Birthday and Departure

They later returned home with an exhausted Lakshman. When they got home, Indra was waiting outside. Suddenly, he walked over to them with a wide smile on his face.

 

“How did he do?” he asked, looking eager to know the results of the test.

 

“He has done well, Indra,” Sumara said once they got off their horses.

 

“Really?” he asked, looking surprised.

 

“Indeed,” she said as she nodded at him. Then she turned to look at Lakshman as she said “He did far better than I would’ve expected.”

 

“That’s great!” Indra said and he looked impressed.

 

He turned and saw Lakshman leaning against Ondine for support. Looking concerned, he quickly turned to Sumara, but she smiled reassuringly.

 

“He drained quite a lot of energy during the test,” she said as she glanced at him.

 

“Seriously? Just how hard was the test?” Indra asked in surprise.

 

Lakshman, feeling weak, but okay, said “The first two were easy, dad. It’s only the last one that was a bit… hard.”

 

“A bit huh…” Indra said with a smile as he sounded sarcastic. “You’re looking like you’ll get knocked out at any moment and you call your last one… hard?”

 

“That’s master for you… never been normal,” Ondine said with a grin on her face.

 

“Right, anyway let’s go in and talk,” he said and made to turn away.

 

“Before that…” Sumara said and she pulled him closer to her. Then she whispered into his ear “Are the preparations complete?”

 

“Just a bit more…” he whispered back. “Decorations are all done, but the cooking got delayed a bit.”

 

“Let me guess… you tried to give them a hand, but you got in their way instead…” she whispered as she looked at him severely.

 

“H-How’d you guess? Was it that obvious?” he whispered back, looking amazed.

 

She sighed and whispered “It’s not hard to guess with people like you around.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“Miss Sumara? Dad? What are you two talking about?” Lakshman asked from behind.

 

They quickly straightened up and turned to look at him. He was looking at them curiously while Ondine was averting her gaze.

 

“We… we were just… um…” Indra said, but he hesitated as he tried thinking up an excuse.

 

“We were talking about how well you did,” Sumara said coolly.

 

“Ah,” Lakshman said and he nodded in understanding.

 

As Ondine helped him walk into the house, Indra turned to her, looking amazed.

 

“How did you maintain you’re cool?”

 

“It’s not that hard,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Just keep a cool head and take action. That had always been my principle.”

 

With that, she followed them into the house and left Indra standing outside. Watching her go, he could only wonder about women and their behaviour.

 

“Women are so strange…” he muttered and finally followed them inside.

 

They were seated in the living room. Lakshman and Ondine sat side-by-side as he rested his head on her shoulders while Sumara and Indra sat elsewhere. A few minutes later, Lakshmi walked in with a plate of glasses with drinks in them.

 

“This feels nice,” Lakshman said contently as he drank the refreshing juice.

 

He listened quietly to them as they talked. Once set the plates down on the table in the middle of the room, she sat down next to Sumara. Then she bombarded her with questions about Lakshman’s test.

 

Sumara patiently answered all her questions. Sometimes, she would gesture for Ondine to assist or for Lakshman to take part in the explanation. Regardless,

 

“Wow…! To be able to blow away a cyclone with nothing, but his energy…!” Lakshmi said in awe when Sumara told her about it.

 

Lakshman shrugged and said “It hurt my hand a little, but it worked out.”

 

“Are you hurt or anything?” she said with concern and she moved over to sit next to him.

 

“I’m fine mum. Just… tired,” he muttered tiredly.

 

“I see,” she said as she rubbed his head affectionately and he closed his eyes.

 

“Hey now! Don’t close your eyes! You’ll fall asleep!” Indra said sternly and Lakshman opened them once more.

 

“Give him a rest… he’s done well,” Lakshmi said as she looked at her husband indignantly.

 

“Come on… we don’t need him sleeping off before cutting the cake,” Indra said with a shrug of his shoulders.

 

“What cake?” Lakshman said and they suddenly looked tensed. He looked around at them and asked “What cake are we talking about, dad?”

 

“W-Well…” Indra hesitated for a moment and he looked at Lakshmi for help.

 

She simply raised an eyebrow, but that was typical of her. He sighed and smiled before turning back to his son.

 

“Lucky, aren’t you forgetting what day it is today?” he asked Lakshman.

 

Looking confused, he said “Um… Isn’t it Thursday?”

 

“Yes, it is Thursday,” Indra said in an exasperated voice. “But, do you know why today is special?”

 

“Is it?” Lakshman asked curiously and Indra sighed.

 

Lakshmi chuckled and said “Indra… it isn’t going to work out if you keep talking in such suspense.”

 

“But… he needs to remember what day it is today!” Indra said as he turned to look at his wife incredulously.

 

She sighed and turned to look at her son. Smiling, she said “Lucky, get up.”

 

Puzzled, Lakshman rose to his feet. Then his mother placed her hands over his eyes and began to walk him forward. He could not see where he was going, but rely on the direction his mother is taking him in.

 

Once they reached a certain place, she removed her hands and his eyes suddenly became dazzled by all the light. He blinked rapidly to clear his vision and what he saw surprised him.

 

He was in the dining room, but it did not look anything like it did hours ago. Threads were decorated across the walls with lights placed nearly on the walls.

 

Then he noticed the dining table and sitting at the top was a cake. It was a birthday cake with the letters “Happy 13th Birthday” written on it in icing. Candles were also placed on the cake and he counted thirteen of them.

 

He turned around and looked at them everyone else entered the room. They all looked at him with happy smiles and cheerful grins. Then, Lakshmi moved forward and spoke directly to him.

 

“It’s your birthday today, Lucy.”

 

“M-My birthday…? Oh…” he said and he looked surprised.

 

Then he realised why he had this uneasy feeling from the beginning of the day. It also explains why everyone was desperately tried to distract him from remembering. They wanted to surprise him, but it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise if he knew about it.

 

“Right… Today is my birthday,” he said and he smiled faintly.

 

Then, everyone in the room shouted “Happy 13th birthday, Lakshman!”

 

He smiled happily at their loud voices. They quickly ushered him towards the cake with the candles all lit. Lakshman bent over and blew on them to take the wipe the light from the candles.

 

Then, Lakshmi sliced up the cake and picked up a piece of cake with her hands and fed it to Lakshman. Indra followed and he also fed the cake. Lakshman ate them with a smile as wide as it can be. Then he fed them the cake, but Indra got some stuck on his nose to which everyone laughed.

 

That evening, they had fun. Lakshmi cut up the cake into small slices and handed it to people. Lakshman was having the time of his life, laughing and joking with everyone. He might be tired, but he was rejuvenated at such a happy celebration.

 

Only Ondine and Sumara stayed back. They simply stood at the back and watched Lakshman and his family having a good time.

 

“This is the first time I’ve seen so much happiness around,” Ondine commented as they later left.

 

“Indeed it is,” Sumara said and nodded at her.

 

They bid each other farewell at the top stairs. Ondine walked into her room and closed the door. Sumara, on the other hand, walked into her room and came back out in a few minutes. Then she stayed at the top of the stairs and waited for Lakshman.

 

A few minutes later, he came up and he still laughing at a joke his father made earlier. When he saw Sumara, he smiled happily and walked over to her.

 

“Miss Sumara, what are you doing here?”

 

“Let’s go into your room and talk,” she said quietly.

 

“O-Okay,” he said uncertainly.

 

She was not smiling and looked rather serious. Once she they were in his room, she closed the door behind. Then she walked over the chair and sat on it while he sat on the bed. There was a moment’s pause, before she finally spoke.

 

“This is my gift to you, Lucky,” she said nervously.

 

She pulled out the staff she was concealing with her cloak and held it vertically. The height of the staff was taller than him and looked sturdier than hers. The staff looked like it was made from fine quality materials; the wooden handle, the gleaming jewel s and the carvings on the side of it.

 

She rose to her feet and walked over to hand it to him. He reacted instinctively and outstretched his hands.

 

“I-Is this… for me?” he asked uncertainly as she placed the staff in his outstretched hands.

 

“Yes,” she said and nodded.

 

“B-But… why?” he asked as she observed the staff.

 

“I had noticed you using magic spells more with your hands than anything else. It’s much easier to use spells with a wand or staff, but since I don’t know how to make a wand, I made a staff instead,” she said and looked at him uncertainly as she asked “Is it alright?”

 

“No… No, it’s… amazing!” he said in awe as he stared at the staff. “It’s well built, but… looks so high quality…”

 

She chuckled and said “I made mine on my own after observing how others did it.”

 

“Oh,” he said in surprise. “But… it seems a little taller than me?”

 

“I made it so you can wield it even after you outgrow it,” she said with a small smile.

 

“No way! I won’t let it go, Miss Sumara! I’ll cherish it!” he said and he looked at her with firm eyes.

 

She smiled and nodded as she said “I’m sure you will. Now for another thing…”

 

He laid the staff aside and turned back to look at her. She had her eyes down a little and seemed like she was thinking about something.

 

“I’ve decided to take my leave,” she said to him.

 

Lakshman’s eyes widened and he said “No…! You can’t! You don’t need to!”

 

Then she smiled and her smile was broader than ever as she said “There is nothing more for me to teach you, Lucky. You’ve finally become a Saint Ranked Magician after five years of hard work! Now it’s time for me to go out into the world and explore once more.”

 

“B-But…” he said he looked like he was going to cry.

 

She sat down on the bed next to him and patted him on the head. Then she said “Don’t fret, Lucky. I’m not going away forever, right? I’ll be exploring and improving my skills and techniques. There is so much more in the world that I have yet to see.”

 

“But… You…” he stuttered, struggling to find words to express himself.

 

She nodded at his struggle and said “Besides, it’s not like we’ll be out of contact. We can send each other letters and stay in touch.”

 

“R-Really?” he asked and she nodded.

 

Then she rose to her feet and turned around and smiled at him as she said “Congratulations on becoming a Saint Ranked Magician and a happy birthday, Lucky.”

 

Lakshman was speechless. He was entranced by her smile. For the first time since he knew her, that was the first time he had seen her smile like that.

 

Two days later, Sumara’s was outside with her luggage which was just her one suitcase. Indra, Lakshmi, Lakshman and Ondine were outside. Mariana was standing at the entrance of the house.

 

“Thank you for all of your effort, Sumara,” Indra said as he shook her one final time.

 

“Yes! We really appreciate your help with Lucky,” Lakshmi said as she moved forward to shake her hand.

 

“Please, it was my duty as his instructor,” Sumara said as she smiled at them. Then she turned to Ondine and said “You be good and behave well, Ondine.”

 

“Hey! Why are you treating me like some sort of dog?!” Ondine demanded with narrowed eyes.

 

Sumara smiled and said “Sometimes, you’re extreme when it comes to helping your master. I’m just telling you to keep that in mind and behave.”

 

“I-I don’t need you to tell me that!” Ondine said irritably. “And here I was thinking you weren’t so bad!”

 

Everyone laughed, except Lakshman. He was looking unhappy with his head down. Sumara moved over to him and looked at him with a small smile.

 

“Lucky…” she said softly, but he did not move. Sighing, she firmly said “Lakshman!”

 

“Yes!” he said quickly and looked at her.

 

“That’s much better,” she said with a smile and the others laughed.

 

When he continued to look unhappy, she said “Don’t look so unhappy… this is making me feel said.”

 

“B-But… you’re leaving,” he said softly in a hurt voice. Then he asked “Will I see you again?”

 

She simply smiled and said “If we’re meant to meet, then we shall.”

 

“Ah, don’t speak in riddle, Miss Sumara,” Lakshman said and Sumara chuckled.

 

“If you don’t want to forget me, then here’s a farewell present,” Sumara said and she leaned forward to kiss him on the forehead.

 

When she leaned back, he was blushing and looked embarrassed and confused. Ondine was watching them with an appalled expression on her face. Indra and Lakshmi stayed silent, but were exchanging covert looks at one another.

 

Sumara stood up and grabbed the handle of her suitcase and looked at them once more and said “Until next time. Till then, stay well everyone.”

 

She turned around and began walking away down the road towards town. Lakshman, recovering from his embarrassment, touched the spot where she kissed. Then he watched her leave as tears began trickling down his cheeks.

 

Walking away from them, Sumara muttered “Till we meet again,” and tears were veiling up her eyes.

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