“W-What… is this?” Lakshman said in a wondering voice as he looked around.
It has been a few minutes since he woke up. When he did, he was surprised to find himself lying in bed. What’s more was the fact that he was in his room. Even his cloths are different from what he last wore.
He gingerly rose to sit on the bed while light streamed through the closed curtains. He rubbed his eyes and blinked several times to adjust his focus.
“Is this… a dream?” he muttered.
As a test, he pinched his arm and he instantly let out a cry in pain. He patted the spot he pinched his arm with a pained expression on his face.
“Yup… Not a dream, but…” he said uncertainly.
He clutched his head slightly as he remembered what happened to him last time. He and Ondine got warped away by accidentally stepping on a Trip Magic Circle. Then, they got trapped for who knows how long as they desperately tried to escape.
Then he suddenly remembered about Ondine and how her life was apparently in danger.
“Ondine…! Where is she? I’ve got to—!” he said as he attempted to get out of bed.
At that moment, he found two objects lying on either side of him. Blinking in puzzlement, he looked at the blankets covering the objects. He did not know what they were, but felt no harm radiating from them.
“What…?” he said uncertainly.
Tentatively, he moved the blankets from his right side. Then he let out a sigh of relief at seeing who it was. Lying on his right side and sleeping was none other than Tetra. She was wearing her pink gown fit for her child-like body.
“Tetra…” he muttered softly at seeing her.
Tetra moaned slightly as she moved a bit while continuing to sleep. She breathed softly with her chest rising and falling rhythmically to match her breathing pattern. Looking at her, Lakshman felt at ease.
Then, there was a movement from his left side. Turning around, he saw the blankets shift as the person moved around into a comfortable position. As they did, the blankets slid off them and revealed who it was.
His eyes widening and an expression of disbelief on his face, Lakshman shouted “Ondine!”
There she was, lying at his left side and sleeping contentedly. However, she moaned softly and slowly opened her eyes. When she turned her slightly to see him, her eyes quickly widened. He rose to sit upright on the bed and faced him with an expression full of happiness.
“Master!” she said happily and, the next moment, she hugged him.
“Huh?” he said reflexively when she hugged him. “Ondine, what are you doing?”
But, Ondine did not respond instantly. She was hugging him tightly while making crying sounds as she spoke.
“Master…! I’m so… so relieved you’re finally awake! I was so… worried!”
“Uh… um…” he said nervously.
At that moment, Tetra also sat up and looked crossly at them and said “Ondine! Don’t monopolise master!”
“I don’t know what you’re saying,” Ondine said as she looked at Tetra. “Master just woke up, so I’m greeting him! So, you lose!”
“Ah!” Tetra said looked indignantly at her. Then she smiled and said “So what? Master is my master!”
With that, she move and hugged him from behind. Then she looked at Ondine and stuck her tongue out. In retaliation, Ondine made a face at her.
Wedged between the two girls, Lakshman could only looked at them and ask “What are you two doing?”
“Oh! It’s nothing, master!” Ondine and Tetra quickly said in unison. Then, looking at each other in surprise and smiling, they said “We’re just glad you finally woke up!”
“R-Right…” he said uncertainly. “Now… if you could… um… move, please?”
“Oh, sorry, master,” Ondine said, sounding apologetic while looking surprised.
“If that’s what master wants,” Tetra said with a shrug of her shoulders.
As they disengaged themselves from him, the door to his room opened and a loud voice came through.
“I heard a loud shout from here! Did Lakshman wake up?!”
Lakshman turned to face the doorway and saw his father. Indra was standing in the doorway and looking slightly out of breath as if he ran to get there.
Seeing his son sitting up and looking at him, Indra’s face relaxed and a happy expression came over him. Then, as he made to walk inside, he noticed Ondine and Tetra hugging Lakshman and his expression change to that of cheekiness.
“Oh, oh, oh! Would you look at that! The prime of youth, what a sight!” he said and smiled cheekily.
At that moment, he suddenly cried out in pain as something from behind hit him. He was propelled into the room. As he crashed on the floor with his face down, two more people appeared in the doorway.
“What are you doing, standing in the doorway like that?” Lakshmi said as she looked down at her husband with her arms crossed.
“Geez, did you have to hit me like that?” he said as he gradually got to his feet.
“That’s what you get for getting in the way,” Lakshmi said to him.
There was a sudden burst of laughter. Turning to look for the source, she saw her son laughing. Seeing him laughing and looking energetic made her feel very relieved. She slowly walked over and hugged him.
“Lucky…” she said softly as she hugged him.
As she hugged him, tears started to drip down her face. Lakshman moved his shoulder slightly when he felt water touch his skin.
“Water…?” he muttered in a surprised voice.
But when his mother drew back, he was alarmed to see her crying. He quickly asked “Mum, you’re crying! Are you hurt, injured or anything?”
Lakshmi blinked in surprise and, with her hands, wiped the tears away as she said “No, I’m fine.”
“B-But then… why were you crying, mum? Are you upset?”
“No, these are tears of happiness.”
“Tears of happiness? What does that mean?”
“It means that I’m crying because I am happy. Naturally, since I’m so happy to see you awake and filled with so much energy and everything. I’m just so… so…”
At that moment, Lakshmi began to struggle for words as more tears formed in her eyes. Indra walked forward and patted her on the shoulders.
Lakshman blinked at her in surprise. Then he looked around at everyone watching them warmly.
Confused, he asked “How long was I asleep for? Actually, why was I asleep? What happened? Why am I here in my room all of a sudden? I thought I, Ondine and Tetra were trapped in that dungeon.”
“Hold your horses, you question maker!” Indra said to stem the flow of questions Lakshman was throwing at them.
“You’ll get your answers, soon enough, but now is not the time.”
“Eh?” Lakshman said.
At that moment, he suddenly felt pain in his throat and he started coughing. Seeing this, Indra nodded as if he understood something.
“As I thought, you haven’t recovered.”
“Fully recovered? From what?”
“I don’t know, but he said something about having all of your energy drained from you or something,” Indra said with a shrug of his shoulders. “The doctor said you need more rest before you’re fully recovered.”
“Oh…” Lakshman said slowly. “Okay then… I rest then.”
Indra nodded at his reply and started ushering everyone out of the room. First, he sent Lakshmi and Mariana out of the room. Lakshmi insisted that she stay and speak more with her son, but he pushed her away by stating that her stay will not give the rest her son needs.
As Lakshmi left, looking disappointed, Indra ushered Ondine out the door. As she was about to exit, she suddenly said “Ah!” and looked back at her master.
“What is it, Ondine?” Indra asked curiously.
“If I’m going to leave, Tetra should leave as well!” Ondine said as she pointed at Tetra clinging to Lakshman.
“No! I’m master’s weapon and subordinate!” Tetra said as she tightened her grip on his arm.
“Oh? I’m masters Slave Spirit which makes me his subordinate!” Ondine said angrily.
“A Slave Spirit that can’t fight to save her life!” Tetra taunted.
“A Sacred Spirit that nearly let its master get hurt!” Ondine retorted.
“Alright, break it up, you two!” Indra said in a loud commanding voice. Then he turned to Ondine and said “Ondine, please leave for now so your master gets some rest.”
“And I need to have a word with you!” Indra added sternly.
Ondine hesitated, looking displeased. Then she nodded and turned to look at her master one last time.
“Master! Please watch out for that devilish brat!” she said and gestured at Tetra.
Tetra sniffed as Ondine briskly walked out the door. Indra sighed and told Lakshman to rest before taking his leave and closing the door behind. Once alone, Lakshman clutched his head as he suddenly started to feel dizzy.
With the help of Tetra, he lay back on his bed with a tired expression on his face.
“Master, are you alright?” Tetra asked in a worried voice.
“Yes, but… Tetra… you need to stop being so mean to Ondine,” he said and turned to look at her.
“Well, it’s only a given that I act that way towards my rival!” Tetra said firmly.
“Rival? Why are you two rivals and what are you rivals over?”
“We’re rivals because we want to receive your affection, master!”
“My affection, but… aren’t we friends already?”
“No… It’s uh… different kind of affection,” Tetra said hesitantly.
“A different kind? What sort of different kind is that?” he asked weakly.
“Don’t worry, master. You’re not at the right age to figure that one out.”
“Okay…” he said weakly.
For a few seconds, they remained silent. Then, Tetra snugly lay down beside him.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better.”
Lakshman did not understand why he was there. He did not know what happened. There was a large part of him that remained blank. Questions rose to the surface with no answers which puzzled him, but he was confident he will get his answers.
However, there was one thing he can be certain about. He was safe and so was everyone he loved and cared about. For now that was all that mattered to him as he closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep.