The next time Lakshman woke up, he noticed that it was still dark. For a moment, he was confused as sleepiness slowly made itself out of him. Then, he remembered the past events of how he ended up being in that dark place.
“Decisive Player. How long was I out for?” he thought curiously.
“More than a few hours. You wouldn’t sleep so the young miss used a Sleeping Magic Spell on you,” the Decisive Player told him in his mind.
“Oh, I see,” Lakshman said shortly while sounding surprised.
That was when he became aware of something soft and tender beneath his head. He had noticed that he was sleeping in an elevation as if he was lying on top of a comfortable pillow, when he realised it was not a pillow. The feeling of skin and clothes could be felt as he lay there in the dark.
“What the? What am I lying on?”
“On her lap.”
Lakshman’s eyes widened in surprise and he tried to get up, only to realise that his hands and feet were still tied up. Instead, he moved around so restlessly, that he accidentally rolled of her lap and landed on the floor.
“Ouch,” he yelped when his face hit the hard floor.
“That’s what you get for being a restless sleeper!”
At that moment, he heard a moan coming from above him. He tried to turn, but somehow ended up in an awkward position as Erza Flameheart opened her eyes.
For a moment, she looked surprised as she patted herself on the lap. Then she tried looking to see where he had rolled disappeared to.
“Lakshman? Lakshman?” she called for him in a soft voice.
“I’m right here…” he said and startled her with how close he was to her.
“W-Wow. Y-You surprised me,” she told him with a chuckle. “Anyway, why are you there, Lakshman? Didn’t you like sleeping on my lap or you felt too conscious about something?”
“Eh?! No, no! I didn’t have ulterior motives to roll down here!” Lakshman said quickly, but then became surprised when she easily laughed.
“Please don’t worry. I know the kind of person you are, so it’s quite alright,” she told him and he thought he saw her smile.
“Oh… So then, can you please untie these knots off me? It feels really restricting to lie down like this while my hands and legs are tied up.”
“Of course. Just give me a few seconds. Light Balls.”
With her magical lights activated, she gently raised them into the air where they floated without support. As the light hovered over them, Erza moved around while making him expose his bad side where his hands were tied up. Once she wrapped his hands, she moved to his feet and untied them as well.
“There you are. All done,” Erza finally said once she crawled back and leaned against the wall.
Finding himself finally free of the restraints, he finally sat up. He rolled his shoulders a little and stretched his legs to ease the main in them. To him, it felt like a really long time since he had properly used his hands and legs like this.
“Thank you, Erza! I really appreciate your help,” he told her gratefully with a smile on her face.
For some reason, she did not return the smile and this puzzled him. Previously, she was smiling and joking around, but now she looked really sad. It made him wonder what was upsetting her like this.
“I may have been able to untie those knots, but I cannot remove their rings from your arms,” she said while pointing at his arms with her finger.
“Eh?” he said in a surprised.
It was then that he became aware of unrecognisable rings wrapped around both of his arms. Apart from the green coloured rings, which he knew were Gravity Rings, there were a set of six other rings that he did not recognise.
He attempted to take them off, only to realise that they would not come off. Even with all his might, the rings remained in their place without moving a centimetre.
“Ha…! Why aren’t they coming off?” he asked in a puzzled voice. “Besides, what are these? I don’t remember seeing them before.”
The unknown six rings were purple in the colour which he had never seen before. However, a vague suspicion brought itself into his mind as he continued to think about what they are.
Erza sighed unhappily and said “Those are the Suppression Rings which are used to supress your power and strength by a great deal per ring.”
At her words, his eyes widened in shock and he exclaimed “Suppression Rings?! Are you certain?”
When she nodded her head at him, he looked shocked as he stared at the rings in alarm.
“Damn…! I’ve heard of the Suppression Rings and their capabilities, but this is the first time I’ve had the displeasure of setting my eyes on it. On top of that, it’s said to be really, really rare to find!”
He just realised something else. Time Crystals were also super rare to find, yet the Demon Dragon King seemed to have a lot of them in his passion.
“How the heck does he have all these?” he asked quietly, to which Erza only shrugged her shoulders.
“Isn’t not that hard to find if you know the right place to look in,” the Decisive Player told him. “Since ancient times, the location of these super rare items have been hidden, but they often find themselves into the hands of strangers. The reason they remained super rare and hard to find was because many could not interpret the language of the ancients.”
“You mean the Demon Dragon King can read the ancient language?”
“That is very likely, yes. It is hardly surprising since the Dragon Clan came into this world around the time Phoenix Clan became known around the world as the mightiest. That was around the time when the first Phoenix Titan and the Dragon Emperor of that era crossed blades.”
“They fought?! Why?”
“I’m not actually sure either, but the two clans had dispute being that their techniques and knowledge make them two of the strongest warriors in the world. The Phoenix Titan wanted to spread that knowledge to help society, but the Dragon Emperor refused it. Thus, the two clans separated and began living on different continents.”
“I know the Dragon Clan are not traceable due to their advanced magic in cloaking themselves, but I think they aren’t in the Human Continent.”
“Yes. I doubt they are in the Human Continent, but they aren’t the only ones using cloaking magic to hide their location.”
“That’s right. The Phoenix Clan also does it which is why Felix was forced to move home to that small office in the castle to work in.”
At the joke, Lakshman chuckled to himself which surprised Erza.
“What’s the matter?” she asked him curiously.
“Oh. I just thought of something and it was quite funny, so I couldn’t help, but laugh,” he told her with a smiling face.
“Ah…” she said and she nodded in understanding.
“Well, anyway… This is problematic,” he said with a sigh when he looked at the rings on his arms. “According to what I read from books, these rings do a heavy job in supressing the wearer of his strength and power. On top of that, the person wearing these rings cannot take them off.”
Erza nodded and said “That’s right. I and those people, over there, attempted many times to take them off, but they just wouldn’t come off.”
“Which means the only people capable of removing these are the people that are holding us here…” he said and sighed heavily. “What a troublesome situation we’re all in.”
Erza looked puzzled at his words and said “I’m sorry, but I don’t know the circumstances for you being here, but they are all hostages to make their parents behave.”
Now he was really surprised when she gestured towards the huddle on the other side of the room.
“Hostages? All of them?”
“That’s correct. The new king, Adebola Gramstone, took them hostage to make their noble family obey him. They are all students of Minstral Academy, but the new king took them hostage before the nobles could start a rebellion on him.”
“Curse him…!” Lakshman muttered menacingly. “He’s bent on revenge and even went as far as to kill his own father, the previous king. Now he’s preparing for an invasion by having the Demon Dragon King work for him.”
“Yes, but you see. Those two don’t seem to get along well,” Erza said in a whisper when she leaned in to speak to him. “I heard the guards talking about it when they brought us here, although I bet they act professionally when they are outside. Adebola is still a king, so it’s understandable that they behave professionally outside, but don’t get along once they are out of it.”
Lakshman chuckled and said “One is after to obtain the strongest weapon while the other is planning on ruling the world through the power of fear. Talk about the weird partnership between those two unlikely allies.”
“That’s true, but they seem to be working together for now.”
“Because both have similar goals,” Lakshman said as he thought about it. “I suspect, the Demon Dragon King is assisting Adebola for the preparation by proving him with some enhancements. In return, Razzel gets all the materials he needs to perform his experiments.”
“An equal trade off,” Erza said with displeasure.
Lakshman shrugged his shoulders and said “Whatever it is, I don’t like it, but I can’t do much with these on,” and he gestured at the Suppression Rings on his arms.
“Yes. It is strange that you have six on you when the rest of us only have two or three rings. Seems like you’re overwhelming strength and power was calculated for him to put so many on you,” Erza said with a smile on her face.
“I wish I can take pride in it, but right now I’m in a bind,” he said while looking disgruntled.
“Is there a possible way we can get rid of these? Maybe overload it with energy by powering up?”
“Not possible. The chances of blowing yourself up are more likely than you being capable of destroying these rings. These rings don’t just supress your power and strength, but they supress your energy as well. I highly doubt you are able to power up even if you wanted to.”
“Damn…! I’m definitely in a bind. I could try forcefully break using bursting energy—”
“No use. Your energy will get dispersed into air and become wasted. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about here.”
“I know you are, but you aren’t giving me one helpful advice on how to get out of this jam! You know what will happen if I stay like this, right? I might get killed with one of those crazy experiment that Razzel’s going to use on me.”
“Are you afraid of the unknown?”
“Not in the slightest. I’ve just been beaten into a pulp without being able to defend myself and I’m fine with that. However! Being subjugated to experiments that could leave me worse off than how I am now is something I highly dislike!”
Lakshman heard the Decisive Player laugh and say “I see. Unfortunately, these rings cannot be taken off by you or anyone else wearing the same sort of rings.”
He was really unhappy with how much of a trouble he was in. With every possible idea he thought of, the Decisive Player threw it aside as useless. With how powerful these rings were, he cursed the ancients for ever making them in the first place.
“Don’t curse the ancients. They would often use these rings on their young when they possessed uncontrollable power. This was used to let their children slowly control their powers over the course of time and training.”
“Yet, that simple tool is now being used to bind us down like this! This is incredibly frustrating to say the least.”
“I know… I know…”
Lakshman was not the only one feeling unhappy. The Decisive Player was also feeling unhappy at how things turned into. Without Lakshman’s knowledge, he was cursing himself for not being prepared for this situation. In the past, even without his godly powers, he was able to predict what was happening almost accurately. Now, however, he suddenly was having difficulty predicting how things will play out.
Just then, the sound of footsteps could be heard headed their way. Erza quickly deactivated her magic and caused the balls of light to vanish in an instant. The footsteps drew closer until they stopped right outside their room door. With scrapping noise, the doors were swung open and an infinite ray of light was shone into the room.
Two people came in wearing strange masks that were very different to the ones the Phintex Rajas wore.
“Lakshman Chand! The king, Adebola Gramstone, wants to see you. Come!” they ordered him while standing in the door way.
“Oh really…? Then why don’t you come here and make me?” Lakshman told them fiercely.
The two of men looked at each other for a moment. Once they came to an agreement, they turned around and began to walk towards him while cracking their knuckles. As they drew closer, Lakshman remained sitting, but he was preparing to spring on them when they got close enough. Then he made his move right when they were within arm’s reach.
Lakshman lunged at the two of them as hard as he could with the amount of strength he currently possessed. The next moment, he was in a world of hurt as the two men punched him in the face and smashed him to the ground.
“No! Don’t hurt him!” Erza shouted and tried to stop them, but she slapped her aside.
“Stop it! Don’t hurt her!” he shouted at them only to receive two blows to his back.
Finally unable to fight back, they lifted him by the shoulders and dragged him out of the room. Erza watched in desperation, with tears streaming down her face, as the two men walked out of the room while dragging Lakshman by the shoulders. Then they closed the doors shut and threw the room into total darkness once again.