Chapter 6 – Monster Attack (Part 1)
Three years quickly went by in the blink of an eye and Lakshman turned ten on the twenty-seventh of Zageil, 8091 PX. It had been very peaceful in the rural area that Lakshman, his family and his magic tutor lived in.
Lakshman made great progress with his training in developing his skills with the sword and mastering magic skills. After several failures, he finally got control over his Weapon Force and relieved his father from buying new wooden swords for him to practice with. His magical training, on the other hand, was slowly coming along as he started to cast Intermediate Magic Spells. By far, the most training he had improved on was the Energy Force, which came easily to him compared to the other two.
The one he found toughest to learn was the educational subjects with the family maid, Mariana. He had successfully mastered the learning of the Global Language, Human Language, mannerism, but he struggled to work out maths. While he was able to think more outside of the box, understanding the principles of formulas and functions proved to be something involving hard work and determination.
Seeing that he had been cooped up in the house for a very long time, his parents, maid and magic tutor decided to give him more free time to enjoy his life. The only one whom he always had contact with was his friend, Stuart Mardak, but they felt his upbringing was somewhat isolated and decided to change the schedule; train him three days and then let him off for another three days.
Lakshmi, his mother, actively supported this idea since she also felt that her son had been growing up in a lonely environment when he was just seven. The reason they waited this long was due to him being really young and did not think he was capable of protecting himself from the outside risks like encountering criminals and monsters.
One day, when the sky was blue and the wind breezed smoothly, Lakshman decided to explore the world outside the house on his own. Joining him on his exploration was his only friend, Stuart, who dropped by that morning to play with him.
“Good morning!” he would say in greeting when he meets with the locals.
They would smile and greet him respectfully. Most of the locals were farmers, but some worked in various fields such as the hospital, weapons shop and many more. Stuart, on the other hand, eyed each and every person suspiciously and stared at his friend greeting them with an amazed look on his face.
“Why are you greeting all these strangers?” He asked his friend once they got away from the people.
“Why not? It’s only natural to greet people you meet along the street, right?” Lakshman asked with a puzzled look on his face.
Stuart raised an eyebrow in surprise and shook his head before he said, “That sounds great, but seriously! We’re kids and for all I know, these people would easily abduct us if we get too friendly with them and drop our guard!”
Lakshman said, “Oh. You mean that.” He suddenly smiled and replied, “Okay. I’ll be more careful.”
“Mmm!” Stuart said sharply and nodded his head approvingly before facing the front before asking, “By the way, where are we going?”
“Oh. Just a visit to the forest.”
“Ah? The forest? Why there?”
“I remember mum telling there were spirits in there as well as other races that don’t mingle with us in the open. I’ve explored almost the entire part towards the area filled with farmland, so I thought I’d come here and check it out,”
Stuart did a side-long glance at his friend and asked, “You want to meet the spirits?”
“Mmm. Won’t hurt to meet them right? I mean, they aren’t all that bad from what mom told me,” replied Lakshman with a grin on his face.
“Yeah, but the grown up ones tend to be,” said Stuart with a dark look on his face. “Dad said the fully grown adults tend to be aggressive against outsiders and are very protective of their surroundings.”
“Oh. Well, let’s just go in for a bit and see where it’ll lead us since there seems to be a walking track into the forest,” said Lakshman and his friend sighed before nodding his head in agreement.
Several minutes later, they ran up the hill and reached the top, and from atop, he could see across the area below. Each time he reached the top of a steep hill, he was always amazed at how beautiful the view looked. He paused for a moment to take in the beautiful scenario laid before him.
“Man…! Why aren’t the roads… straight?!” Stuart asked, desperately as he breathed quickly from the running.
“Oh, come on! This view is great!” Lakshman said, cheerfully. “You just need to stop being lazy and do some exercise.”
“Well, lucky for you, but my dad just wants me to learn to use the Energy Force,” replied Stuart, breathing a deep sigh and straightening up.
“Oh yeah. You told me your dad wants you to become a doctor like him,” said Lakshman and his friend nodded his head in affirmation. “That’s sad. At least, you should learn to practice with a sword for self-defence.”
“You know what? I asked the same thing of him and he replied that nothing bad will happen! He even scolded me for being negative!” Stuart said with an irritated look on his face.
Lakshman laughed and said, “Oh well. Anyway, come on! The forest is just over there!”
“W-Wait up!” Stuart called after him as he chased after his friend.
They quickly ran down the road and soon reached a divide, where one road lead to the left heading towards the town while the road on the right lead towards the forest. They took the right side of the road and eventually saw the forest looming closer after several minutes of walking along the road in silence.
“Wow. The trees are so much taller than the ones on the roadside,” said Lakshman with an awed look on his face.
Stuart looked into the depths of the forest and nudged his friend on the side as he asked, “Are we really going into it? I mean, I’d rather just stay outside and admire the view and all, but are we really going to go in?”
“Stop getting scared, Stuart! Be brave like our fathers! That’s what men should be!” Lakshman said with a smile on his face.
“S-Still…! It doesn’t hurt to be cautious,” replied Stuart nervously while staring intently into the forest.
Lakshman smiled as he looked up at the trees and noticed them stretching high into the sky and the numbers of them were countless on either side. It did create nervousness in them, but Lakshman was quick to throw it away and bravely walked into the forest.
While walking on the road with tall trees on either sides, they heard the natural sounds made by the forest. Initially, Stuart jumped in fright upon hearing that sound, but he gradually became accustomed to it and did not treat it as dangerous.
“So this is the lake,” said Lakshman a while later.
They walked for a few minutes in silence and arrived at a large lake that had a great amount of space in between. The water was flowing smoothly and looked to be quite deep, although, he did not fear it as he was confident he would not fall in. Somehow, he instinctively knew that he would be safe, although he could not explain the feeling. He crouched and stared at the water surface which mirrored his face.
“It’s funny to have a lake of this size in here of all places,” said Stuart quietly as he sat down near the lake and peered into it.
Just then they heard a splashing noise and Stuart jumped to his feet in fright and stood close to his friend as Lakshman quickly gripped his sword handle. There was a moment of silence before he noticed some blue balls of light skimming the water with an air of playfulness and made him realise what they were.
“Baby Spirits,” muttered Lakshman quietly with an interested look on his face as he stared at them.
“Baby Spirits?” Stuart asked and his friend nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, or more precisely; Baby Water Spirits,” replied Lakshman as he explained about them. “They usually are blue coloured when they are young and when they grow up, they usually perform duties like become contract spirits to users and become their partners in battle and strength, or choosing to become guardians of the land by protecting it with their power.”
Stuart glanced at his friend in amazement and asked, “How do you know so much about them?”
“By learning about them in my magic lessons with Miss Manjuvad,” replied Lakshman with a shrug of his shoulders. “Of course, I don’t really know any more than that and your bit of info about them being strict is new to me. Maybe they are just territorial and don’t want strangers trespassing.”
“I don’t know, but, that’s what dad said anyway,” said Stuart with a sheepish smile formed on his face.
Lakshman chuckled and said, “Oh well. Hey! That tickles!”
Just then, a few of the baby water spirits came over and began playing with him by rubbing his cheeks. It looked like the young ones were not afraid of them as a bunch more came over to dance playfully in front of them. So Lakshman and Stuart sat down on the grass and watched the spirits jump into the lake and start playing around by skimming the surface of the water.
“They’re so beautiful,” commented Stuart with a smile on his face. “I wish I could’ve shown this to mom. She really likes spirits and always wanted to contract one.”
“Yeah, but let’s just keep this to ourselves,” said Lakshman in a quiet voice with a pleasant smile on his face.
“Yeah, otherwise, the people would just show up and start trying to capture these cute things,” replied Stuart in agreement and the two exchanged smiles before turning back to face the lake.
For several minutes, they watched the baby water spirits dancing around with interest until the spirits suddenly froze in what they were doing and almost dived into the water. They were dancing around rapidly and began moving towards a different shore as quickly as they could. Lakshman thought they were panicking but he thought that maybe he was just imagining it because he did not know anything detailed about then to be sure.
At that moment, they heard a blood-curdling roar in the distance and it caused every ounce of his body suddenly froze while making Stuart jump in fright. A moment later, the roar was heard and it was louder than the last as it sounded like the owner of the roar was drawing closer to them.
The two of them jumped to their feet quickly and Lakshman unsheathed his sword as his friend exclaimed, “Damn! What now?!”
The blood-curdling roar had left them both feeling a little shaky, but they quickly shook their bodies and stared at the opposite end of the shore. They heard the leaves rustling behind the bushes for a few seconds before a monster walked out onto the open.
It had a black body, was on four legs and had two heads with a horn sticking out of each head. The monster matched a description of a monster he had heard his father talked about numerous times, but he did not remember its name.
“Oh man…! It’s a Twin-Headed Cerberus!” Stuart exclaimed and confirmed Lakshman’s suspicions. “What the hell is this thing doing all the way out here?!”
“This isn’t good!” Lakshman muttered in a sharp voice as he stared at the monster glaring fiercely at them. “Stuart, get back. It’s dangerous to stand in front.”
“Y-Yeah!” Stuart said and he quickly backed away and it was then that the monster made its move.
The Two-Headed Cerberus jumped into the air and its leap was so large that it almost fell on top of him. Lakshman held his sword back and gritted his teeth before swinging out and smacked the side of the monster’s face. With a growl, the monster flew to the left and crash landed before leaping to its feet and turning around to face them.
“Damn, Lucky! That’s our way out of here!” Stuart said sharply with a shocked look on his face. “Try to beat that thing to the side!”
He was having difficulty believing the dog had managed to jump so far to reach them, or the fact that it had quickly recovered its ground after being hit on the side of its face. He took on a fighting stance and faced the monster with a fierce look on his face with Stuart standing behind with a worried look on his face.
The monster let out another roar that surprised them and charged towards him with its jaws with razor-sharp teeth. Not wanting to put his friend in harm’s way, Lakshman darted forward and used his sword to swung at the monster from the right, causing the monster to be sent flying away to the right and away from the road.
“There!” Lakshman shouted and gestured at the exit. “Go!”
Stuart quickly nodded and he hurried to it, but suddenly came to a stop and turned around to ask, “Come on! Let’s get going!”
Lakshman shook his head and replied with his eyes on the monster, “No, Stuart! I can’t! It’ll come chasing after us even if we both escape and then it’ll head to town and cause problems!”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to stay here and fight that damned thing!” Stuart asked, wearing a shocked look on his face.
“I’ve got no other choice if I want to stop this thing from chasing after us!” Lakshman replied, firmly.
Realising the monster was going to make a move at him, he channelled Weapon Force into his sword and swung it in an arc to release a slicing energy wave at the monster. Seeing it soaring towards it, the monster growled and leaped away before the slicing energy smashed into a tree and exploded, causing splintered wood and smoke to spread everywhere.
He turned around and yelled at Stuart, “Go!”
Stuart was stunned by his friend’s actions, but he knew he had no choice and nodded in reply before turning around. As he ran hurriedly away, he shouted over his shoulders in order to reassure his friend.
“I’ll call for help! Until then, be safe!”
Lakshman smiled a little and thought, “I plan to.”
Just then, the monster took a stance and rushed at him with its horn aimed straight for his gut. Reacting in an instant, Lakshman used his sword to push the horn to up and away, but the force of the push knocked him hard in the chest. He stumbled several steps backwards and stared at the monster angrily while clutching his stomach.
He held his sword firmly in his hand and readied to continue the battle with the monster as it fiercely glared at him.
He continued to battle the monster for several minutes with no luck in him in defeating it. The monster proved to be calculative and often dodged him in order to wound and slowly weaken him. His wounds were not that major and only a minimal amount of blood seeped out, but he was getting tired from the constant battle as his stamina was being drained.
“Damn! I need to end this quick!” he thought desperately as he fended off another assault.
The monster glared at him fiercely and roared once more, making him flinch with closing only one eye. He did not dare close both eyes because he knew he might end up meeting a tragic end if he did that. The lessons with his father had taken over and his instincts made him raise his sword up in defence.
As the monster slowly circled around him, Lakshman glared back at it and thought, “I need a chance. Something, anything, to take this thing down!”
The opportunity he had been hoping for suddenly came in the form of a small cat that dashed out of the trees and darted towards the monster.
“Meow!” the cat screeched to grab the monster’s attention.
As the monster became distracted by the sudden appearance of a wild cat, giving Lakshman the chance he needed. He smiled as he took the chance by dashing forward as fast as he could and jumped just as the monster suddenly noticed his movement. Lakshman soared through the air stabbed his sword through one of its heads.
The monster roared in pain from the stabbed wound to one of its heads and shook him around wildly before the sword came lose and he flew through the air to land safely on his feet. He stood and glared fiercely at the monster that was writhing in pain from his sudden attack before it turned to face him with a truly horrible expression on its face.
Roaring again, the monster charged forward and leaped into the air to land on top of him and it was then that Lakshman got an inspiration. Seeing it leap into the air with one skewered head, he gathered his Weapon Force into his blade and jumped forward with it held firmly in front of him.
The two met in mid-air and the monster was cut easily into two as it flopped on the ground and remained unmoving. Lakshman landed on his feet a few meters away from its dead body and breathed a sigh as he turned around to see its split body lying on the ground with blood flowing out of it.
“Phew!” he said as he breathed a heavy sigh in relief.
He heard the sound of the cat and he turned around to see the cat standing before him with the lake behind it. The creature was small, just around seventy centimeters in height and stood at attention. If it were not for the sudden appearance of that cat, he might have been in deep trouble.
“Thank you,” said Lakshman appreciatively as he dropped his sword to his side.
As if understanding exactly what he said, the cat purred and slowly moved towards him. At that moment, the cat stopped its movement and raised its eyes as he also heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming from the other side of the lake. The sounds were coming harshly and its movement was fast, whatever it was, and Lakshman raised his sword in defence once more.
From out of the bushes, another Two-Headed Cerberus and it was running full pelt towards him as it leaped right near the edge of the lake. It flew through the air as Lakshman slowly widened his eyes in shock to find another of the same monster to deal with.
As it landed, the cat turned around and jumped at it in an attempt to attack it, but monster charged forward and head-butted the cat and sent it flying past Lakshman, who quickly raised his sword in defence. Still, it was no use as the monster’s charge was so strong that he smashed the sword and head-butted him hard in the chest.
The stunning blow was so strong that he was sent flying backwards before smacking the tree behind and slid to sit on the ground. He lay there with his eyes closed and moaned softly from the hard impact on his back and the pain of being struck hard in the chest.
As the monster stalked towards its prey, a voice in Lakshman’s mind said, “This isn’t good.”
He flashed his eyes open and with the palm of his hand touching the ground, he muttered, “Conceal.”
In an instant, a magic circle formed and its radius covered both him and the cat, instantly making them vanish on the spot. The monster stopped in its tracks and stared curiously at the spot that both of them had vanished. As its brain tried to fathom what had just happened, it suddenly smelled something, and it lifted its head to sniff at the air.
While the monster was sniffing, the collapsed boy let out a deep sigh and muttered, “This should do for now.”
He closed his eyes and as he reopened them, the monster appeared to sniff at the air before charging towards the road that lead to the exit of the forest.
“No…! Stop…!” he shouted, but the dog did not pay him any attention and disappeared.
Lakshman lay there and felt exhaustion taking over him as he felt his eyelids become heavy to remain open. He slowly turned to his right and saw the banged form of the cat that had helped him, but now it lay on the ground with blood spurting out of its tiny body.
“Me-ow…” it purred softly as it slowly moved its body towards him before giving up from its weakened state.
Realising the cat might die if it was left like that, he moved his arm and laid it over the cat before muttering, “Heal.”
In an instant, green light surrounded the body of the cat as he exerted Magic Force to heal the cat of its wounds. The light lasted for almost a minute before vanishing, leaving the cat with a fully restored body. The cat moved a little before sitting up and moved its tail around happily, which caused Lakshman to smile in relief.
“Thank goodness… you’re okay…” he said slowly as his eyelids slowly fell.
Just before he lost consciousness, he glimpsed a flash of light and heard a woman’s voice say, “Oh no! Hold on! I’ll get help!”
“Who?” Lakshman thought one last time before he lost consciousness completely.