wrong to show mercy to my enemies? Was I wrong to give them chances to make a change? Was I mistaken in my approach in the way I fight my enemies…?”
His mind began to torment itself with questions and doubts that clouded everything he set himself upon. Very soon, he began to drift into the very depths of his mind and was soon approaching the border line where he kept the Voice of the Phoenix suppressed. He knew that he was finished if he crossed like that, but he was feeling hopeless with his situation and his inner will became weak because of it.
At that moment, he suddenly heard a friendly familiar voice that he had not heard in a very long time. It was the voice of the man that had did his best in suppressing the Voice of the Phoenix from controlling him, kept him into an innocent kid and finally sacrificed his life to save his.
“Lucky, there may come a time when I might leave you permanently, which would mean that you’ll be all on your own. During that time, if you ever question yourself about your beliefs and actions, stop for a moment and think about what you must protect and fight for.”
That was what Decisive Player had told Lakshman when he was still a kid, around fifteen years of age. Lakshman had almost forgotten it, but his mind saved him by bringing back that memory. Now, it made him think about the words said to him in such a specific manner. Thanks to that, he stopped drifting and remained floating there in the depths of his mind.
“What I must protect…? What I must fight for…?” he thought quietly. “That’s easy. I must protect my parents, my sisters, my wives and… and…”
He started to realise the key message within the dialogue as he continued to think deeper into it.
“I must also protect the world… That’s what I fight for! I fight to protect my family and protect the world at the same time. I can only achieve this by vanquishing evil and showing mercy can only weaken me from doing that!”
It was then the words ‘Fight to Protect without Dying’ came to his mind, which was the saying of the first Phoenix Titan, Asura Rangavardan. It made him realise the hidden message intended from the saying.
“I must protect and fight for what is right without dying. That means, I cannot allow myself to show too much mercy to my enemies when there is no hope of change. Defeating them serves the purpose of my being and keeping balance in the world is what I’m meant to do…!”
He had thought those words without realising how they came to him, but he understood what they meant. All this time, he had unnecessarily been indecisive about battling the evil people due to showing too much mercy.
“I see… All this time, I thought I had finally become decisive, but I guess I’m the still the Innocent Player. Isn’t that right, Decisive Player?”
He thought those words and his consciousness finally rose to the surface of his mind and he finally opened his eyes. All this time, he had remained kneeling on the floor of the building with his copy standing there and staring down at him with the usual expressionless face. Lakshman looked up at him and smiled for the first time with a confidence that was different from before.
As he slowly rose to his feet, he said, “I now understand the mistake I’ve been making and I finally realised the one weakness I had been unable to relinquish to be the Phoenix Titan that I should’ve been. Now, it’s time for me to change… It’s time I become the Decisive Player…!”
With that said, he looked at his copy with a renewed confidence and belief. He finally knew what he must do and with that, he prepared to resume his battle with his copy, which also took on a fighting stance. The two of them stared at each other for a moment before the real Lakshman made the first move.
He launched himself straight at his copy and the speedy battle began with both sides throwing fists at each other while attempting to stun each other with powerful knee attacks. The real Lakshman felt very calm as the battle between them raged on.
The real Lakshman suddenly pulled back and ducked to avoid the two rapid blows aimed at his face. He moved so fast, the copy did not have enough time to react and by the time it could, the real Lakshman had placed his right hand on his copy’s chest. For a moment, they just stood there and stared at each other before a powerful wave of energy got unleashed and totally obliterated his copy.
With only him left in the building, Lakshman straightened up and put his right fist into the palm of his left hand before saying, “Thank you for making me realise my weakness.”
He stood there for a moment in a prayer before finally releasing his hands and letting them drop to his side.
“I am now the reborn Phoenix Titan!” Lakshman said firmly and he flashed his eyes open.
In an instant, he began radiating in pure golden-red aura that was much larger than it normally was. The building began to vibrate from the pressure of his power. His red crown shaped eyes were glowing brightly with his newly formed resolve to fight for what is right and protect his loved ones without dying.
Finally! He’s here! The reborn phoenix that I had been hoping for all this time through many hardships of motivation. Next chapter is the battle and it’s going to be an epic one! It’s finally high time to see what the ideal Phoenix Titan will be like!