Shalany carried her husband using her magic into the house by levitating his body and laying it down gently on the large seater. Meanwhile, Lakshman was walking behind her while apologising for his actions.
“I’m sorry, Shalany, for hurting him but—!”
“You should be sorry, Lucky! He’s my husband!” She snapped, rounding on him with a stern look on her face. “In the first place, I didn’t tell you anything and didn’t ask for your disciplinary action on him either!”
“What? You’re going to let him off just like that?” Nara asked before Lakshman could speak.
This made Shalany turn and glare angrily at him before asking, “I didn’t ask for your intervention, Nara, and if in future you plan on pulling this kind of stunt, you can sleep outside!”
Nara raised a sceptic eyebrow and asked, “I don’t mind sleeping outside, but you’re forgetting that he’s my friend. You stopped me from hitting him back, so I knew the man who could punish this numbskull would be him,” and he pointed at Lakshman.
“I repeat: I never asked for any disciplinary action to be taken against him and because of your silliness, he’s now sleeping here wounded and all,” she said, and her expression softened as she eyed her sleeping husband.
Lakshman stared at the friend he had made during his childhood and could only smile wryly before Valian asked from the side, “So, uh, if you don’t mind me asking, what was the problem that caused you to hit him?”
“Oh. Well, he slapped his wife, and I got angry and hit him in return,” explained Lakshman simply. Then he turned to Nara and asked, “So, what made Dominic of all people to lose his temper and hit his wife?”
Shalany quickly gave a dangerous look at Nara, who returned the same look before stating, “It’s to do with his relatives coming here and making a scene or something.”
“What? Is that true?” Lakshman asked, and turned to look at her in alarm. “The ones who abandoned him returned? How come my wives never told me anything about this? In fact, why is it that him hitting you is treated as a secret?”
“I made Emilia promise not to say a word,” said Shalany in a quiet voice and elaborated on how Emilia and Amaranda were witnesses to the whole incident and the promise she made with them thereafter to keep quiet about it. “The only mistake I made is not making him promise though who would think a friend would sell out his friends so easily?”
As she glowered at Nara, the War Titan shrugged his shoulders indifferently and responded with, “On normal occasions, I would support my friends, but a wife beating man is no man at all and must be treated as a criminal!” Then a flash suddenly occurred to him and he said, “In fact, I believe the current law arrests violence against women and puts them in jail?”
“Nara!” Shalany said in a sharp voice that was like a whip hitting the ground. “Don’t make me angry!”
The two of them glared at each other for a moment before Nara sighed as he gave up and said, “Fine! Do as you want.”
As Shalany let out a sight, Valerian asked from the side, “What’s going on? Why are they two so angry with each other?”
Hearing his words, Nara turned and asked in a tired voice, “Come on, Val. Are you so dim witted to not follow our conversation?”
His speech stunned Valerian, who could only shake his head and ask, “I’m sorry, sir. It’s just that I… I don’t understand the words in your exchange.”
“Huh? You… didn’t understand our words?” Nara asked, looking confused.
From Dominic’s side, Shalany looked at the younger man and asked, “What are you two talking about?”
“What? You don’t understand what we’re saying to one another?” Nara asked, turning to look at her quizzically.
Seeing the confusion that suddenly sprung up, Lakshman easily deduced the reason and explained, “I guess the reason is due to the difference in languages.”
Both Nara and Shalany blinked and asked, “Different language? Which one?”
The Phoenix Titan smiled and explained that as Valerian was from an ancient society known as the Water Clan, the language they associated with was known as the Water Tongue. However, in the present day, that name was changed to being the Undine Language to represent the language spoken by the ocean dwelling creatures.
This made sense once explained to everyone, and Shalany and Nara eyed the newest member of the Nine Pillars of Power in wonder while Valerian looked embarrassed. Lakshman smiled at the young man’s reaction before his facial expression changed to that of sadness which had the others become confused by.
“Why are you looking sad now?” Nara asked.
“It just hurts to know that these things aren’t worth letting me know. Like, what did you think would happen if I knew?” He asked hopelessly, tilting his head towards his childhood friend.
Upon hearing his question, she looked sad as well and replied, “I’m sorry, Lucky. It wasn’t to do what you might do or anything; it just felt like a trivial thing that didn’t warrant raising a commotion over.”
“Maybe not to you, but it does hurt me deeply that this was kept a secret from me when he did something so stupid,” lamented Lakshman in a sad voice. There was a moment of pause before he sighed and asked, “So, when did this issue of his relatives returning start and did Dominic meet them again?”
“A week ago, and no, Dominic hasn’t come across them yet, and I’d like to keep it that way,” she said with a small smile.
Lakshman saw that she was feeling relieved that her husband did not meet the people that had abandoned him and were the reason that he was all alone during childhood. Even he admitted that the saving grace for his friend came in the form of the Sword Titan, who saw the potential in him of being his successor and gave him the chance that others would only relish in.
“I guess word about his exploits and being a member of the Nine Pillars of Power made around the other kingdoms and caused their attention,” said Asura in his mind as a conjecture.
“That has to be it, and not to mention the timing,” replied Lakshman to his past-self. “They were probably facing some kind of financial problems and nearing the end of their rope, news of their nephew came in and they probably saw a chance.”
At that moment, they heard footsteps coming from outside approaching the house. This made Shalany wear a concerned look on her face, which was noted by everyone in the room. She promptly jumped to her feet and quickly walked out of the house before they heard her exclaim in a sharp voice.
“You’re back again!”
Her voice was filled with anger, and this made the three men inside eye one another in wonder.
“I came to meet Dominic. As I said last time, I’m his relative. Please let me meet him if he’s home.”
“He’s not home, so you can go away already!”
“Hey, there’s no need to be so angry towards my wife, miss!” Said a man’s voice.
“I am angry at you people, so get lost!” Shalany said rudely by expressing her rage with her voice.
“There’s no need to be so rude, miss,” said the woman’s voice in an attempt to calm the situation.
“Why are we wasting our time talking to this arrogant woman, Stella? We came to meet Dominic, and we should do just that!”
“Well, too bad because he’s not home, and even if he is, I won’t let him meet scum like you!”
They heard the man click his tongue and say, “We didn’t come here to be so rudely spoken to and get insulted by you, woman!”
This made Lakshman to furrow his eyebrows and say out loud, “I can’t let this pass.”
His original plan was to sit there and observe quietly to see what happened, but as soon as the man spoke rudely to his childhood friend, things changed. In fact, he wanted to be at her side as a supportive character role since the other side has a male on their side as well but wanted to see how things proceeded.
With nothing stopping him, he rose to his feet and stepped out of the house to witness Shalany standing at the veranda whereas the two strangers standing a few meters away. One was a male, the other was a female, with her being shorter than the male. He automatically assumed that those people were wife and husband as it was easy enough to judge simply based on their behaviour.
Shalany was surprised to see him come outside and began asking him, “Lucky, why did you—?”
However, he forestalled her by raising a hand in a gesture to stop her. Then he faced the people at the front, who were eying him with curiosity.
“Are you perhaps… Dominic?” The lady asked tentatively.
Instantaneously, he heard Asura let out a heavy sigh and state, “Seriously?! Does this woman have no idea what the grown-up version of her nephew might look like?! Seriously?!”
“Features can change,” supplied Lakshman.
“Don’t start with that! Features do change, but do they change so much that they become a completely different person?!” Asura demanded, and Lakshman had to admit that he was connect to some extent.
In response to the people in front, Lakshman shook his head and said, “No. I’m his friend. If you have any problem, share it with me, and I’ll consider it.”
His words made them scowl at him in obvious irritation. The Phoenix Titan was purposefully choosing his words carefully to hurt their pride or make them lose their temper to reveal their true intentions. Otherwise, he had no reason to meddle in Dominic’s business other than the fact that they were the reason that his friend lost his temper and hurt his own wife.
“You’re his friend? That’s great,” the lady said, quickly fixing her posture and smiling brightly at him. “Would you might know where he is? He would surely know who we are if we meet and talk.”
“Yeah. He would definitely remember me since I’m his dad’s brother!” The man gloated proudly.
“I see,” said Lakshman with a serene smile while Asura said inside his mind, “Have you no shame claiming to be the brother of the father of the boy that you knowingly and willingly abandoned because of him possessing no value in looking after?!”
At that moment, the woman, as if sensing something from Lakshman’s attitude, coughed and nudged her husband by muttering something under her breath. Lakshman could not catch what she said, but he could understand it easily when her husband introduced themselves to him.
“Sorry for the late introduction, friend of my Dominic. My name’s Matthew Simlac, and this is my wife, Stella. What’s your name?”
Lakshman smiled and introduced himself as, “Hello Matthew and Stella. My name is Lakshman Chand. Nice to meet you.”
“Lakshman Chand?” Matthew asked, looking vague. “Haven’t I heard that name before?”
“Yes, but I don’t recall,” his wife agreed, looking the same as her husband.
“You’re standing before the king of this kingdom, fools!” Asura scolded them inside of his current-self’s head.
Lakshman chuckled at his past-self’s words and by their cluelessness before saying, “Who I am doesn’t matter. I am interested to know that you are his relatives. He did speak a lot about you with me, though not by name obviously.”
“Really?” Stella asked eagerly, looking very interested. “What did he say?”
“Oh. He said quite a lot,” said Lakshman as he slowly descended down the front stairs and slowly made his way towards them while speaking. “He did speak a lot about you. About how he was raised in a group family and that he had wonderful relatives. One family where a woman that gave him lots of sweets to eat, a man that always carried him around while going outside.”
“That would be us,” said the woman, and the man appeared to look proud of what he heard about himself and his wife.
“Ah. That’s great to hear,” said Lakshman with a sweet smile while continuing to walk towards them in the same slowness as before. “There were others as well. Two other relatives, I believe.”
“Ah. There were there, but they don’t need to be mentioned right now. Right, dear?” Asked Stella, and her husband nodded as he said, “Yeah. They’re just idiots that are best ignored.”
“Oh. I see how it is,” said Lakshman slowly as he neared them. “They were difficult people to contend with.”
It was a statement, and Stella agreed with, “Yes. They caused Dominic a lot of trouble and our brother-in-law, so we had to push them away. But then we had to go our own separate ways due to us wanting to grow on our own by not sticking too closely to my brother-in-law and depending too much on him.”
“Is that so?” Lakshman asked as he came to a stop in front of them with a few centimetres separating him and them. “Then, why is it that he told me that you had all abandoned him?”
“Huh?” Both Matthew and Stella reacted in surprise and blinked in confusion.
“Yes,” said Lakshman softly, shifting his arms and crossing them in front of him while saying, “After his parents died and their debt came to light, he was abandoned right after he did the brave thing by selling all of his assets to clear away the debt. What do you say to that?”
He finished his question with a firm look on his cool smile on his face, but his eyes were filled with anger as he tilted his head slightly to the left. This made him appear as a dominating character despite the simplistic appearance he seemed to make before them.
“W-What?” Matthew stumbled, blinking rapidly with guilt. “A-Abandoned him? That’s n-nonsense!”
“Yes! We never abandoned him!” Stella said firmly. “We had to go our separate ways soon after since we didn’t want to burden the boy. That’s all.”
“Oh. Is that right?” Lakshman asked, still making that cool smile as before despite his feelings boiling up inside.
He was able to figure out that they had lied just with the use of his Elemental Sense magic spell. As such, he knew for sure that they indeed were in the wrong. Also, it did not help their case when Matthew became so flustered when Lakshman casually revealed the truth despite Stella trying her best to quash it down.
“I’m sorry, but your lies are far too transparent to have any impression on me,” he said to them coolly.
Matthew gritted his teeth while Stella tried to calm the situation by saying, “I’m not sure what my nephew had said about us, but he’s mistaken. We were facing our own financial crisis and didn’t want to burden them on a growing boy, so we had no choice but to leave. Do you understand how much it must’ve pained me to let such a cute boy go?”
Lakshman eyed him coldly and said, “Yes. I’m sure it pained you when he gave away the assets, leaving you and the others relatives with nothing.”
Stella blinked in surprise while Matthew grew angry as he said, “Take that back! You’re being awfully rude to my wife!”
Lakshman turned his attention to the older man and asked, “Do you know of a magic spell called Elemental Sense?”
“Elemental Sense?” Matthew asked, looking confused.
“It’s a Sage Ranked Sensor Magic Spell that lets the caster detect danger, life force and other things,” he said, and the Matthew nodded as he seemed to follow. “So, what do you think such a spell would do if used by someone who is Titan Ranked?”
Stella’s eyes widened in shock, and he exclaimed, “T-Titan Ranked?! What?!”
The Phoenix Titan nodded and said, “When such a spell is used by a person of that calibre, it allows them to detect more things that are normally difficult and one of those things is the ability to detect lies.”
“That’s impossible!” Matthew refuted Lakshman’s claims firmly. “The only people that you are referring to are the Titan Ranked, and they’re the members of the Nine Pillars of Power! There’s no way that you—!”
He was cut off when Lakshman addressed him with a question of, “What’s my name?”
“What?” The older man asked, sounding confused.
“What’s my name?” Lakshman repeated in the same cold manner as before, his smile faded from his face.
“Yes. I introduced myself, didn’t I?”
“Y-You did, so?”
“Doesn’t my name ring a bell?”
“Yes…!” Lakshman said slowly in a quiet voice.
Matthew stared at him with a confused look on his face while Stella looked at him with a doubtful look on her face. She seemed to be connecting the dots of Lakshman’s name and his explanation about Elemental Sense together.
“Wait…!” She said slowly as realisation dawned on her, and her eyes slowly went up. “The Chand Family… and the ability to see through disguises… it couldn’t be…! You couldn’t be… the Phoenix Titan?!”
Lakshman did not say anything but simply smiled down at her as he was taller than both of them. That gave away the indication that she was right, and her skin became pale as white from the sheer shock she suddenly experienced. After all, knowing that all this while they had been conversing with the Phoenix Titan of all people was indeed a great shock to behold.
“Who gives a damn about who you are?” Matthew asked irritably. “You’re not some kind of big shot anyway.”
The reason for him getting that impression was due to the way that Lakshman was dressed. From childhood, his parents had a tight budget and could only afford decent clothes which would be considered as commoner’s clothing compared to the rich clothing worn by nobles and such. Since then, he got stuck to choosing and wearing only such clothing other than the occasional change of clothing he wore when his wives force him into to make him look better.
Stella panicked because of her husband’s insulting words and quickly said, “Your highness! Please, don’t mind my husband! He’s clueless about who you are! That’s all!” She quickly turned to her husband and said, “Apologise to him! Now!”
“Huh?” Her husband asked, looking dumbfounded by her actions. “What’s wrong, Stella? Why are you—?”
“You imbecile! Do you have any idea whom we’ve been speaking to till now?!” She exclaimed, startling him with her loud voice. She gestured at Lakshman and said, “He’s the Phoenix Titan! The King of the Floria Kingdom!”
“What?!” Matthew exclaimed, turning from her to look at him with an expression mixed with that of shock and disbelief on his face. “Y-You’re—!”
“Apologise!” She shouted, and he winced before making a troubled look on his face.
“I… I’m sorry for causing you trouble!” He hesitated for a brief moment before saying in a firm voice after seeing the dangerous look in his wife’s eyes.
“I also apologise for our rudeness, sir! Please forgive us if we upset you in any way or manner!” Stella said from her side, forcing her husband to bow down with her.
Lakshman looked at them for a moment in silence before saying, “I am indeed upset by the fact of seeing the people that injured my dear friend as a child trying to get back to him now that he has value.”
“Ah!” Said the couple, raising their heads and looking fearfully at him.
“What should I do to people that abandoned a child and ran away after giving him the hope that you would support him?” He asked coldly with a glint in his eyes.
Matthew became scared, and his mouth began to rattle as if he was facing a sudden cold. Stella, on the other hand, was shaking slightly before she looked at him with a determined expression on her face.
“We admit it, sir! We did abandon him,” she finally admitted it with clenched fists, “but what choice did we have? He had foolishly given away his assets to clear his parents’ debt, leaving himself and us with nothing. We were a group family and all income in the family came from his parents. Now that we were broke, we were not sure what to do. I was also pregnant at that time, and I had to make hard decisions about my family such as am I supposed to look after my family and him at the same time when we had no money at all, especially since my family was going to grow? That’s why I thought he would be better off in the orphanage than with us. That was all to it; it wasn’t out of malice at the fact that he no longer held any value! That was not it at all. Please believe us, Phoenix Titan!”
She was desperately imploring him to believe her while he remained silent with the same cool expression as before. However, he was silently listening to every word she uttered and digested the truth she was spilling out now that there was no escaping from him. As such, his Elemental Sense detected that she indeed was speaking the truth. This fact made him feel complicated about how to react to her situation.
He did however want to confirm one thing and so asked, “What did you come here to do? You did come here after finding out about his status and trying to get closer to him with the intention of going after his assets?”
“No, no, no! That wasn’t our intention!” Stella said quickly while shaking her head.
“You see, sir,” began her husband tentatively in a troubled voice, “I am currently running a business of exporting goods, but with the recent war and the lack of buyers, we’re facing financial losses. Due to this, the loan that I used to open up my business seemed impossible to clear, and the lenders are pressuring us to clear it.”
“So, you thought you could use your relation to him to get closer to him and then borrow the required money from him to clear away your loan. Is that right?” Lakshman asked as he guessed their plan.
“Y-Yes,” admitted Matthew a little shamefully.
“What about your children? Haven’t you asked them yet?”
Stella wore an uncomfortable look on her face as Matthew replied, “We did ask them, but… they’re facing their own financial stress and… told us they wouldn’t be help us.”
“I see. Your difficulty, coupled with your desperation and unhelpfulness from your children, made you seek out the one person you thought might help you. Is that right?”
Without saying a word, the two of them nodded in assent with their heads bowed a little in shame. Lakshman looked down at them for a moment in silence. He understood the gist of the matter so far and felt a little sympathy towards their struggle. However, his anger towards them for the damage his friend had suffered also caused him to feel complicated about the whole situation they were faced with.
“There’s only one thing to do in this situation,” advised Asura inside his mind.
Lakshman agreed with a, “Yes,” and spoke to them by saying, “I understand your problem, but it’s not me you should be contending with; it’s him,” and he stepped aside to let them face the house.
Till now, Lakshman stood in a position that made it so that his body blocked their view of the house. Now that he stepped aside, they could see the house again and widened their eyes in shock. There, standing at the entrance with one arm around his wife for support, stood Dominic.