Friend’s Talk, Surprise and Advice
The next morning, Lakshman yawned and rubbed his eyes. He went into the kitchen and used the tap water to wash his face. After completing washing his face, he clapped his cheeks and smiled into the mirror. Satisfied, he made his way out of the house.
Just then, he heard the loud clashing sound of swords. He wondered if the sound belonged to Indra and Ondine. However, he saw Ondine standing at the entrance like a human blockade when he arrived. Wondering what was going on, he stepped outside.
“Good morning Ondine,” he greeted her.
She made a startled movement and turned around to face him.
“Oh, master,” she said. “Good morning.”
“Why are you standing here?” he asked curiously. “Aren’t you going to train?”
“In a bit,” she said and she turned to face in front of her.
“In a bit? Why?” he asked with a puzzled expression.
“Because of that,” she said and pointed with her finger.
Lakshman directed his gaze in the direction of her pointing finger. That was when he discovered the source of the clashing sounds of swords.
Clashing fiercely at an incredible speed was none other than Felix and Indra. Their movement was so fast, it felt like they disappeared and re-appeared rather than a display of flowing movement. They were trading hard blows with their swords against each other.
Lakshman was stunned by the sight before him. They were moving at unbelievable speeds and so was the force they applied behind their attacks.
For a few minutes, he and Ondine were rooted to the spot, staring at the fight. Then, the two fighters separated and stood with some distance separating them. It was then that Lakshman and Ondine noticed the appearance of the warriors.
Indra was breathing heavily while Felix was breathing easily. In fact, Indra was sweating heavily while, on the other hand, there was hardly a sweat on Felix. This amazed Lakshman as he watched his father heaving deep breaths as he stared at Felix.
For a few seconds, they simply stared at each other. Then, Indra let out a sigh in finality and he straightened up.
“I’m tired Felix,” he declared.
“Already?” Felix said in surprise. “Come on Indra, I haven’t even warmed up yet!”
“Oh yeah? I think I skipped warm up and went straight to exhaustion.”
“Ah, you are so weak right now! You were much stronger when you were younger.”
“That was back then and now I’m a man with a family. I even have a kid.”
As Indra said, he patted Lakshman on the head. While he and Felix were talking, Lakshman and Ondine made their way to them. They now gathered together and spoke easily.
“You speak like an old man Indra,” Felix said with a faintest smile. “How old are you again? I keep forgetting.”
“Very funny,” Indra said as he shook his head. “I’ve settle down with a family. Now I’m more focused on using my abilities to earn money for my family.”
Felix stared at him in surprise and he shook his head in amazement.
“I would have never have thought the once crazy reckless Indra would grow up to be so mature and caring for his family.”
“Ah geez,” Indra said with a smile. “You’re also married. You even have a cute kid!”
“I do, but I have the support of my clan. You, on the other hand, are… um…”
Felix hesitated, unsure whether to proceed further. Indra, knowingly, nodded and grinned at him. As they talked, they moved over to the stair to the entrance and sat down. Meanwhile, Lakshman and Ondine began their morning training.
“That’s why, I keep asking you to come to the capital,” Felix said earnestly. “You and your family won’t be all alone here in the middle of nowhere.”
“Ah, don’t be like that Felix,” Indra said and he laughed easily. “We aren’t in a place not marked on the map. Look. You’re here. It means, this place is known!”
“Yeah… It sure got a lot of popularity once it was attacked by that Twin-Headed Cerberus,” then he leaned forward and asked “Hey… is it true… it was Lakshman who beat that thing and saved the town?”
“Course’ it is!” Indra said with a smile. “Who else in this remote area has the nerves like steel to take on something like that?”
“You and, your son,” Felix said with a laugh. “I probably should’ve believed it, but you know… with those rumours…”
“They tend to get exaggerated, right?” Indra said with a half-smile.
“Exactly!” Felix and they laughed together.
Then switched their attention to Lakshman and Ondine, training. For a few seconds, they sat there watching them. Then Felix asked Indra a question.
“By the way, how old is Lakshman?” he asked.
“Lucky? He’s twelve years old,” Indra said.
Felix quickly looked at him and made a face as if Indra was joking.
“Ah come on Indra. This isn’t the time to joke about things like that,” he said before letting out a laugh. “He’s got to be around fourteen judging from his physique and strength.”
“No Felix, he is twelve years old,” Indra said, applying a slight seriousness in his tone.
Felix caught it and he stared at him in disbelief.
“Seriously?” he asked uncertainly.
“Seriously,” Indra said and nodded.
Felix’s eyes widened and he turned around to look at Lakshman. For a moment, he simply stared at Lakshman wordlessly. Then he turned to look back at Indra.
“Whoa!” he exclaimed, startling Lakshman and Ondine. “Lakshman is only twelve?! But… his strength, power… and the way he carries himself. It’s nothing like a twelve year old should!”
Indra sighed before saying “I know. I was even more taken by surprise when he started training much earlier than me. I think you know, I started training when I turned twelve.”
“Yeah, you told me,” Felix said absently, staring at Lakshman. “Still… to be that powerful at such an age…”
Suddenly his eyes widened as if he realised something. He quickly turned back to Indra and grabbed his shoulders.
“What?” Indra said in surprise.
“When did you say he started his training?” Felix asked urgently.
Indra hesitated and he smiled slightly. The answer was one that took him some time to get used. So, it will be a shocker for someone like Felix, who had no idea.
“He began his training at the age of seven,” Indra finished.
“What?!” Felix exclaimed loudly and the birds in the trees flew away with their usual noises. “Seven?! Wow! Wow! Unreal!”
“Felix calm down,” Indra said quickly. “More importantly, keep your voice down. Otherwise—!”
“That’s amazing!” Felix went on excitedly, ignoring what Indra was saying.
“It is, but calm down before—!” Indra tried speaking again, but he was cut off by Felix once more.
“At the age of seven he started his training! Now, at the age of twelve he is almost as powerful as you! Just imagine how powerful he will be when he grows up!”
“Yeah, but clam down before—!”
“Will you two shut up!” shouted a loud voice from behind.
Both Felix and Indra looked around and saw Lakshmi standing over them with an angry face. Earlier, her dream cycle was interrupted and she woke up with a bad temper. Now she stood over them and glared at them fiercely. It was enough to make them cover in fear.
“Loud people are annoying!” she shouted and, with a bang, landed her fists on their heads.
Both of them exclaimed reflexively as they clutched the top of their heads. The impact was so strong, they felt a lump forming. Lakshmi breathed a heavy sigh and looked down at them with her arms folded.
“I don’t mind you talking great about my son, but keep your voices down. Most people, at this hour, are sleeping peacefully. They don’t need to be rudely woken up by loud… annoying… voices… of senseless… bums!”
With that, she snorted before walking back inside. They stared after her, still clutching their heads. Then they turned to face each other and let out a deep sigh.
“She certainly hasn’t changed,” Felix said and he faintly smiled.
“Did you expect her to?” Indra said, rubbing his head softly.
“Well…” Felix hesitated before saying “Not really… but… maybe her method of punishing people. Her punches still hurt!”
“Now you appreciate what it feels to be me,” Indra said with a small smile.
“Yeah, but most of the time it’s your own fault,” Felix said.
“Oh, really?” Indra said spastically. “If I remember well, I was trying to tell you to lower your voice, but you ignored me and continued raving on in blind excitement!”
“Oh… Haha… I guess I got carried away,” Felix said and he grinned at Indra, who simply placed a hand on his head warily. “Anyway, coming back to where we left off.”
“You know, the part when you told me about his age.”
“Oh… that,” Indra said, finally remembering. “What about it?”
“I was thinking… How about you send off to the academy when he grows up?” Felix suggested.
“Academy?” Indra asked in puzzlement.
“Yeah,” Felix said with a nod of his head. “More precisely, the Astral Academy located in Floria region.”
“Eh?” Indra said in surprise. “You mean that prestigious place where students learn to study the Sword Arts, Magic Arts and Spiritual Arts for three whole years?”
“That’s it!” Felix said, nodding vigorously. “Think about it. I’m sure Sumara will decide to leave once Lakshman takes the Saint test. After that, he will only be able to improve his sword arts. I think it’s better if he attends the academy when he turns sixteen. What do you say?”
“Well…” Indra said hesitantly. “We honestly haven’t thought about his future studies, but… we won’t know if he will pass the Saint test though.”
“He will pass and I am betting so does Sumara,” Felix said. Then he grinned and said “Besides, he’s your son! I’m sure he will pass with flying colours!”
Indra laughed before saying “You seem rather confident.”
“There’s no reason not to be, especially when he has such aptitude for it!” Felix said and he winked.
Indra simply smiled. Then the smile became a frown as he thought about Felix’s suggestion.
“Floria…” he muttered. “That’s a far away region.”
“It’ll be worth it, I can guarantee it!” Felix said and he showed Indra a thumps-up by his hand.
Indra was unconvinced as he continued to think about it.
“Still… why couldn’t he just study in the capital of this region?”
“Study at the capital city of Rodfox?” Felix said and he sounded discontent. “Maybe, but I still will recommend him to attend the academy at Astral Academy.”
Indra was having trouble coming to a conclusion. Then he turned to Felix and asked him “Why do you want him to attend the academy in a region so far away like Floria?”
“Well… One reason is that I’ll be there.”
“I’ll be able to help him out, but the main reason is also the cost.”
“The cost?” Indra asked in surprise.
“Yes, the cost,” Felix said with a nod of his head. “It costs more to study at Radfox than it does at Floria and it’s a bonus if he gets scholarship.”
“I see,” Indra said and he nodded approvingly. “That actually makes sense.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Felix said eagerly. “So, will you decide to send him over to Floria region for his higher studies when he turns sixteen?”
“Hold your horses,” Indra said as he smiled at Felix’s obvious eagerness. “There is still four years till then. Before that, I will talk to Lakshmi and see what she thinks.”
“Lakshmi will agree since this will benefit Lakshman,” Felix said confidently.
“We’ll see…” Indra said and they smiled. Then he sighed in relief.
“What’s up?” Felix asked him with a curious expression.
“Oh nothing… Just glad we now have some options concerning studies and money,” Indra said.
“It helps to plan ahead you know,” Felix said proudly. “It’s something called Being a Responsible Parent!”
“I know, but I wasn’t talking about that exactly,” Indra said, looking at him severely.
“Then, what were you talking about?”
“I just realised our budget might get tight since Lakshmi is pregnant and will have another child soon.”
“Oh, I see…” Felix said. Then he froze and his eyes widened. He quickly turned to Indra with a shocked expression on his face.
“Lakshmi is pregnant?!” he exclaimed in a loud voice.
“Yes,” Indra said with a nod of his. “Didn’t I tell you?”
When Felix shook his head, Indra raised his eye brows.
“That’s odd. I could’ve sworn I told you…”
For a moment, they remained in silence, but that did not last for long. Felix suddenly started speaking in a loud voice.
“Man, that’s a big surprise! Lakshmi, pregnant! Yikes! I would’ve never thought you’d hide the cat!”
“Felix, lower your voice,” Indra said, but he knew how this will end.
Felix laughed heartily before continuing in his excitement in a loud voice.
“I wonder who the kid will be. Will it be a boy or girl? Can’t tell, can we? Oh, I know! I’ll use my See Through eyes and check it out for you if you like!”
Just then, a loud shout rang from somewhere inside the house.
“Shut up Felix! Otherwise, I will grill you!”
From the sound of it, Lakshmi was angry. Fearing another head punch, he quickly responded.
“I’m sorry! I won’t talk loudly.”
“Whatever!” she shouted. “Now, get inside all of you! I’ve prepared your breakfast! Especially Indra and Felix! If you two aren’t here in ten seconds, I swear I will burn your food into charcoal!”
Both Felix and Indra said and they turned to look at each other in surprise. For a few seconds, there was silence. Suddenly, there was a shouted countdown.
“10… 9… 8…”
“Ah! Hold on! Don’t burn food, it’ll upset the gods!” Indra shouted as he quickly jumped to his feet.
“More importantly, it’ll upset my stomach!” Felix shouted.
Together, they raced into the house and disappeared. Back outside, Lakshman and Ondine stared after them with wide eyes. Then they look at each other and raised their eyebrows.