Supporting Hope

 

 

“Mmm…”

 

Lakshman moaned softly as his consciousness slowly awakened through what felt like a haze, as if he was in a deep sleep. After a few seconds of dullness, he finally managed to open his eyes sightly and blinked quickly due to the dazzling light he was surrounded by. It took him another few seconds to come to his senses to his surroundings, which felt strangely soft.

 

Just then, he heard a familiar voice say, “Really…? You’re quite the slow waker, aren’t you?”

 

“H-Huh?” Lakshman asked in surprise while blinking quickly.

 

As his consciousness rapidly awakened, he finally became aware of his surroundings, which was filled with flowers. He blinked in surprise as he saw flowers blowing out of the ground in every direction that he could see.

 

“Flowers…? What the—?” he asked and he attempted to move his body.

 

He was surprised when he suddenly realised he could not move his body or to be precise, his body just would not budge. He quickly looked to both sides and was very surprised to find that his arms were bound to what appeared to be a large tree that he was bound to. It appeared that both his arms, legs and waist were bound to the tree tightly, not allowing him move them at all.

 

“What the…? Why am I bound to this tree? For that matter, where am I?” Lakshman asked his questions in a quick succession with a frown forming on his face.

 

Yet again, a familiar voice said, “Perhaps, if you bother to look over here, you will find your answers.”

 

“What?” Lakshman said in a surprised voice.

 

He turned his attention towards the owner of the voice and when he saw who it was, his eyes widened in shock. There was a swing several meters from him that was slowly and smoothly swinging back and forth rhythmically like a pendulum. Sitting atop it, with a look of amusement, was the last person he had expected to see; the Voice of the Phoenix.

 

“You!” Lakshman exclaimed in alarm and his face was quickly filled with anger and hatred.

 

“Yes. Me,” replied the Voice of the Phoenix smoothly while the swing continued moving back and forth. “Are you surprised to see me? I’m sure you are. Admit it.”

 

“You bastard!” Lakshman shouted at him and he attempted to move his body, but his restrains stopped him. “What the hell are you doing here? You shouldn’t be out in the light! You hate the light, you twisted freak!”

 

“Oh…! Powerful words that I must applaud you for,” said the Voice of the Phoenix and he clapped his hands lightly several times before stopping. “As for why I’m here, It’s all thanks to you. You gave me the means of being in the light despite my hatred for it.”

 

“What…?” Lakshman asked in a slow voice with a puzzled look on his face. “What do you mean I’m responsible for letting you bathe in the light that you hate so much? Answer me!”

 

The Voice of the Phoenix chuckled, but simply waved his finger at Lakshman without a response. The next moment, he swung his legs off the swing and dragged then on the flowers on the ground to stop the swinging movement. Lakshman watched his feet get dragged to a stop and was alarmed when the beautiful blooming flowers slowly turned black and died.

 

“Do you see all these the flowers and the trees growing here? Do you see this garden that every gardener dreams of?” the Voice of the Phoenix asked as he gestured in all directions.

 

“Yes… It’s beautiful…” Lakshman said slowly in a cautious voice, unsure why the Voice of the Phoenix was talking about it.

 

“It’s ugly!” the Voice of the Phoenix said sharply and surprised Lakshman.

 

He bent down and picked a flower off the ground and held it in front of him to show it to Lakshman, who blinked at it in confusion. For a moment, the beauty of the flower seemed to shin brightly in the light glowing from somewhere high above, but that all suddenly changed. The flower’s glow suddenly vanished and its entire body began to turn dark before it died in his hands.

 

“This is beauty,” said the Voice of the Phoenix in a satisfied voice as he looked at the dead flower in his hand with great happiness. “As the normality rots away and turns pitch black, the twisted beauty of it is revealed.”

 

At that moment, the flower suddenly shrivelled away split into pieces.

 

“How wonderful…” the Voice of the Phoenix said happily as he saw the pieces of the dead flower flutter to the ground. “This is so much more wonderful to watch than the trash grown by nature.”

 

“You freak of nature!” Lakshman shouted at him angrily and he struggled, but could not move his body. “Living beings of your twisted will never comprehend the beauty that nature holds dear! All you do is step on them without ever understanding the great value they possess.”

 

“Oh… I do understand the great value these things hold…” the Voice of the Phoenix said and a twisted expression formed on his face. “Their great value lies in us stepping on them, crushing them and utterly destroying them! That… is their greatest value…!”

 

As Lakshman glared at him fiercely, the Voice of the Phoenix shook his finger twice.

 

“Now, now… You don’t need to give me that look. Very soon, this ugliness will get fixed as the flowers and trees rot away and becomes nothing, it will be a wondrous paradise,” he said in a voice filled with great happiness.

 

Lakshman gritted his teeth angrily and asked, “Where is this place and why am I tied to this tree like this?”

 

The Voice of the Phoenix let out a mirthless laughter before he said, “I had to tie you up because you are a bad boy, otherwise, you wouldn’t behave yourself. As for where this place is… It’s your Unconscious Zone.”

 

Lakshman blinked in surprise as he slowly said, “My Unconscious Zone…? Wait… You don’t mean…?”

 

The Voice of the Phoenix clapped once more before he said, “Yes… It’s as you guessed. This is the world inside your mind or the so called, Unconscious Zone. All this time, it was black because of the Four Seals of Darkness, but with them gone, your Unconscious Zone manifested itself while, at the same time, making the scenery represent your nature. This garden full of flowers and trees show how pure hearted you are, which is sickening me just to be surrounded in it!”

 

“That’s right…” he slowly said in a quiet voice. “I broke the last seal because I… I wanted to destroy…”

 

“Correct!” said the Voice of the Phoenix and he nodded happily at him. “You flew into a rage and allowed your feelings to control you, which allowed the seal to completely break and release all the power it was sealing away. After that, it was fairly easy to bind you and take charge of your body.”

 

“What?!” Lakshman exclaimed sharply at the words he just heard. “You took control of my body?! What did you do…? You better not have done something terrible…!”

 

“Who can say really?” the Voice of the Phoenix asked in a casual voice with a shrug of his shoulders. “After all, I did destroy an entire continent and killed countless habitants of that continent.”

 

Lakshman was utterly shocked by those words and he gapped in shock at the man who committed those acts of evil.

 

“Y-You…” he began slowly in an alarmed voice. “You used my power… the Phoenix Power… to… to destroy an entire continent? You’re saying you killed… people with its power…?”

 

“Who cares?” the Voice of the Phoenix asked in a bored voice as he sat down on the swing casually. “It’s power and its purpose s for destruction. So, who cares how it’s used when the end result is achieved?”

 

“No…! You’re wrong!” Lakshman said to him in a sharp voice. “Power is something that is used to protect oneself from danger or help others in need! It isn’t supposed to be used for destruction, unless the necessity arises! Using it mindlessly for destruction makes you worse than the savage monsters of the wild! No! You’re lower than them you freak!”

 

As soon as he finished speaking, the Voice of the Phoenix began applauding him with a wide grin on his face. Lakshman was taken aback at why his enemy was applauding him like this with such a twisted expression on his face.

 

“Bravo! Really bravo!” the Voice of the Phoenix said cheerfully. “Those are quite the powerful and compassionate words! Really!” He paused for a moment before he said with his smile widening, “It’s just that there’s no one to hear you and pretty soon, you won’t even exist to share those words with anyone.”

 

“What?!” Lakshman exclaimed in a shocked voice and he began to feel fear gripping his heart.

 

“Yeah!” the Voice of the Phoenix said brightly as he began swinging again. “I suppose you didn’t notice while you were busy feeling angry at me, but I’m absorbing all of your power and that also includes your spiritual power. I’m going to absorb every last drop that you can give me before I can take control of your body and finally fulfil my ambition; destroy the world!”

 

Lakshman stared at his enemy in shock and slowly said, “No… It can’t be…”

 

While he spoke those words, he realised what the Voice of the Phoenix said was the truth. As he stood there, completely bound to the tree, he felt his power slowly leaving him as if it was being absorbed by something as the seconds went by.

 

“Dammit!” Lakshman bellowed angrily, outraged by what was happening and he struggling desperately to break free, but could not for some reason.

 

Watching him struggle, the Voice of the Phoenix laughed and said, “Yes! That’s it! Struggle with all your might! That way, I can absorb your power and life energy much quicker! Hahahaha!”

 

Lakshman stopped struggling and he glared at his enemy before he fiercely said, “You won’t get away with this…! You will pay for what you’ve done! I swear on my name and life; I will destroy you! I will make you pay! I—!”

 

“La, la, la!” the Voice of the Phoenix said in a bored voice before groaning heavily as he swung back and forth. “Seriously? Are those the only words that everyone knows to sprout out? How about something like ‘Please! Help yourself to my energy!’ or ‘I give up, so take my life and body as yours!’ At least, there’s some originality in mine, so why don’t you try for something in your final moment, fool?”

 

Lakshman glared at him fiercely as he said, “You want an original…? Then, how about this?!”

 

With an exertion of his power and using Wordless Incantation, he moved his right foot a little. That small movement was enough to activate the spell, which made a magic circle appear right near where the Voice of the Phoenix was swinging. The moment later, stone wall rose out of the magic circle at high speed and smashed into the swing, destroying it and sending the enemy flying several meters away.

 

“How’s that for originality?!” Lakshman bellowed at the stunned Voice of the Phoenix, who remained frozen on the ground as he did not expect such a surprise attack.

 

A few seconds later, the Voice of the Phoenix slowly picked himself off the ground before turning around to face Lakshman. He stared at the bound warrior with his eyes wide with an extremely dangerous look on his face. This made Lakshman realise that his earlier surprise attack enraged his enemy greatly.

 

“You know…” the Voice of the Phoenix began slowly in a deep and dangerous voice. “I hate you. I loathe with everything I have. You are everything that I love to destroy. Still, I chose to pity you and thought to end your life in a more sensible way instead of the usual pattern of torturing you, suffocating you and finally making you wish you had not born!”

 

He shook his head and sighed heavily before giving Lakshman a sad look that surprised the bound warrior.

 

“You brought this on yourself…!” the Voice of the Phoenix said as he raised a hand in the hand.

 

In an instant, black shimmering energy began glowing in the palm of his hand, which soon took the shape of a black sword. A moment later, several more black shimmering swords appeared to hover all around his hand that held the first black sword.

 

Without a moment’s pause, he hurled the held sword towards Lakshman as if he was throwing something at him and with it, the other black swords flew away. Before Lakshman knew what happened, the black swords flew through the air and pierced in his chest.

 

There was a moment of surprise before black lightning began zapping Lakshman’s spiritual body. He began to scream helplessly at how intense the pain was from being hit by the swords. Due to currently receiving the attack in his spiritual body, the intensity of the electricity was increased greatly.

 

“Uh…”

 

Lakshman let out a small sound in relief when the lightning stopped before he looked down at the black shimmering swords sticking out of his chest.

 

“Cursed blades…” he said quietly and felt a great wave of fear wash over him.

 

For a moment, the blades remained embedded in him, but they soon vanished into black particles of light. Once they were gone, black energy began emitting from the spot that they had pierced into his chest, causing him to suddenly feel very weak. The energy sustaining his spiritual body began to leave him as he soon realised that he was going to vanish completely.

 

“No…” he slowly said and his voice became very weak from losing his life energy so quickly. “This can’t… be…”

 

With no further energy to keep his consciousness active, he closed his eyes and his body slumped. The only reason he was not falling to the flower bedded ground was due to the bounds keeping him attacked to the tree. Even so, there was a definite change in his body as it slumped slightly, which the Voice of the Phoenix noticed.

 

He sighed and scratched the side of his head as he said, “Seriously… I should remember to stick to my own rules; no mercy and no chatting with enemies. I wasted so much time talking and fighting that calamity trash because I wanted to enjoy using this body.”

 

With a sigh, he walked back to sit on the swing and watched as Lakshman’s life force was released from the mortal wound he had sustained. Several minutes later, small particles of light began emitting from all around Lakshman’s body and the number increased as he began to vanish.

 


 

Lakshman felt himself drifting away in an empty space filled with darkness that no light could penetrate. He could feel his life fading away and he knew that very soon, his very existence will disappear completely from the Physical Plane. At this rate, he knew he will end up becoming just like the Decisive Player that had used up his spiritual energy to keep Lakshman alive.

 

“Ah, Decisive Player…” Lakshman muttered in a sad voice. “It looks like this is the end… After everything we’ve been through together and even after you gave your life to save mine, I still end up dying like this… What a disaster…”

 

He was very upset with himself and his fate of having to die in such a way.

 

“First Decisive Player, then my parents, my friends, who were the people that I trained at a young ag and finally, the people of Rodfox Kingdom… All of their lives were cut short brutally without mercy and now, it looks like it’s my turn to follow after them…”

 

It was not fear that was gripping his heart, but the fact that he was dying in such a way was what saddened him the most. Unable to help anyone and useless to save himself, he closed his eyes and sniffed just once as he resigned to the fact that he was going to disappear for good. In doing so, a small tear seeped out of his closed eyes and trickled down his face before hitting the dark floor with a flop sound.

 

In an instant, a blinding flash of light erupted somewhere in front of him, making him automatically tighten his already closed eyes in surprise.

 

He slowly opened his eyes and looked ahead when he saw something strange glowing brightly in white light

 

“What?! What’s that?!” he exclaimed in surprise as he did not understand what it was.

 

The light shined brightly for a few seconds before it dimmed to reveal an image that it was making earlier. He looked at the image and his eyes widened instantly when he recognised what the image was; it was the image with all of his wives on it. They were standing together side by side while smiling straight ahead at him as he looked on with a stunned look on his face. It even showed the face of one someone he did not recognise, but he knew whom she was to him.

 

“My wives…” he muttered slowly in a passionate voice. “The Nine Destiny Queens…”

 

At that moment, there was another flash of light slightly to his right and he saw the image of his father and mother, Indra and Lakshmi, standing there. They were also smiling straight ahead at him as he stared back at them with a shocked expression on his face.

 

“Father… Mother…” he slowly said as he looked from one to the other as tears formed in his eyes.

 

A moment later, there was yet another flash of light and once it dimmed, it revealed the image of a smiling Felix Phoron, the previous Phoenix Emperor. Lakshman slowly turned to look at him with a really sad expression formed on his face.

 

“You completed your father and husband, but even with your life, you couldn’t fulfil your duty as the Phoenix Emperor… Felix…”

 

In that instant, more and more flashes began occurring all around him until all the darkness was wiped out by the dazzling power of the light. As the lights dimmed, the images of people smiling at him were revealed, which shocked him as he recognised almost all of them.

 

“Stuart… Elder Rodrack… Camdra Beast Clan chief… Vika… The kids that I trained at a young age…” he slowly said as he recognised them and many of the individuals. “Everyone that died… I… I’m…”

 

In a chorus, every one of them said to him, “Giving up is not an order and giving in is not an option.”

 

Lakshman gasped in shocked when he suddenly heard them speak. He thought they were just the illusions of the people that he regretted not being able to be with and help.

 

“Do not allow yourself to perish with negative thoughts! Keep fighting to live! You must for our sake, their sake and the sake of the world,” said the chorus of many of the voices speaking to him in firm voices.

 

“It is your duty; your responsibility for the world,” said Felix and Lakshman blinked at him in surprise.

 

“It is your duty; your responsibility as the head of the family,” said Indra and Lakshmi in unison, which Lakshman simply looked at them with sad smile on his face.

 

“Remember…? You promised… You promised…” said Stuart with a raised finger, causing Lakshman to smile at him in surprise.

 

“Yeah… I remember…” Lakshman said slowly. “I won’t hold back… Not today… Not ever… That’s a promise.”

 

As Stuart’s smile widened with happiness, Lakshman’s attention was drawn to the brightly glowing image of his wives, including the ninth Destiny Queen he has yet to meet. Each of them, extended their right hands towards him in guidance.

 

“We will always be with you,” said his wives in unison. “That is what makes you our husband and us… your wives.”

 

“We may be gone, but we are not forgotten. We will always be remembered in the hearts of the people. That is why, you must live… You must!”

 

Lakshman looked around at everyone with an overwhelmed look on his face because he was very amazed. He could not believe that the projections of the people that he had either lost or constantly thinks about were encouraging him firmly to keep on living. Inwardly, he chuckled at himself for foolishly believing and accepting his demise without a fight.

 

He sniffed twice before he said, “I’m a not a big cry baby… I’m eighteen years of age and I’m already an adult with my beloved wives waiting for my return,” and he looked up at the image of his wives glowing dimly in front of him.

 

“Father… Mother…” Lakshman said slowly in a sad expression forming as he turned to face his parents. “I wasn’t there for you when you needed me the most while I foolishly thought nothing would happen to you… I was so wrong…”

 

He looked sad for a moment, but his face quickly brightened up with a smile as he said, “Still, I will ensure to carry on your duty of my sister on my shoulders! I will make sure that they will have a happy and wonderful life. This, I promise with my life and as your son.”

 

He turned to Felix and said, “Felix… I suppose there’s really nothing I can do for your side, but know that whoever you picked as the next Phoenix Emperor’s role, I will ensure that they will become someone you’d be proud of. This, I guarantee on my title as the Phoenix Titan.”

 

“Everyone… Thank you… I thank all of you for giving me encouragement…” he said while looking around at everyone else. “It was a foolish mistake on my part to wallow in sadness and negativity, but there’s hope! I was blind to it earlier, but I can see it now… vividly! So long as that hope exists, I will keep living for I am… the Phoenix Titan!”

 

They were all smiling happily at him and although he did not know whether they heard him or not, he was satisfied from seeing their smiling faces. He wished he could apologise to them many, many times for not being there when they needed him, but he decided not to. Instead, he would put that effort into what must be done from there onwards.

 

“I know what I must do now…” Lakshman said slowly and he nodded once before he looked at the smiling image of the Nine Destiny Queens. “Wait for me… I’ll be with you shortly.”

 

All of his eight, including the future ninth wife, nodded once and smiled happily back at him.

 

Lakshman’s smile slowly disappeared as he raised his arms up waist height while clenching them firmly. The next instant, he began surging with wild raging power that sent several shock waves in all directions. It did not buffet the watching onlookers of the people that have died. Instead, their smiles widened as if they could see what was taking place in front of them.

 

As he continued to surge with more and more power, Lakshman screamed, “UUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”

 

He was suddenly surrounded by golden-red aura that soon encased him in what appeared to be the shape of a large ball. It began to swirl over and over until it finally exploded wildly, blinding everything in sight at the sheer mass of the power.

 


 

The Voice of the Phoenix was lazily swinging on the swing while he yawned with a completely bored expression on his face.

 

“Just how long will absorbing his power take…?” he asked dully with half-closed eyes.

 

Lakshman’s spiritual body remained slightly slumped while still his arms, legs and waist were bound to the tree behind him. For a few seconds, the lights became extracted from his slowly disappearing spiritual body when, all of a sudden, the lights stopped being extracted. Instead, his body began to glow dimly, which was missed by the Voice of the Phoenix.

 

As Lakshman’s consciousness returned to his spiritual body, he clenched his fists tightly as the flow of his energy stopped from disappearing temporarily. The Unconscious Zone began to vibrate slowly, but its intensity began to increase quickly until finally, the entire zone began to shake as if it was experiencing an earthquake.

 

Noticing this, the Voice of the Phoenix stopped swinging to look around while saying, “What the heck is going on?”

 

He did not notice that Lakshman’s consciousness had returned and that he was fighting against the binds keeping him and his power in check. Lakshman continued to build more and more energy, drawing all that he can from both his spiritual energy and the physical energy surrounding them. After several seconds of struggle, Lakshman finally succeeded in building enough power to break free.

 

With brute force, he stood up and brought his arms out as he screamed, “UUUURRRRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”

 

The power suddenly got unleashed and he began surging with wild coursing power that sent a powerful shock wave in all directions. The Voice of the Phoenix was taken by surprise before he lost his footing and fell due to the shock wave slamming hard into him. It did not harm him in anyway, but it did startle him when he thought that his enemy was finally put to rest.

 

He quickly rose to his feet and straightened up to see Lakshman clenching his hands firmly while looking at him with a deadly look on his face as he surged with power while radiating in golden-red aura that surrounded him.

 

“What a pain!” the Voice of the Phoenix complained in annoyance. “You’re alive! Dammit and just when your spiritual body was going to turn into spiritual dust!”

 

“I may not be well versed in the spiritual sense, but I’m not that dumb enough to not know how to stop my spiritual body from disappearing!” Lakshman said to him sharply in a powerful voice. “Now, I have power—!”

 

“Yes and what’s you going to do with it huh?” the Voice of the Phoenix cut across him in a bored voice. “Take back your power? Punish me or something like the usual? Mmm? What’re you doing to do? Don’t you realise all you do to me will be wasted because of those cursed wounds on your spiritual body?”

 

Lakshman looked down at his chest and saw the black substance being released by the cursed blades that stabbed into him a moment earlier.

 

“This might be a problem, but it’s not enough to stop me from what I’m about to do to you!” he said fiercely before looking back at his enemy.

 

He extended his right hand and pointed it towards the Voice of the Phoenix before pointing his forefinger at his enemy with a fierce look on his face.

 

“I’m going to destroy you and then take what’s rightfully mine!” Lakshman said in a voice radiating with power. “You will never… I will never… let you get away with… anything!!!”

 

The last word got released in a roar and with it, he surged with more power that released another shock wave that buffeted against the Voice of the Phoenix. His enemy straightened up and began to laugh hysterically before looking at him with eyes filled with madness.

 

“Alright… Why not?” the Voice of the Phoenix said with a crazed expression on his face. “I’ll give you your well-deserved punishment for being pure hearted in your final moments!”

 

With that, he began to surge with power that is as strong as Lakshman’s, but he radiated in a deep violet aura that surrounded him. It was a dark looking and unpleasant aura that caused the flowers surrounding him to die out instantly.

 

Both the Phoenix Titan and the Voice of the Phoenix surged with powers and stared at each other menacingly as the decisive battle between them was about to commence.


Author’s Note

 

Hello my dear and wonderful readers! I hope that everyone is doing fine because I’m not exactly doing so. Just felt a great disappointment and I didn’t know what to do with it, so I used its energy to write this amazing chapter. So, I hope you all will like it. As ever, I’m still on holidays, but it doesn’t mean people don’t get sad moments even in holidays, right? I suppose life is just never straight with anyone. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and hope to see you again when the story continues!

 

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