They walked along the road for a while. On the way, they met and greeted fellow people who were headed for work. Everyone was busy, but they had smiles on their faces. They cheerfully talked to them before parting ways.
Then they reached the crossing where the road split into two directions. Felix got confused when he saw the split roads, but Lakshman and Ondine continued walking along the road. They knew where they were going and he quickly caught up to them.
“Please tell me beforehand about those things,” he said once he caught up to them.
“Oh? I thought you were with us,” Ondine said in surprise.
“I was, but… I got confused with the roads and nearly lost sight of you,” Felix said with a sigh.
“It would’ve been your fault, you know, if you lost sight of us,” Ondine said sternly.
After walking for some time, they finally arrived.
“Wow…!” Felix exclaimed in awe as he stared ahead of him.
Tall trees lined in rows as they stretched into the distance on either side. A cool breeze blew which gave a cooling feeling as they stood at the entrance to the forest.
A moment later, they walked into the forest. As they walked, Felix was looking around in wonder.
“This forest is…” Felix said in a wondering voice.
“Is quite amazing, isn’t it?” Lakshman said brightly.
“Well… it certainly is, but…”
“I… can feel a strange aura emanating from the forest.”
“Naturally there would be,” Ondine said in a matter-of-fact tone. “This forest is protected by the Forest Elves.”
“Eh?” Lakshman said in surprise. “Forest Elves? They’re here?”
He started looking around as if he will see them skulking around in the trees.
Ondine shook her head before saying “They don’t come out in plain view so that people can see them, you know.”
“Oh? They don’t huh,” Lakshman said and he let out a sigh of relief.
Ondine looked at him with quizzical look. She was confused at his relieved reaction once he knew the Forest Elves do not appear before visitors.
“Ah, the Forest Elves,” Felix said with a smile. “They are known to be very protective of the forests, but can be playful.”
“Playful?” Lakshman asked.
“That’s right, they can be very playful,” Felix said as he nodded at Lakshman. “They pull pranks on you when you least expect it.”
Lakshman’s eyes widened slightly. Then he turned to Ondine and questioned her with his eyes. She looked at him, sighed and finally nodded.
“Their pranks can be quite annoying on anyone,” she said tiredly.
“I… see…” Lakshman said, blinking in surprise.
“I don’t know if you remember, but you were also targeted by one of their pranks, master.”
“What?” Lakshman said in surprise. “I was?”
“Yes,” Ondine said with a nod of her head.
“I wasn’t there at that time, but I heard it from the Spirit Guardian protecting the water spirits at that time,” Ondine said.
“It was a few days before we met master.”
“What? A few days before we met?” Lakshman said, sounding surprised at her words.
“Let’s see…” she said thoughtfully. “Do you remember… during the time when you explored in the forest and came to the edge of a cliff?”
Lakshman thought about what she said and tried remembering.
“Ah!” he said as he finally remembered. “That cliff broke off and that cat nearly fell!”
“That’s right,” Ondine said with a nod. “That was a prank pulled by the Forest Elves.”
“Eh?!” Lakshman said in a shocked voice.
He came to a stop and they stopped as well. They turned to see him staring at Ondine with wide eyes of horror.
“They pulled such a…but why? That was dangerous! I or the cat could’ve died!” he exclaimed.
This time, Ondine made an annoyed expression with her face.
“Apparently, those were the young Forest Elves that pulled it off,” she said. “They simply wanted to see how you handled such a dangerous situation.”
Lakshman was speechless at her words. Felix, on the other hand, nodded in understanding.
“I see,” he said. “Those Forest Elves must have thought it was playful to do that. After all, they don’t exactly have any feelings for the people they pull their pranks on.”
“Even so, they pulled a prank on master, who is just a kid!” Ondine said angrily. “No, not just master! It would have been dangerous for anyone who fell for such a dangerous prank!”
“True… Very true…” Felix said in agreement. “Okay, I guess I’ll speak with them as well. Pranks are okay so long as they are not life threatening. ”
“Um… do you like them pulling pranks?” Lakshman asked, staring at Felix in surprise.
“It has nothing to do with like or dislike,” Felix said with a shake of his head. “It’s in their nature to pull pranks on unweary travellers.”
“You can’t change what’s born from nature, especially when they love doing it. However, they can control how they go about doing it. That way, they at least give chance for people to not get seriously hurt from getting pranked upon.”
“Ah, that makes sense,” Lakshman said, nodding in understanding.
Then they went on their way. For a few minutes they walked in silence, listening to the pleasant sounds the forest made. Suddenly, a loud rustling noise was heard from ahead of them. The next thing they knew, a round like leafy ball flew at them, aimed directly at Lakshman.
“Eh?” Lakshman said as he reacted to the flying leafy ball, a little too late.
He yelled in pain as the ball made up of leaf smacked into his face. With the hard smack, he fell backwards and landed on his back to the ground.
“Master!” Ondine exclaimed in alarm and she quickly knelt down to check on him. “Are you alright?”
“Y-Yeah…” Lakshman muttered, slowly sitting upright and rubbed his face. “Oww, my face… That hurt! What… was that?”
“A Leaf Ball,” Felix said.
He bent down and picked up the ball.
The ball was made completely of leaf which held tightly. It was a spherical form taken the shape of a ball completely covered by leaves.
“Leaf Ball?” Lakshman asked in surprise. “Is that a… magic spell?”
“That’s right Lakshman,” Felix said with a nod.
“Eh…? But I didn’t hear any incantations or anything.”
“That’s because it was Voiceless Incantation,” Felix said, lowering his voice. “Which means…?”
Felix narrowed his eyes and he started looking around them. Meanwhile, Lakshman was taken aback by the term Felix used.
“Voiceless Incantation?” he asked, turning to Ondine. “Do you know about it Ondine?”
“Eh?” Ondine said looking surprised. “Sorry master, I don’t.”
“I see…” Lakshman said with a shrug of his shoulders. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just ask Felix and find out… Felix?”
He turned and saw Felix turning looking this way, then that way and finally all around them. His expression was serious and his eyes narrowed. It was apparent that he was wary about something.
Suddenly, his eyes became sharp and he stood staring at something. There were two trees adjoined together and he stared at them with sharp eyes.
“Come out now!” Felix shouted, continuing to stare sharply at the two trees. “There is no use in hiding anymore!”
Time passed, but there was no response. Silence followed for several more seconds. Felix closed his eyes and took a deep breath before breathing out with ease. Then his eyes flashed open and he glared at the two trees.
“By my command, as the Phoenix Emperor, I order you to reveal yourself!” He bellowed.
In that instant, power started surging from Felix. It caused the wind to become still, but the air was tense. Lakshman’s and Ondine’s eyes widened in shock as the tension in the air caused them to feel fear.
A moment later, they heard voices.
“Please, O’ mighty Phoenix Emperor. Spare us!”
In that instant, the adjoined trees suddenly split and there, appeared before them, were two Forest Elves.
“Wha?!” Lakshman exclaimed in shock as he stared at them.
He was shocked at the sudden appearance of the two Forest Elves. One second, he was staring at the adjoined trees. The next, the trees suddenly split and he found himself staring at the forms of these two Forest Elves.
“Calm down master. They are the Forest Elves,” Ondine said reassuringly.
“What?!” Lakshman said in shock. “These are the Forest Elves?”
The two Forest Elves turned their heads and looked at Lakshman. Their fearful expressions on their faces suddenly changed to that of displeasure.
“We meet again, Lakshman Chand.”