Hour Empty Child
After Kudo left, Hinota turned her sharp gaze at Maon, both showing a solemn look.
“I take it that it is something unpleasant?”
She started off, showing a disinterested look on her face. In her mind, she already knew exactly what Maon was going to say after seeing his behavior.
“…Lady Hinota, your parents wishes for you to come back to the manor as quickly as possible.”
Without hesitation, Hinota’s refusal left her lips with haste.
Despite being outright refused, Maon did not look that surprised. He looked as if he expected that answer, causing him to purse his lips.
“That is what I have figured.”
“Then, please make haste to my parents, and tell them these exact words.”
“I apologize, but I must refuse as well.”
Maon stood firm, raising Hinota’s brows.
“W-Why is that so?” Hinota stutters as she didn’t expect Maon’s rebuttal so quickly.
“…” Maon hesitated on speaking his next words. Hinota felt her nasty feeling in her gut becoming stronger, making her feel ill.
“…Lady Hinota, your father and mother are relentless on having you back as quickly as possible. If I return without you after the next week, then…”
“You cannot come back at all?”
Hinota took a step forward, putting on a scowl that went past Maon’s face, and to her parents.
“No. I do not care about my social standing. If need be, I would gladly give up this life of mine for the Flamver family.”
“N-No, that shouldn’t…”
In the face of Maon’s total loyalty to Hinota, she stammered.
In the past, Maon has been saved by the Flamver family after his family was caught in an accident and passed away. Cold and alone, the one who has taken him in was Hinota’s grandfather, Inferuno Flamver. He took him in as a child, and ever since then, he grew up under his care, and became a loyal servant of the Flamver family.
He would go to hell and back just to give a simple message to one of the family members.
His loyalty to the family is stronger than even Hinota’s loyalty, even though he wasn’t even blood-related. That proves his love for the family and his caring for every member to have a secured future for generations to come. Hinota knew this when Maon told her his story sometime in her past, and was clearly reminded of it just now.
“It’s worse than that, Lady Hinota.”
Wanting to correct his harsh words before, Hinota was interrupted by Maon, making her silent.
“My lady... if you do not return, then your father and mother will resolve to take extreme… measures.”
Hinota’s sweat ran down her temple as she listens.
“They will request a quest in all of the adventurers’ guilds to take you back to their manor safe and sound… and taking down the kidnapper that took you.”
Hinota’s eyes widened. Her blood ran cold.
“What?!” She shouted, ignoring her formal grace. “How could they?! Kudo isn’t a kidnapper!”
Hinota knew that they meant Kudo to be a kidnapper, and snapped back. Maon took a glance around, noticing some of the people’s stares that were on them.
“My Lady, please, calm down. First, let’s go to a more discreet location.”
Maon directed Hinota towards an alleyway, away from the people. Hinota pursed her lips as she clenched her fists, following after Maon.
Reaching towards the next alleyway, the covered aqueducts making sounds of water flowing in around them, Hinota and Maon stood face-to-face.
“You’re saying that they’re branding Kudo as a criminal?”
Hinota restarted the conversation, getting Maon to slowly nod.
“Yes, and they will also make a request an arrest for him. His crimes will be that of kidnapping a noble, and forcing her to do manual labor.”
“That’s insane! How can my parents make such a claim without evidence?!”
“…I regret to say this, and I know that I shouldn’t, but your parents are not willing to take this in legal matters. As long it is their words, the officials will take in their request and will investigate Mr. Braven. Not only that, they will also go to great lengths to go after his village if need be.”
“T-That can’t be…”
Hinota stepped backward, her back hitting against the wall of the nearby building.
First, it was the forced marriage, and the second was being misinformed by them to make her become frustrated in her adventure and quit.
She knew her parents weren’t exactly soft on her, but going to such lengths to drag down Kudo’s name through the mud was too merciless, even for them.
She knew that it was wrong, and what they were doing is against any kind of moral law, but…
(Then, Kudo would be…)
Maon notices Hinota’s gaze lowering to the ground, her lips pressed together with a strong force.
“…Lady Hinota. If possible, I would like to hear your response tomorrow at 10:00 am. I will be staying at an inn in the southeast of Vipory in the meantime.”
Knowing that she was in a bind, Maon knew that she needed time. He walked back out of the alley, leaving behind Hinota who remained silent.
Her fists clenched tightly, gritting her teeth.
After returning from the alleyway, Hinota walked towards the north gate. Once she told the guards and showed her Growth Crystal to them, they let her out of the gates, ensuring that she will come back. Waiting outside of it was Kudo.
Kudo had a distant look on his face, looking out at the vast blue sky and the clear field around him, leaves whipping past him as they flew with the wind. He didn’t seem like he was here at all, and was as high as the Upperworld in his mind.
Suddenly hearing her faint footsteps, Kudo turned back to face her.
“Hinota, you done with your business?”
He asked, a faint smile on his face. Hinota looked up to face him.
“Heh, tell me what you got when we get over to the woods. I’m kinda excited on what you got next to show off.”
Kudo grinned slightly, expecting that it was another gift that her grandfather sent her. Hinota forced a smile on her lips, but her heart was aching.
(…For now, I’ll tell him later. He doesn’t need to hear this.)
Hinota smiled, returning her usual energy.
The two walked together to their next location for grinding, and all the while, Hinota thought of the words that Maon told her, and the actions her parents are doing to take her back.
She knew that her answer will be no. No matter what, Hinota will not return and leave Kudo behind.
She’ll find a way to fix the problem her parents is going to cause him. Kudo doesn’t need extra pressure as this was her own problem to begin with.
(I won’t allow my parents to do whatever they want!)