Broken to Pass
“So… Mumble is just your false identity?” Ondine asked a while later when they all sat down to talk.
“What?! There’s nothing false about it! It’s the name I go by when I’m in my monkey form which is also my Saver Mode form,” Rumble said indignantly and looked hurt by her words.
“Yet, you’re now calling yourself Rumble because apparently you’re in Normal Mode, right?”
She shook her head and sighed before asking “Why two names? Why?”
Rumble smile widened as he said “Isn’t it cool? You know… to have a different name for different forms?”
“Um… No… It isn’t…” Ondine said as she slowly shook her head at him.
“See, Rumble! Here’s someone else calling your two names a stupid idea!” Darian said with emphasis.
Rumble looked very angry when he looked at Darian and said “I’ll punch you into the next century!”
“Try if you can, muscle head!” Darian said coolly.
Rumble glared at him while Darian calmly stared right back unflinchingly. Then he sighed and turned away which caused the smile of Darian’s face to widen.
Rumble fidgeted a little with his fingers for a moment. At that moment, Lakshman came to where they were sitting with Marilia. His injured hand was completely wrapped in white cloth which was slightly stained in red colour of his blood.
“Ah, Lakshman. Just the man I want to have a word with,” Rumble said when Lakshman and Marilia took seats at the table they sat at.
“You want to talk to me?” Lakshman asked curiously.
Rumble nodded and asked “Tell me, why you decided to walk out there and try fighting those guys?”
“Ah, yes. I was wondering about the same thing,” Darian said and he nodded at Rumble. Then he turned to Lakshman and asked “Tell us, Lakshman. Why did you do that?”
All of them turned their heads to look intently at Lakshman. He was a little taken aback by the sudden attention he was receiving and he stumbled in his first few words.
“I… um… Well…”
Then he fell silent and bowed his head sadly. Darian and Rumble looked at him, then at each other before turning back to stare at him.
Then Rumble questioned him by asking “Were you perhaps… acting the hero?”
Lakshman looked up at him curiously and asked “Acting the hero? What do you mean by that?”
Darian, with a serious expression on his face, said quietly “It’s like you’re pretending to be a hero to feel good, to like playing the role of a hero and get praised to get satisfied. Quite frankly it is an arrogant behaviour and it is also done by people overconfident.”
“Huh?” Lakshman said and he looked surprised.
“For example, if you are faced with an opponent. You rushed into battle thinking you will destroy evil. It’s a commendable thought, but what if you’re weaker than the enemy? Because of your overconfident, you’re defeated and killed off. That’s something like acting the hero.”
“Yes, but there’s more,” Rumble said as he continued once Darian finished. Then he said “Additionally, you’re also putting your allies at risk. You allies follow you because they believe in you and believe they will achieve victory by fighting alongside you.”
Darian looked a little sad when Rumble said that. He looked at Lakshman with a sad expression and said “Because of your desire of acting the hero, not only are you getting destroyed, but so are your allies. It isn’t right to betray their expectations all because of your desire to be a hero.”
“Is it wrong to fight against evil?” Lakshman asked with a concerned expression on his face.
“Yes, master,” Ondine said and she was nodding at Darian and Rumble.
Darian nodded at her and smiled before saying “When I was young, I read many stories about the heroic figures throughout history. Sometimes I wanted to be a hero like the people in the legends, but many had said I was dreaming.”
“Hey, hey! You’re making this overly complicated!” Marilia said and they looked at her in surprise.
“M-Marilia?” Darian and Rumble said together in a surprised voice.
She glared at them with a serious expression on her face and said “Cutting the overly complicated stuff short, you must truly be strong and can defend yourself and your allies. Only then can you be a hero of your dreams. Otherwise you’re nothing, but a walking target!”
“W-Walking target…!” Rumble said and he began to chuckle.
“It’s the truth!” Marilia insisted as she looked at them.
“No, I’m not laughing at what you said. Rather, I’m just relating it to myself and Darian. Don’t you agree, my long lasting buddy?” Rumble said as he smiled and turned to look at Darian.
Darian nodded and said “I suppose those words sure can be related to the both of us. Throughout our whole lives we’ve been a target to attack by many demons, especially members of the Serprad clan.”
Rumble laughed and said “They sure hated us so badly! I’m sure even now they’re trying to find us to get back at us!”
“Um… Were you two doing bad things or something?” Ondine asked curiously.
“Well… You know…” Rumble said hesitantly and he looked at Darian. When he shrugged his shoulders at his friend, Rumble sighed and said “The two of us fought against each other in the Demon-Human war several centuries ago and we piled up a load of enemies since then.”
“War…” Lakshman muttered and he looked unhappy.
To Lakshman, the subject of war is not a happy one. The main reason to this was that it reminded him of a time that Sumara Manjuvad, his once home tutor for magic, and Ondine never got along. The reason for their mutual dislike for each other was simply that Sumara was from the Demon race and Ondine was part of the spirits.
Over the time of being together, they finally accepted each other. However, Lakshman knew there were others in the world that did not accept each other. That was why he disliked the very topic of war and has a healthy dislike for it.
Rumble continued to say “Anyway! We’re getting side tracked. We were asking Lakshman whether he went out there ‘acting the hero’ or for another reason.”
When they look at Lakshman once again, he cleared his throat and smiled. Then he said “I was getting angry and frustrated at how they wanted to take revenge on Mumble when they were the ones causing all the problems! So I wanted to teach them a lesson and that’s why I went out!”
There was a short pause in which they looked at each other with surprised expressions on their faces.
Then Darian looked back at Lakshman and asked “Sounds good, but what could would you have done if they were stronger than you?”
“I… I thought that at first, but somehow I felt I could do it. I am stronger than before and I sort of felt the energy those guys had couldn’t compare to mine.”
“Wait! Did you learn to sense energy levels?!” Darian asked in disbelief.
“Are you talking about sensing how strong someone is and the amount of energy they have?” Lakshman asked uncertainly. When Darian nodded, Lakshman smiled and said “No. I don’t think I learnt anything like that, but it was just the way they were projecting themselves. That’s when I realised I could defeat them, no problems!”
Darian and everyone were staring at Lakshman incredulously. Rumble, on the other hand, had his eyebrows raised in amusement at hearing his words.
Rumble then remembered what happened and laughed. As everyone turned to look at him, he smiled and said “You might’ve, but that stupid rod of… whatever it was… got blown up because it couldn’t handle your strong growth!”
“Oh… um… Darian…? What am I supposed to do with… these?” Lakshman asked nervously and he sounded fearful as he pulled out the broken remains of the Energy Rod.
Darian looked seriously at the broken pieces that Lakshman laid on the table. Then he looked very seriously at Lakshman who feared he will be punished. To his amazement, Darian simply laughed.
“Just chuck this stuff out. It’s now nothing, but trash, although it served its purpose,” Darian said before winking at Lakshman.
Lakshman and Ondine looked at each other for a moment. Then, together, they turned to him and said “Huh?”
Darian smiled and began to explain his reason behind using the Energy Rod.
“The Energy Rod is a test product, but I also purchased it for another reason. I wanted Lakshman to keep track of how strong he is getting while also giving me an idea of how he is progressing. The product owners said it will break if a certain amount of power is exceeded. So I knew, the moment it breaks that Lakshman finally met my expectations for his improvement in strength.”
“So… Does that mean…?” Lakshman asked uncertainly.
Darian nodded and smiled before he said “You pass and with flying colours! The fact that thing exploded with such force is enough proof to me that you’ve completed strengthening. Now we need to prepare for our departure to Floria Region imme—!”
He was suddenly cut off by Rumble as he said “I’m also coming and I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer!”
“Of-course you’re coming!” Darian said and he looked at Rumble as if he was crazy.
Rumble blinked in surprise and said “Err… You’re actually going to?”
“Naturally! We’re going to help Felix and I appreciate all the help we can get!” Darian said firmly.
As Rumble was looking pleased and smiling happily, Darian continued to speak.
“We must assume the worst case scenario when we get there. We should assume the entire Phoenix Clan is taken over and is under demon control or something like that. That way, we’ll avoid unpleasant surprises.”
“True, but I think there will be some people from the clan to help us out, right?” Lakshman said.
“Good point, Lakshman, but I think they’ll stay low. That’s because they don’t want to attract too much attention or they’ll be in trouble. In order to protect and restore their leader, they’ll be treading carefully for a while,” Darian said seriously.
“I see,” Lakshman said in an understanding voice.
“It makes sense,” Ondine said and she nodded at him.
“Anyway, let’s discuss more about our journey for now. We can decide on other things later.”
After that, they continued to talk discuss about what they should prepare for, the equipment that needs to be put together and anything else they would require for the journey.
The Journey from Roxfox region to Floria region will be a long one and might take months before they get there. So for the journey, they were discussing and planning for the long term. Rumble even joined in to add in some additional plans in case the primary plans fail.
Meanwhile, Marilia sat quietly and listened to them and thought “I feel left out…”