Chapter 58:

Vol. 4 Chapter 5: The Deluge Piles On Part 2

Hour Empty Child

Going a few feet away from the restaurant they were just in, Hinota and Maon entered into another street. It was near the marketplace, yet it was despairingly empty. There was not a soul in sight in the next few blocks.Bookmark here

Hinota lay on the wall of a nearby store underneath the large roof that covered them from the rain, her presence lacking any kind of enthusiasm.Bookmark here

Maon could sense her despair without even asking. Her usual intimidating yet awe-inspiring presence has dwindled down to just a simple girl going through harsh times.Bookmark here

It was due to her partner, the boy who has practically lost his life.Bookmark here

“Lady Hinota, that incident… is that boy involved?”Bookmark here

Maon had to ask. Despite his loyalty to Hinota, he was fond of Kudo who have made Hinota so happy in her travels.
Hinota looked away, not able to face Maon in the eyes.Bookmark here

“Kudo… his parents were in that fire. He just saw them being carried away in sheets.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s…”Bookmark here

His breath was stolen from him. His heart ached from hearing such news.Bookmark here

“I’m so sorry… and now…”Bookmark here

“Maon, please. Can you convince my parents in my stead to not do this? Tell them everything that happened! I’m sure… I’m sure that my parents will understand!”Bookmark here

Hinota turned to face Maon, her eyes begging him, as if grasping at a fleeting hope.Bookmark here

Maon’s heart fell into pieces after seeing Hinota act like this. She would usually act with a flair of arrogance and grace.Bookmark here

But what she showed was desperation to reverse a worsening situation.Bookmark here

“…I’m sorry. Your father and mother have made up their minds. Not even this… will convince them to drop the request.”Bookmark here

Hinota’s gasp could be faintly heard. Her hands lowered, her gaze dropping to the floor.Bookmark here

The constant rain drowning the street, and the incident that occurred caused her to feel as if everything was against her.Bookmark here

It was as if the world was going against her for being with Kudo.Bookmark here

“T-That can’t be… I can’t… I can’t leave him like this!”Bookmark here

Hinota shouted, not willing to give up. Even if it meant disagreeing with everybody, Hinota was willing to go through it all to be with Kudo.Bookmark here

He needed her. He needed her more than ever now. She can’t leave him when he’s in so much pain.Bookmark here

Maon could see all of that within her slanted, wet eyes. He closed his eyes for a moment, and inhaled his breath.Bookmark here

His next action caused Hinota to lose her breath.Bookmark here

His hands and knees were on the ground, completely drenched in the passing water. His forehead was on the ground, making Hinota’s eyes fall onto him.Bookmark here

“M-Maon!?”Bookmark here

“Lady Hinota, I beg you!” Maon shouted, his words carrying his force of will. “I cannot apologize enough for my uselessness for making you go through such struggles. I wanted you to be with Mr. Braven, the one who have made you write those passionate letters your Lord Grandfather showed me. I am joyful that Hinota is being cared for and treated like a comrade by a good person. But… for his sake, please, come with me!”Bookmark here

“M-Maon! That’s enough! Please, raise your head!”Bookmark here

“If you want to punish someone, let it be me! But please… reconsider your actions!”Bookmark here

Seeing him in such a state, Hinota could see herself in her mind.Bookmark here

She was childish. She didn’t think of what Maon is going through.Bookmark here

He has to be the one who has to separate Hinota from her best friend. More than that, Maon was thinking about Kudo specifically. He didn’t want the Flamver family to hurt him, the one who made Hinota who she is today.Bookmark here

Maon was thinking about both Hinota and Kudo, never caring about himself.
Hinota was selfish, and didn’t want to come back. She wanted to stay with Kudo, using the excuse that he was in pain so that she could stay.Bookmark here

When her thoughts led to that, she never felt more ashamed of herself.Bookmark here

(If my sister sees me like this now, I would shame her…)Bookmark here

She resolved herself to find another way.Bookmark here

“…Can’t I at least bring him with me?”Bookmark here

She spoke softly. Maon raised his head.Bookmark here

“…You cannot.”Bookmark here

Hinota felt a cold shudder in her heart. She clenched her fists tightly.Bookmark here

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Feeling the cold water hit his face, Kudo was being bashed by the rain as he lay his back against the restaurant’s wall.Bookmark here

After hearing that Hinota had urgent business, Kudo didn’t want to do anything.Bookmark here

For the first time, he didn’t want to do anything of importance.Bookmark here

Everything that he ever knew about—the joy of adventuring, his parents—were all taken away from him.Bookmark here

All by a single man who skipped through the hard work and would rather take away other people’s lives to become stronger…Bookmark here

He looked up. His eyes were on the gray clouds that seemed to mock the citizens by raining all the time.Bookmark here

He felt his heart constantly submerged in a deep abyss, not getting out to breathe for a single second.Bookmark here

It fell deeper and deeper, never getting out of it.Bookmark here

Each piece of his memories from his past seemed to break apart, and fall into the same abyss.Bookmark here

He slumped down from the wall, his buttocks landing on the ground. He lost all strength in his legs to stand.Bookmark here

He lost everything, and it was all his fault.Bookmark here

If he had trained more… if he had dropped everything and continued to train, he would have been able to do something.Bookmark here

Because he lacked discipline, everything he ever knew about is gone for good.Bookmark here

(Everything… is my fault…)Bookmark here

“Sorry, ma’am… we failed to get him.”Bookmark here

His ears perked up after hearing a familiar voice just in front of him.Bookmark here

His raised his slumped head, directing his gaze on a man that seemed too bright to be in this dreary atmosphere.Bookmark here

The man wore a black jacket, going along with his unruly black hair.Bookmark here

The man, Kagero, was talking to someone, but there was nobody else there. And yet, he continued talking.Bookmark here

“Yeah, we know. He’s a slippery bastard. Using those damn skills of his to get away at the last moment.”Bookmark here

Kagero spoke as if he was talking to someone, holding his hand over his ear. It looked like he was holding an item in front of his ear, and that was used to talk to someone.Bookmark here

Kudo could hear someone else’s voice from that item. Despite his vast knowledge of all the items, he never heard of an item that lets you talk to someone from a distance.Bookmark here

His ears were able to pick up the voice coming from the item in question. It sounded like a female voice, but he couldn’t pick up what she was saying.Bookmark here

“…Hah,” Kagero sighs. “Alright. We’ll stay here. Just please hurry when you can. It’s freaking depressing being here.”Bookmark here

After commenting about the atmosphere, Kudo heard a small beeping sound from Kagero’s item, supposedly calling off the conversation.
Kagero then turned to look at Kudo.Bookmark here

Kudo flinches, seeing the relaxed yet solemn gaze onto him.Bookmark here

The tall adventurer’s stare seemed to bore right through him. It was enough to give some of the most powerful monsters Kudo has come across a run for their money.Bookmark here

Kudo felt that in that instant, Kagero seemed to read him like an open book. Then Kagero’s eyes softened, showing a gentle look.Bookmark here

He lowered his knees, facing Kudo face to face.Bookmark here

“Hey, you okay?”Bookmark here

His voice seemed to contradict his heavy eyes.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Kudo couldn’t answer. He wasn’t able to.Bookmark here

When he tried, nothing seemed to come out. He could only stare Kagero back with his empty eyes.Bookmark here

However, seeing Kagero’s luminescent brown eyes staring at him, he felt inclined to finally answer.Bookmark here

“…Everything… is my fault…”Bookmark here

He admitted. Kudo told Kagero what was really hurting his heart.Bookmark here

“If… I had trained more… if I had gotten more experience points… I would have stopped him…”Bookmark here

Kudo had no idea why he was talking about this to a stranger.Bookmark here

Normally, he would say this to Hinota.
But, somehow, if he did, he would feel as if he failed her as well.Bookmark here

Kudo kept quiet, even when Hinota was talking to him.Bookmark here

Because he didn’t want to show her how much of a failure he was.Bookmark here

“I have no right to be called an adventurer…”Bookmark here

He trained and trained to become the best. All so he can be able to give everyone he knew whatever they wanted in his village.Bookmark here

He also wanted to enjoy his life to the fullest, seeing the wonderful and strange views of the world, and telling them all to his village when he would come back.
But everything he ever worked on was nothing compared to the power he faced yesterday.Bookmark here

As he told this, Kagero listened to every word and lowered his gaze.Bookmark here

Suddenly, he lifted himself, but only for a moment as he turned around, and sat right beside Kudo, surprising him.Bookmark here

He looked up, seeing the gray clouds that blocked the luminescent blue sky.Bookmark here

And then, he put his arm on top of Kudo’s head. The heavy weight made his body jump in reaction, but he looked up to Kagero instead.Bookmark here

“Worrying about that is natural. But…”Bookmark here

Kagero looked down at Kudo.Bookmark here

“If you keep worrying about what would have happened, there’s no room to let in what WILL happen.”Bookmark here

Kudo widened his eyes, seeing Kagero’s gentle eyes resting onto him, showing a smile.Bookmark here

“You’re the one hurting the most from this. The farmers… one of them was someone you knew, right? Someone you cared about?”Bookmark here

“…Yeah. My mom and dad.”Bookmark here

He answered the best he could.Bookmark here

“I see…” Kagero widened his eyes a little, and then shared the same pained look as Kudo’s. “I know the pain of loss better than you think—so the advice I would give you is… keep getting stronger.”Bookmark here

Kagero turned his sight back to the sky.Bookmark here

“I lost my parents when I was a kid, so I was forced to feed myself through… misdeeds, you could say.”Bookmark here

Kagero talked as he remembered the details of his childhood. His eyes seemed distant as he talked to Kudo.Bookmark here

Kagero turned back to Kudo a moment later.Bookmark here

“Despite my losses, I continued forward. Because if I let my worries get to me, I’ll stop moving. That’s worse than losing everything I loved.”Bookmark here

Kagero’s eyes showed a slight change, showing a determined look.Bookmark here

“Letting this bastard destroy you without lifting a finger… I’d say that’s worse than killing your parents.”Bookmark here

Kudo widened his eyes, and in those eyes, a small glint could be seen.Bookmark here

His heart synchronized with his spirit, and through Kagero’s words, something else was born as well.Bookmark here

Something in his heart that burned hotter than anything else.Bookmark here

“Kagero! Come over already!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, a woman’s voice, which felt similar to Kudo again, shouted out Kagero’s name.Bookmark here

“Ah, that’s the missus…”Bookmark here

Kagero slapped his knee before lifting himself up, and looked back at Kudo.Bookmark here

He stretched his hand out to him, offering a smile.Bookmark here

Kudo saw that hand, and felt inclined to take it. Using his strength, Kagero easily lifts Kudo off the ground, and used the same hand to brush Kudo’s hair.Bookmark here

His heart felt somewhat warmed from this. It was similar to how a close family member would act towards another.
“You’ll get stronger if you keep moving forward after this.”Bookmark here

Offering his words from his heart, Kagero walked away from him as he waved goodbye, moving towards the direction where the female voice came from.Bookmark here

Kudo watched Kagero’s back become smaller, sensing the aura that he felt before.Bookmark here

It was strong. Stronger than anything he felt before. He was different than the other Peranim adventurers.Bookmark here

It was close to Shinezu’s aura, but it didn’t make him feel sickened.Bookmark here

Without looking at his status menu, Kudo could sense that he was a powerful adventurer.Bookmark here

Looking at his hand, Kudo was reinvigorated.Bookmark here

The feeling of gaining more power returned to him after reaching level 100, now stronger than ever before.Bookmark here

Without Kudo knowing himself, the light in his eyes shined even brighter than before, clenching his fist in response to his rising spirit.Bookmark here

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Near the street where the people were coming back from their business, the sad atmosphere has taken its toll.Bookmark here

Despite having their blessed rain, nobody would dare jump out in excitement anymore.Bookmark here

The air felt heavy, as if it was weighing them down.Bookmark here

In the street filled with melancholic people passing through as the rain fell on them, Kudo walked through the street. His eyes looked forward, seeing the person he was with before.Bookmark here

He stood in front of her. Hinota’s eyes seemed to have lost all light just like him.Bookmark here

“…Hinota—”Bookmark here

“—Kudo.”Bookmark here

Before Kudo could say anything, when she intervened, Kudo saw her eyes staring right at him.Bookmark here

“…I… have something to say.” Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.