Chapter 47:

Vol. 4 Chapter 2: The Tale of the Bravens Part 1

Hour Empty Child

The crowd of people peeked at the scene with astonishment, and some others, who came for their meals, started to look upset.Bookmark here

The reason was that a couple was starting a fight with the servers of the Niner’s Diner. However, a voice resounded which stopped the fight, getting the accusers to look back at the recipient.Bookmark here

“Mom! Dad!”Bookmark here

Wanting to make sure that he was heard clearly, he shouted again. The dumbstruck look on the couple’s faces changed in an instant to elated smiles.Bookmark here

“Kudo!”Bookmark here

“My boy! You’re here?!”Bookmark here

As if a flash of lightning struck them, the two’s attitudes towards the servers disappeared, leaving only proud parents as they dashed towards their child, widening their arms with tears in their eyes.Bookmark here

The two embraced Kudo with a tightening hug that looked like it would push all the air out of his body.Bookmark here

“Kudo! You look so well! You look so buff!”Bookmark here

The woman, Kudo’s mother, Meiki, said while using her hands to feel her son’s body all around his torso which got him to feel awkward.Bookmark here

“Haha, you look so different than before! How’ve you been? How come you didn’t tell us you were here?!”Bookmark here

The man, Kudo’s father, Trun, continued slapping his son’s back with some force, but Kudo’s toughened body was able to withstand such pressure.Bookmark here

The two kept asking questions while showing delighted expressions, their alacrity practically gushing out of him.Bookmark here

“I-I’m fine!” Kudo felt his cheeks heating up while feeling the heavy stares of other people on them. “I should be asking you guys why you’re here!”Bookmark here

‘Bwaa!’ Kudo exhaled after being released by his parents’ hug. But before Kudo could listen, in the corner of his eyes, he saw the manager and the servers who looked mildly uncomfortable, fearing for what comes next.Bookmark here

They could tell that, from his armor and the well-known Magic Bag at his waist, that he was an adventurer. The servers believed that he might cause even more trouble if they don’t do as he says.Bookmark here

Kudo instantly empathized with their current situation.Bookmark here

Putting his hand up, stopping his parents’ from asking their numerous question, he walked towards the servers. The servers and manager all flinched in reaction to his movement, fearing that the worst was about to begin.Bookmark here

However, it was the opposite. Kudo looked into his extra-dimensional [Magic Bag], and took out a bag and counted the coins inside it. Confirmed, he handed the bag to the elder manager. The manager then took the bag slowly, verified the contents.Bookmark here

“I apologize for the trouble. Here’s the payment they owe, and a little extra for the issues.”Bookmark here

Kudo flashed a smile, emanating a wave of gentleness and sincerity. The manager looked like he was about to tear up in relief after seeing the boy’s smile.Bookmark here

“T-Thank you very much for your patronage!”Bookmark here

The manager, as well as the servers, bowed quickly to Kudo who walked back towards the parents, eyes popping out of their heads, their mouths gaping.Bookmark here

“K-Kudo! What did you do that for?!” Trun shouted, a nervous sweat running down his temple.Bookmark here

“Why did you pay the full amount, and even extra?! They were robbing us of our money!”Bookmark here

Meiki added in, shaking her fists up and down with steam fuming out of her ears.Bookmark here

“Mom, it's fine. Dad, I got enough to pay anyways, so don’t worry about it.”Bookmark here

“A-Amazing…” Trun spoke in bewilderment.Bookmark here

“So you really are doing well in your journey… As your mother, I’m so happy”Bookmark here

Meiki’s eyes started to water. Kudo reacted strongly by fiddling with his hands, trying to find a handkerchief for his mother to use.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, looking at them as if she had nothing to do with this, Hinota was astonished after seeing the people Kudo refer to as his parents.Bookmark here

“T-They are Kudo’s mother and father… they…”Bookmark here

After confirming their appearances, something struck within Hinota’s mind. However, she brushed it aside, slightly shaking her head.Bookmark here

(Alright…)Bookmark here

Hinota pumped herself up, clenching her fists for whatever reason as she headed towards to where the Braven family was. As of now, they were getting out of the crowd of people that were slowly dispersing away since the situation has been handled well.Bookmark here

“I see, so you came here to sell your items, is that right? Very economical! That’s my boy!”Bookmark here

Meiki clasps her hands together, a bright smile that radiated light like Kudo.Bookmark here

“To think my son would get so much money… to be honest, daddy’s quite shocked. Of course, I’m also very proud!”Bookmark here

Beating his chest with his fist, Trun grinned widely.Bookmark here

“So why are you guys doing here? Why are you all the way here in Vipory?”Bookmark here

Kudo asked now that the three of them were away from other citizens and near a restaurant with fewer people.Bookmark here

“Ah, that…” Trun brushed the back of his head as he directed that question to Meiki with a glance.Bookmark here

“You see, we were invited, by a chairman of this city, no less!”Bookmark here

Meiki responded with an excited grin. She searched in her bag that she carried and took out a clean envelope with a wax seal at the back. Kudo opened the letter as soon as she handed it to him.Bookmark here

“Oh… mmh, you are invited to… a consolidation for farmers in the Sparkling Oasis?”Bookmark here

“That’s right! That place is run by this rich guy called Herrin Oasis. He’s the owner of Sparkling Oasis, a famous resort that keeps this city afloat! All the farmers around all of Peranim are meeting up to exchange information on better agriculture methods! Basically, we share our secrets to improve ourselves!”Bookmark here

Meiki responded with a slight skip in her step. Kudo could tell that his mother was very happy, but a worry rose from his mind.Bookmark here

“B-But is that really okay? Wouldn’t that mean that the other farmers will know your secrets, and will sell more products than you guys?”Bookmark here

“It’s not like we’re competitive, you know! These farmers are widely spread all across Peranim. They sell their products in different towns, so it has nothing to do with us.”Bookmark here

“And you know your mother; anything’s good as long as it gets us some quick cash.”Bookmark here

Trun gave a wry laugh which got Kudo to chuckle.Bookmark here

“It’s good to see that you two are alright… Still, I never heard of going to a consolidation with farmers before. Has this happened before?”Bookmark here

“Not that I know of. This might be the first time I have ever seen this happen.”Bookmark here

Hinota’s voice entered into the conversation, getting all of them to look at her coming in, saying ‘sorry for intruding’ as she showed herself.Bookmark here

“Oh my… is that?”Bookmark here

“Oh, Hinota!”Bookmark here

Kudo ran to Hinota, an enthusiastic smile on his face. Hinota noticed the keen stares being received by his parents, her body becoming pressured by their expectations. Bookmark here

“Ooh! Such a beautiful young lady!” Trun shouted, his eye gleaming. “Could this be who I think she is?”Bookmark here

“That’s right!” Kudo proudly answered. “Mom, Dad, this is Hinota! She’s the one I told you about in my letters.”Bookmark here

Kudo introduced Hinota, using hand gestures as if he was displaying a brand new item. Hinota’s cheeks blushed faintly, bowing her head slightly.
“It is a pleasure to finally meet you two.”Bookmark here

Kudo perked his ears up after hearing Hinota’s formal tone. Looking at her, he sensed that she was nervous for some reason.Bookmark here

“Hinota, you don’t have to be so reserved…”Bookmark here

“A-Ah, I’m sorry. I just…”Bookmark here

Hinota flustered, not realizing the tone she was using. However, seeing the two parents’ faces, it didn’t seem to matter.Bookmark here

“So THIS is the one who Kudo has been talking about all the time in his letters!”Bookmark here

Meiki verified Hinota up and down in complete wonder, her eyes were just as gleaming as Trun’s were.Bookmark here

Kudo’s cheeks heated up after hearing his mother’s words spoken out loud.Bookmark here

“I-I don’t talk about her all the time…”Bookmark here

“Talking about…? As in?”Bookmark here

Hinota’s ears perked up, her eyes suddenly giving off a curious glint.Bookmark here

“Haha, Kudo talks about you in just about every letter! He kept saying how awesome, and how cool, and how amazing you were! All around the best partner he could ever hope for in adventuring!”Bookmark here

Hearing the heated father’s passionate words, Hinota and Kudo shared the same reaction with steam coming out of their ears and dying their faces red. Kudo felt like dying thanks to his father revealing his inner contents, while Hinota became embarrassed from his praises.Bookmark here

“W-W-What are you talking about?! Don’t say it like that!”Bookmark here

His cheeks reddening all the way to his ears, he went up to his father and kept winding his arms as if they were ready to hit him, but his father only grinned and brushed Kudo’s head, saying ‘You’re so grown up!’, which got him more embarrassed.Bookmark here

Seeing Kudo’s torture with his excited parents, Hinota took a moment to relieve herself of her embarrassment, putting her hand above her chest to calm herself down. She then asked:Bookmark here

“N-Now that I think about it, I did spot Kudo writing letters every now and then.”Bookmark here

Hinota recalled the times when she would visit his room in the inn they’re staying just to talk a bit more before she slept, and notices Kudo on his desk, putting all of his effort to write a letter.Bookmark here

“Well, even in Arkhem, we can still receive letters from messengers, though it’s still pretty far away.”Bookmark here

“But as he promised, he kept writing every week.”Bookmark here

Meiki responded by petting Kudo’s head like a child. Kudo turned away, wanting to pretend that he doesn’t exist at this moment to spare himself of any more embarrassment.Bookmark here

“Though, it would be hard to decipher Kudo’s handwriting if we weren’t used to it.”Bookmark here

“Mom!”Bookmark here

Kudo retorted, lowering his brows. ‘Hahaha!’ Hinota responded with a small laugh.Bookmark here

Seeing the situation unfold badly for him, Kudo looked around for a way to get away from all this before it gets worse, and thought up of an escape plan.Bookmark here

“A-Anyways, I bet you two hardly ate anything, right? How about we go somewhere else to get some food? It’ll be my treat!”Bookmark here

Kudo grabbed hold of his parents’ shoulders and dragged them away from Hinota.Bookmark here

Hinota, however, could read Kudo’s mind instantly and knew his reasoning for his sudden change. Curling her lips upwards to herself, she followed after Kudo.Bookmark here

After walking for a couple of minutes, they found themselves another restaurant that they can partake in.Bookmark here

This time, they entered through the well carved wooden doors into the stone building. They entered into a bright room, the clean windows letting the sun shine on the tables that spread around.Bookmark here

The restaurant itself was quite spacious. It had three levels, each one having a small set of stairs that leads upwards to the inner ring of the floor, reaching up to 3 floors.Bookmark here

Kudo called for a waiter, surprising his parents that he was capable of doing such a high-level social skill, and asked him for a table of four. The waiter smiled and bowed, telling Kudo to follow him.Bookmark here

Being led further into the restaurant, descending down on the small steps of stairs that led to the bottom level, the waiter pointed them to the large table.Bookmark here

As they were led, the parents, Meiki and Trun, were too much in shock by the atmosphere, and their faces turned blue as they kept stealing glances at their surroundings.Bookmark here

“Kudo… this is…”Bookmark here

“Yeah… I don’t think we should even…”Bookmark here

The restaurant around them was quite lavish. Several paintings were hanging on the pillars, showing exquisite portraits of monsters in regal forms, wearing crowns and mantles of high stature. The people inside weren’t exactly loosely dressed like the parents either. They wore elegant clothing, close resemblance to nobles.Bookmark here

Meiki and Trun tried to respond as they sat down with Kudo and Hinota who had not changed their expressions at all.Bookmark here

Rather, upon entering the restaurant, Hinota had a glinting look in her eyes, possibly thinking about the kind of food that they will serve here. She looked down at the menu that was on the table and checked for the meals being offered.Bookmark here

“Don’t mind it, guys. Remember, from now on, you’re a part of everyone here!”Bookmark here

Kudo had a gentle smile, the kind of gentleness that calmed them down in this strange environment. Hinota, however, felt awkward as she saw the child trying to comfort his parents.Bookmark here

Before long, another waiter came about. This time, it was a young man with a shortcut hair who greeted them with a smile.Bookmark here

“Is there anything you like to order?”Bookmark here

The waiter asked with a business-like smile.Bookmark here

“It looks like these guys serve tons of meat. You guys like anything?”Bookmark here

Kudo handed the question to his parents, but he later saw that the two, seeing the menus on the table for themselves, begun to tremble as they met their gazes with the waiter.Bookmark here

“Umm… just a glass of water.”Bookmark here

“M-Me too…”Bookmark here

“Guys!”Bookmark here

Kudo’s voice made them jump in surprise along with Hinota. Kudo was furrowing his brow—he looked upset.Bookmark here

“Like I said, I got everything down. It’s all on me. So order whatever you like!”Bookmark here

Kudo glared at them, saying with his eyes ‘I can pay for this’. Seeing such a willful expression, the two shared a glance with each other before turning back to their menus.Bookmark here

‘Then…’ The two simultaneously said.Bookmark here

Despite their objections, they were slightly excited. After ordering their meals, the waiter turned to Kudo and Hinota.Bookmark here

“I’ll have a salad with some fruits for the side dish. Hinota, what’ll you have?”Bookmark here

“Mmh… I’d like to have three Boar burgers, two Cowlion steaks, 4 Piggy smoked ribs, two bowls of salad, and… I suppose a few drinks of the best Lingin fruit juice you have.”Bookmark here

Meiki, Trun, and the waiter whitened in surprise.Bookmark here

“Hinota, anything else?”Bookmark here

“O-Oh, I shouldn’t. I don’t wanna look like such a glutton to your parents…”Bookmark here

Hinota blushed a bit, showing the bit of feminity as she gently placed her hand on her cheek.Bookmark here

“O-Oh, I get you.”Bookmark here

Knowing that girls need to look proper, a lesson taught to him by Hinota, Kudo told the waiter as he showed a bit of discomfort on his face from remembering the dishes, but he bowed and moved away to the counter where he told all those complicated orders.Bookmark here

“W-Wow… such a big appetite from such a slim girl.”Bookmark here

Meiki carefully chose her words to make it less rude than it should.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry. My body is the kind that it’ll break down if I don’t consume enough calories. I keep burning calories whenever I do strenuous activities.”Bookmark here

“My~ Such a proactive body!”Bookmark here

Meiki became impressed while Hinota looked down, a blush showing on her cheeks.Bookmark here

“Wow! And you still look good! Kudo, you really weren’t kidding when you said that you were hanging with such a pretty girl. I still can’t believe it!”
Trun held out his hand and slapped Kudo’s back with force, though Kudo shared the same kind of silly expression on his face as Trun’s.Bookmark here

“Didn’t I tell you? Hinota is the greatest!”Bookmark here

Before, Kudo was embarrassed to talk about this in front of Hinota.Bookmark here

But now that everything was out in the open, Kudo talked without any hesitation. Hearing that, Hinota blush became stronger after hearing so many compliments at once.Bookmark here

“E-Enough,” Hinota stammered, but remained composed. “There’s so much flattery, it’s starting to get to me.”Bookmark here

“My, Hinota, it’s all true. I never met a girl as beautiful as you! Why, you look like you could pass off as royalty!”Bookmark here

Meiki also added in her compliment, clasping her hands together in a prayer sign aside her cheek with a bright smile, causing Hinota to close her eyes and blush severely.Bookmark here

“Ah, now that I realize, I never knew your last name. Kudo only ever said your first name.”Bookmark here

“R-Really? He never mentioned my last name?” Hinota looked at Kudo in surprise.Bookmark here

“Yeah. So what’s your full name?” Being interested, Trun asked while putting his elbow on the table with a grin.Bookmark here

“M-My full name is Hinota Flamver.”Bookmark here

Meiki and Trun heard the words, but it took them a couple of seconds for them to realize what she said. Suddenly, their eyes popped wide open.Bookmark here

“ “Eeehh?!” ”Bookmark here

The two slammed on the table with a bit of force, causing a small thump to be heard. Hinota was taken aback by this sudden shock.Bookmark here

“H-Hinota Flamver?! I know that family!” Meiki shouted.Bookmark here

“I-Isn’t that the Adventurer family that turned noble in that famous city of Erijo!? The kind that visits Peranim royalty and stuff?!”Bookmark here

Trun shouted, getting Hinota and Kudo to slowly nod.Bookmark here

“N-No way…”Bookmark here

Trun and Meiki fell back to their seats, beginning to whiten up in shock again.Bookmark here

“Kudo, how come you never told them my name?”Bookmark here

Hinota turned to Kudo, curious as to why he would evade saying her last name.Bookmark here

“Ah, well… I just couldn’t. Since I keep writing about you, saying your full name would be too much for the paper, so I just shortened it to just Hinota.”Bookmark here

Kudo’s cheeks blushed as he revealed his reasoning, but it left Hinota with a distant look on her face.Bookmark here

She has always been known as Hinota Flamver. The Flamver name has marked her as part of a powerful family. Everywhere she went, she would always be reminded of her last name.Bookmark here

Any friend she would make would go out and tell people that they got to know Hinota ‘Flamver’. The meaning behind Flamver meant honor and fame, and the friends would also share in the little bits of fame of knowing them.Bookmark here

So this was the first time that her last name was omitted. Even if it was just to save on paper, Hinota felt her heart swell with joy of only being mentioned by her name. Bookmark here

The name that only mentions herself, not her family in the least.Bookmark here

“Kudo! How come you never told us that you were hanging out with someone that famous?!”Bookmark here

Trun asked, getting Meiki to nod viciously to agree with him. But in response, Kudo’s eyes drooped before meeting with theirs.Bookmark here

“Mom, Dad… Hinota doesn’t like to talk about her family. She gets… sensitive about that.”Bookmark here

Kudo tried to word his phrase without sounding ignorant, surprising his parents and even Hinota who heard it.Bookmark here

“I-It’s okay, Kudo! You don’t have to hold back.”Bookmark here

“I should say the same to you. You don’t like it if people treat you differently because of your family, right?”Bookmark here

“T-That’s…”Bookmark here

Hinota was left stunned after hearing that. Kudo turned to face his parents with a solemn face.Bookmark here

“So, can you guys take it easy?”Bookmark here

“O-Oh, I get you, son. Don’t worry about that.”Bookmark here

“Being in a family like that, I’m sure that there must be some issues. We’re sorry for being so insensitive about it, Miss Hinota.”Bookmark here

“D-Don’t worry about it! Really, I’m fine.”Bookmark here

Seeing the atmosphere becoming sullen, Hinota tried to bring back the sunny mood to assure them that she was fine.Bookmark here

“Really, I am. Right now, I’m just enjoying my journey together with my best friend, Kudo. It’s thanks to him that I managed to get this far.”Bookmark here

“Oh, best friend…?”Bookmark here

Meiki’s right eye glinted, becoming completely interested in what she said.
“Will you look at that? Kudo got himself a best friend! Kudo, you never told us this!”Bookmark here

“I was about to tell you guys in my next letter! Hinota became my best friend!”Bookmark here

“Ah~! I’m so happy for you! For the both of you!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, Hinota was entrusted into the bubbly air of the Braven family. Seeing Meiki making soft squeals, and Trun rubbing Kudo’s head ferociously with a proud grin…Bookmark here

Hinota was completely taken in by them.Bookmark here

(So, these are the Bravens…)Bookmark here

Hinota curled her lips into a dazzling smile.Bookmark here

“Here is your food!”Bookmark here

The waiter’s upbeat voice rang in, getting everyone to look with expecting eyes for the waiter who told them, and the other waiters bringing the food here in multiple metal trays.Bookmark here

The reason for this restaurant’s fame and rising popularity was how fast the servers worked to bring them their food. The other reason that it is expensive was that the food did not lack any taste as they were served with fast finesse. Bookmark here

The waiter brought in each of their plates to the table, putting in place for each customer to their taste. Trun ordered roasted ribs with a smokey smell that wafted in the air. Meiki ordered a bowl of chicken soup that had a succulent aroma that filled her nose with delight.Bookmark here

After Kudo received his salad, the waiter took their time to settle the next plates for Hinota alone. One, two, three… each plate was set delicately to the table, unleashing Hinota’s joy from her well-composed face through her eyes.Bookmark here

Setting apart the plates equally, making the table slightly bent out of shape from its massive weight as it was covered from brim to brim, the waiter responded:Bookmark here

“W-We hope that you enjoy your meals here…”Bookmark here

The other waiters replied with haggard breaths, slowly running to the back of the restaurant to continue their service. The main waiter had a wry smile, and slightly bowed as he left the four to themselves.Bookmark here

“Now then, let’s dig in!Bookmark here

After making a quiet prayer, Hinota delicately grabbed a fork to her side, and then…Bookmark here

She devoured every morsel of her food. The table was no longer bent from the pressure as she ate from each plate with finesse, but she was finishing them at a quick pace. The parents gaped, their eyes peeled open, and their spoons hanged in the air as Hinota devoured without remorse.Bookmark here

“K-Kudo… does she usually eat like this?”Bookmark here

“Oh, she’s taking her time this time. She wants to look composed.”Bookmark here

Kudo told them with a beaming smile, not affected by the situation at all which astounded the parents.Bookmark here

“…Such a big appetite.”Bookmark here

Inside, Meiki and Trun considered the costs they had to make in order to feed this girl. This girl, a toned but slim girl, devoured each meal and sent them into her apparently vast stomach that seemed to have no end.
It was truly a wonder of the world. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.