It was early in the morning when Lakshman woke up. He lay in bed with bleary eyes and mouth half open. Suddenly, he found himself in pain as his body ached all over. He moaned softly as he carefully shifted his body.
“Oww…” he muttered as gingerly sat up in bed.
Then he felt something attached to his right arm as if something was holding him. He shifted the blankets and was surprised to find Tetra. She was sleeping while she hugged his right arm. He was sure he went to bed alone before realising that Tetra must have come out during the night.
“Tetra…” he muttered with a sigh.
From this, he realised why his body was aching all over. She slept close to him while hugging and he was unable to sleep like he normally did. Because of this, he had to sleep stiff and ended up his body becoming stiff.
He leaned forward to carefully prize his arm off her. It was no use. She was holding onto him tightly as if she would never let it go. After a couple of attempts at trying to budge his arm away, he gave up.
“Tetra,” he said softly as he carefully tried waking her up. “Let go of my arm.”
Tetra simply made a “Mmm” sound and she shifted slightly, but did not let go of his arm. He tried a few more times, but Tetra continued sleeping on as if she could not hear him. Unsure what else to do, he just sat there and stared at her.
Looking closely at the sleeping figure of Tetra, he was suddenly struck by how cute she was. Then he compared her cuteness with Sasha, Felix’s and Rasha’s daughter. He was not sure why, but he felt Tetra was cuter.
Tetra made another sound with her mouth and smiled a little. Lakshman raised an eyebrow and wondered whether she was pretending to sleep. Suddenly, he thought of something and he grinned cheekily as he stared down at the sleeping Tetra.
A while later he met up with Ondine when she was on her way for morning training. With a look of astonishment on her face, Ondine asked “Master… What are you doing?”
Lakshman looked at her in surprise as they walked down the stairs. Then she gestured at his right arm. There, holding tightly on to him and still sleeping, was none other than Tetra. He was holding her as she hugged him effortlessly.
“Um…” Ondine said hesitantly, staring at the scene before her with confusion. “I-Isn’t she… heavy, master?”
“Not really,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders. “At first I thought she was heavy and I could not life her. Then I thought that I should assume she weighs the same as my sword. I mean, she is my Sacred Spirit after all.”
“I see…” she said, nodding in understanding. “But, master… you know that most would think you are crazy with the kind of stunts you keep pulling, right?”
“I guess, but what’s wrong with this?”
She paused for a second as if she was thinking. Then she shook her head and said “No… it’s nothing. Never mind what I just said, master.”
“Okay,” he said and suddenly became cheerful. “Anyway, time for some morning training!”
Together and Tetra hugging his arm, they walked out of the house. They soon heard the sound of fast breathing followed by sword swings. Looking towards the source, they saw Indra training. He wore a serious expression as he moved his body rhythmically with the swing of his sword.
“Morning, dad!” Lakshman called cheerfully as they walked over to him.
Hearing his son’s greeting, Indra stopped training and said “Ah, good morning you two. You’re up rather early today.”
“It’s because we wanted to start our training!” Lakshman said brightly.
“Ah!” Indra said, nodding his head at his son’s statement. Then he made a puzzled expression as he asked “Mind telling me why?”
“Well… The battle with the monster made me realise how weak I am right now. That’s why… I want to be ready for anything that can happen in the future.”
Indra’s eyes widened in amazement and he shouted “That’s the spirit!”
“Of-course! There is no telling what sort of danger we will face. So, I don’t see anything wrong with becoming strong to face off against danger of tomorrow!”
Lakshman stared at his father with glittering eyes and said “Wow…!”
“Always prepare for danger. That’s another rule my master taught me during my training.”
Indra and Lakshman looked at each other with grins on their faces. Ondine watched them with an exasperated expression on her face. Just then, Indra noticed Tetra hanging onto Lakshman’s right arm.
“Lakshman, what are you doing with Tetra hanging around like that?” he asked, looking puzzled. “Let her go already.”
“Dad, Tetra is the one hanging onto me and is not letting go of me!” Lakshman complained as he attempted to budge her off his arm.
“I see,” Indra said as he nodded his head. Then he said “Let’s see if she likes this…”
He approached Lakshman and raised his hands towards her. The next instance, he began to tickle her. Tetra began to laugh wildly and quickly let’s go of Lakshman’s arm. She lands on the ground and sat blinking in confusion.
“There!” Indra said triumphantly.
“Thanks dad!” Lakshman said, grateful for his help. “Next time, I’ll try that as well.”
“Master~!” Tetra said indignantly as she slowly rose to her feet. “That hurt~!”
Indra came closer and stared at her through narrowed eyes. Tetra stared back with apprehension and she drew closer to Lakshman.
“I don’t know what your problem is, Sacred Spirit, but please do not give trouble to my son, okay?”
He smiled, but Tetra looked frightened and said “Master, this man is scary~!”
“Huh?!” Lakshman exclaimed in disbelief when he looked down at her.
“Oh? I’m scary, am I?” Indra said thoughtfully. He suddenly made an evil smile and said “You behave yourself, young miss. Otherwise, it’s punishment time!”
Frightened, Tetra quickly ran towards the house and disappeared inside. They looked after her and then turned back to looking at each other.
“Was that necessary, dad?” Lakshman asked hesitantly.
Indra sighed and shrugged his shoulders before saying “Kids don’t behave themselves unless you are strict with them.”
“I don’t know, dad…” Lakshman said hesitantly as he stared back at the house. “It felt more like a threat than being strict.”
“Really?” Indra said, sounding surprised. “I thought I did a good job. I mean, I did imitate my master.”
Lakshman did not know what to say. He simply stared at his father in disbelief.
“Anyway,” Indra said as he changed the subject. “You two better start training before breakfast. Otherwise, you’ll feel sick.”
Lakshman and Ondine nodded in understanding. A month ago, Lakshman fell sick because of training late in the morning and eating breakfast right after. It took him some time to recover, but he has made sure to train early before breakfast.
Indra went back to his training while Lakshman and Ondine began theirs. Lakshman and Ondine did five laps around the house. Then they swung their swords every hundred times and took five minutes break. Very soon, the morning sun rose into the sky and dazzled them with its bright ray of light.
“Alright! Training is over!” Indra said after an hour and a half later.
They put their practice swords away and walked into the house. Ondine went upstairs to the bath first, then Lakshman and finally Indra. Once they were all done with their bath, they returned to the living room.
Lakshman found Tetra covering under the blankets in his bed. It took him a few minutes to get her to leave the room and enter the dining room. Even so, she became very frightened when she saw Indra sitting at the table and eating.
“What did you do?” Lakshmi asked Indra when she came with plates of food for them.
“Nothing… I was just being strict earlier,” Indra said honestly before muttering “although… it might have backfired.”
“You don’t say,” she said sternly and she left the room.
Very soon, everyone in the family were sitting at the dining table and eating food. Lakshman was surprised to see Tetra eating happily despite her fear of Indra. Very soon, she was the first to finish her food and she leaned back in her chair and looked very happy.
“I love you, Lakshi,” Tetra said happily when she turned to Lakshmi.
There were different reactions to this. Lakshman’s eyes widened in shock and he began to cough. As he began to choke, Ondine quickly assisted him while looking, equally surprised, at Tetra. Mariana did not change her facial expression, but she blinked in surprise. Indra spew the water was drinking in shock.
“It’s Lakshmi, not… Lakshi!” he exclaimed as he stared at her in disbelief.
“Lakshi,” Tetra said stubbornly.
They continued to state the name over each other, but they were suddenly interrupted by Lakshmi.
“You two, enough!” she exclaimed and startled them into silence.
They turned and looked at her apprehensively. Lakshmi was looking sternly at the both of them. Then she smiled as she turned to Tetra and said “I’m okay with being called that.”
“Huh?!” Indra exclaimed in disbelief as he stared at her. “What do you mean you like being called that?!”
“Well… think about it,” Lakshmi said patiently. “It has the same ring as the word ‘Pakṣi’.”
“A bird… you like having your name sound similar to that of a bird?!” Indra asked incredulously.
Lakshmi turned to look at him with an eyebrow raised and said “You know I like birds.”
Indra struggled to form words and stuttered for a few moments.
Then, Lakshmi smiled and said “Besides, what good would it do us to argue with a kid?”
“B-But still… Lakshmi…”
“And anyway… it’s not like the name sounds too stupid, does it?”
Indra stared at her for a few seconds. Then he sighed and shrugged his shoulders in defeat. Lakshmi smiled and rose to her feet. Together with Mariana, she picked up the finished plates and headed towards the kitchen.
After a few seconds pause, Lakshman asked “Dad?”
Indra made a sound that sounded like “Mmm?”
“I’m wondering… is there any way to… um… increase our training?”
Indra turned to him and simply looked at him for a few seconds in silence. Then he said “So… you want the training to be more intense?”
“Yes,” Lakshman said and nodded.
Indra nodded as well. Then he turned to Ondine as if he was checking for her consent. Recognising the indirect question he posed at her, she also nodded. Indra nodded in understanding. Then he closed his eyes and rested his chin on his hand, deep in thought.
A few minutes later, his eyes opened and he suddenly smiled as if he thought of something interesting. Looking at them, his grin widened and he suddenly looked excited.
“I’ve got a brilliant idea!” he said. “It might be intense, but it might be exactly what you’re after.”
“What is it, dad?” Lakshman asked eagerly.
Indra smiled and said “Weighted training!”