Hour Empty Child
With their shock whittled down, the four continued until they were done with their meals. The waiter came around, expecting that they have finished, and brought in more to eat.
This time, it was desserts.
Kudo eyed at the plates that were covered, wondering what it could be when Hinota said that it was desserts coming in. The parents all tilted their heads as well as the waiters opened up the covers.
For each plate on each person, there was a small tart with a triangular shape with a glossy yellow base and cherry sauce covering the top of it.
“ “ “Oh…” ” ”
The Bravens were interested, meanwhile, Hinota had to keep in her salivating mouth in line.
As the waiter bowed at them and returned back to where he came from, the parents and the PlusFire began to eat the tart.
“Hinota, what is this?”
Kudo became curious, wondering if it was edible or it was actually something to gaze at.
“This is called a vanilla tart. It’s very delicious.”
Hinota said as she took a spoon on her side, and took a piece of her tart. She gently places it in her mouth, and a stream of sweet taste and aroma filled her entire mouth.
“Mmh… it’s really good.” Hinota commented.
Kudo, Trun, and Meiki all did the same action, and put the tart pieces into their mouths.
Trun and Meiki looked like they enjoyed it. Each one enjoyed the flavor of sweetness filling their mouth and exciting their minds.
But Kudo kept quiet for a moment. Hinota turned to Kudo, worried from the sudden silence.
Kudo’s eyes sparkled.
“This is soooo gooooood!”
Kudo’s voice risen as well as his taste buds as he felt an explosion of vanilla and cherry sauce mix together in his mouth. It was enough for his taste buds to give a shout themselves, leaving Kudo to whimper in the sheer goodness of the tart.
His cheeks were red, and his eyes looked distant as if his mind was sent to another world. It left both Hinota and the parents stricken with surprise.
“Now that I remember, Kudo always had a fancy with sweet things.”
Trun remembers as he sees Kudo’s nostalgic face of excitement.
“I remember that whenever I make cookies, Kudo would eat them all before even dinner is served.”
“Ah, so he’s got a massive sweet tooth.”
Hinota giggled, getting to know more about Kudo’s embarrassing moments.
But Kudo continued to enjoy his tart in his own little world.
As soon as they were done, Kudo being pleasantly pleased with his tart, the waiter came in and finally gave them the bill.
The parents froze in place. Having ordered a big meal even just from Hinota, it would make them broke in seconds. However, Kudo responded easily, flashed a smile, and gave them another bag filled with jib coins to them.
After the waiter counted them, a big smile was formed on his face, and thanked them for their patronage.
The parents were shocked by two things—the first was Hinota’s incredible appetite, and now, it was Kudo’s acceptance to pay for everything easily.
“Kudo, you sure moved up a lot from the social status quo.”
Trun, smiled widely as they headed out of the restaurant and were talking amongst themselves. Meiki had a smile bright enough and stifled a giggle after seeing Hinota had a self-satisfied expression on her face.
“Don’t worry about everything, Dad. From now on, while we’re here, I’ll cover for everything. Hinota, is that okay?”
Kudo looked back to Hinota. She could see it in his eyes that he truly wants to do this.
The PlusFire had established a savings account in the Adventurers’ Guild Bank. This was their shared account for the money that would help them for their party. Along with their savings account, which requires a monthly fee to use, Kudo and Hinota took it upon themselves to take a bit of their money from the account.
This was their allowance. Their allowance is not so low as the other children, though. It was enough to get them a house in the city.
It was Kudo that made this system, after studying the guidebook on how to share equally amongst party members. This way, one can buy whatever they needed without hindering the other. If one needed permission to use the saving’s account, only for the sole purpose of aiding the party itself, one must ask the other if it was alright.
Kudo and Hinota must converse before they use the bank, but knowing each other, they only plan on solely using the money for their own improvements for the party. A true bond of friendship, made for economical purposes.
Seeing the look in his eyes, despite spending money from his own pocket, Kudo asked if it was alright to spoil his parents much. How could she deny him?
“Alright. Go for it.”
“Alright!” Kudo clenched his fist in excitement as he looked back at his parents. “Mom, Dad, where are you staying for now?”
“Oh, why you ask?” Trun crossed his arms as he asked with a widened expression.
“Why else? So I can see where you’re staying!”
Seeing his smiling response, Trun and Meiki looked back, each welled a sweat that ran down their heads as they thought about his next action.
“W-Well, we’ll show you. Follow us.”
Trun and Meiki led them towards the far east of the city of Vipory.
As they walk, suddenly, the streets now were starting to be barren, covered in moss and stains, and the atmosphere was becoming sullen.
The happy citizens were somewhat extinct now as the PlusFire and the parents faced in front of a single building, away from society. A wind blew past them, carrying a tumbleweed for some reason.
The building was a mess—a stained sign, broken windows, and they could see on the inside that it was dark and damp. A moldy color on the building, enough to make people wonder how this building survived at all.
It was a low-class inn that the parents were currently staying in.
“Despite what it looks, it offers a roof and a bed! I’d say it’s a good deal!”
“And it’s so cheap, too! Way more affordable than any other place!”
Trun and Meiki responded with happy smiles and an upbeat attitude, but Hinota was shocked to the point of dropping her jaw down. Kudo himself, however, rubbed his chin.
“It does look good… but right now, we’re not staying here!”
“Eh?” The two parents looked shocked.
After a couple of minutes of tracking, Kudo and Hinota finally found a good place.
It was a decent inn—the building was vibrantly colored, the windows were sparkling clear, and the entrance was decorated with fine wood. There were several people around walking past them, both getting in and out of the inn with refreshed looking faces. Seeing these, Kudo and Hinota smiled widely as they led the unwilling parents into the inn.
Entering through the door, as if blinded by the sudden light, the parents’ eyes widened in shock to see such a comfortable looking lobby. The counter was clean as well as their walls and floor. The floor was covered by a soft red rug and the patrons all had relaxed faces as if they went to heaven.
Though this was a decent inn, and not very expensive to the PlusFire, the parents believed that they entered into a noble’s realm.
“K-Kudo! We can’t be in here!”
“Well, you certainly can’t be in that kind of inn! You guys will stay here and relax before your big meeting!”
Kudo responded to his worried father with a willing expression, stopping Trun’s persistence.
While Hinota and Meiki saw Kudo leading his father towards the counter to pay for their rooms, Hinota spoke out loud:
“I didn’t think Kudo would be so forceful like this. I never saw Kudo act like this…”
“Ah,” Meiki responded, surprising Hinota. “That’s because it’s unusual that we spend money like this.”
Meiki answered with a gentle smile, catching Hinota’s eyes as she remembered the fact that they weren’t used to such luxuries.
“Hey, Miss Hinota?”
Meiki called Hinota, getting her attention.
“Did you know why Kudo wanted to be an Adventurer?”
Hinota widen her eyes as she gets to hear an answer she’s been wanting to know. Meiki looked ahead to where Kudo was, showing a distant look in his eyes.
“All his life, he wanted to pay up for everything. He wants to give us anything we ever wanted if he became rich with his adventures, and he would give toys to the kids in the village, and help with the repairs in the village.
Hinota widened her eyes as Meiki continued:
“Kudo wanted to be rich so that he could help the village. It was something he told us not to tell everyone, because he wanted it to be a surprise. But… it’s fine to tell you, right?”
Meiki turned to Hinota, a big smile with her finger in front to keep it a secret
Kudo became an adventurer so that he could pay for his village with everything they wanted. It was a noble wish that came along with exciting adventures outside of the quaint and quiet Arkhem.
Kudo was doing everything he can to make his dreams come true, to have an adventure while helping his family. Meanwhile, Hinota only became an adventurer for her own interests.
Hinota grabbed her waist, tightening her grasp as she compares herself to Kudo.
She felt overwhelmed by his kindness.
The Hinota who was raised in a world full of deceit and greed was nearly blinded by his purity.
Meiki noticed that motion, and gave a passive smile. She placed her hand on Hinota’s shoulder gently, getting her to turn her head around.
“You know, I still didn’t like for Kudo to go on such a dangerous journey,”
Meiki said. “But, it was something that he wanted to do. I think that, no matter what reasoning he had, all he wanted to do was to go on an adventure.”
Hinota widened her eyes as Meiki smirked.
“Kudo’s a lot more selfish than you think. So, don’t worry about the reason for becoming an adventurer. What matters the most is what you do afterward.”
Meiki said, flashing a grin that seemed to surpass any other. Such a bright smile that Kudo usually wears, Hinota could see the resemblance instantly.
Her heart warmed after seeing that smile. The negative feeling was erased instantly. Was it a skill the Braven family had, or are they just natural at this?
Hinota smiled at Meiki, and seeing that smile, she pointed at the counter after seeing the men coming back with their passes for the inn’s services.
A few minutes after signing, Kudo led the parents to the single room that they are grouped up in.
After checking into their room…
“K-K-Kudo! The bed is so soft! It’s unbelievable!”
Trun rushed out of the room, screaming at the top of his lungs. Hinota was taken aback while Kudo shared a wry smile.
“Kudo! They told me the baths were free! Free! Can you believe it!?”
Meiki shouted like a young maiden, twisting her body around with an excited grin that rivaled her energy. You could see sparkles around her, getting Kudo to hang his head low in embarrassment.
“Come on, guys! At least act like you belong here!”
Though he said that, Kudo was just as excited for being here. Seeing the well-furnished hallways and the rooms for himself, he felt as if he was living the luxurious life.
In Hinota’s part, who actually lived a luxurious life, could only stand there and stare at the simple amazement the farmers were showing.
“Meiki, check out this room! All this space for ourselves!”
“Kyaa! I can’t wait~!”
Shouting like children, the grownups headed into the room and slammed the door with force. They didn’t mean to—they were just overexcited.
Meanwhile, Kudo and Hinota were left alone, with Kudo rubbing the back of his lowered head while blushing.
“I-I’m sorry for my parents, Hinota. They’re… not used to this.”
Kudo felt like he had to say something to make this awkward moment pass.
In the silence, Hinota giggled, getting Kudo’s attention.
“Don’t worry about it,” Hinota waved her fingers, motioning that everything was alright. “You’re parents really are incredible in a lot of ways.”
“Y-You think so? They’re just really embarrassing, though…”
Kudo showed an even deeper shade of red on his face as he rubs his head harder.
“They’re really overbearing.”
“Well, I like it like that. It proves that they’re really good people.”
Hinota smirked as Kudo smiled instinctively from that.
“Still, I can understand why you want to show off your parents how this side of reality works. I think it’s a great thing.”
“Mmh?” Kudo raised his head.
“Sorry, but I kinda got Miss Meiki to tell me your reason for being an Adventurer. About why you want to live this kind of life for yourself.”
“Ah… so she told you, huh?”
Kudo widened his eyes, but then he smiled gently as he scratched his right cheek.
“I… I didn’t want you to think that I had some ulterior motives. The truth is, while I really wanted to journey outside the village, I also want to have lots of money. I guess it sounds pretty petty when I say it like that.”
Hinota widened her eyes after hearing that. As she looked at Kudo who looked like he was guilty of a crime, Hinota inhaled.
Hinota sighed, catching Kudo’s attention.
“You… you think that’s an ulterior motive? Just getting more money for your village and parents? What kind of ulterior motive is that?”
Hinota spoke in a condescending tone, catching Kudo off guard.
“Listen here, Kudo. I met people with ACTUAL ulterior motives. People that want to know me and try to use me to get to my family. Compared to theirs, your motive is practically a saint’s.”
“T-That’s a little bit over the top…”
Kudo gave a wry chuckle while producing a cold sweat. He never considered himself a saint at all.
“That’s why, having a clear purpose other than having an adventure is pretty sane to me. Rather, isn’t that normal for an Adventurer?”
Hinota showed an arrogant smile, proving her point. But then, her smile softened into a gentle one.
“But compared to others, I would rather back you up. So, from now on, I’ll share your goal as well.”
“S-Share my goal?”
“Remember what you said? You would help me on looking for my sister. Well, I’ll also help you out on helping the village.”
Hinota faced Kudo with a willful expression. After seeing her slanted, sharp eyes showing how serious she was, Kudo’s throat nearly clogged up. His eyes started to water.
“Y-You don’t have to do that…” Kudo said while trying to act cool, but his expression right now of him wiping away his eyes betrayed him.
“Hehe, you’re getting emotional~”
“D-Don’t laugh at me!”
Hinota’s tease got Kudo to swat away the imaginary bullets of teasing, all the while covering his eyes to stop them from getting wet.
Since it looked like the parents will take a while, the two decided to do another quick look around the vicinity to pass the time.
They headed out of the inn, seeing the sunny-atmosphere that was slightly darkening.
“Mmh?” Kudo noticed the sun’s shining light dimming down.
Kudo felt a drop of water on his nose. He looked up, and another dropped fell onto his forehead.
He sees the sky darkening with incoming gray clouds. The few drops of water from before suddenly increased in quantity, each one dropping at a rapid pace to the ground.
The incoming rain was so sudden, Kudo kept looking at the sky with a stunned expression. He looked around, seeing Hinota stunned as well as the other citizens also took notice.
The sky darkened with gray clouds, and the rain poured down.