Worse than Monkeys

 

It has been a few weeks since then and their training has been coming along nicely. Lakshman finally became able to swing his swords a hundred times while wearing his weighted training gear. Ondine also achieved the same feet while also wearing her weighted training gear.

 

“You are doing great!” Indra complimented them one fine morning as he looked at their progress. However, he added “But you need to keep it up! You’ll be increasing the number of times you lift the swords.”

 

“We’re doing the best that we could, Indra,” Ondine replied as she paused while breathing quickly.

 

“Well… it’s not good enough!” he said sharply. “I can train monkeys who can train better than you guys!”

 

“W-What?” Ondine said looking taken aback, but Lakshman’s reaction was the complete opposite.

 

“R-Really?” Lakshman said as he blinked in surprise at his father’s words.

 

“You don’t believe me? Fine! The next time I go to see my master, I’ll bring you along. You’ll see for yourselves the money my master tamed.”

 

“Your master has a pet monkey?” Ondine asked in astonishment.

 

“Yes, but it’s more a friend than a pet actually,” Indra said with a wide smile. “That monkey sure was good. I competed against it in several speed contests.”

 

“Speed contests?” Lakshman asked, sounding puzzled by the term. “What’s that, dad?”

 

“Well, it was originally called Catch the Monkey, but I felt it was somewhat lame and changed it to Speed Contest.”

 

“Why, dad?”

 

“That contest was held to test the contestant’s speed against one another. My master often used it to make me chase after the monkey.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

“Yes, it is so,” Indra said with a nod. “I chased after that monkey several times and I was exhausted before I caught up to it. It also didn’t help when I was wearing heavy weighted training gear.”

 

“It must have been hard on you, dad,” Lakshman said in awe.

 

Indra smiled and waved his hand as he said “Not really, but catching the speedy money took me nearly three years.”

 

“Wow! Three whole years to catch a… monkey?!” Lakshman exclaimed in amazement.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Ondine said unimpressed. “I don’t believe it took you three years to catch a monkey!”

 

“Hey, believe what you want to believe,” Indra said with a shrug of his shoulders. “I’m telling you the truth and if you don’t believe me, you can always find out for yourselves.”

 

“Yes… I think going to see your master might have merit,” Ondine said thoughtfully.

 

“Ondine… what are you planning?” Lakshman asked apprehensively.

 

“Oh, nothing bad, master,” Ondine said reassuringly with a smile. “Since Indra is a terrible instructor, I thought we could train under his master.”

 

“Oi, don’t say that to my face!” Indra exclaimed and he looked irritated.

 

“Then where do you want me to say it? To your back? I thought speaking badly about someone behind their backs is worse than speaking directly in front of them.”

 

“No! It’s other way around!”

 

“So you say, but you don’t seem all that annoyed or anything.”

 

Indra eyed her sternly as he said “You do realise that I am getting very irritated, right?”

 

“You are?” Ondine said, sounding surprised. “Where? I can’t see it.”

 

Indra made a frustrated noise in his mouth. Then he sighed and said “For crying loud, let’s just change subject, shall we? All this rudeness is getting to my head.”

 

“Sure,” Ondine said with a shrug. Then she added “It’s your fault for starting it.”

 

“What?!” Indra said in shock as she stared at her while she went back to training.

 

Lakshman watched the two of them argue for a little while and sighed. Now that they went their way, he finally got to be alone with his father.

 

“Dad, I got something to ask,” he said to Indra.

 

“What are you doing, Lucky? If you got a question, just ask away!” Indra said as he chuckled.

 

“Oh… okay then,” Lakshman said with a nod and went to ask his question. “What’s the name of the money your master… uh… is friend with?”

 

“Mumble,” Indra said simply.

 

“Huh?”

 

“That’s the monkey’s name, Mumble.”

 

“W-Why ‘Mumble’?”

 

Indra smiled and said “I asked the same question and my master said ‘because he mumbles’.”

 

Lakshman raised an eyebrow and Indra nodded knowingly. Then they went back to their training in the morning. Suddenly, Mariana ran out of the house and reached Indra. They talked a bit and his eyes widened at whatever she said. Then, together, they quickly walked back into the house.

 

While they were talking, Lakshman and Ondine paused their training. Watching them leave, they looked at each other with puzzled expressions on their faces.

 

“I wonder what was up,” Lakshman asked.

 

“Don’t know,” Ondine said.

 

They remained in silence for a few seconds before returning to their training. They trained for another half-an-hour when someone appeared at the gates.

 

“Lucky? Lucky, you there?” said the voice of the person from the gates.

 

Lakshman stopped his training and went over to greet their visitor. The visitor turned out to be Stuart Mardak. Lakshman smiled widely once he realised who it was and Stuart smiled back when he saw Lakshman.

 

“Good morning, Stuart. What brings you to my home so early?”

 

“Oh! I just came over to see if I could train with you guys now,” Stuart said, brining with excitement.

 

“Uh…” Lakshman said and he turned to look at Ondine.

 

Ondine came to his support and asked “Why do you want to train with us, Stuart?”

 

“Well…” Stuart said and hesitated for a moment. Then he said “It’s that attack of the monster that made me become aware that I need to become strong. I mean, I was useless while you guys went around and saved everyone else!”

 

“So you thought you could train with us to get stronger, right?”

 

Stuart nodded and he looked eagerly at them as he asked “Can I train with? I won’t misbehave or do anything stupid. I just want to get strong to help my family. Please?”

 

“U-Um…” Lakshman said and hesitated and he made eye contact with Ondine.

 

He sent her a message asking what he should do. In response, Ondine closed her eyes and nodded her head at him. He took this to mean that he should accept the request. He sighed and he turned back to face Stuart who was nearly dancing from sheer excitement.

 

“Okay, Stuart. You can train with us from now on,” he said and smiled.

 

Stuart’s eyes widened and he looked shocked for a moment. Then the shock was quickly replaced by pure happiness.

 

He shouted “Yay!” and he grabbed Lakshman’s hands and shaken them vigorously. “Thank you very much, Lucky! I really appreciate it!”

 

“N-No worries,” Lakshman said as his hands were shook very quickly.

 

Stuart finally lets his hands go and said “So? Should I start my training right away or…?”

 

“No!” Lakshman said quickly with a shake of his head. “It’s already morning and I don’t think I can train being tired myself. So, how about we start training from tomorrow onwards? What do you think, Ondine? Don’t you agree?”

 

“Yes, master,” Ondine said with a nod of her head when he turned to look at her.

 

“Good! Then, tomorrow it is!” Lakshman said and he smiled when he turned back to face Stuart.

 

“Awesome!” Stuart said happily. Then he said “There will be a few more joining me. Is that okay?”

 

“That’s okay, but be careful that they don’t cause a problem, you know.”

 

“Sure! They’ll be careful!”

 

“Good!”

 

With that, they smiled and Stuart sprinted away and he quickly disappeared into the distance. Lakshman watched him disappear and sighed.

 

“What’s the matter, master?”

 

“Oh…? Nothing… Just thinking that things are going to get interesting around here,” he said with a smile.

 

“At-least we won’t be bored just training by ourselves from now on,” she said and she also smiled.

 

“I suppose so,” he said in agreement. Then he added “but I think we should be careful.”

 

“Why, master?”

 

“Think about it, Ondine. We’re way stronger than those kids. So I think we should be careful with the training.”

 

“Master, aren’t you forgetting you’re also a kid… just like them?”

 

“I-I know, but I’m stronger than them even as a kid!”

 

“Master…!” she said sternly and he relented.

 

“Oh, fine!” he said in resignation. “We’ll just be careful with how we train them, alright?”

 

“That’s much better, master,” Ondine said and nodded.

 

As they made their way back into the house, he said “Maybe we should dad for help as well?”

 

“I don’t know… he doesn’t strike as the guy who would train anyone that appears at his doorstep,” Ondine said apprehensively.

 

“Oh, don’t be so negative, Ondine! I’m sure dad won’t say no if I were to ask him,” Lakshman said brightly.

 

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