Lakshman won the race, although it was a close call. He had an extremely late start, so Ondine and Sumara were very surprised he made it back and just won it.
It was several minutes later the kids began returning. Lakshman was nowhere in sight and Ondine was upset. She remembered him wearing his weighted training gear which would slow him down.
Suddenly, she saw a cloud of dust being raised into the air. It looked like something was charging at them at an incredible speed. A moment later, that something turned out to be none other than Lakshman.
He was charging towards them while creating a cloud of dust behind. It was causing the other runners to halt and rub the dust out of their eyes. He was panting heavily as he raced towards the finish line.
Soon, he was neck and neck with another runner, who was desperately trying his best to beat Lakshman. As they reached the finish line, Lakshman took a dive and just managed to cross the line before the kid.
The kid’s name was Martin Skuwartz and he complained “That’s cheating!”
Lakshman simply shrugged and stated that there were no rules against diving to finish the race.
A while later, everyone made it back. By then, they were all tired and they slumped to the ground in exhaustion. Only Martin seemed to be fine as he breathed easily as his breathing returned to normal.
“I think it’s about time we fight it out!” Lakshman said brightly as he looked at Martin.
“You’re on!” Martin said gleefully.
The kids moved to a certain distance and sat to watch the fight. However, there was no use for weapons. Martin did not know how to use a sword and Lakshman agreed to fight weapon-less, although his idea of weapon was different.
“My fists are also my weapons!” he stated proudly.
Then the fight began. It did not last that long though. Martin threw several punches at him, but they were dodged easily. Then he attempted to surprise Lakshman by attacking while spinning around in a circle, but it just made him dizzy.
Lakshman then delivered a body blow that had Martin reeling in pain. After healing him, Martin thanked him and said he was ready to begin the training and so were everyone else. Watching Lakshman’s movements made them eager to start their training.
However, Lakshman sternly told them “Don’t ever bully anyone with your strength! That also includes bullying the bullies. Okay?”
Some of them, looking puzzled, asked “How come?”
He simply sighed and said “Do you want to be a bully or a saviour?”
At that, they put their heads down in shame. Nodding at their appropriate response, he smiled once more.
“Okay! If you all can get up, we’ll start the training!”
After that, he made them train with a sword held with both hands. This was how his father, Indra, started his training from at the age of seven. Ondine, however, did not approve of it since it was the Water Sword Style.
She specialises in the North Sword Style and she attempted to make some train with it. However, she was dragged away by Sumara at Lakshman’s request. Lakshman sighed in relief as he watched Ondine go.
“Let go of me!” Ondine said as she struggled to free herself from Sumara’s strong grip.
After a while, Sumara finally lets her go. Ondine stood up and stretched her arms and re-adjusted her clothes. Then she looked at her indignantly while Sumara looked back coolly.
“Why’d you drag me away when I was only trying to help?”
“If he wanted your help, he would’ve asked,” Sumara said simply.
“B-But… teaching only one sword technique when mine is so much better!” Ondine said insistently.
“Our personal opinions should not cloud our judgement,” Sumara said sternly.
“I know!” Ondine said irritably and she looked away.
Sumara looked at her for a moment and smiled a little. Then she said “I understand your desire to be helpful to your master, but you might get in his way instead.”
“What do you mean?” Ondine asked, puzzled by her words.
“Think about it for a moment,” Sumara said softly. “The way he was getting their wooden swords ready and letting them adjust to it, doesn’t it seem like he has a training plan in mind?”
“I… I guess so,” Ondine said slowly.
“So… your interference might actually create a hurdle in the plan he didn’t intend to have.”
“I suppose,” Ondine said and looked unhappily. “If that’s the case, why couldn’t he just tell me straight up?”
This time, Sumara let out a chuckle and Ondine asked “What?”
“Aren’t you forgetting Lucky is an honest, sincere and well-mannered person?”
“I know he is, but—!”
“To him, telling you to stop interfering is something similar to being rude.”
“I am certain that’s how he takes it.”
“T-That’s stupid!” Ondine burst out angrily. “What has Mariana been teaching him?! At this rate, he’ll become a softy!”
Sumara chuckled and said “That may become a reality, but I don’t think so. He doesn’t strike me as someone who will sit back and let things do as they please.”
“Oh yeah…” Ondine said, remembering back to when the Two-Headed Cerberus monster attacked.
“So, let him be and help him if he asks. However, help him regardless of him not asking for your help if you feel he needs it.”
“I got it!”
Ondine smiled and she stretched her arms while moaning softly.
“Well then, I think I’ll get on with my own training.”
“I’ll leave you to it,” Sumara said and she walked back to observing Lakshman.
The training for everyone continued like this every day. Lakshman would assist with the training while doing his own. After that, Ondine did not interfere other than assisting sometimes at his request.
Like this, a month went by smoothly. The training for everyone was coming along well. Lakshman now finally became able to lift his swords two-hundred times. Ondine, on the other hand, was stuck at a hundred and fifty times with her sword swings.
“You’re probably stressing too much,” Lakshman said at one point after witnessing her pained face.
“I… don’t think so, master!” she said adamantly and attempted the bypass the swings limit.
The training the kids undertook under Lakshman’s supervision was also coming along nicely. They were finally able to swing their swords up to fifty times. Lakshman was quite impressed with their speed since it took him a bit longer to reach fifty.
A kid said “We hope to read two-hundred like you!”
Lakshman smiled and said reassuringly “You will, eventually.”
The one thing the kids and he had a disagreement with was the weighted training gear. After being surprised to know that he and Ondine were wearing them, they also wanted one. Lakshman, however, refused.
“Why” they had asked after being refused the seventh time.
“Because your bodies aren’t strong enough yet!” he said sternly.
But Lakshman shook his head and said “You’ve got a long way to go before you are ready, but don’t fret. I’m constantly watching you guys train. I know when you will be ready, okay?”
There was short pause as they thought about it. Then one kid asked “Promise?”
Lakshman hesitated slightly. He did not want to make promises easily. During his many lessons, Mariana taught him to never make a promise easily.
“If you break a promise, you are really bad boy!” she had said with a serious expression. “So, never make a promise easily and don’t break one at all costs!”
Thinking about it, he was unsure whether to promise them. He could see them growing stronger, but he did feel it will be some time before they are ready. It has only been more than a month since he began wearing the gear.
Knowing how difficult it was to wear them and move in them, he knew the kids did not stand a chance. So, he wanted to give them the chance to strengthen their bodies before getting to the serious stuff.
Just then, Ondine came over and said “We promise that you guys will get to wear the training gear once you are strong enough, okay?”
“Yay!” the kids said cheerfully and they went back to their training.
Lakshman turned to look her as he said incredulously “Ondine?”
“Why are you thinking so much over something this simple, master?”
“I… I didn’t want to make a promise that I might break,” he said as he lowered his head slightly.
Ondine stared at him for a moment. Then she said “You are over thinking about it.”
“I am?” he said, sounding surprised.
“Of-course,” she said adamantly. “When the kids get stronger, they start wearing the gears. It’s only natural to want to be strong, especially when their trainer is also wearing them.”
“I suppose,” he said uncertainly.
“And, to top it off, their desire to be just as strong as you will drive them to push themselves harder. In extreme cases, even if you refused, they would’ve done something similarly and hurt themselves instead.”
“I see,” he said and nodded in understanding. “That would’ve been terrible.”
“Indeed,” she said and smiled at him. “That’s why, master, you should think for the long term.”
“Okay,” he said with a sigh. “At-least, they won’t bombard with their requests from now on, hopefully.”
“Right,” she said. Then she looked curious and asked “Master, what do you plan to train them later on?”
At her question, he smiled and said “Magic Force and Energy Force.”