“Now then, mind telling me why you were always enhanced?” Darian said in a business-like tone.
For a moment, everyone was confused about who he was talking about. Rumbled sighed and looked at him with an exasperated expression on his face.
“Darian… Who are you asking that question?” he asked Darian.
“Lakshman of course,” Darian said and Rumble sighed.
When he asked why, Rumble said “Just now, we had no idea who you asked that question.”
“Oh!” Darian said in and he looked surprised before laughing. Then he said “My bad, but anyway. Lakshman, tell me for how long have you been enhanced for?”
“Uh… Enhanced?” Lakshman asked with a confused expression on his face.
“Yes. If there’s one thing I learnt from magic training is to be able to see the flow of energy. I can clearly see your energy coursing throughout your body as well as another energy mixing along with it.”
“My energy is… mixing with a different energy?” Lakshman asked in amazement.
“Yes,” Darian said and he gestured towards Tetra.
Everyone turned to look at Tetra in surprise. She, herself, was looking stricken at being pointed out about a different energy mixing with Lakshman’s energy. Darian sat on his seat and smugly looked at her nervous actions and nodded in understanding.
“So, Tetra. Tell me. How long have you been enhancing your master’s speed and strength?” he asked her curiously.
“I… uh… um…” she distractedly and was looking at the ground to avoid eye contact.
“Um… Darian, what’s this about? Did Tetra do something wrong?” Lakshman asked when he turned to look at him.
Darian nodded and said “I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I think it’s wrong what she did.”
When he finished speaking, he smiled at them. Rumble lost his patience and, in an annoyed voice, said “Get on with the blasted details, idiot!”
“Okay, okay,” Darian said quickly while continuing to smile. Then he breathed and explained.
“Ever since Lakshman came here, I noticed two energies merging with him. After reading that letter, I realised that Indra must have realised something and wanted me to be the judge of it. So that’s why I tested Lakshman’s battling skills.”
“Wait… So the point of that fight was to… check on me?” Lakshman asked as he blinked in surprise.
Darian nodded and said “Yes, but that’s when it became clear to me that Lakshman was being enhanced by the Phoenix Blade. That’s why, I maximised my energy strength and blasted him out of the ring to win the match.”
“Oh…! So that’s what happened. I did wonder why I got defeated when I used more power than you,” Lakshman said in amazement.
“After confirming that, I knew you needed more training to get strong for real. So I made you train so hard that he truly becomes strong without the help of the Sacred Spirit.”
When he finished, they looked at him in amazement. Then Rumble said “That’s a twist!”
Darian laughed and said “That’s why I keep telling you to not take everything as they come. Try to see the bigger picture and you’ll get smarter.”
Rumble snorted and said “Heh! If there’s something I can’t solve with my head, I’ll just us my fists instead!”
Rumble leaned back in his chair and looked proudly at them. Darian stared at him with half-open eyes before rolling his eyes in exasperation.
“Muscle head!” he said firmly, but Rumble simply shrugged his shoulders.
“Wait!” Ondine interjected and they turned to look at her. Looking at them with narrowed eyebrows, she asked “Does that mean that master was strong only because of Tetra’s enhancement?”
At her words, Darian nodded. At his nod, her eyes widened and she slowly said “So… Does that mean that master was…?”
She did not finish the sentence, but Darian did for her.
“That your master, Lakshman, was always weaker than he let on. Well, he was weaker as himself than with the addition of Tetra’s power.”
“No way…!” Lakshman said slowly as Ondine was not able to respond because of the shock she received.
Lakshman turned to look at Tetra as he said “So… The time I got stabbed by that Serprad warrior or how difficult I found it to defeat my dad. Does that mean that I’m…?”
“You weren’t weak at all. You’re father had that stupid shield that gave him an edge in close combat,” Darian said with an annoyed expression. Then he shook his head and said “However! I suspect something else happened on that day that you were not aware of.”
When he finished speaking, he turned and looked at Tetra with a suspicious expression on her face.
“W-Why are you looking at me?” Tetra asked nervously.
Darian suddenly unsheathed his sword and, before anyone could react, placed it near her throat. Everyone was shock to see him pointing his sword at Tetra, who was a Phoenix Blade.
“Answer!” he ordered in a firm voice.
“You see… I had sensed the danger that monster and those two warriors posed. At that same time, master was not used to the problem of real life. So I acted in a way that I became really heavy to control and I disturbed his energy flow. It would teach him a lesson and make Felix and Ondine turn back to come and save him.”
“How did you know they would come to rescue him in time? What if you miscalculated and he died in the process?”
For that, Tetra just smiled and looked at Ondine before saying “I trusted the strong bond between Ondine and master. That was why I was able to do what I did back then.”
Once she finished speaking there was silence within the room. Ondine had a complicated expression on her face. She was angry that Tetra did that to their master, but she also felt respect for the risk she took back then.
Lakshman, however, closed his eyes and asked “Why…? Why didn’t I notice…?”
“I can understand that Lakshman was taking things too easily,” he said consolingly.
Then he looked at Tetra and sternly said “Anyway, Tetra. From now on, please do not do anything like that. Also, please stop enhancing his energy to make him stronger. I think you should know, from long years of battles and experiences, a warrior must fight even when they are weapon-less!”
“Yes. I understand,” Tetra said in agreement and looked ashamed.
Lakshman, however, was feeling very depressed as he asked “So I’m… weak?”
Darian suddenly looked annoyed as he said “Get over it! Have you already forgotten what I told you yesterday?!”
Lakshman looked up in surprise and Darian continued.
“Yesterday I told you that you finally got stronger. You reached the strength level that I expected you to reach through my rigorous training. Now you are ready to help Felix in the Trial of Betrayal that will be held in few months from now.”
“Don’t you mean the training that most thirteen-year-olds cannot cope with?” Rumble asked.
“So what? If I hadn’t been that hard on him, he wouldn’t have become this strong right now. He would still be under the false impression that he is strong. That sort of thinking would get any crazy fool killed in battle!”
“Says the crazy idiot who worked himself day in and out to get super strong and all!” Rumble said as he rolled his eyes.
“Yes I did, but that’s just me! Anyway, I’m a Sword King and I don’t care what you have to say, monkey king of muscles!”
“Muscles? Sure, I guess. I do like eating meat when I’m Rumble as compared to the banana loving Mumble,” Rumble said and he winked at him.
“Hush! We’re talking about something important! Take your monkey business elsewhere!” Darian snapped in annoyance.
As Rumble shrugged his shoulders, Darian turned back and continued speaking to Lakshman.
“Right now, you’ve gotten very strong! If I compare you with your father, you certainly are far stronger than him now, which is great! When you first came here, I clearly saw that you were a bit weaker than your father. Energy wise, you’re stronger than us, but you speed and strength needed some working out.”
“Awesome!” Lakshman said happily and he finally smiled as the sad mood finally lifted.
“That’s great, master!” Ondine said cheerfully as she was genuinely happy for her master.
As they smiled happily at each other, Darian coughed to get their attention back at him. Then he said “You’re strong now, but don’t stop here. Keep on training and you’ll eventually be so strong, Indra will be burning up with jealousy!”
When he said that he wore a strange grin on his face, but Marilia coughed and brought him back to the present.
“I don’t think I can train with those weighted rods as it seems to have become easy for me. So how do you want me to train now, Darian?” Lakshman asked curiously.
Rumble laughed and said “Easy, huh? We can fix that by simply making you do more challenging activity!”
He turned to Darian and asked “Should I get them…?”
When Darian nodded, he nodded back energetically. He jumped out of his seat and quickly left the room. Darian then turned to Marilia and quickly spoke to her in a low voice. After understanding what he wanted her to do, she rose to her feet and also left the room.
A few minutes later, both Marilia and Rumble returned and clutching clothes and stuff in their arms. When they reached the table, they put them down and sat back in their chairs. Once they sat down, Darian resumed speaking to Lakshman.
“Now that you’re reached a stable point, now it’s time to push your limits even further. You’ll be doing that by wearing these weighted training clothes and gear.”
As he finished speaking, Rumble eagerly moved his clothes and gear towards Lakshman. At that moment, he was suddenly Darian grabbed his hand and pulled his stuff back with an annoyed look on his face.
“I said to get the training gear, not your clothes as well!” Darian said in an annoyed voice.
“Oh, come on! This stuff will look great on him!” Rumble said eagerly.
“No, they won’t! How many times do I have to tell you that what monkeys wear is not suitable for the rest of us?!”
“What did you just say?!”
They glared at each other fiercely for a few seconds. Then Darian sighed and, using his hand, pushed Rumble back by the face and turned to face Lakshman and Ondine.
“The two of you will be training with these weighted training clothes on from now until our departure. We won’t be leaving for a while to the Floria region, so you can train to become strong with them on until then,” he said to them.
“O-Okay, but why this extra training?” Ondine asked curiously as she looked at the clothes and gear Marilia placed in front of them.
Darian narrowed his eyes and formed a serious expression on his face as he said “We’re going to Floria region to help Felix from the confinement he was placed under. We’re up against the Phoenix clan who are full of strong fighters and warriors!”
When Lakshman and Ondine continued to look puzzled, Rumble came in and said “Right now your strength is good enough to defeat, but not enough to fight against them. What we’re after is to take the fight to them because this will eventually draw into one crazy battle!”
“So that’s why you should take this time to get strong. I estimate our departure will be in one month time. Until then, I expect the both of you to train as hard as you can!” Darian said firmly.
Lakshman and Ondine looked surprised. They looked at each other for a moment before turning back to face Darian. Then they grinned and firmly said “Yes!”
“Good and by the way, Lakshman. Have Tetra increase her mass,” Darian said to Lakshman.
“Huh? Increase her mass?” Lakshman asked and he looked confused.
Tetra suddenly widened her eyes and shouted “No! I don’t want to get heavy! I don’t want to look fat!”
Darian sighed and said “No…! I meant your sword form to get heavier. That way, Lakshman will have a better chance of increasing his strength and get faster as well.”
“Alright, but I don’t want to get fat!” Tetra said grudgingly.
While Darian sighed again, Rumble laughed and said “You’re a bunch of comedy, you know that?”
“At least their comedy will be on hold while they train. In the meantime, I got you to annoy the heck out of me!” Marilia said and she looked annoyed for some reason.
Rumble laughed easily while Marilia glared at him fiercely.
Darian let out a heavy sigh and muttered “What have I got myself into?”
At that moment, Lakshman asked “Darian, should we put them on and start training?”
Darian chuckled and said “Suit yourself whenever, but remember; the sooner you begin, the faster you get strong! So do it and get strong because we’ll be up against some crazy people in Floria region.”
“Right!” Lakshman and Ondine said in unison and they smiled at each other.
The only one looking unhappy among them was Tetra as she muttered “I don’t want to be fat…!”
Thus, Lakshman and Ondine put on their weighted shirts, shoes and wristbands to begin their training. They have one month of training to do and so their challenging race to get strong in one month is underway.