Running out of Time
“Ondine, Ondine! Wake up, Ondine! Wake up! This isn’t a joke!” Lakshman shouted as he shook her body.
From the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of light. Turning around, he saw Tetra materialised in her human form. She moved towards them with a concerned look on her face.
“Move aside, master.”
“Move!” she said sharply and gave him a fierce glare.
“R-Right…” he hastily said, taken aback.
He moved away and let Tetra get close to Ondine. She first checked her body, then lifted her arm and held it there for a few seconds before lowing it. She sighed and turned to look at Lakshman.
“I-Is she…?” he asked apprehensively.
“No. She’s fine for now, but it’s only a matter of time.”
“W-What do you mean, Tetra?” Lakshman asked as he moved forward.
“Master, can you feel her body?”
Tetra sighed and said “Please touch her arm and tell me how it feels.”
He moved his hand and gently touched Ondine’s arm. The instant that he did, his eyes widened in surprise and he turned back to Tetra.
“It’s cold… really cold,” he told her.
Just then, he felt a sensation on his hand. Looking down, he suddenly exclaimed “What the?!”
His hands were wet, but they were not from sweat. He checked with his other hand and saw that it was not this wet. He turned back to look at Tetra with a puzzled expression on his face.
Tetra nodded at him and said “It’s beginning to happen…”
“What is?” he quickly asked.
“Body Liquidating,” she said. Then he looked, she continued by saying “It’s when the physical matter of a body starts to release water until your body becomes dry.”
“But… isn’t that just sweat?”
“Sweat comes from exercising the body and releasing toxic waste in our bodies. That is true for all beings, regardless of their race. But, it is especially a bad sign if the water is being released from body is for a Water Spirit.”
“Why is that?”
“Master… Think!” she said impatiently. “A Water Spirit relies on water to survive, just like how the humans require food. So, if that very source of their life escapes from them, it is a sure sign that their bodies are dying.”
He blinked at her in surprise. Then he smiled and waved his hand as if she was joking. However, seeing the serious expression on her face, his smile dropped.
He hesitantly asks “D-D-Did you just say… dying?”
Wordlessly, she nodded and Lakshman’s eyes widened in shock. He slowly turned and looked at the unconscious body of Ondine.
“When the body of a Water Spirit turns into water, they die,” Tetra explained in a sad voice.
“C-Couldn’t I just use a water magic spell to get her to drink water?” he asked desperately. “Wouldn’t that restore her body?”
“No, master,” Tetra said as she shook her head. “Water Spirits can only consume water from natural source, not one that is conjured through the use of magic.”
“No… It… She…” he said vaguely as he looked at her and then his head dropped.
Tetra watched him with a sad expression on her face. Then she said “However, we still have time!”
“Time? W-We have time?” he said quickly and he looked at her hopefully.
She nodded and said “These dungeon trapped rooms block out most of nature except for air the breath and energy to use. If we can make it out of here, Ondine’s body can absorb the water from nature to restore itself.”
“That’s… that’s great!” he shouted and he moved forward and hugged Tetra.
“M-Master?!” Tetra said as she became flustered by him suddenly hugging her.
“Thank you… thank you!” he said repeatedly.
For a moment, they just stayed there hugging. Then they broke away from each other. Tetra was blushing deep red while Lakshman sat Ondine up. Then he hoisted her over his shoulders with a grimace.
“She’s… heavy,” he muttered.
“You don’t want her to hear you say that, master,” Tetra said as she grinned at him.
“Right… Anyway, come on! Let’s go already!” he said hurriedly.
“O-Okay,” she said hastily and, in a flash of light, transformed into a sword.
Lakshman grabbed onto the sword with his right hand and held Ondine’s limp body over his shoulders with his left.
Then he faced forward and kicked off the ground with incredible force as he shouted “Lightning Dash!”
He raced through the trap room with ease. When he saw a wall ahead, he would take a deep breath and blow hard causing him to slow down. Then he continued on his way like nothing happened.
Several times, he met the black creatures on the way. He would simply either duck through them or wipe them all out with a powerful energy slicing wave. Very soon, he was going through one room to another room fasten than ever before.
“Tetra, are we there yet?” he shouted through the howling of the wind and sound.
“We’re nearly there, master,” Tetra told him in his mind. “Keep this pace up and we’ll be there in no time.”
“Perfect!” he shouted and he sped away.
Lakshman was making great progress, however it suddenly came to an abrupt end. After many jumps, turns and battles, he was breathing heavily. He slowed down to a walk as he clutched as he wheezed out of breath.
“This… is… tiring…” he said through lungful of breaths.
“Master, please don’t push yourself too much. You’re running out of energy,” Tetra said in a worried voice.
“I… know… but, I want to save Ondine!” he said seriously.
At that moment, his legs began to shake violently. He staggered a few steps before collapsing onto the ground. Ondine fell from his shoulders and lay, limp as rock, on the ground.
“Aaaaaah…! My body…!” he said in a pained voice.
Lakshman attempted to get to his feet, but the pain in his body was intense. Additionally, each attempt caused him to sway on the spot and he felt his eyes were spinning.
“Why?!” he asked in a desperate voice.
“Master, it’s been several days since you ate. You cannot muster any more than what you have!”
“No! I can do this!” he said, but he could barely move his legs.
He sat down on the ground and breathed a sigh. Then he looked at Ondine’s unconscious body. They had been through many things to bring them this far; the day she became his Slave Spirit, their training together, their fights together, the time of the monster attack.
Seeing her like this, silent and still, did not feel right. Tears began forming in his eyes at the thought of her death. He thought that if Sumara was here, he was sure she would have come up with something. But, she had left him after passing the Saint Magic Test.
Over time, he gradually let his sad feelings of her departure leave him. In her case, he knew she will be fine and he can always mail her.
Since then, Ondine became his advisor and helper. Whenever he was done, she consoled him. When he got stuck gave him advice. Since Sumara left, she had been the most helpful to him than anyone. So, loosing such a person haunted him.
His face suddenly contorted into rage and he started banging the ground with his fists. With each pounding he gave to the ground, he made more digs into it.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO!!!”
As he bellowed the last word, he raised both hands high and brought them down. The force of impact caused the ground, the walls and the ceiling to shake violently. Then he bowed his head while making small noises through his mouth.
Then he pulled back and shouted “Somebody! Anybody! I need HELP!”
The last word, he shouted, was a prolonged shout. Then he closed his eyes and his face dropped while his arms and legs became weak. Only silence and stillness surrounded them as time passed.
“Master?” Tetra asked nervously.
Lakshman did not immediately reply, instead he kept his head down in a bow and remained silent.
A few seconds later, Lakshman slowly raised his head. In a flash, he opened his eyes and, the instant that he did, ominous wind was sent in all directions.
He was suddenly radiating with energy and his wounds were suddenly healed. His hair became spiky and even his eyes have changed. Now they are light blue with red four-point star around the black circle in the middle.
He rose to his feet and walked over to Ondine. He easily picked her limp body and hoisted it on his shoulders. Then he turned towards the spot where his sword had dropped.
Instead of walking over to the sword and picking it up, he raised his hand and aimed at it. In an instant, the sword lifted from the ground and flew straight at him. He grabbed the handle firmly with his hand.
He straightened up with Ondine’s body on his shoulders and Tetra in her sword form in his hand. Then the energy radiating him from began to surge as power caused everything, around him, to vibrate. Rubble from the ground started floating as the sheer force of his power.
The next moment, he moved his sword and struck it to the ground. Then he placed both of his hands on the handle as his the four-point star began to turn. The speed for its turning increased while the power within him rose to the surface.
Then a flash of fire erupted around him and he said “Phoenix Rising.”