The next day, Lakshman told his family about Sumara’s decision to put him to test on his birthday.
“Eh? Sumara told you that?” Lakshmi said with a surprised expression on her face.
“Yes, mum,” Lakshman said gloomily as he stared down at his food.
“It’s only obvious anyway,” Indra said, nodding as if he understood her decision. “Lucky learned so much, it’s about time he’s put to the test.”
“You don’t sound all that surprised,” Lakshmi said as she looked at him suspiciously. “By any chance, did you already know about it?”
“Well… yeah… she told me a few weeks ago.”
“That explains it… but I have to wonder… did she decide or did you have a hand in it?”
“What are you accusing me off?! I swear I am innocent!”
“Most of the time you aren’t.”
They glared at each other. Then Indra sighed and said “In any case, it’s been decided. What’s the point in arguing about decided things?”
“I’m not arguing!” she said indignantly.
“What are you talking about?” he said with a half-laugh. “You sound like you have a complaint to get off your chest.”
“Oh really…? And? What could that be?” she queried curiously.
“How should I know? I can’t read minds,” he said with a shrug.
“How unfortunate,” Lakshmi said and she sounded very disappointed. “If you had, it would’ve helped you so many ways.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the time your master put you to the Water Sword Saint test. You passed the test, but…”
“What happened, mum?” Lakshman asked curiously and he looked eagerly at her.
“No, no, no!” Indra said adamantly and he looked firmly at Lakshmi. “There is no point in talking about it.”
Lakshmi hesitated and she looked at him sternly. Then, with a smile on her face, she said “He was blasted into the mountain.”
“What?!” Lakshman exclaimed in shock.
“Hey!” Indra shouted angrily.
“At-least he passed the test even though it took him a few days to wake up.”
“Lakshmi… No!” he said and glared at her.
“What? I’m just telling him how you became a Water Sword Saint.”
“That’s not the point! I don’t need you telling him rubbish!”
Lakshmi looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Then, as if a sudden realisation dawned on her, she smiled cheekily at him. He narrowed his eyes as if he was expecting more trouble from this.
“What are you smiling?”
“I just realised… you’re embarrassed about it, aren’t you?”
“Most people usually get a pat on the back or a shake hand. Instead, you got sent smashing into the mountainside as your reward.”
“Give me a break!” he said irritably. “Master just accidently used all of his might on me! That was no reward or something stupid you keep sprouting on about.”
“Geez,” Lakshmi said and sighed. Then she turned to Lakshman and asked “What will you do, Lucky?”
“Sorry?” Lakshman said uncertainly. “What do you mean, mum?”
“I’m asking you what you are going to do till then; Practice? Continue training? Or prepare for whatever Sumara might test you on?”
“Well… we can be sure that she will test him on his use of magic,” Ondine said from beside him.
“At-least we’re sure of that, but she could test him on other things.”
“Like what? What else could she test master on?”
“Hmm… I don’t know… perhaps his Energy Force control and various magic spells?”
“Ah!” Ondine said at the realisation. “She could give him a challenging sequence of things to perform to pass.”
“What are you two on about?” Indra said as he intervened between them. “Sumara knows Lucky isn’t good at those mysterious stuff.”
Lakshmi turned her gaze and looked sharply at him and he looked back unflinchingly.
“Are you underestimating our son’s capabilities?” she asked curtly.
“No,” he said with a shake of his head. Then said “I’m being realistic. I don’t want to give Lucky false hopes or make him arrogant.”
“The only one who is prideful and arrogant in this household is you,” Lakshmi said flatly.
“No I’m not!” he said quickly.
“No way!” she said disbelievingly. “Remember that time a wandering swordsman came through town?”
“Yeah… What about him?”
“You recklessly challenged him to a duel. You proudly boasted about being the undefeated warrior in town and all that stuff. In the end, what happened?”
“I…” he began and hesitated, looking uncomfortable.
“What happened?” Ondine asked curiously.
“He got totally beaten!” Lakshmi said seriously. “Then he said “Don’t be so proud of your average skills, loser!””
“Wow…!” Ondine said in surprise and looked at Indra’s frustrated face with pity. “You must’ve been a real jerk back then. When did this happen?”
“A year before Lucky was born. I was really upset because he got himself into that mess.”
“Argh!” Indra shouted and be banged on the table.
While she was telling them about his misadventure, he was fidgeting. He really disliked speaking about it and attempted to catch Lakshmi’s attention, but Lakshmi clearly ignored him. As the frustration, grew into anger, his temper finally hit its maximum.
After banging the table, he looked at Lakshmi huffily and said “I’d like to see you do any better, you good-for-nothing idiot!”
His words echoed throughout the room. Then he continued speaking angrily to her.
“Why is it that each and every time you open your mouth you always say stuff that makes me so mad! Besides, I wasn’t arrogant or anything! I challenged him to a fight to test my skills! I was forced to do that pride act because he kept refusing!”
He breathed heavily once he finished and the room was suddenly become intently silent. He looked at each other them with angry eyes and frustrated expression on his face.
“So you see… I don’t have that pride stuff…”
“But… you do have a lot of arrogance,” Lakshmi said slowly with her head down.
“Uh… What?” he said uncertainly as she rose to her feet.
Indra suddenly felt a chill go down his spine and he turned to see his wife’s hair standing on end. Just once glance and he knew his wife was mad, but he did not understand why.
“L-Lakshmi?” he asked hesitantly.
“I was only joking around, but you got so serious and said so much…” she said slowly with her long hair flowing around her and covering her eyes. “I understand, but… you shouldn’t have lost your temper.”
“B-But… you were stretching the joke,” he protested and her hair shifted to reveal her glaring menacingly at him.
He flinched as she said “Perhaps, but you should’ve just told me to stop the normal way. Instead, you go and say the taboo words!”
“I… I did?” he asked and he looked confused.
She looked at him as anger began to spread all over her face and said “Remember? Good-for-nothing! Remember?!”
He was lost for words as his mouth hung open. Sweat began forming on his face as he began to panic. The forbidden words, the hated words Lakshmi disliked so much to be called by. As a kid, she did not have talent in anything in particular and everyone called her ‘good-for-nothing’.
“I-I’m sorry! I’m really sorry!” he pleaded desperately.
Then the air began to flow fast and the energy flowed everywhere. Lakshmi, then, raised her right fist into the air and readied it. She glared at him one last time and he desperately begged.
“Please! Lakshmi! I’m really sorry! Please!”
But it was too late. In an instant, she brought her fist and panted it on his face. There was a frozen moment as nothing moved. Slowly, Indra was pushed back. Then, with a loud bang, the wall was destroyed as he was sent flying out the house.
He flew for several meters before rolling to a stop. There, he lay, unmoving as Lakshmi straightened up and breathed a sigh in accomplishment.
“Ah~!” Lakshmi said, sounding relieved as she stretched her arms. “That was refreshing.”
“Dad!” Lakshman shouted and he jumped to his feet.
Lakshmi waved at him to sit down and said “Don’t worry about your idiotic dad, Lucky.”
“B-But…” he said and he stared at the open space created in the wall.
“He’s taken far worse punches to the face than that. So, he’ll be fine!” she said and looked away.
“Madam… you destroyed the wall…” Mariana said, unimpressed by her show of strength.
“Yeah, but they can be repaired quite easily.”
“But, the money…”
“Why waste money when we have a good-for-nothing idiot lying there!” she said angrily and gestured towards the spot Indra crashed at.
Mariana sighed and shook her head. Ondine, however, was very impressed and she made her views known.
“That’s an awesome punch! Was that applying Energy Force into your fist?”
“Thank you and yes. I couldn’t master Energy Force completely during my training, but I learnt enough to use it like this.”
“Wow…!” Ondine said, amazed. “Will you teach it to me someday?”
“Why? So you can punch your husband through the house if he annoys you?” Lakshmi asked with a laugh.
“Well… we never know when it might come in handy!” Ondine said and they laughed.
Mariana shook her head and said “Seriously… the two of you…”
While they talked, Lakshman disappeared from his chair. He quietly slipped out and headed towards his father. Once he reached him, he saw him lying down and facing upward.
“Dad… Are you okay?” he asked tentatively.
“Okay?” Indra asked and sighed before saying “I’m just glad I don’t have any broken bones.”
Then he stretched his arms and legs to become comfortable on the grass. As he stretched, he let out a sigh in relief and he felt comfortable.
Lakshman simply shook his head at his father and asked “Dad… if you knew mum would become that angry why’d you go and do that?”
Indra laughed half-heatedly and said “My bad… I didn’t mean to make her that angry. I’ll need to make up to her again.”
“How will you manage that, dad?”
Indra raised an eyebrow and said “That’s adult stuff, my little man! You haven’t crossed the threshold into adulthood yet.”
“I see,” Lakshman said and nodded in understanding.
He sat down next to his father and lets the cool wind breeze around him. After a while of silence, Indra broke it as he turned to look at his son seriously.
“Are you ready?”
Lakshman instantly knew what he was referring to; the Saint Magic Test.
“I… I’m not sure,” he said honestly.
In the back of his mind, he was unsure. He knew he took most of Sumara’s teachings to heart while just got lost on the way. There were times he couldn’t understand a lot of things, but Sumara was there to clarify them.
He knew he applied them in many ways. First was his fight with the monsters and his sparring matches. With both, he fought with the knowledge he acquired, but he was unsure about a test.
Then one thought caused him great concern; can I do it? He was confident in his abilities and skills. It was not like the first time he had to do this kind of thing. However, this would be the first time his abilities will be accessed and he was worried.
“Don’t worry,” Indra said as if he knew the thoughts plaguing his son’s mind
“Dad?” Lakshman said in surprise.
“Seriously, don’t worry. The most important thing to do in a test is to not panic. You’ve done all you could, you trained delightedly and applied them expertly. You just have to do it once more, but you’ll be accessed this time.”
“I know, but…”
“No buts!” Indra said firmly.
He slowly sat up and looked at his son with a grin on his face.
“Victory is just around to corner. You’ve got all the skills, training and experience to back them up. All that’s left is to make the turn! You can do it! I know you can!”
Lakshman was not sure, but his father’s strong words sunk in. He suddenly realised there was nothing for him to worry. He had done so many more difficult things this kind of test should be easy.
Confident now, he smiled and said “It’s as easy as a piece of cake!”
“And you’ll be getting a cake once it’s over!” Indra said happily. “It’s your birthday after all!”
Lakshman nodded and said “I got it!”
They raised their fists and punched them together. This was a manly behaviour that Lakshman was taught by his father. Meanwhile, Lakshmi, Mariana and Ondine watched from inside the house with smiles on their faces.
Lakshman was confident. He has his skills, techniques and experience. He is ready to take on the test.