War is Emotional
A few minutes earlier, Lakshman was in the middle of a meeting held between the other kingdoms’ kings; the King of Mardana Kingdom and the King of Ashtra Kingdom. They were brought up-to-date of the current situation occurring outside the borders of the Floria Kingdom. They instantly stressed their fears that the armies would not hold and that the monster might cross the Floria Kingdom to bring harm to the entire kingdom.
It was Lakshman’s job to ensure they are feeling satisfied and despite his constant assurance, the only one that truly believed in him was the King of Ashtra Kingdom. It seems that he had acquired confidence and trust in him from how deeply the previous king had respected the Phoenix Titan before he stepped down to hand the throne over to the new king.
“Well, what do you want us to do if the army is wiped out by the time the Death Titan arrives on the scene?!” the King of the Mardana Kingdom, who bore quite dislike towards Lakshman, spoke in a voice filled with concern. “What about the losses? What about their families? What about their compensation?”
Lakshman, who looked at him with a serious expression on his face, replied in a firm voice by saying, “If that is the problem, I will hunt dungeons and pay them the compensation. This happened because I mistook the dates. It’s my fault. I am truly sorry for our armies to end up in this situation, but I will pay the compensation! I promise on my name and title as the Phoenix Titan!”
As he finished speaking, he rose to his feet and bowed his head deeply to the other two kings. Both of them were a little taken aback and so were the surrounding guards of the kingdoms present. They knew him as being strong and powerful that none of them had the nerve to challenge him, however, it was at that moment that they truly felt that he was a king of honour, respect and dignity.
Accepting his fault and quickly taking the appropriate measure to solve it made him someone to be truly respected. The King of Ashtra Kingdom looked at the King of Mardana Kingdom with a wry smile on his face while the other king merely eyed him wearily. Truth be told, the King of Mardana Kingdom also felt that they were pushing a lot onto the Phoenix Titan’s shoulders as they were also kings and had a part in the responsibility played in their armies being in a disastrous predicament.
At that moment, there was a warping magic before a Phintex Raja appeared within the room, and he immediately knelt down courteously to Lakshman. Straightening up, Lakshman turned and addressed him while everyone else waited to find out the report.
“Sir. The Magic Titan sent me here to report to you that the United Kingdom Armies have been wiped out.”
As soon as his information was heard, there was a collective intake of breath as everyone in the room were shocked. Lakshman narrowed his eyebrows in seriousness and proceeded to ask several questions at once.
“They were wiped out? Then, what happened to Zen? Darian? Atem? What about the enemies?”
The Phintex Raja hesitated briefly before saying, “The enemies seemed to have been wiped out by the very creature they summoned to fight for them. The Phoenix Emperor is severely wounded and Atem is undergoing extensive healing procedure due to being heavily wounded as well. Darian, however,” he hesitated a moment more before gulping and saying, “has passed away. It seems he had sacrificed his life to delay the monster in giving time until sir Death Titan arrived to defeat the monster.”
While everyone was muttering to each other, Lakshman’s ears became blocked from the shock of the news that Darian was indeed dead. He had already predicted that since Marilia was crying due to the loss of her husband, but he still prayed that she was just overreacting from anxiety. Unfortunately, being presented with an iron clad reality, Lakshman clenched his fists and closed his eyes.
Remembering the fond memories of training under Darian, fighting together with him and enjoying their travels together, the Phoenix Titan quietly thought in a sorrowful voice, “Darian… I’m… so sorry…”
His sorrow turned into anger when he realised the culprit to this whole mess was the Calamity Titan and it was his fault for not taking care of him sooner. Realising that his unwilling desire to fight his brother had brought upon the death of the man he thought next as a teacher was indeed something that caused boiling anger to surge within Lakshman.
“Very well. I understand,” he said, and the Phintex Raja bowed before warping out of there. He tuned to address the other kings and said, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I must leave. Things have gone far enough and leaving them as of now, I fear I will come to regret more if this continues. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be taking the Nine Pillars of Power and attacking the Calamity Titan head on!”
While the other two kings and their guards were taken aback by his abrupt decision, they quickly came to the conclusion that it was the only choice. As such, bidding them farewell, he left the room while the other Phintex Rajas escorted them out of there by taking them and their followers back to their respective kingdoms.
Once outside, Lakshman came face to face with Wolfenstine who was looking worried as he waited outside all that time.
Feeling pained to speak, Lakshman forced himself and informed the Hybrid Werewolf by saying, “Darian’s gone.”
The white-haired hybrid raised both of his eyes wide in shock before making a sorrowful expression on his face. He and Darian were not best friends, but they knew each other and worked together for some time before their separate paths took them to different destinations that held only for them. Seeing such a colleague pass away, Wolfenstine could only feel sorry at his loss and wish him a safe trip to the heavens.
“You don’t seem all that affected?” Lakshman asked, a little taken aback by his lack of emotions.
Wolfenstine smiled at him and replied, “No. I am affected, but it’s just that I only knew him as a colleague and nothing more.” As the two of them sighed in unison, he asked him, “What’s your plan now? Attack the main force head on?”
Lakshman nodded his head at him and asked, “Yes. Are the Vampires and Werewolves ready to fight?”
Such a question made Wolfenstine make the shadow of a smile and say, “Yes… They’ve been very eager to fight, but I told them to wait for orders since you told me to not send them out to battle. Are you planning on leading them to the newly resurrected Demon Continent?” As Lakshman nodded again, Wolfenstine beamed at him and said, “Great! I’ll inform them right away.”
With those words, Wolfenstine left with an energetic stride to his walking, and Lakshman headed on towards the courtyard of the castle where he saw everyone to be seated. All except for the soldiers that stood all around them as if they were standing guard, which made him feel like chuckling since he knew very well they were perfectly fine with Amaranda seated amongst them.
“Welcome back,” said Emilia, who rose to her feet while carrying her baby over her shoulders the moment she saw him come. “How did it go?”
“I got more work,” he simply said with a wry smile on his face.
“And…? Darian…?” Silvera asked in a hesitant voice, nervous what she might expect her husband to do since she was aware the Phintex Raja was dispatched by Amaranda to inform him during the meeting.
Lakshman looked at his wife and smiled sadly at her before saying, “I know. I’m sorry.”
“Lucky,” said a familiar voice at that moment.
He turned to see Marilia walking towards him with Sasha and Shalany walking beside her. In his eyes, however, she looked like she was being supported towards him by the other two ladies because Marilia seemed to be struggling to walk. As she drew closer, he found that her eyes were red from crying heavily, but it seemed that she had calmed down and was ready to face him.
“I’m… sorry about… uh…” Lakshman said and hesitated, suddenly feeling awkward about how to speak to Marilia about the loss of her husband.
Surprisingly enough, Marilia smiled sadly at him and said, “It’s alright. I knew it would happen sooner or later considering that’s the kind of environment he lived in. In fact, I feel it’s a miracle we survived this long despite us knowing we really did deserve to die with the rest when the Rodfox Kingdom was wiped out.”
Utterly shocked by her words, Lakshman immediately covered her mouth with a truly sad look covering his face as he slightly lost grip over his feelings as he said, “Please…! Don’t… say that…!”
Marilia took a moment before realising that Lakshman’s own parents died in the destruction of the Rodfox Kingdom. Feeling suddenly ashamed of her behaviour due to the sadness she felt, the motherless woman stepped forward and placed a consoling hand gently on Lakshman’s cheek. Feeling the comfort of someone whom he now considered as his second mother, Lakshman hugged her and silently wept so that no one could see despite them able to guess his feelings, but they remained respectfully quiet.
Marilia patted him gently on the back and said, “You’re such a good boy. Right from a young age, you always made us happy and Darian cherished you knowing that he will eventually die, he accepted his fate. Even now, after hearing what Sevedant and Zen had to say, I understood what he did. Right from the beginning, he always considered you as the son we never had and what he did now just proves just how much he cared about you. So, calm down. Calm down. Seeing you like this isn’t something he will appreciate.”
A few seconds later, Lakshman stepped away from her, and his eyes were a little red as he wiped away the tears with his hand. Marilia smiled at him and then turned to gaze around at his nine wives and the children hey were each holding. Her heart became content with pleasure to see the youthful boy, who was once oblivious of the love the young women had for him, now had become a man of the family with kids of his own to take care off.
“If I was here on time…! If I had known that the war was today…! I—!”
At Lakshman beginning to blame himself on impulse, Marilia looked seriously up at him and said, “Lucky!” Surprised at her sharp tone, he looked at her as she continued to say, “It isn’t your fault. We knew what you were doing and that’s why the army, Zen, Atem and even Darian risked their lives to give you time. It isn’t your fault that Darian and they died. It was inevitable, so if you keep blaming yourself like that, Darian would be most upset.”
Despite her calming words, the Phoenix Titan was angry at himself for his failure and said, “Even so! All of this happened because of the Calamity Titan! If only I—!”
Once again, Marilia said sharply, “Lucky! Listen!” Becoming quiet once more, he listened to her as she said soothingly with a soft look on her face, “Remember what Darian told you several times about Revenge?”
Lakshman looked at her for a moment as he thought back to the many words of wisdom he received from Darian and when he finally remembered about it, his eyes widened, and he said, “Revenge is a sin and will amount to nothing. Instead, use your anger and hatred on something useful like protection, defending and saving.”
Marilia slowly nodded her head and said, “That’s right. Revenge is not good but use that energy to do good because, after all, what you achieve is nothing more than same act of evil that was the cause of it all.”
These words were the first time since his first incarnation that Lakshman had heard. Of course, his present morality knew of this, but it clashed heavily with the beliefs he still held from his past life. That all changed, however, when a motherly figure like Marilia told him to do good instead of going on an act of revenge. It had a way more effect in convincing him to calm down and think things through than he normally would have done on his own emotional judgement that would have brought upon dire consequences upon him and everyone around him.
“Yes. I… I’ll follow through with it,” replied Lakshman, and Marilia smiled in relief to see him return to normal.
Finally, being able to smile at her, he turned to Sasha and asked, “How’s Zen?”
“He’s faring well. Having to regrow a missing limb and restructure a broken limb has its headaches,” she said, looking a little sadly at him.
“Should I…?” Lakshman began, but Sasha shook her head immediately and was backed up by Amaranda, who responded from behind him as she remained seated on her chair.
“No need for that. I’ve set his restoration straight. All he needs now is plenty of rest and not exert himself. Sasha will see to that,” she said telepathically and seeing Sasha nod with an energetic smile made him smile softly back in return.
He turned and smiled at Shalany, who was holding her growing son over her shoulders. He had grown quite well considerably over the two years, and he finally wondered what name he was given by his parents. Cursing himself for not knowing his name until then, he curiously asked, “What did you name him?”
Shalany could sense the hesitation and chuckled as she said, “His name’s Ravindra. Ravindra Rutherford. We thought it suited him well since his father is a dominator.”
Lakshman, realising that she had seen through his nervousness, smiled wryly and said, “I see. That’s a good name. Ravindra.” He leaned towards him and said, “Grow up to be cool headed like your mother and strong like your father.”
As everyone chuckled and the boy seemed to smile while looking at him, Shalany became confused and asked, “Why the cool headedness from me? Shouldn’t Dominic be better?”
Lakshman groaned and said, “Please no. I don’t want to have to deal with another Dominic-like image with a single-minded principle about freedom and justice.”
Finally understanding, Shalany too laughed as Lakshman turned to Amaranda while chuckling and asked, “Connect the Nine Pillars of Power through telepathy, Amaranda. I need to have a word with us all.”
When the connection ended with him smiling, he turned around just in time to see Sevedant, Amaranda and the rest rising off their chairs to stand. They realised, from the tense atmosphere contained within what they talked, that the Nine Pillars of Power would be heading off to battle.
“Alright. Are we ready?” Lakshman asked Sevedant and Amaranda, who nodded almost at the same time.
Smiling in satisfaction, he turned towards his wives who were all standing together while holding their children. Venezuela and Erza looked concernedly at him, Cantia, Silvera and Tetra eyeing him curiously, Sumara and Sonia staring at him with calm expressions on their faces while Ondine and Emilia stared expectantly at him. Seeing the nine of them standing there, he was reminded once again of the nine in his first incarnation as the Phoenix Titan and the good times they spent together.
He began speaking when they moved forward almost simultaneously forward and hugged him. It could not be called a hug since they just surrounded him with their bodies while continuing to hold their babies over their shoulders. All of them were worried since they did not know what will happen and even feared the worst might happen since it was a clash between family members. It still scarred them to imagine him fighting his brother once again like in the past.
A moment later, they stepped away from his attempted embrace but all he managed to do was stare cutely at his babies. They also stared back at him before touching him gently with their tiny arms, which made him automatically smile in happiness. The kind of happiness that came from having children was wondrous, which he realised his past-self had longed for and seeing it being fulfilled almost made him tear up right there and then.
Getting a grip over his feelings, he looked at the girls and thinking back to what happened in the past, he firmly said, “Leave this to me. Alright? I will manage it.”
Realising what he was talking about, the nine of them looked a little upset since they remembered how their intervention to speak to the Calamity Titan got them killed in their previous life. So, they found comfort in his words and they wordlessly nodded in agreement.
“Be careful,” said Venezuela with a worried look on her face.
“Stay strong. We’re always with you no matter where you go,” said Erza with a slightly sad look on her face.
“Give them hell!” Cantia said bracingly, trying her hardest to smile despite the worry that plagued her heart.
“Show them your force!” Silvera said encouragingly with a soft smile on her face.
“Be calm and cool headed,” said Tetra confidently.
“Relax. Everything will be fine,” said Sumara with a cool smile on her face.
“Make sure to stay on guard,” said Sonia, looking rather worried.
“Never fear even if you are backed into a corner,” said Ondine with hope filled in her eyes.
With all of them said what they wanted to say, Emilia was the last one and she smiled at him softly and said, “Come home safely.”
All of their words resonated within him, and he closed his eyes momentarily before reopening to face them again.
“You are all beautiful. All of you are perfect the way you are. No matter what happens, none of you can be replaced and can never be removed from the bottom of my heart.”
At his emotional speech, all the women blushed in embarrassment while the watching spectators smiled reminiscently. The soldiers stationed there understood why he was saying that since he was worried of the worst outcome possible from the battle. He moved forward and began hugging each of them individually before reaching Emilia last and as he hugged her and say farewell to his baby, his son caught hold of his finger.
“Daa…” the baby boy said, looking strangely worried for a one-year-old child.
Lakshman was a little surprised and so was Emilia along with the rest of his wives by his baby’s action. Smiling, he gently pried his hand free from the baby’s smaller hands and pinched his cheeks before speaking words of comfort.
“I’ll be back. I promise. Okay?”
Still looking worried, Lakshman played with his children when, at that moment, a portal opened behind him before Vampires and Werewolves began appearing from out of it. He turned to face them just as Wolfenstine hurried out onto the courtyard after panting a little bit due to the run he did. Unlike in his prime, he was getting older and lacked battle strength, which caused him to remain at the castle as an advisory and experiment specialist to rely upon.
It seemed like Wolfenstine had passed the Titanium Equipment to the Vampires and Werewolves before the war started, which was according to Lakshman’s plan. The reason he kept such a powerful force until the very last was because he knew they were needed to fight the main force that will be positioned at the Demon Continent. That was why the Vampires were already wearing their protective cloaks that shielded from the direct glare of the sunlight.
“I’m sure glad they aren’t glowing sparkly stuff,” said Lakshman in a mutter, which caused Wolfenstine to snort.
“That’s the most horrible thing that could possibly happen to us right now,” the white-haired hybrid commented before shaking his head and saying, “Anyway, we’ve gathered all the Sage and King ranked warriors and they are ready to do battle at your command.”
At his words, the Vampires and Werewolves nodded their heads in agreement. None of them decided to kneel down or show Lakshman any special treatment, but they did not as it was not in their culture and Lakshman was grateful for it.
“Very well,” said Lakshman, nodding at them in appreciation. He turned around to face his wives before asking, “Tetra. Silvera. I need you.”
Realising how important this battle was, he realised he needed his strongest weapons as well as his wives with him at that time. Feeling hugely excited, the two Sacred Spirits handed their baby girls over to Marilia and Sasha before transforming into lights that flew towards him before taking on their sword forms. Gripping their hilts firmly, he swung them skilfully before sheathing them at his waist straps.
“Are you ready?” he asked in his mind.
“Oh yes! Definitely!” Silvera replied energetically.
“Yes. Finally, I can get to be useful again,” said Tetra in a confident voice.
He lightly chuckled and muttered, “You are already useful just being my wives.” Turning back to look at his wives, he raised one hand in farewell and said with a smiling face, “I’m going.”
The soldiers began to wish him encouragement, Marilia, Sasha and Shalany watched silently while his wives waved and also moved their babies’ hands in wishing goodbye to their father as well. Lakshman’s smile widened at seeing the action before turning to face the Vampires and Werewolves who were ready and prepared.
Becoming serious by wearing a firm expression on his face, he said, “Let’s go!”
Nodding, they all surged with power and Lakshman rocketed into the sky before Sevedant and Amaranda followed behind him while the rest of the armies brought up the rear by flying after them. At almost the exact same time, Dominic, Lagron, Tempest, Azar, Nara and Ash also left their battle locations, everyone headed towards the Demon Continent where the Calamity Titan waited in his castle, an impregnable confident smile worn on his face.
“Come. It’s the beginning of your end,” he said in a sinister voice and made an evil expression quite fitting of his role.