In the battle between Darian and Lakshman, it was announced that Lakshman lost. Everyone was cheerful and pleased since they liked him better. The only one upset was Ondine, but she was upset because she had believed he would put up a better fight.
When she asked in an unhappy voice “I thought you could move quicker than that now, master.”
In response to her sadness, he shrugged his shoulders and said “I did my best, but he is just that strong.”
It has been several weeks since then and things are back to normal. The only difference is that Lakshman now joined the regular training with everybody else. He originally did not know what to do after being defeated.
That was when, in the form of an answer, Darian appeared before him and said “Train and get stronger.”
“H-Huh?” he asked and looked confused at him.
“You got strong energy, but without strength it’s meaningless,” Darian said bluntly with his arms folded and his mouth formed into a frown.
“I’m… not strong?” Lakshman asked uncertainly and he had a disbelieving look on his face.
Darian sighed and nodded. Then he said “Back during the battle your power destroyed, but your strength failed you and that’s why you lost the match. Right now you’re really strong in your energy, but your strength needs working.”
“O-Oh…” Lakshman said and looked disappointed.
Ondine looked at him unhappily for a second before turning to Darian and saying angrily “That’s absurd! Master has been training his body regularly back at home and constantly trying to push himself!”
When Darian raised an eyebrow at her, she firmly said “Just so you know I trained alongside master! There is no way he could be weaker than me! He was able to defeat Indra for crying out loud!”
Darian made a sound with his mouth to indicate his disbelief. When Ondine furrowed her eyebrows and glared at him, he signed at looked at her with a firm gaze.
“Look, Ondine. You should stop comparing yourself with Lakshman. You’re a Water Spirit and he’s a Human, like me. Only like creatures can understand each other better and that’s how I can clearly say he needs to work on his strength.”
“W-What do you mean? Master has incredible power and strength! I’ve seen it many times!”
“Yet, you couldn’t grasp the fact that in strength, you are stronger than him?”
“H-Huh? What do you mean?” she asked in a puzzled voice.
“Tell me… Were you able to push him back in a pure physical fight or make him do things different when he fought in physical fights only?”
“N-Now that you mention it… Master seemed to avoid trying to fight a pure physical battle. He seemed to constantly dodge and strike rather than Strike and Destroy.”
Darian made a sound from his mouth and made a gesture with his fore-finger. Then he clicked his fingers and pointed at Lakshman before smiling widely.
“Now it makes sense. Lakshman, in order to avoid your weakness you fought using the dodge and strike method, right?” he asked as if he knew the answer already.
Lakshman did not look at him. He simply lowered his head down and mumbled a few words that were incomprehensive. However, Darian understood and he nodded in understanding.
“It make perfect sense to avoid our weakness, but! Not working to reduce that weakness is also a problem in itself. What if you were forced to fight purely with your strength? What if your energy knows how to disrupt the flow of energy which leaves you purely on fighting physically? What will you do then?”
“I… Um…” Lakshman began and hesitated and an awkward silence fell.
Darian raised an eyebrow at him. Then he shook his head and smiled before saying “Well, enough is enough. From now on, you are to train with everyone else. And I will not accept ‘no’ for an answer!”
“Oh and also! If you pretend that you’re training, I’ll find out. I’ll test you in an arm wrestling,” Darian said firmly.
“Eh?” Lakshman said and he blinked at Darian in surprise.
After that, Lakshman began his training in the training centre. At first, he did not know where to begin. So he tried lifting the rod with two sacks attached on either ends which proved to be an impossible task.
That was when a stranger told him start with the simple. The stranger directed him towards the rods with small sacks attached on either ends which were called Weighted Rods.
Lakshman began his training like that by lifting them with one hand and then with the other. Initially he began with lifting them twenty times each and then going higher as his muscles gradually became stronger.
After every week, he was challenged to an arm wrestling fight with Darian. As expected, Lakshman did not win any of them, but Darian encouraged him to continue training. Darian said that Lakshman was slowly, but surely increasing in strength.
“Why don’t you move onto something more challenging now since those Weighted Rods are becoming simpler to use?” Darian had suggested after a particular defeat.
“Ah. Which one should I start on?”
That was when Darian indicated to the long rod that had two sacks attached on either ends. When Lakshman attempted to lift it with one hand, he could not believe how heavy it was.
Darian laughed and said “You don’t lift it with one hand. You use both of your hands, like this, and lift it up and down, but do it slowly. If you do it too quickly, your shoulders will get hurt and you’ll be in a lot of pain afterwards.”
As per his instructions, Lakshman began his training with them. At a time, he only lifted a few times by slowly lifting the Weighted Sacks up and down. On his first time, he could not manage to do more than ten which showed how heavy those sacks were.
Out of curiosity, Lakshman looked into them and saw sand. His eyes widened in surprise and disbelief that sand could weigh that much. Even though he was surprised a little, he continued to train. As his training progressed, he moved onto using other methods to get strong as well.
Before he knew it, three month had passed by. He only found out when he took a break from exercising and, out of curiosity, looked at the calendar. It was amazing, to him, how time quickly flew by.
When he checked the calendar more closely, he saw the nine months of the year on it. Remembering from his childhood learning, he remembered there were nine months He chein a year. Then he remembered the order in which those months came.
Lakshman remembered the month he last remembered was Shadan and that was how he knew that Reiked was the month he was in. Then he recognised the forty days with eight days per week. Originally, those days and months confuse him.
When he was still studying about these things, he had asked their house maid, Mariana, “Why are there forty days in a month and eight days per week?”
At that time, she simply told him “This is the current setting that everyone follows and has been for the last eight-thousand years. It has been followed since the time the PX era was established.”
“PX? What does that mean?”
Mariana smiled at his question and simply said “Phoenix. Our current era was established after his noble sacrifice to save the world and restore peace. Even the names of the months were named after the historical figures from the Phoenix Clan.”
“So… It’s 8007 PX right now?” he had asked curiously.
“No. It’s currently 8088 PX. You were born seven years ago, young master.”
That was when he was seven that he asked that question. Now that he is thirteen, he knew the year was 8093. Then he got bored of looking at the calendar and put it away before resuming his training.
As his training continued, Darian introduced him a new item he wanted him to try. It was apparently called an Energy Rod which was crafted from using Energy Crystals and several other materials they did not know about.
Darian told him that, by holding the rod, he can tell how strong he is getting. Then he informed everyone about how it was a test product that newly got released in the market. He made it clear about his desire to test it out for future use in his training centre.
Lakshman held the rod and gripped it tightly. In an instant, the rod began to vibrate and glow brightly. It quickly slacked his grip on it and the vibration stopped along with the bright glow of light. Afterwards, he began using it weekly to check how far he was coming along.
Then an incident occurred two weeks later. Lakshman and group were enjoying a nice lunch when there was a huge commotion from outside. When they got there, they saw several bulky looking men standing there and shouting at the training centre.
“Come on out, Monkey King! You hurt me and my brethren which is unforgivable! Now it’s time we settle this matter once and for all!” a good built man shouted.
“Oh boy…! Not again…!” Darian sighed and his clutched his face with his hand.
“Ooh ooh ooh…!” the monkey called Mumble, said while looking uncertainly at Darian.
At that moment, there was another shout from outside.
“You cowardly fool! You’re going to continue to ignore me?! Fine! Be like that! I’m coming in instead!”
“Those fools…!” Marilia muttered quietly.
“Alright boys! Looks like we need to do this up close and personal! Let’s go! Follow me!” said the voice of someone who sounded like their leader.
There were sounds of feet as they walked up the stairs and neared the entrance of the training centre. When they were just about to reach, a different voice shouted at them.
“Stop right there!”
The bunch of gangly looking men stopped and looked at the speaker in surprise. They were staring at the boy who was half their size. That person was none other than Lakshman. Everyone in the training centre was astonished to see him standing outside on his own.
“Stop right there, you brutes! This training centre doesn’t need people like you inside it!” Lakshman shouted at them.
“W-What did t-that pipsqueak just say…?!” one of the muscly men said in an angry voice.
“He called us something like brutes. So what’s the deal?” said someone else who seemed to be a bit overweight as he continued to each, what looked like, chips.
“U-Um… little bro Vika, don’t you know what brute means?” the man, from earlier, said uncertainly as he turned to look at him.
The man, called Vika, shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. His brother moved closer to him and spoke something in his ear. No one heard what he said, but whatever it was made Vika open his eyes wide with anger.
“Brute…! He called me brute!!!” he bellowed and, in his fit of rage, crushed the bag of food he was eating.
“Y-Yes, little bro. He called us all the same thing and we’re also angry!”
“Let’s get him! Looks like the Monkey King’s friend wants to get in our way for revenge!”
“Revenge? You guys are the ones that are making a mess of things! That’s why Mumble had to teach some lesson to that… um… knucklehead over there!”
“What did you just call me?!” the man, to whom Lakshman was referring to, shouted angrily.
“Well, isn’t it? You walked in and started eating Mumble’s food. He loves his bananas and you ate them! So you getting pushed for doing that unjustly is bad and that’s why he hit him!”
“Calm down,” the leader of the group said with a gesture. Then he turned back to Lakshman and said “Mumble, huh… So that’s his name I take it, the name of the Monkey King.”
Back inside, Darian was clutching his fist tightly as it shook slightly and said “Lakshman you idiot! Why’d you go out like that and carelessly tell them about his name?!”
“That’s master. He is always straightforward,” Ondine said apologetically.
“Get out of the way kid! Or face our wrath!” the leader said sharply as they advanced.
“I won’t!” Lakshman said stubbornly and he clutched something in his hand.
Lakshman was holding onto the Energy Rod. A few minutes ago, the rod was with him as he had intended to test how strong he had gotten. Then the commotion happened which caused him to hold onto it until now.
He did not have his Phoenix Blade, Tetra, with him. So he held the Energy Rod like a weapon and gripped it tightly. In that instant, a bright glow of light erupted from the rod and it shook violently. Then an explosion erupted and caused Lakshman to fly backwards.
“Oww…! My hand!” Lakshman said and he held his left hand which was covered in cuts, bruises and blood.
The men were laughing and then their leader said “So much for that. Kids today sure are clumsy and careless.”
As they advanced, someone else walked out of the training centre. This someone walked a few paces in front of Lakshman and faced the men. The group of men stopped in their tracks and stared in front of them in surprise.
“Ooh ooh ooh ooh!”
“What the…? What’s with this monkey?” the leader said in a puzzled voice.
The men found themselves meters away from Mumble. The little monkey had walked out to protect Lakshman, who was clutching his hand with a pained expression on his face. Now it stood and faced the gang of muscly men fearlessly while waving its arms around.
“Boss! That’s it! That’s the thing that hurt me so badly!”
“That little monkey did? Are you sure?”
“I’m positive! There’s no way I could forget that ugly face around here or anywhere!”
The man looked at Mumble and nodded. Then he put his hand into his pockets and pulled out a short stick. He held the stick in his hand and aimed it at Mumble.
“Spirits of the water, form a torrent of unbreakable water and suffocate the enemy of my friend! Water Torrent!”
For a moment, nothing happened. Then a magic circle appeared directly beneath where Mumble stood. There a jet of water suddenly surrounded him and covered him from sight. All they could see was the monkey’s shadow.
Then the rising water began to rotate faster and faster in anticlockwise. As it rotated faster, Mumble’s body began to rotate along with the flow of the water current. Then the torrent became incredibly fast and they could no longer see him anymore.
“M-Mumble!” Lakshman said and winced from the pain in his hand.
For a moment, the water torrent continued to rotate at an incredible speed. Then there was a flash of light from within the torrent of water. The next moment, the water was blown everywhere as a bright glow of light erupted from within it.
For a few seconds, the glow blinded everyone. Then the glow slowly faded and they were able to see once more. They saw water everywhere and some were dripped from it as it was splashed onto them.
Then their eyes moved to look at the spot Mumble was. They did not find him, but they found someone else instead. This person was shaking his head and wiping his face with his hand.
Then he looked at the men with a bored expression on his face and said “How… boring…!”