The day started off being beautiful with the wind blowing smoothly outside while the weather remained cool. Everyone was out and out minding their own business, or enjoying a lovely time together with friends, or playing around with people around their own age. On this lovely day, a certain someone was feeling down as they sat in their living room with their head bowed.
Dominic Rutherford had no motivation to do anything and looked completely distraught with the way he sat in his chair. He woke up a few days ago and ever since then, he had been moody and feeling very down because of the recent defeat he suffered at the hand of the Dragon Emperor. His wife, Shalany, was upset to see her husband feeling as she looked after her son.
On that day, they were visited by a special person that has a friend of Shalany and the best friend of the Sword Titan. Lakshman Chand, also known as the Phoenix Titan, calmly entered into their home, which was located on the east side of the capital. He was smiling as he stared at the defeated form of his best friend.
“I don’t remember there being such gloominess in this house before,” he said in a carrying voice to draw their attention.
Dominic slowly lifted his head and looked towards him with a saddened expression on his face while Shalany jumped at the sound of his voice in surprise. Seeing who it was, Shalany formed a bright smile on her face while Dominic merely formed a small smile on his miserable face.
“Ah. Lakshman,” said Dominic shortly.
Lakshman nodded and curiously asked, “Can I come in?”
Dominic looked a little surprised and asked, “Why the question?”
To that, Lakshman merely smiled and walked towards his friend before taking a seat opposite him. There they sat and stared into each other’s eyes intently for a few seconds as the silence stretched.
“What beings you here?” Dominic asked him with a disinterested expression on his face.
Lakshman looked at his friend’s face for a moment before he said, “I came to check how my friend is doing and it turns out that he isn’t doing so good.”
“What makes you think that? I’m fine,” replied Dominic and he looked away to avoid making eye contact.
“Says you,” stated Lakshman with a small smile on his face. He turned towards Shalany and said, “One look at your wife, however, tells me that you are not totally fine.”
Dominic sighed and said, “I know you’re here to cheer me up, so get straight to the point.”
Lakshman chuckled and said, “You know, it’s very ironic that our positions have switched.”
“Our positions? How?” Dominic asked and he looked at his friend’s nodding head.
“Quite,” replied Lakshman with a grin on his face. “It’s usually me being a bit serious and you being very cheerful, but take a look at us now. You are being serious while I am being cheerful. I think this is what we call the reverse of the reverse.”
Dominic raised an eyebrow in exclamation for a moment before recovering and saying, “I don’t know what you’re saying and I don’t care anyway.”
Lakshman shook his head and said, “Dom. Stop being stupid and get a grip. You’re the Sword Titan, one of the mightiest warriors among the Nine Pillars of Power.”
Dominic’s hand twitched and he looked at his friend before he replied, “About that… I don’t think I am worthy of that title…”
There was a stunned moment in the room as Shaalny gasped in alarm and Lakshman stared at him with a serious expression formed on his face.
“Just now I told you to not be stupid,” replied Dominic with his eyebrows knitting together into a frown. “You got defeated by the Dragon Emperor and failed to carry out the mission I entrusted you. So what? Many people, around the world, fail at carrying out their missions because of the multitude of reasons.”
Dominic looked at him with a gloomy expression on his face as he said, “That’s what you’re counting? No. I’m feeling this way because of the defeat I suffered here and the multiple times I experienced in the past.”
Lakshman looked a little confused and he said, “Elaborate.”
Dominic sighed and said, “When we had our first battle, I tried hard to defeat you and you defeated me easily. After that, I failed to protect Shalany and you were the one that came to the rescue, almost dying in the process. I faced yet another defeat when I wanted to avenge you by taking on the Calamity Titan, but couldn’t because it would’ve resulted in the deaths of many that were with me.”
“Mmm… As such, you believe you no longer deserve the title of the Sword Titan,” said Lakshman and Dominic nodded his head in agreement. “You’re saying that even though the Destiny Blade chose you after its previous master deceased? Even after the great struggle you went through in life to reach this far, you’re going to give up just like that?”
Dominic looked up at him sadly and said, “Lakshman… I cannot continue to wear that title when justice is not by my side.”
Lakshman widened his eyes and he clapped his hands before he said, “Yes! That’s it! You’ve finally stated your real reason for not being happy with yourself.”
“Huh?” Dominic asked and he looked a little puzzled.
“Dom. I told you this over and over; justice is neither good nor evil. It can lead anyone that follow it on the road to good and on the road to bad because it’s unpredictable. Even an evil being can have his justice right if he had suffered because of an external interference, such as the Calamity Titan.”
“You’re saying that my firm belief in justice lead me wrong?” Dominic asked and he looked angry as he glared at his friend.
“Absolutely!” Lakshman said fervently and Dominic was alarmed. “Freedom and justice are forces that act together to create the right results, whether good or bad. All it takes is to ask yourself and your heart whether the choice you make or made was good or bad. Have some freedom to think outside the box because a tunnel vision will lead you on a road to disaster.”
Dominic looked seriously at his friend before he replied, “That is absolute nonsense! My adopted father and mentor always stated that if you follow justice, you will never go astray.”
Lakshman shook his head and said in a powerful voice that caused Dominic and Shalany to stiffen in alarm.
“Do not let arrogance and pride blind you to the truth. There are two things called reason and common sense. Apply them and you will never go astray.”
Lakshman pointed at him with his forefinger and said in a firm voice, “Remember that the actions you take are the examples that people around you will follow and the same will apply to your son when he grows up.”
Dominic blinked at him in astonishment as his friend rose to his feet while heaving a deep sigh.
“Sorry if I hurt your feelings by my rude words,” said Lakshman apologetically. “I did come here with the intention of cheering you up, but I got annoyed at how easily you’re giving up. It is what cowards do and it’s something that does not match with the being that you are.”
Those words caused the Sword Titan to widen his eyes in shock and alarm because it stunned him. He could not believe his best friend would use such words on his best friend when he should be calming him down or cheering him up.
While he looked very saddened by the words his friend said, Lakshman looked at him with a sympathy like expression on his face.
“I can understand that it’s harsh, but you annoyed me by giving up so easily, Dom,” he said and Dom looked up at him with a really miserable expression on his face. “Tell me what I should do when I failed to protect the people of my home kingdom, my parents that live there and the friends that I made while I was there. Tell me what I should’ve done when I failed to save Felix when I had the chance!”
Lakshman said the last few words with a sharp forcefulness in his voice that caused Dom to straighten up.
“I did not give up and I certainly didn’t pity myself for not being there to stop their demise. Instead, my pulled myself together and told myself to never let such destruction happen ever again. That’s why I managed to save my kingdom from total destruction and managed to protect my wives this time around.”
Dominic was alarmed by hearing those words and he asked, “Huh? This time around? What do you mean?”
“Never you mind,” replied Lakshman instantly and startled Dominic into silence. “I will tell you the details when the time comes, but the focus right now is you.”
“Yes,” said Dominic in a low saddened voice. “Even so, you’re really powerful and can use it at will without worrying about anything else.”
This time, Lakshman’s eyes widened in alarm and he instantly looked furious as he replied, “Are you serious? You think that I am able to do what I can right now because I am powerful?”
“Is there any doubt in it?” Dominic asked without hesitation with a serious look on his face. “You’ve managed to defeat almost all opposition through grit and power without following the path of justice. So, a guy like you cannot understand how I am feeling when my justice is flowing against me.”
Lakshman could not believe what he just heard and he jumped to his feet furiously.
“I’ve had enough of this!” he said sharply and surprised both Dominic and Shalany. “I can see that you’re eager to sulk more than listen to reason. I’m going.”
With those words, he turned around and marched furiously towards the entrance of the house. Dominic looked after him in surprise and turned his head towards Shalany, who was shedding a few tears in sadness. Just as Lakshman reached the door, however, he stopped and hesitated as if he was having second thoughts about leaving so soon.
The Phoenix Titan slowly turned around to face his comrade before he said, “Dom. The Destiny Blade saw the strength in you and chose you to be its master, which is why you bear the title of Sword Titan and are part of the Nine Pillars of Power. Your true strength will be exposed once you accept the duty and responsibility of the Sword Titan that the first Sword Titan set.”
Dominic looked a little puzzled as he slowly asked, “The first… Sword Titan…?”
“Yes and not the one that your predecessor set and If you don’t believe in my words, then put them into action,” replied Lakshman in a firm voice. He pointed his forefinger at his friend and said, “I’m giving you the mission of convincing the War Titan to re-join the ranks of the Nine Pillars of Power and fight for our cause.”
“The War Titan…?” Dominic asked slowly as if he could not believe what his friends just said to him.
Lakshman nodded his head at him and said, “Yes and if you’re true in thinking that you are better off giving up, then go ahead and do it.”
With those parting words, Lakshman left the building while leaving behind a stunned Dominic and a shocked Shalany.
Later that evening, when he returned home, he informed his family of what he had done during his meeting with the Sword Titan. Many of them have already heard from Shalany when she visited earlier while he was busy working in the castle.
“I can’t believe you did that, annayya!” Priya shouted as she fired up at her brother once again. “You’ve been foolishly arrogant! Speaking to really important people, especially your best friend, breaks the relationships!”
“What choice did I have?!” Lakshman retorted angrily and startled his sisters while surprising his wives. “The idiot was giving up and his actions would’ve been a suicide, so I spoke to him harshly. It was all for the good anyway, so stop bombarding me with your pointless anger!”
There was a moment of silence before Emilia placed a calm hand on Priya’s shoulder while Ondine gently laid her hand on Lakshman’s shoulder to calm him down.
“Relax, you two,” said Ondine in a calm voice with a smile on her face, which was matched by Emilia.
“Yes. Calm down because there is nothing to be gained by shouting at each other angrily,” said Emilia calmly with a reassuring smile on her face.
Priya took one glance towards her and said, “Okay…” She turned back to her brother, who had calmed down thanks to Ondine, and asked him carefully, “Wasn’t there… um… anything you could’ve done differently to, you know, help him from his depression…?”
Lakshman looked at her for a moment before saying guiltily, “There could’ve been… I was just angry at him for giving up so easily when I continue to struggle through all the difficulties I faced.”
At those words, Emilia sighed and said with a small smile on her face, “Lucky… I told you many times that anger is not a solution; it leads to violence. Think peacefully, act peacefully and you will have peace everywhere.”
“Annayya,” began Indira tentatively, who had spoken for the first time in a while to her brother. “Isn’t he your friend…? Couldn’t you have convinced him or changed his mind…?”
Everyone, including Lakshman, was surprised by her suddenly attempting to make a conversation with her brother. Priya looked at her twin sister with an astonished expression on her face like everyone else while Lakshman looked at her with a surprised expression on his face.
“Indira,” he began with a small smile at his cute little sister. “I did think of that, but what hope do I have when he doesn’t listen to the advice of his own wife? That’s why, I fired up my anger and talked to him harshly in hopes of lightning the fire of rage, anger and humiliation in him.”
“A man of his profession giving up is the suicide of his family,” said Erza and everyone turned to look at her with astonishment looks on their faces. She looked around at them for a moment before she said, “I’ve seen in my own world what happened to warriors that gave up in the field of battle. They think it’s easy to give up, but they never realising that it was the catalyst to their destruction.”
Indira looked cutely puzzled as she asked, “Why…? Couldn’t they live peacefully or retreat to safety by giving up…?”
Erza looked at her with a sad expression on her face as she said, “That is a nice thought, but where can you run or hide when the enemy is on your tail? How far can you give up and run from the eventuality when your fate is sealed?”
Upon hearing those words, tears began to seep out of Indira’s face as she slowly said, “That’s… awful… Why can’t things be… peacefully everywhere…?”
“If it were that simple, then we wouldn’t have lost so much,” said Cantia in a surprisingly sympathetic voice. “Your parents would be still alive, my clansmen would still be around and my husband wouldn’t have to risk death in each fight to protect and save.”
“We are our own worst enemies,” stated Silvera with a dark expression on her face. “Regardless of whether we have power or not, good or evil and right or wrong, we always have something to protect and destroy.”
A few seconds of silence followed after the words she were uttered and during that time, everyone looked silently into each other’s eyes. They did not know what to say, except think about the words they just heard because of the undeniable truth those words contained. The silence stretched on until it was finally broken by Priya, who turned her attention back to her brother.
“Okay. I accept that you did what you did to try help him out of his misery, but was it worth all the effort by provoking him like that?” she asked while looking at him through narrowed eyebrows.
Lakshman nodded his head once and said, “Indeed. By doing so, I spired his burning warrior spirit into motion and he will take the action that will hopefully lead him to a solution. He just does not understand what his place in the world is as he blindly follows what was set before him by his predecessor.”
“You say that, but does that apply to you as well, annayya?”
For the first time after coming into the house, Lakshman smiled coolly as he said, “With great power comes great responsibility. Those are overused words, but their meaning never changes regardless of the place or time.”
“Oh…” replied Priya slowly while looking a little confused, but she seemed to understand it somewhat.
Just then, Indira curiously asked her brother, “Isn’t it easy for him to find a solution if he returns to the Dragon Continent? I mean, mummy always said that a victim can find a solution only at the location where they lost it at.”
Looking at his sister, Lakshman smiled warmly and said, “Yes… Indira. Mother’s belief is indeed the right thing to do, but it would have the opposite effect on Dominic. He is angry at his latest defeat and going back there would only bring out the heated rage that’s boiling inside him. It’s best for him to use his head and act based upon quick analysis rather than a raging monster of hate and rage.”
Indira and Priya, along with everyone else in the room, were taken by surprised at his words. They believed his words completely because they knew of how dangerous a living creature is when an important piece of them was taken away.
While everyone believed his words, only two of them remained unconvinced and they are Emilia and Sumara. Emilia was staring at her husband with a knowing smile on her face while Sumara stared at him with a quizzical look on her face
“I believe that you have an alternate reason as well for heading him off towards the War Titan,” said Sumara in a clear loud voice that caused everyone to look towards her. “Tell us, Lucky. You had an alternative motive in keeping him away from the Dragon Clan. Why?”
Those words caused a realisation to dawn on the rest of them as he smiled smoothly at his two wives. He remained silent and did not bother to make up excuses because he knew his wives would easily see through the deception more than his sisters.
“It’s true that I wanted him to engage the War Titan because that man is a very special individual, but it is also true that I wanted to save the meeting with the Dragon Titan for myself. You see, I’ve been feeling this strange sense of… familiarity… I think I am fated to meet this Dragon Titan and persuade him to join our cause because of the long lasting hatred between the Dragon Clan and the Phoenix Clan.”
The twins looked at each other and turned back to him as they exclaimed, “Huh?”
Their reaction was expected because what Lakshman said sounded almost gibberish due to the strangeness. His wives, on the other hand, were looking at him with slightly widened and a knowing look on their faces. They knew this because of their memories of their past lives and all of them knew that only one thing could cause their husband to feel that way.
“You don’t think…?” began Cantia nervously while the rest stared anxiously at their husband.
He turned to her and smiled a little as he said, “I know and if we’re right, it means that my rival has finally reincarnated.”
Hello everyone and welcome to the start of another arc. I hope that you liked this chapter as it reveals a few things and sets several things into motion at the same time. Now, I won’t reveal what they are because that would be like spoiling and I’ll let the dedicated readers of my amazing story, not self boasting, enjoy the suspense. Anyway, I hope you’ll look forward to the next chapter and stick around like me as the story continues!