Hour Empty Child
As the carriage pulled up near the entrance, Kudo and Hinota were able to see the city for themselves.
Bordered by large walls, several flags waved from the winds blowing on top of the ramparts, and at the center of which the gates stood proudly to defend the city’s entrance.
They could see a huge line, formed by carriages filled with merchants, citizens, tourists, and other adventurers who have come for the same reasons as the PlusFire.
The process to get into the city was just as troublesome as it was in Olinia, according to Kudo and Hinota, since it took over two hours for the guards to take in every single one before the PlusFire’s carriage could enter.
Once they got off the carriage, a guard spotted the two and asked for their passes. Of course, for adventurers, they only needed to show their Growth Crystals. Once they showed it, the guard widened his eyes.
“[B-Rank] crystals… could you guys be those two?! The PlusFire, Kudo Braven and Hinota Flamver?!”
The guard, who looked like a young adult, shouted which made the two to hang their heads back in surprise.
“Umm… yes?” Kudo answered as best as he could.
“A-Amazing! So you two really are the fabled Adventurers who reached Class Up! I didn’t think such people existed, with your hair colors being so vibrantly colorful like in the rumors said!”
“Ooh, so we’re famous now, huh?”
Kudo could see Hinota’s ego being inflated further, a cocky grin already flashing on her face.
“Of course you are! Being so powerful at such a young age, why, it’s not surprising if the whole country knew of you two!”
As the guard continued to view the two as legends, his excitement lowered due to another guard, possibly his senior, getting angry at him and got him to let the PlusFire pass through the gates.
Though his words did not leave their minds.
“Didya hear that, Kudo? We passed through your goal!”
Kudo formed a wide smile as the two enter into the city for the first time.
The goal for Kudo was a personal one. When he left his village, he promised them that he will become a famous adventurer within the year. He managed to do so in 6 months. Kudo imagined what kind of expressions they will wear once he comes back.
They entered through the gates and were halted by the scenery.
The atmosphere was similar to that of Olinia, but the refreshing air around them without all the smoke from cigars was like a breath of fresh air. Citizens, both inhabitants and tourists, walked about with a gait, a relaxed expression on their faces.
They could see the buildings, made of silver stone, lining up the streets. Several banners, flags, and signs clouded their sight, proudly displaying their various services available in their current path.
As they step into the white stone streets, they noticed that underneath their own feet, metal chutes connected together in a line that bisected their path.
“Whoa… they’re everywhere.”
Kudo looked around, noticing the same line of metal trays across the street in intervals, as if the street were wrapped around with them.
“Kudo, what are these? I hear water flowing through.”
“Then these must be the aqueducts. I read about this in their tourist book.”
“You have a book for everything, don’t you?” Hinota was impressed, just a little.
“Only for the things that matter to us.”
Kudo went on to explain their uses. The city draws water from the weather due to the monsters outside their town. Therefore, they created these aqueducts to better store their water supply, and the city is known for their bountiful rain, so they never have issues of running out.
The city formed with rounded walls, the streets were formed into spiral-like pathways towards the center. There were small alleys making an intersecting between the wide circling streets, so one could pass through to the other side of town quickly.
After Kudo finished explaining, the PlusFire notices the excess amounts of fountains that sprayed water everywhere. Each one showed a different kind of statue at their center, and each one was marvelous to look at.
“Wow… it feels totally different than any other city…”
This was another joy for Kudo as an Adventurer. Seeing beautiful sights that would not be possible in his village. If he had stayed there, he would have never been able to see these.
His eyes widened, a small glint shined from them while his mouth gaped, nearly out of breath.
“This place is beautiful, Kudo!”
Hinota’s excited voice pierced Kudo’s hearing as he turned to see Hinota’s beaming smile. Seeing such a smile himself, he can’t help but think that it was better than the scenery.
Hinota ran out to the main street, where at the center was the biggest fountain Kudo has ever seen at the plaza. Its size was about a few meters high, and the statue at the center displayed several fairies along with a pretty elven maiden.
The amount of detail over the eyes, nose and even the long ears, along with the fairies, made the statue more impressive than any other.
“Kudo, look! It even has a name!”
“What does it say?”
Kudo went along with Hinota’s energy, getting near her to read the slate on the base of the statue.
“It says ‘The alluring beauty of immortality’… Kinda lame, huh?”
“Hehe, but somehow, it reminds me of your skills’ descriptions. It’s so grand!”
Kudo joked, but the incoming pain on his stomach proved Hinota’s dislike.
“Hah, I can never escape my family’s lame descriptions, can I?”
“You should be proud of it, Hinota!”
Kudo tried to cheer her up, but somehow he could tell that Hinota disliked it as she heaved a sigh.
The PlusFire decided to head to the west side of the city, where they were told by the passing guards that it is where most of the commerce within the city was held.
Since they weren’t in much of a hurry, they took a stroll down the longest path there, wanting to get more of a view of the city and its inhabitants.
Kudo is a natural-born country bumpkin, so he looked around with a beaming face, full of curiosity and wonder.
Right beside him, Hinota kept giving glances at Kudo’s side.
(I’m still kinda curious about his answer before…)
Hinota has always thought Kudo to be a veteran Adventurer. She was glad that she could party up with him.
But more than anything, she thought of him as a great friend that would look out for her. There was nobody else that would make her open up her heart like he has.
Wanting to know more about Kudo, and how he has lived so far, made her too curious to stop thinking about it.
He had no education, but learned how to talk and count numbers thanks to his parent’s teachings. They weren’t at the level of a scholar, but it was enough to live by.
He has difficulty talking to new people, having a certain fear of being disliked by them from being awkward or antisocial, so he tries his best to be outgoing and positive.
She wanted to know what kind of person Kudo was, and how he turned out to be like that. Being at such a peaceful village, Hinota couldn’t tell how he managed to develop a fear of socializing.
As she thought these details in her head, the PlusFire have entered into the commercial street.
The stalls lined up the street and had every merchant behind them screaming their heads off, shouting about their special prices or wonderful items ready to sell. Several inhabitants and tourists flooded the streets, looking like a bazaar more than anything.
Hinota decided to ask the question from before and was about to grab Kudo’s sleeve.
“Hinota! Here we are! Let’s go sell our items!”
Before she could grab it, Kudo turned, causing Hinota to react quickly and whisks her hand away from him. His eyes were now solely on Hinota’s.
Hinota stuttered, getting Kudo to have a look of a child’s delight on him as he ran towards the shops suited for adventurers.
Hinota, after making sure that he wasn’t watching, hunched her back and exhaled.
“…Maybe just a bit more time, then.”
Hinota formed a smile after seeing the distant Kudo’s joyful expression.
The PlusFire went around the shops, looking at every item and equipment they could get their hands on.
They found several shops that were willing to buy their excess loot.
Though, some of them instantly regretted once Kudo and Hinota opened up their seemingly endless bags and letting their loot items fall onto their counters, making it nearly bend out of shape due to their combined weight.
“We like to sell all of these, please.”
Kudo smiled as Hinota said with a gentle tone.
The vendors tried their best to haggle, but because they didn’t know exactly what items they were, since the loot drops were the kind that they don’t usually see from ordinary adventurers, they couldn’t be able to form a price.
So Hinota took that job for them, and gave them an incredible price.
Of course, they refused at first, but Hinota’s glare made their knees buckle, and were not able to say no, so they caved in.
The PlusFire were able to amass a lot of money from these poor merchants.
Once they left the bazaar, they decided to travel around town and look for any other interesting sights.
The streets started to get wider, and within these spacious streets were several [Bards] playing their music. It was a soft and gentle melody that went along with the merriment of the citizens. Kudo and Hinota paid a jib coin to them since they enjoyed their music.
“This is the first time that I’ve done something other than adventuring. It’s kinda refreshing, to be honest…”
Kudo said after passing through several stores, often catching other people’s gazes over at the sight of two colorfully haired Adventurers walking by.
Feeling the hot sun heating their skins, only to be freshened up by the water sprays from the fountains passing by, it was as if they have entered into a watery paradise.
“That’s cuz’ all you have in your head is adventuring. You never thought about having a hobby.”
“Eh, but adventuring is my hobby!”
He flashed a smile, causing a chuckle to erupt from Hinota.
“Still, when you think about it, we’re kinda odd. We worked a lot, even compared to other veteran Adventurers.”
“That’s not true at all.”
Hinota turned her head, “What do you mean?”
“We haven’t worked enough! If it weren’t for that bad weather, we could have reached level 100 even faster!”
Kudo crossed his arms in a huff, practically puffing out hot air from his frustrations over the lost time.
Hinota gave an exaggerated sigh as the two continued walking. As they walked, the street was slowly becoming crowded, creating a mess of citizens walking about. Dozens of voices overlapped one another, causing the two to feel overwhelmed.
Kudo grunted as his arm bumped against another man. It was a tall man dressed in a black cloak, his entire head was hidden underneath the hood.
The tall man turned to face Kudo, as he did the same.
“I-I’m sorry…” He answered calmly, but he felt slightly nervous.
“Hehehe, don’t mind yourself. Accidents happen.”
The man spoke with a cool tone, flashing a grin off his tanned face.
Kudo was about to curl his lips upright to show gratitude, but something sparked within his mind.
His head started to ache. His mind became very still.
A cold breeze ran through the inside of his body.
“Oh, I hope you do not mind me asking, but are you two Adventurers?”
The man turned, eventually showing his face which remains under the hood.
He had eyes so sharp that they cut right through you with a gaze—a sense of battle instinct could be seen from his gaze. His smile pierces through that battle-hardened gaze, showing an old man’s smiling face.
Seeing this, Hinota was at a loss for a few seconds. Seeing such a hardened veteran of battles, she could tell instantly that he is an Adventurer. In the next second, she glanced at Kudo, and noticed his strange silence.
So she answered instead.
“Ah, yes, we are,” She answered politely.
“Ah, that explains the power surging through from your tiny bodies.”
The man chuckled, the air around him turning to a somewhat gentle atmosphere.
However, Kudo remained speechless.
(What’s wrong with Kudo…?) As she thought, she quickly responded: “Are you an Adventurer as well?”
A half-hearted response. It raised Hinota’s right brow before the man’s gaze rests on the two of them.
“I can tell already that you two will make waves in the future. May Isabel smile on your adventures now…”
The man lifted his hand, rugged and thick-skinned as he waved at them and turned around to head off into the sea of people passing by.
All the while, Kudo could not utter a word. This was the first time he was unable to talk to someone since his adventure started.
Rather, it wasn’t like he didn’t want to talk to him… it was more like he couldn’t talk to him.
Hinota’s high-pitched shout snapped Kudo’s trance, returning his mind to his normal state.
“What’s wrong? You look like you got nervous again.”
Hinota surmised that it was due to Kudo’s constant fear of people. Though it seemed that he had it under control for a few months now, but it resurfaced again.
He couldn’t answer with a simple response, no matter how hard he tried. All he kept thinking about is that strange feeling he had felt with his senses.
“Kudo… you look pale!”
After studying his face, Hinota’s eyes widened as she cupped her hand onto his face, making him surprised and let out a blush.
“Mmh, it doesn’t look like you’re getting sick… though you’re heating up quite rapidly.”
“T-That’s because you’re touching me!”
He quickly shrank back, taking her hand off his face. For now, he returned to normal, but then he looked at his hand as his face relaxed.
“What was that… so weird.”
“I-It’s nothing… don’t worry about it.”
Since he couldn’t explain without confusing Hinota, Kudo decided to drop it, waving his hand to show that he was alright.
“Well, if you’re feeling sick again, let me know. It could be the different environment around here.”
Kudo’s body felt fine. He wanted to say that, but he couldn’t explain it any further than that.
“Well, let’s just keep going then. Kudo, be mindful of where you step.”
Hinota moved forward, motioning Kudo to do the same as he followed Hinota towards to another location to see.
After taking a step forward, he stopped. His muscles tensed up, and he turned around, to the crowd of citizens walking by, their voices overlapping each other creating wave after wave of loud noises.
Yet, he could still feel something piercing him. That strange feeling was becoming weaker.
Eventually, the feeling stopped. He could no longer feel any of it.
He wondered if he was actually sick, and turned around to go to Hinota who was waiting impatiently for him to move.