Phoenix Rising – Chapter 8

Slave Spirit


“Prepare yourself to die, bastards!”

The owner of the voice was a girl who was barely his age. She was red faced and stood in front of him while her clothes were dripping wet. Her voice radiated with anger as she looked at him threateningly. Lakshman, for his part, had a bewildered look on his face while he stared at her.

In that instant, he thought, “How the heck did things turn out like this?!”

The events leading to such a predicament occurred almost an hour ago. It had been two years since the attack of the monster attack on the village and peace was finally restored in the surrounding area. The neighbourhood and its occupants no longer felt fear of attack because the guards patrolled the area day and night. It felt safer and the lesson they learnt of how dangerous carelessness can become made them actively do their best to be careful.

Time slowly went by and they soon entered winter, which started in Tyfon, the eighth month, and the weather soon got really cold. In the morning, the sun would shine and the heat was enough to keep people just warm, but they still needed warm pelts to wear in order to keep out the cold. In the night, however, it got really cold and they needed Fire Crystals to keep their homes warm.

There was a rush for Fire Crystals in the Adventurer’s Guild, causing almost all the adventurers hunting day in and out before returning with the item and earning their reward. Lakshman’s home was no exception. Every morning, the inhabitants of the house would be seen wearing double layered pelts over their normal clothes. Even their drinks were warm to keep them energetic in the weather despite the cold.

The only one that seemed to be oblivious to the change in weather was Lakshman, who has turned twelve on the twenty-seventh of Zageil, 8093 PX. Right from childhood, he had shown how to be impervious to the freezing cold. Sumara, his magic tutor, was astonished to find him walking around in loose clothing in the early morning of the winter, except his parents who were accustomed to it by now.

“How are you not feeling the cooold?!” Sumara asked him, staring at him in surprise.

Lakshman nonchalantly made a smile on his face and replied, “I don’t know, but I don’t feel the cold.”

Sumara chuckled half-humorously before sighing in resignation at the fact that she would not understand his condition. It was the same with why he had an unstable body previously at a very young age before managing to stabilize.

His father, Indra, did not mind the cold that much and actually needed to remove his pelt after working up a great deal of sweat and energy while training in the morning. As for Lakshman, he remained sweating a bit but it soon began to dry up quickly and made it look like he did not even train due to his energetic demeanour.

Lakshmi, his mother, however, found good use of this. She often hugged him just so she could warm up and the reason for this was because she was pregnant. They discovered her pregnancy a few weeks back and their joy over it was more than enough to ignore the cold as they happily celebrated it. Lakshman was especially happy and one day he proudly declared he will be a cool older brother.

“Do your best,” said his mother, nodding brightly at him.

Days went by and it was the second day of the Reiked month of 8093 PX when the weather was slightly warmer, making Lakshman decide to take a break from his training. He really wanted to go back into the forest and play with the Water Spirits and the cat that often showed up near the lake. So, while having breakfast, he and his parents spoke to him over breakfast.

“What will you do today, Lucky?” Lakshmi asked, curiously.

“I plan to go and explore the forest more,” he replied, not mentioning the water spirits and the cat.

“The forest again?” Lakshmi asked, smiling funnily at her son. “Don’t you think you should spend more time with Stuart? Maybe, go wherever he goes and hang out with more people to have fun?”

“I know, but he’s been busy helping his father out and studying those subjects,” said Lakshman, looking a little gloomy at the growing distance between him and his only friend.

“I see. He’s trying to walk in his father’s footsteps. That’s neat,” Indra said, nodding approvingly with a smile before he looked at his son and asked, “That reminds me… What do you plan on doing when you grow up, Lucky?”

Lakshman blinked at his father in surprise and paused for a moment before replying, “I don’t know…”

Indra sighed and suggested, “You know, you could just follow in my footsteps, right?”

His son was surprised by his suggestion and Lakshmi glared at him, angrily saying, “No! Following you in your footsteps is the last thing I want my son to do!”

“It’ll be fine, Lakshmi. I’m confident he won’t repeat the same mistakes that I did at his age…” he said, reassuringly, but his wife was not reassured and firmly shook her head before replying in a solid voice.

“Even so, I want him to make his own decision about what he wants to do when he grows up by his own opinion. I don’t want him to be controlled or forced to

Indra stared at his wife in surprise and nodded, saying mutely, “Yes… Of course…”

After Lakshmi became pregnant, Indra’s strong personality slowly started changing and he became somewhat submissive to his wife’s words, especially when she says them strongly.

Once his breakfast was done, Lakshman bid goodbye to his parents and Mariana before leaving the house. Just as he was about to walk away from the house, a familiar voice called after him and he turned around to find Sumara running after him.

“Ha… Ha… Ha…” she panted, trying to catch her break from such a short run.

Lakshman stared at her in surprise and asked, “Miss Sumara? Why’re you here?”

After catching her breath, Sumara straightened up and said, “I thought I’d accompany you.”

He was quite surprised upon hearing her words and thinking that she was worried about his safety, he replied, “Ah. There’s no need for you to come with me, Miss Sumara. I’m sure I’ll be fine by myself since the monsters are no longer in the area.”

Sumara chuckled and shook her head, saying, “No, no. It isn’t about that. I think, after your feat in defeating the monster two-years-ago can guarantee us that you’ll be fine. No… Actually, I wanted to come and explore the forest as well.”

“Huh? Explore the forest?” Lakshman asked, looking confused.

She nodded and explained, “Yes. You see, I am still a bit lacking in knowledge about the habitual lives that Water Spirits and the Camdra Beast Clan lead living far away from society.”

He stared at her in amazement and asked, “Um… Miss Sumara, didn’t you tell me to be careful around them, so why do you want to go near them?”

She momentarily became nervous by his words and said, slowly, “Uh… Truth be told, I don’t like being near them because I’m from the Demon Race, but I need to gather information to provide a thesis on social connections for my ranking up.”

“Oh. This is about the university thing that you’re planning on doing later on,” he said, to which she nodded. Nodding back at her, he smiled and said, “Alright. Let’s go together, Miss Sumara.”

“Okay. Lead on,” she said, making him laugh before the two of them headed towards the forest.

In these two years, nothing major happened. It was a blissful morning except for the cold and they would see people and greet them respectfully. Even though nothing happened in the last two years, people still viewed him as a hero. Sumara felt proud of her student who had become accustomed to the people around the area.

“Wow… This is amazing…” said Sumara, speaking up finally after some time.

They had finally arrived at the forest and Sumara spoke aloud while he smiled. He also looked at the forest and remembered the last time he was there, which was the place where he was attacked by two monsters. Now, it felt peaceful once more and even thought that the forest was welcoming him.

Turning to his magic tutor, he asked, curiously, “Shall we go in?”

She was brought out of her reverie, and she smiled as she said, “Yeah. Let’s go.”

While walking in, he momentarily wondered what Sumara was feeling at that moment. For him, it felt strange, almost as if he found a place of peace and harmony untouched by people. The wind blew smoothly and ruffled their hair with the trees allowing small portions of light to fall through.

It took them several minutes to find the lake and found the water spirits, like usual, playing in the water.

“Ah~!” they said, upon seeing him there.

“Hello there!” he said, brightly and automatically switching to speak in the spirit language.

Two-years-ago, he could not speak the Spirit Language. It troubled him quite a bit and took intensive lessons from Sumara doing her best to teach him the Spirit Language. It was more difficult to learn the new language than he thought because he had learnt the Human Language and the Global Language with ease. Still, he persisted and he finally managed to learn most of what Sumara knew and started to communicate with them more fluently as time went by.

“So these are the water spirits…” muttered Sumara, looking curiously at the spirits dancing in the water.

Each of the spirits had short blue hair and blue eyes. Their appearance was similar to the humans, but Lakshman was unable to tell the difference between the male and female spirits. At seeing their blue hair, he asked Sumara if there is any relation to them. She simply stated that her hair shines greenish in the sunlight while their hair is naturally blue.

He walked a moment forward before noticing that she had stopped, so he turned around and asked, “What’s wrong, Miss Sumara?” Are you that surprised seeing them for the first time?”

“Well, I think it’s a natural reaction to be surprised upon seeing them on the first meeting,” replied Sumara, still looking curiously at the water spirits. “Still, I am surprised to find them looking so… similar to us…”

He was a little surprised by her words before saying, “Actually, not too long ago, they were just these small little balls of light that often played here, but I think they grew up somewhat last week and transformed to look as they do right now.”

“Mmm…” Sumara said, staying in her spot and watching as he walked forward to greet them.

“What’s everyone doing?” he asked, reaching them and sitting down on the leafy ground.

“Playing~! Playing~!” the water spirit spoke in energetic voices.

There were six water spirits and all of them looked like seven-year-old kids. Lakshman could never get used to seeing them in this form. He was reminded of his first encounter with them two-years-ago. This made him realise the words that Sumara had said just now and he laughed because of it.

“What’s so funny~? What’s so funny~?” they asked him, dancing around him playfully.

Lakshman smiled and replied, “It’s nothing.”

Hes and the six water spirits continued to speak about their activities, and he was not surprised to hear that they were being watched by a Spirit Guardian. Upon hearing that name, Sumara became slightly conscious of her surroundings and put her guard up.

From The lessons he received from Sumara, he knew the Spirit Guardians was a group from each of the Elemental Spirits and their duty was to protect the younger spirits of their elements. In addition, they are said to hate mixing with people, especially with those who abuse their Sacred Spirits and Slave Spirits, who are like their family.

“I wonder if these young ones will become one of them…?” he thought, looking curious.

The Sacred Spirits are weapons and objects infused with Elemental Spirits that make contract with a wielder. A Slave Spirit was an Elemental Spirit making a Slave Seal with a user after losing its pride and honour, choosing to serve than take its own life. Lakshman was uncomfortable, even unnatural about the Slave Spirit’s situation, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it.

Just then, Lakshman got splashed with water by two of the water spirits. They seemed to have gotten bored of him staring into space and began playfully splashing him with water. Lakshman wiped his face and looked at them with a wicked smile. Then he used magic and rained water down onto their heads. They would yell playfully and jump into the lake and he did the same. From there, they continued to splash each other with water.

“You sure are loved by the water spirits,” said Sumara, who had walked nearer him and the lake.

He looked up at her and saw that she held a notebook in her hand, scribbling something down. She had conjured the notebook from her stuff she had back at home using the Summon Utility spell. While teaching him the use of the spell, she summoned several of her belongings without needing to go into the house, which was remarkable to see.

He immediately tried to summon something but it resulted in him damaging several objects, like a chair and glass. The chair lost its legs and the glass shattered into pieces when the summoning did not work properly, resulting in him getting scolded by his mother. Since then, he had taken that training slowly and Sumara told him to visualise the object that you want utensil you want to summon before using the spell.

“We’re friends,” replied Lakshman, smiling as he sat upright and watched the water spirits playing around.

It was a peaceful scene with the water spirits playing with Sumara and him watching them quietly when, all of a sudden, his eyes widened with shocked. In an instant, he jumped to his feet and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword almost reflexively.

“W-What’s wrong?” Sumara asked, startled to see him suddenly standing up with one hand on his sword’s handle.

The reason for his sudden reaction became clear when a deadly aura began to radiate from somewhere nearby. A moment later, someone stepped out of the shadows on the opposite side of the lake and from the sunlight streaming through the thicket of trees, Lakshman realised that it was a girl.

He did not know who she was, but he guessed that she was probably similar to his age from her youthful appearance along with her height. The girl was staring at them with a furious expression on her face with tightly knitted eyebrows.

“Move away from them, demon!” the girl called, glaring angrily at them.

“D-Demon?! What do you mean?!” Lakshman exclaimed, looking confusedly at her while nervously edging in front of Sumara.

He was sure the girl was referring to Sumara, who was from the Demon Race, and while he did not clearly understand why people initially treated her differently, he knew it was bad. Sensing the danger that Sumara was in from the girl, he slowly moved himself to stand in front of her.

At that moment, the girl easily jumped over the lake and landed a few meters away from him. He was momentarily amazed by her great leap before he turned towards her and raised his sword in defence. Sumara, who was feeling threatened, stood close to her student and prepared herself to act at an instant’s notice.

“What’s the matter with you?!” he asked, staring at the girl in annoyance.

“How dare a demon be so close to the spirits of the water!” the girl shouted, looking very angrily at them.

Once again, Lakshman played ignorant and asked, “Like I said, what’re you talking about? We’re human if you’re having trouble telling who we are!”

The girl looked confused and turned to him instead before saying, “Huh? Of course I know you are human. It’s that woman standing behind you is the demon.”

“Crap!” Lakshman thought, realising the girl directly used the name to associate with Sumara. Still, he remained defiant and said, “Okay. She is a demon, but she isn’t bad! She’s my magic teacher!”

His words caused her to momentarily widen her eyes in surprise before she made a furious look and said, “I see. A demon master and apprentice. You both are dangerous!”

“Huh?!” Lakshman exclaimed, both he and Sumara blinking at him in surprise.

She released her powers and rushed towards him at high speed, almost catching both of them by surprise. Luckily, Lakshman reacted in time and brought his sword up to clash with her sword that she attempted to cut him down with.

The girl was amazed by how strong the human proved to be by his strong defence in holding the sword. It was obvious from her reaction considering he had told her that Sumara was his magic tutor and did not expect him to be that strong in his defensive skills.

Applying great force, she managed to push him back and Sumara continued to stay behind him while staring at the girl with narrowed eyebrows. While the two people glared at each other, Sumara silently aimed her hand at the girl’s feet and quietly activated the spell by muttering the words.

“Willow Bind.”

“Eh?!” she said, her eyes widening in surprise.

A magic circle appeared right underneath the girl and the grass instantly grew to her waist height. The next moment, the stretched grassy leaves wrapped themselves around her arms and legs. Her sword fell from her during the wrapping process and she struggled in vain to break free from the grassy leaves holding her steady.

Taking the chance, Lakshman dashed forward and swung the side of his sword against the side of the woman’s face. The force of impact was strong as a loud thud sound was heard and she almost fell sideways in her unconscious state. She slowly fell sideways and toppled into the war just as Sumara deactivated her magic.

They stood there and stared at the water that was emanating bubbles for a few seconds before it went silent. Even the water spirits went quiet and stopped playing to stare at the scene of battle with shocked looks on their faces.

After a pause, Lakshman wondered aloud, “Um…? Why isn’t she coming out of the water…?”

“Excuse me,” said one of the water spirits that came over to speak with them. “Um… She’s a Spirit Guardian, but she doesn’t possess the ability to breathe underwater like the rest of us.”

“Ha?! She’s a Spirit Guardian?!” Lakshman exclaimed, looking shocked.

Sumara blinked in surprise before knitting her eyebrows in seriousness, asking, “More importantly, did you say she can’t breathe under water? Doesn’t that mean she’s…?” She instantly realised the implication and turned to her student before saying, “Lakshman! Bring her to the surface. Quickly!”

“R-Right!” he said, stabbing his sword into the ground and jumping into the lake.

As he leapt into the water, Sumara followed him by saying, “Water Channel.”

Water began to swirl around Lakshman and allowed him to swing deeper in the direction the girl fell earlier. A few seconds later, he found her and grabbed her before he spoke in his mind to Sumara, who kept her Telepathy active.

“Miss Sumara, please bring us up,” he said, and she nodded in understanding.

She aimed her hand at the water swirling to the bottom and said, “Water Rise.”

In an instant, the swirling water surrounded Lakshman and the unconscious girl before rapidly bringing them to the surprise. They broke the surface with immense force and flew a few meters into the air before quickly falling to the land. Seeing the approaching land, Lakshman grabbed the girl and managed to land with his knees hitting the ground before he laid her gently down.

Sumara walked over to her and knelt down before placing her hand on her chest and saying, “Resonance.”

There was a moment of pause in which the girl remained unmoving and Lakshman feared that he had killed a Spirit Guardian. The next moment, however, she began spluttering and coughed water out of her mouth before slowly opening her eyes. Seeing this, Sumara immediately backed away and came to stand behind her student once more.

The Spirit Guardian girl was in a daze as she slowly looked around at her surroundings before coming to the realisation of what happened. She quickly focused her mind and immediately jumped to her feet before turning around to face him and the demon woman standing behind him.

“Prepare yourself to die, bastards!” the girl said, her face becoming bright red as her body shook a little.

At that moment, a strong elderly voice sounded from behind her, saying, “Put your blade away, Ondine!”

The girl, identified as Ondine, widened her eyes and turned around to see an elderly looking man standing there. He was bald with blue beard coming down his chin, and he seemed to be looking seriously at her. Seeing the man, Ondine quickly rushed over and knelt before him in a form of submission.

“Elder Rodrack?” she said, looking very surprised. “Why are you here?”

“I came to see what all the commotion was about and found you fighting a human and a demon.”

His face was filled with annoyance while looking down at the Spirit Guardian and she closed her eyes feeling nervous. Lakshman slowly relaxed and looked at the transpiring scene taking place right before him with amazement. Just then, the elder, named Rodrack, looked at Lakshman and smiled, a soft expression that Lakshman felt was emanating a sense of peace.

“Sorry for the trouble this young one caused you,” said the elder, smiling while indicating the kneeling girl.

“Elder Rodrack! Why are you apologising to—?!” she said, sounding enraged.

“Quiet!” he snarled, making her stop her speech in mid-sentence and remain quiet. He turned back to face Lakshman and looked surprised to see Sumara standing behind him with a frown on her face. “You can relax, woman from the Demon Race. No harm will be brought to you and your companion while I am here.”

Sumara looked suspiciously at him and after assessing the situation more carefully, she realised that he spoke the truth. She noted that the girl, Ondine, wanted to say something but could not because of his commanding words to keep her silent. So, Sumara calmed down and walked to stand beside Lakshman while looking at him.

“I did not come here with the intention of causing you trouble; I simply wanted to know more about the dwelling place of this forest and its inhabitants,” explained Sumara, speaking in a calm and honest voice.

Elder Rodrack nodded in understanding and said, “I understand and it makes sense considering I saw you help this young one to live when she hurriedly attacked you and your companion. I am grateful for your efforts.”

Sumara smiled softly and asked, “I don’t think it’s reasonable to condemn a Spirit Guardian to death since she was just doing her job of protecting the spirits, right? Besides, I am curious to know why a water spirit, such as her, is unable to breathe under water. Unlike most land dwellers, the water spirits and the Orcana Beast Clan are capable of breathing underwater despite going to sleep or falling unconscious. Why is it that she’s so different?”

To her question, the Elder Rodrak remained silent for a moment before saying, “Ondine is… a defected spirit.” When Sumara widened her eyes in surprise, he continued to say, “More precisely, she is more like the land dwellers than a water spirit, even though she also possesses a small portion of our abilities within her. I cannot say as to why that happened because we don’t understand the reason for it either.”

“Oh… I’m sorry to hear that,” said Ondine, nodding wisely in understanding.

“Still, she is a good girl and despite being put upon by our tribe’s negativity towards her, she managed to grow up and become a Spirit Guardian,” he said, smiling at the girl before it was replaced by a sad look as he continued to say, “Unfortunately, though her failure to properly conduct her duty as a Spirit Guardian today cannot go unpunished.”

While Lakshman and Sumara stared at him in surprise, Ondine gasped and looked up at him with a terrified look on her face. It seems that attacking them recklessly had brought upon a severe punishment upon the girl and she became afraid of it.

“Elder Rodrack! Why?!” Ondine pleaded, shocked by his declaration. “One of them is a demon, and I believed them to pose a threat to the young water spirits. That’s why I attacked them.”

“If you want to know if they are good or evil, then pay attention to their behaviour and not the race they belong to!” he said, speaking in such a powerful voice that caused her to flinch on the spot.

“Watch their behaviour and if their actions are suspicious, you should go and verify first before attacking with proper cause. You did no such thing and only attacked them based on the race they belonged to. Despite that, they went out of their way to help you when you fell into the lake and almost drowned! Learn to appreciate it instead of complaining!”

Ondine did not know how to respond to it, and she hung her head in shame while he towered over her with a serious look on his face.

“Now choose, Ondine. What you will do?” Rodrack asked, his voice sounding clinched. “You have disgraced the Water Spirits and the Spirit Guardians by owing your life to outsiders.”

Lakshman, feeling that something bad might happen, quickly said, “It’s okay. There shouldn’t be much of a problem to forget about this.”

“Young man, It’s not easy for us as it might seem to you,” said Elder Rodrack, looking sadly at him. “It is a total disgrace for any of us. It is like a sin on our purity to owe our lives to anybody. It’s almost like we are tainted by the cruelty of darkness.”

“I see and… what happens after this…?”

The elder hesitated and it was Sumara who surmised the issue and said, quietly, “Commit suicide.”

His words caused him to widen his eyes in shock, and he exclaimed, “What?!”

“In severe conditions, yes, however, I don’t want her life to end in such a pitiful way, so… could I ask of you to take her as your slave?” the elder asked, looking imploringly at Lakshman.

“S-Slave?” Lakshman asked, a very bad feeling inserting itself in his heart at the sound of the name. “D-Do you mean… Slave Spirit?” As he nodded, Lakshman looked uncomfortable and slowly said, “I… I don’t know…”

Sumara, seeing his hesitation and understanding it fairly well, placed a gentle arm on his shoulder and said, “It’s okay. Don’t take the literal meaning of the word and think that you are taking someone to be your friend. After all, you are different and will not become like the people that abused such things.”

“Oh…” Lakshman said, sounding surprised as he slowly came to understand her intended meaning. He slowly nodded in understanding and said, “I see. Yeah. That does sound a lot better than the sound of a Slave Spirit…”

At that moment, he heard a voice in his mind say in a quiet voice, “There is no problem…!”

Lakshman flinched at the sound of the voice and his eyes became dull momentarily before they recovered. He smiled and said to the elder, “

Thus, Ondine became Lakshman’s Slave Spirit and he decided to treat her friendly, finding it within himself to forgive her for attacking him earlier. While Ondine hung her head and remained silent, they bid the elder and the young water spirits goodbye and walked towards the outside of the forest.

After they disappeared and he no longer felt their presence, Rodrack sighed to himself in relief.

“You were right, Ondina. That human girl, whom you fused with, was indeed fated to be with the man she was destined to meet. Now, I hope you will be in peace to see that your honourable sacrifice let them meet each other,” murmured Rodrack. He placed his hands in front of him and said, “With this, my task to ensure their meeting is complete.”

With that, he bid the playful young water spirits and soon disappeared into the depths of the forest.

A while later, Lakshman, Sumara and Ondine arrived at home and saw Indra drinking water on the stairs. He took one glance at them before looking surprised by the third woman following behind Lakshman with a gloomy look on her face.

“Welcome back, you two,” he said, greeting both Sumara and Lakshman before pointing to Ondine and asking, “Who’s the third girl? I don’t remember seeing her or meeting her around the area before.”

“Um… Yeah… Dad, her name is Ondine and she’s from the Water Spirits tribe,” his son explained in a quiet voice.

Indra, who was sipping on water, suddenly spat it out and stared at his son, aghast by the words.

“What the?! A Water Spirit?! What’s she doing all the way down here so far away from her tribe?!”

“Actually, this girl became your son’s Slave Spirit,” added Sumara, her eyes narrowed to show her exasperation.

Indra looked between her and his son before looking at the gloomy looking girl in silence for a few second. Then, he got to his feet and quickly walked into the house. A minute later, he returned with his wife in toe looking worriedly at him.

Upon laying her eyes on the Water Spirit girl, Lakshmi’s eyes brows became cross and she sternly asked, “Explain yourself, Lucky.”

He immediately became nervous by how serious his mother looked, but fortunately for him, Sumara took up the task and began explaining about the events occurred in the forest that day. While listening to the story, Lakshmi’s expression slowly changed to that of understanding and she was smiling by the time Sumara finished.

“I see,” said Lakshmi, wearing a smile on her face while looking at Ondine with an understanding look on her face. “I am happy that my son didn’t involuntarily become a murder despite she attacking him one-sidedly. Since he chose to give her a second chance at redemption, I will relent.”

“It still provides extra hands to help around the house,” added Mariana, their house maid, in a way to provide support for the new comer whom she instantly came to liking.

With minimal resistance, the Chand family accepted Ondine into their family and treated her similarly as their treatment was towards Mariana. For the remainder of the day, Ondine spent her time with Mariana and Lakshmi helping around the house, explaining the things around the house. Meanwhile, Lakshman and Sumara discussed about the events occurred in the forest and helped each other understand the Water Spirits a little better.

Ondine, who had seen negligence towards her, was quite amazed by how the family operated the Chand family was. Everyone in the house was happy and even their family maid was being treated with equal respect and trust. The girl felt some about of jealousy towards her master as she watched the strong bond between the mother and her son. The only one the girl did not treat well to was Sumara, but that was a matter to be faced at a later time.

That night, Lakshmi decided to allocate Ondine to the room next to her son’s room much to Ondine’s amazement. She was under the impression that she would have to sleep on the floor, but Lakshmi surprised her by revealing a nice comfortable bed. Ondine was a little suspicious of their behaviour but this slowly changed to that of great respect for the people of the family.

Before heading to bed, Ondine sought out to speak with Lakshman to clarify something for herself. So, a few minutes later, they stood in his room facing each other with him wearing a curious expression on his face.

“What did you want to talk about?” he asked.

“Um… that is…” she hesitated before asking in a firm voice, “Why did you save me?”

He stared at her in surprise and asked, “Do you need a reason to save someone in trouble?”

His response baffled her and made her ask, “B-But… I attacked you! Why would you bother to save me?”

This time, he thought about her words for a moment before saying, “Mmm… You got a point there, but you see… After learning that you attacked us to protect the water spirits, I and Miss Sumara decided to save you. It didn’t seem fair on us to let you die when you were just trying carry out your duty, although, it was reckless.”
With his last word, he grinned at her and made her eyes widen in surprise. He was a genuine good person that cared about those around him, even if they wrongly inflicted injury upon him. It was also enough proof of his heart to accept her as a Spirit Slave to stop her from taking her own life as a way to give her another chance at life.

Seeing how friendly their family was made her heart feel a lot happier than she felt in her life and it was then that she decided to serve this man with all she had. It was a split decision taken at that second, but she knew it was one that she would not regret.

“In that case, I’ll be in your care from now on, so please look after me,” she said and bowed to him deeply to show the respect she had of him.

Lakshman was a little bit surprised, but he still smiled and said, “Yeah. Let’s both do our best together. Okay?”

He held out his hand to her and she was a little hesitant to make first contact against a male human. A moment later, she tentatively brought her hand forward and gripped his hand. It was surprising, for her, the touch of a human for the first time in her life and she liked the gentle firmness he was applying to not hurt her. Thinking back to the defensive skill he had shown, she now understood that he was a lot stronger than he was showing.

“Yes, let’s do our best,” she said, looking at him with firm determination on her face while her mouth formed a smile.

Lakshman nodded in understanding and bracingly said, “Alright. Let’s introduce ourselves.” With a grin on his face, he introduced himself by saying, “I’m Lakshman Chand. What’s your full name, Ondine?”

Ondine hesitated for a fraction of a second before saying, “Ondine. Ondine Monahasara.”

They smiled at each other and accepted each other as comrades, which would eventually blossom into something more later on in their lives.


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