Chapter 52:

Vol. 4 Chapter 3: The Start of the Storm Part 3

Hour Empty Child

After Kudo left, Hinota turned her sharp gaze at Maon, both showing a solemn look.Bookmark here

“I take it that it is something unpleasant?”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“…Lady Hinota, your parents wishes for you to come back to the manor as quickly as possible.”Bookmark here

“I refuse.”Bookmark here

Without hesitation, Hinota’s refusal left her lips with haste.Bookmark here

Despite being outright refused, Maon did not look that surprised. He looked as if he expected that answer, causing him to purse his lips.Bookmark here

“That is what I have figured.”Bookmark here

“Then, please make haste to my parents, and tell them these exact words.”Bookmark here

“I apologize, but I must refuse as well.”Bookmark here

Maon stood firm, raising Hinota’s brows.Bookmark here

“W-Why is that so?” Hinota stutters as she didn’t expect Maon’s rebuttal so quickly.Bookmark here

“…” Maon hesitated on speaking his next words. Hinota felt her nasty feeling in her gut becoming stronger, making her feel ill.Bookmark here

“…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…”Bookmark here

“You cannot come back at all?”Bookmark here

Hinota took a step forward, putting on a scowl that went past Maon’s face, and to her parents.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“N-No, that shouldn’t…”Bookmark here

In the face of Maon’s total loyalty to Hinota, she stammered.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

He would go to hell and back just to give a simple message to one of the family members.Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

“It’s worse than that, Lady Hinota.”Bookmark here

Wanting to correct his harsh words before, Hinota was interrupted by Maon, making her silent.Bookmark here

“My lady... if you do not return, then your father and mother will resolve to take extreme… measures.”Bookmark here

Hinota’s sweat ran down her temple as she listens.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

Hinota’s eyes widened. Her blood ran cold.Bookmark here

“What?!” She shouted, ignoring her formal grace. “How could they?! Kudo isn’t a kidnapper!”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“My Lady, please, calm down. First, let’s go to a more discreet location.”Bookmark here

Maon directed Hinota towards an alleyway, away from the people. Hinota pursed her lips as she clenched her fists, following after Maon.Bookmark here

Reaching towards the next alleyway, the covered aqueducts making sounds of water flowing in around them, Hinota and Maon stood face-to-face.Bookmark here

“You’re saying that they’re branding Kudo as a criminal?”Bookmark here

Hinota restarted the conversation, getting Maon to slowly nod.Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

“That’s insane! How can my parents make such a claim without evidence?!”Bookmark here

“…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.”Bookmark here

“T-That can’t be…”Bookmark here

Hinota stepped backward, her back hitting against the wall of the nearby building.Bookmark here

First, it was the forced marriage, and the second was being misinformed by them to make her become frustrated in her adventure and quit.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

She knew that it was wrong, and what they were doing is against any kind of moral law, but…Bookmark here

(Then, Kudo would be…)Bookmark here

Maon notices Hinota’s gaze lowering to the ground, her lips pressed together with a strong force.Bookmark here

“…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.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

“...Kudo.”Bookmark here

Her fists clenched tightly, gritting her teeth.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

Suddenly hearing her faint footsteps, Kudo turned back to face her.Bookmark here

“Hinota, you done with your business?”Bookmark here

He asked, a faint smile on his face. Hinota looked up to face him.Bookmark here

“Yeah…”Bookmark here

“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.”Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

(…For now, I’ll tell him later. He doesn’t need to hear this.)Bookmark here

Hinota smiled, returning her usual energy.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

She knew that her answer will be no. No matter what, Hinota will not return and leave Kudo behind.Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

(I won’t allow my parents to do whatever they want!) Bookmark here

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