Journey into the Outside World
A few days passed after the match between Indra and Lakshman. Everyone was talking excitedly about how the fight was superb. They told each other tales of what they witnessed and speculated what they did not understand.
While they were excitedly gossiping about the battle, a certain family were doing something else. More precisely, they were getting Lakshman’s things ready for the journey. They were moving from place to place in the house and getting things in order.
“Mariana, place that near the exit and take this over there,” Lakshmi said to Mariana while pointing at the objects.
“Yes, madam,” Mariana said with a nod and did what she was told.
Lakshmi nodded back and turned to Ondine before saying “Get your bags to the entrance hall. The wagon will be arriving soon.”
“Of-course,” Ondine said with a wink and went upstairs to get their bags.
As she went upstairs, Lakshman came downstairs. He was wearing his usual casual wear while holding onto the staff his ex-home tutor, Sumara, gave him before she left. On his right, like usual, Tetra was hugging his arm with a happy smile on her face.
“Ah, Lucky!” Lakshmi said when she saw him come down. Then she asked “Have you changed your clothes? We don’t need rushing minutes, you know?”
“Mum, I’ve changed like an hour ago,” he said patiently, but he raised an eyebrow in amusement.
Lakshmi looked surprised and smiled before saying “Ah, you did. Sorry. With being so busy, I’m forgetting things now.”
“Come on, mum… You’re not an old woman yet,” Lakshman joked cheerfully.
“Ah, don’t you know, Lucky? The longer you work, the more you age.”
Lakshman looked surprised at her words. Then he shook his head and said “Mum, I think that’s wrong.”
“Is it?” she said and looked surprised.
“Yes. Miss Sumara once told me during our lessons that you age faster by sitting still than doing anything.”
“Yes. Apparently it was discovered by some alchemist some time ago and that’s why people train their bodies regularly. The more they train, the slower you age. That’s what she told me anyway.”
“Wow…” Lakshmi said in awe at his words. Then she smirked and said “Makes sense now. I always wondered why my master looked young for her age. No wonder why.”
“Why, mum? Is she that old?”
“No, she’s twenty years older than me, but she always gave me the feeling that she was older.”
“Mum… Isn’t it rude to talk like that about your master?”
“She’s no longer my master so it doesn’t matter. Besides, she herself found it a funny topic to talk about. She always found it amusing at how many people think she is older than she looks.”
Lakshman looked surprised and asked “Did she hurt them for making her older than she is?”
“No, she didn’t, but I would’ve! Anyone daring to call me fifty when I’m twenty really needs to get beaten to a pulp!” Lakshmi said with a smiling face, but she suddenly started to emanate dark energy.
Lakshman blinked in surprise and asked “Does it really matter how a girl looks, mum?”
“Oh! You have no idea! The lengths women go to look younger is seriously unbelievable!” Lakshmi said while she rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“Yes, master. Women want to look good and feel good about it,” Tetra suddenly said from his side.
“So… It’s a competition,” Lakshman said with a slightly confused expression on his face.
“In a way, you could say it is…” Lakshmi said with a sigh.
“Like I’ll be getting involved in that beauty contest crap,” said a voice from behind.
They turned and saw Ondine coming down the stairs while carrying two bags with each hand. Lakshman looked startled and quickly moved towards her.
“Hey! Why’d you go and bring my bag as well? I could’ve done that myself,” he said sternly.
“What’s the problem, master? I hear you talking to your mum. So I thought I should get it for you,” Ondine said innocently with a perplexed expression on her face.
“Hey! You’re not a two year old to answer me like that!” he said with an eyebrow raised.
“You say that, but there’s someone clearly over eight-thousand years pretending to be a kid and yet you don’t say anything about it,” she said and turned her gaze towards Tetra.
Catching her implied message, Tetra looked up at her angrily and said “I am who I am! Leave me alone!”
Ondine rolled her eyes and said “By the spirit gods, why do you keep on constantly changing between first person and third person?”
“Because Tetra is more amazing than Ondine and is more useful to master than you! So there!” Tetra said and she stuck her tongue out at Ondine.
“H-Hey! See this master! Tetra is being spoiled by you. Leave her to me and I’ll teach her some manners, this old cheeky brat!”
“U-Um… Calm down, Ondine…” Lakshman said with his hand out in a gesture to stop her.
Watching this spectacle, Lakshmi began to laugh.
“Mum, don’t laugh and help me out,” he said indignantly.
Once she recovered from laughing, she wiped the tears from her eyes and said “You certainly have an interesting group of allies, Lucky.”
“Interesting? Tetra’s the only one weird around here!” Ondine said and pointed at Tetra.
“Ondine also is strange in so many ways, Tetra can’t count!” Tetra said and pointed at Ondine.
“Why you?!” Ondine said in an annoyed voice and stared at Tetra.
“You started it!” Tetra said angrily and looked back at her.
Then they glared at each other with angry looked. Lakshman sighed and, in an annoyed voice, said “Enough, you two!”
Both Ondine and Tetra flinched in surprised and turned to him. Seeing his annoyed expression, they quickly bowed their heads and together said “Sorry, master!”
He looked at them for a moment in annoyance. Then he sighed and said “When will you two get along?”
“Never!” was the instant answer he received from both of them with firm looks on their faces.
As his shoulders slumped, Lakshmi patted him with a smiling face and said “Keep it up, you’ll need it.”
“Thanks mum…” he said with a half-smile and looked back to see Ondine and Tetra continuing to glare at each other.
Just then, there was a ringing sound of bell from outside. A few seconds later, Mariana appeared from the entranceway and informed them the horse drawn wagon has arrived.
They made their way out of the house with difficulty. At first, Ondine wanted to carry both of his and her own bags. Then Tetra offered to lend a hand since Ondine was being annoying. They glared at each other again.
Getting very annoyed, he shouted “Alright, you two! That’s it! Tetra, revert to sword form and standby! Ondine, carry your own bags and leave mine to me! Got it?!”
When they tried to change his mind, he firmly said “That’s an order!”
Tetra unhappily transformed into a sword and he sheathed it to his belt. Ondine let go of his bags and moved outside with her own. Then he made his way out of the house after picking up his heavy bag full of his clothes and travelling equipment.
“Why do things always have to be so frustrating between them?” he said in a low voice.
“Both girls are just competing. There’s nothing we can do about that,” Lakshmi said as she walked beside him.
“I don’t get it. Why do they have to compete?”
“Ah, Lucky… They just want to look good in front of you.”
“Look good in front of me? Wait… Is this something to do with that beauty contest stuff you told me earlier?”
“Not quite. They just want to receive your affection strongly and that’s causing their rivalry to boil.”
“I see, but mum… I’m already treating them like my friends or are you saying I’m not?”
“I know you’re treating them like friends and there’s no problem with it. It’s just… How should I put this…? Mmm…! The girls are expecting too much from you at your age. You’re only thirteen and have much to learn in life.”
“Mum… Is this one of those ‘you’re not ready yet’ again?” he said and, when she nodded, he groaned. Then he said “Why am I not surprised?”
Lakshmi chuckled and said “It’s alright. Being young can be painful, but bear with it. Remember, Lucky… There is a right time and place for everything. Never do something that goes against that, okay?”
“I… I understand, mum,” he said slowly as he looked at her smiling face.
“That’s good to hear,” she said happily and rubbed his head affectionately.
When they reached the wagon, they saw familiar faces standing there. These were all the people who were friends of his father, Indra.
The tallest of them stepped forward and smiled before saying “As promised, we’re here to escort you all the way to the capital.”
“Escort? Don’t you mean we all have business and that’s why we’re going to escort you as well?” said the guy standing next to him with an exasperated expression on his face.
“Nagada, that’s rude!” said the tall guy with a annoyed look at his friend.
“Cool it, Samada,” said another man who stepped forward.
“Look at this idiot speaking so bluntly, Manickyam! Even though we know the kid’s doing something great, he still speaks like he’s superior,” Samada said in a frustrated voice.
“Isn’t that always the same? He never knows when to keep his thoughts inside,” Manickyam said with a chuckle.
“I’m just a straightforward person,” Nagada said with a smile on his face.
“Don’t say that proudly, you rude man!” Samada said in frustration.
“Okay, guys. Let’s get this luggage in already,” said the only man not to speak about their argument.
“Ranga, why are you ignoring us all of a sudden?!” Samada asked with a surprised look on his face.
Ranga turned to look at him coolly and said “Do you want to waste time talking about rubbish or use time efficiently so we don’t delay the departure?”
Samada had no words to reply with. Instead, he and the others nodded and started loading the bags onto the wagon. A few minutes later, everything was set for departure.
The men then got on the wagon and followed by Ondine. Lakshman did not get on. Instead, he was looking around. Lakshmi, seeing him looking around, realised what he was looking and smiled.
Ever since his defeat, Indra did not see Lakshman at all. He wanted his meals in his room and away from his son. At one point, Lakshman became worried and went up to speak to him, but there was no reply. It almost felt like Indra was purposefully avoiding his son.
Now, just before leaving, Lakshman was hoping to see his father. Lakshmi patted him on the shoulder and he looked up at her sadly.
“Don’t worry. He might just be feeling down that he lost to a thirteen year old kid,” she said with a smile.
“Feeling down? How did you ever come to think like that?” said a familiar voice from behind.
Their eyes widened as they turned around. To their surprise, they saw Indra walking towards them with a smile on his face. Once he reached them, he looked around with a bemused expression on his face.
“What’s up? Think I disappeared or something?” he asked around.
“No. We were wondering whether you’ll come or not to see Lucky off,” Lakshmi said as she looked at her husband in surprise.
“Well, of-course I would! Why would you think I wouldn’t?!” Indra said indignantly.
“But… you…” Lakshmi began slowly.
Indra turned to Lakshman and smiled. Then he pulled out an envelope and said “I was busy writing this and thinking about it, I didn’t want to be disturbed.”
When he handed the letter to, Lakshman looked at it curiously and asked “Is this for me, dad?”
Indra shook his head and said “No. It’s for my old master, Darian Ronald. When you reach the capital, find his training centre and meet with him. When you do, hand that letter over to him to read. Everything from then on should be good for you.”
“R-Really?” Lakshman asked uncertainly.
Indra nodded and smiled. Then he placed a warm hand on his son’s head and rubbed it affectionately.
“You make sure to win at whatever you do, got it? My master can be troublesome and strict as nails, but he has his soft sides.”
“Oh, also,” Indra began and he looked seriously at him and said “Make sure to bail Felix out of the tight spot he is in. As we both know, he was purposefully framed and needs our help. I can’t be there, but you have to take the lead on this one. Got it?”
“Yes!” Lakshman said and nodded firmly with a serious look on his face.
“That’s my boy!” Indra said happily and clapped him on the shoulder.
A moment later, Lakshman got into the wagon and waved at them goodbye. Samada took the reins of the horses and got the wagon moving. Lakshman and Ondine looked back and waved towards them. Indra and Lakshmi waved until the wagon disappeared.
Indra sighed and said “He certainly has grown well, hasn’t he?”
“He sure has,” Lakshmi agreed softly as she continued to look towards where her son disappeared.
“His journey might be tough… I’m worried,” Indra said softly.
Lakshmi looked at him in surprise and said “You are such a woman!”
Indra quickly looked at her and said “You’re the one who’s supposed to worry, idiot! You’re his mother!”
“I know, but… strangely I feel very confident in Lucky. I feel like he can really do this.”
“Huh? How do you know that?”
“Well… I could say it’s—!”
“Oh, here we go again! Don’t tell me this is your ‘woman’s intuition’ stuff!” Indra scoffed in exasperation while rolling his eyes.
“You can laugh, but my woman’s intuition never proved me wrong,” Lakshmi said firmly.
“Right, right…” he said distractedly.
They stood for a moment and stared at the horizon. Then they moved closed and he placed his hand around her shoulder.
They felt slightly. It might be a bit lonely for them without their son to brighten the day, but they were prepared for it. Now they pray for their son’s successful journey and return in his journey into the outside world.