Chapter 48:

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

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.Bookmark here

This time, it was desserts.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“ “ “Oh…” ” ”Bookmark here

The Bravens were interested, meanwhile, Hinota had to keep in her salivating mouth in line.Bookmark here

As the waiter bowed at them and returned back to where he came from, the parents and the PlusFire began to eat the tart.Bookmark here

“Hinota, what is this?” Bookmark here

Kudo became curious, wondering if it was edible or it was actually something to gaze at.Bookmark here

“This is called a vanilla tart. It’s very delicious.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Mmh… it’s really good.” Hinota commented.Bookmark here

“T-Then…”Bookmark here

Kudo, Trun, and Meiki all did the same action, and put the tart pieces into their mouths.Bookmark here

Trun and Meiki looked like they enjoyed it. Each one enjoyed the flavor of sweetness filling their mouth and exciting their minds.Bookmark here

But Kudo kept quiet for a moment. Hinota turned to Kudo, worried from the sudden silence.Bookmark here

“Kudo…?”Bookmark here

“This…”Bookmark here

Kudo’s eyes sparkled.Bookmark here

“This is soooo gooooood!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“K-Kudo…”Bookmark here

“Now that I remember, Kudo always had a fancy with sweet things.”Bookmark here

Trun remembers as he sees Kudo’s nostalgic face of excitement.Bookmark here

“I remember that whenever I make cookies, Kudo would eat them all before even dinner is served.”Bookmark here

“Ah, so he’s got a massive sweet tooth.”Bookmark here

Hinota giggled, getting to know more about Kudo’s embarrassing moments.Bookmark here

But Kudo continued to enjoy his tart in his own little world.Bookmark here

As soon as they were done, Kudo being pleasantly pleased with his tart, the waiter came in and finally gave them the bill.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

After the waiter counted them, a big smile was formed on his face, and thanked them for their patronage.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you sure moved up a lot from the social status quo.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about everything, Dad. From now on, while we’re here, I’ll cover for everything. Hinota, is that okay?”Bookmark here

Kudo looked back to Hinota. She could see it in his eyes that he truly wants to do this.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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?Bookmark here

“Alright. Go for it.”Bookmark here

“Alright!” Kudo clenched his fist in excitement as he looked back at his parents. “Mom, Dad, where are you staying for now?”Bookmark here

“Oh, why you ask?” Trun crossed his arms as he asked with a widened expression.Bookmark here

“Why else? So I can see where you’re staying!”Bookmark here

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.”Bookmark here

Trun and Meiki led them towards the far east of the city of Vipory. Bookmark here

As they walk, suddenly, the streets now were starting to be barren, covered in moss and stains, and the atmosphere was becoming sullen.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

It was a low-class inn that the parents were currently staying in.Bookmark here

“Despite what it looks, it offers a roof and a bed! I’d say it’s a good deal!”Bookmark here

“And it’s so cheap, too! Way more affordable than any other place!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“It does look good… but right now, we’re not staying here!”Bookmark here

“Eh?” The two parents looked shocked.Bookmark here

After a couple of minutes of tracking, Kudo and Hinota finally found a good place.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Though this was a decent inn, and not very expensive to the PlusFire, the parents believed that they entered into a noble’s realm.Bookmark here

“K-Kudo! We can’t be in here!”Bookmark here

“Well, you certainly can’t be in that kind of inn! You guys will stay here and relax before your big meeting!”Bookmark here

Kudo responded to his worried father with a willing expression, stopping Trun’s persistence.Bookmark here

While Hinota and Meiki saw Kudo leading his father towards the counter to pay for their rooms, Hinota spoke out loud:Bookmark here

“I didn’t think Kudo would be so forceful like this. I never saw Kudo act like this…”Bookmark here

“Ah,” Meiki responded, surprising Hinota. “That’s because it’s unusual that we spend money like this.”Bookmark here

Meiki answered with a gentle smile, catching Hinota’s eyes as she remembered the fact that they weren’t used to such luxuries.Bookmark here

“Hey, Miss Hinota?”Bookmark here

Meiki called Hinota, getting her attention.Bookmark here

“Y-Yes?”Bookmark here

“Did you know why Kudo wanted to be an Adventurer?”Bookmark here

“W-Why…?”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

Hinota widened her eyes as Meiki continued:Bookmark here

“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?”Bookmark here

Meiki turned to Hinota, a big smile with her finger in front to keep it a secretBookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Hinota grabbed her waist, tightening her grasp as she compares herself to Kudo.Bookmark here

She felt overwhelmed by his kindness.Bookmark here

The Hinota who was raised in a world full of deceit and greed was nearly blinded by his purity.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

Hinota widened her eyes as Meiki smirked.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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?Bookmark here

“Yeah!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

After checking into their room…Bookmark here

“K-K-Kudo! The bed is so soft! It’s unbelievable!”Bookmark here

Trun rushed out of the room, screaming at the top of his lungs. Hinota was taken aback while Kudo shared a wry smile.Bookmark here

“Kudo! They told me the baths were free! Free! Can you believe it!?”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“Come on, guys! At least act like you belong here!”Bookmark 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.Bookmark here

In Hinota’s part, who actually lived a luxurious life, could only stand there and stare at the simple amazement the farmers were showing.Bookmark here

“Meiki, check out this room! All this space for ourselves!”Bookmark here

“Kyaa! I can’t wait~!”Bookmark here

Shouting like children, the grownups headed into the room and slammed the door with force. They didn’t mean to—they were just overexcited.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Kudo and Hinota were left alone, with Kudo rubbing the back of his lowered head while blushing.Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry for my parents, Hinota. They’re… not used to this.”Bookmark here

Kudo felt like he had to say something to make this awkward moment pass.Bookmark here

In the silence, Hinota giggled, getting Kudo’s attention.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Y-You think so? They’re just really embarrassing, though…”Bookmark here

Kudo showed an even deeper shade of red on his face as he rubs his head harder.Bookmark here

“They’re really overbearing.”Bookmark here

“Well, I like it like that. It proves that they’re really good people.”Bookmark here

Hinota smirked as Kudo smiled instinctively from that.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Mmh?” Kudo raised his head.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“Ah… so she told you, huh?”Bookmark here

Kudo widened his eyes, but then he smiled gently as he scratched his right cheek.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

Hinota widened her eyes after hearing that. As she looked at Kudo who looked like he was guilty of a crime, Hinota inhaled.Bookmark here

“Hah…”Bookmark here

Hinota sighed, catching Kudo’s attention.Bookmark here

“You… you think that’s an ulterior motive? Just getting more money for your village and parents? What kind of ulterior motive is that?”Bookmark here

“E-Eh?”Bookmark here

Hinota spoke in a condescending tone, catching Kudo off guard.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s a little bit over the top…”Bookmark here

Kudo gave a wry chuckle while producing a cold sweat. He never considered himself a saint at all.Bookmark here

“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?”Bookmark here

Hinota showed an arrogant smile, proving her point. But then, her smile softened into a gentle one.Bookmark here

“But compared to others, I would rather back you up. So, from now on, I’ll share your goal as well.”Bookmark here

“S-Share my goal?”Bookmark here

“Remember what you said? You would help me on looking for my sister. Well, I’ll also help you out on helping the village.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“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.Bookmark here

“Hehe, you’re getting emotional~”Bookmark here

“D-Don’t laugh at me!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

They headed out of the inn, seeing the sunny-atmosphere that was slightly darkening.Bookmark here

“Mmh?” Kudo noticed the sun’s shining light dimming down.Bookmark here

—*Drip.*Bookmark here

Kudo felt a drop of water on his nose. He looked up, and another dropped fell onto his forehead.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

The sky darkened with gray clouds, and the rain poured down. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.