Chapter 59:

Vol. 4 Chapter 5: The Deluge Piles On Part 3

Hour Empty Child

They took a stroll down the path to find themselves on one of the fountain that continued to spout water. The raindrops mixing with its water, creating a serene sound that filled the atmosphere around them.Bookmark here

Kudo and Hinota sat by the edge of the fountain, feeling the cold water splashing onto their backside. The mood between them was still, the silence bringing them unable to make small talk.Bookmark here

Kudo looked up to see her, and for a moment, Hinota did not look back until a moment later, meeting with his gaze.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Hinota told him the news that Maon relayed to her.Bookmark here

Every single detail, without omitting anything.Bookmark here

Throughout it all, Kudo’s eyes widened from hearing it.Bookmark here

After a few minutes, the two were left silent again, looking down at their feet huddled together.Bookmark here

“…That’s everything. I have to leave our party, and go back to my home in Erijo. By myself.”Bookmark here

Hinota bit her lip when she said that, lowering her brow before taking a peek at Kudo with just her eyes.Bookmark here

His hands were trembling, and eventually, they clenched into fists. She couldn’t see Kudo’s eyes, but she could tell that he was frustrated.Bookmark here

She spoke again:Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, Kudo… for everything.”Bookmark here

Hinota clasps her hands, conjoining her fingers together as she tried to bring out the words that were drilling into her heart.Bookmark here

“I… I only have an hour before I leave… so, I just wanna say these words.”Bookmark here

She heaved a heavy sigh, finally letting out what her heart wanted to say all this time.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for letting this happen. Even though I tried so hard, I just couldn’t escape from them…”Bookmark here

Hearing her say that, Kudo turned to her. Hinota continued on.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for not being strong enough. I boasted all the time, saying that I was invincible. But I… couldn’t protect either you or your parents.”Bookmark here

Kudo saw her body shaking. He could tell that she was feeling rage and sadness at the same time.Bookmark here

“And… I’m sorry for leaving you. I’m… I’m so sorry…”Bookmark here

Hinota hung her head low, finally finishing as the words alone made her shed tears.Bookmark here

Hinota wasn’t the kind of girl to cry easily. Kudo knew this more than anyone else.Bookmark here

Rather, not once did he saw her cry. Even after the horrible month she had spent before they met up.Bookmark here

Kudo saw that Hinota was in pain just as much as he was.Bookmark here

The pain of leaving behind someone who needed her.Bookmark here

Even when he didn’t mean to, he caused her so much pain.Bookmark here

Kudo wanted to kick himself for letting Hinota feel alone as he grieved. His situation was terrible, that is for sure.Bookmark here

But the red-haired girl was in pain just as much.Bookmark here

“…Hinota, don’t worry.”Bookmark here

Hinota tried to stop herself from crying. As she kept stifling her tears, wiping away her eyes with her hands, his voice entered into the conversation.Bookmark here

“Hinota, you should talk to your parents. Tell them everything about how you feel.”Bookmark here

Kudo told her his thoughts on the matter. Hinota looked back down to her lap.Bookmark here

She could tell this to Kudo, the one who have entered into her heart and made her feel all these wonderful but painful emotions.Bookmark here

“…I want to run away. I don’t want to go back and leave you alone.”Bookmark here

Hinota told her honest feelings. Her hands clutched onto her pants tightly as her shoulders shook.Bookmark here

“But I can’t…”Bookmark here

“You shouldn’t. Though, that made me really happy.”Bookmark here

His gentle voice got Hinota to turn back, seeing him flashing a small smile that seemed opposite of his earlier attitude.Bookmark here

“…To be honest, I don’t want you to go, either. But… this is important to you. This is your family.”Bookmark here

Kudo said as he clutched his hands as well, but he put on a determined expression on his face as he tells this directly to Hinota.Bookmark here

“Your mother and father are still your parents. Even if you have different views, I think that you should talk to them one more time, and try to clear the air.”Bookmark here

Kudo’s eyes softened as he spoke again:Bookmark here

“I know I said that I wouldn’t forgive your family… but I think you should spend some time with them, and try to get back the time when all of you were happy together… Because you never know how much time you have until then.”Bookmark here

Those words were tinged with regret and sadness. Hinota sensed them as the azure-haired boy showed a moment of agony, but was soon replaced with a beaming smile.Bookmark here

It was too much for Hinota to take. His radiant smile that seemed to blow away the despair around them caused her tears to overflow.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry… I’m…”Bookmark here

“Stop apologizing…”Bookmark here

Kudo extended his arms and grabbed hold Hinota towards himself.Bookmark here

Replaying the memory from before, Kudo embraced Hinota tightly. Kudo would usually show a bit of embarrassment doing this, but he knew that Hinota needed one more than anything else.Bookmark here

He could hear her gasps and sharp inhaling beside his ear, her body trembling as to try to stop herself from crying.Bookmark here

Kudo rubbed her head gently, saying ‘it’s okay…’ over and over.Bookmark here

Hinota hugged back with more force, hugging him tightly to her. Kudo smiled as he spoke:Bookmark here

“Hinota, you’re the greatest friend I could ever ask. Thank you so much, for everything…”Bookmark here

He gave the warmth back during the time when he was in pain.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

During the extra time they had, Kudo and Hinota activated the sequence on their Growth Crystals.Bookmark here

They have never planned on doing this, but they learned this sequence from the Guild worker in the Adventurers’ Guild where they made their party for the first time.Bookmark here

It was the sequence to disband the party.Bookmark here

This sequence is to cancel the mana that was in their Growth Crystal by touching them together.Bookmark here

It was connected before as to share the experience points together, but when they cancel out the mana, they are no longer connected. This meant that their party was officially disbanded.Bookmark here

They also took in the matter of separating the loot.Bookmark here

Kudo and Hinota covered everything, including their bank in the adventurer’s guild. They made sure that they were able to continue the journey without each other.Bookmark here

An hour passed by, and Kudo and Hinota were outside of the city’s gates. The rain has finally ended, the sun’s rays shining through the gray clouds.Bookmark here

Waiting outside the city’s gates along with them was Maon, who waited at the Flamver carriage’s rider’s seat.Bookmark here

He wanted to extend the time as much as possible for them to say their goodbyes, but he had his orders. He had to return Hinota during the allotted time he had left given to him by Hinota’s parents.Bookmark here

Including the travel time to Erijo, Hinota could not spare any time.Bookmark here

He looked back, and wished that he could reverse the situation as he watched the former PlusFire members face each other beside the carriage.Bookmark here

He felt his heart break after seeing the look on the two’s inner anguish that he could see through their bright faces.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you better take care of yourself, okay? That means eating more than you think you can handle. You need some weight. Also, don’t talk to any strangers without knowing who they are and what they need.”Bookmark here

“Yeah.” Bookmark here

Kudo nodded, where he would usually retort.Bookmark here

“Hinota, be careful about how you spend money. You need to be frugal with it so that you won’t fall over when you get hungry.Bookmark here

“Don’t you think I can do that without you telling me?”Bookmark here

“Not really.”Bookmark here

“Ouch… hehehe, you got it.”Bookmark here

After hearing a quick reply, Hinota chuckled as she nodded as well.Bookmark here

“…Ah, also, have these…”Bookmark here

Hinota looked like she realized something, and got out her [Magic Bag]. She opened it up, and revealed the classic weapons that made Kudo widen his eyes.Bookmark here

“T-Those are the Flamver weapons!”Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Hinota carried the sword, the dagger, the polearm, and the bow with both hands, and handed them to Kudo. “Use them well.”Bookmark here

“I-I can’t have these!”Bookmark here

“Kudo, you know that I prefer my katana more than anything. So just take these. They’ll probably sit in the storage in my bag anyways.”Bookmark here

Hinota refused to hear anymore as she forced the weapons onto him, causing Kudo to sweat a little, but then sighed as he put them into his [Magic Bag].Bookmark here

“You can be really something, you know…”Bookmark here

“Also, have this.”Bookmark here

“There’s more!?”Bookmark here

Kudo shouted in surprise, seeing Hinota taking another item out.Bookmark here

This time, memories of Olinia resurfaced in his mind as he sees the shining pendant that glinted from the sun’s rays.Bookmark here

“T-That’s…”Bookmark here

“The Flamver heirloom. I want you to have it.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s the one thing I’m sure I can’t have! This is too precious to you, Hinota!”Bookmark here

“Not really. Didn’t I explain? This amulet isn’t something I cherish much compared to my hair tie my sister gave me.”Bookmark here

“B-But…”Bookmark here

“Kudo.”Bookmark here

Kudo became silent as Hinota put on a solemn tone.Bookmark here

“I… I want you to be safe. With this amulet, you can sell it for a lot of cash if you ran out in some kind of accident. I know that you can take care of yourself, but this is just to help me calm down a little…”Bookmark here

Kudo felt her heartfelt plea as she stretched out her pendant. Seeing that, he placed his hand on top of Hinota’s.Bookmark here

“…I’m not gonna sell it.”Bookmark here

Kudo said, surprising her. He grabs the pendant, and clutches it tightly in his hand.Bookmark here

“I’m… going to wear it proudly. You may not think of this that much, but to me, this is something that you gave me. I’m not going to sell it, no matter what.”Bookmark here

“Kudo…”Bookmark here

Hinota curled her lips upwards, a faint blush on her cheeks.. Her heart swelled after hearing those words, seeing Kudo tie the pendant’s chain around his neck.Bookmark here

“…Eh, kinda weird on me, isn’t it?” Kudo said as his pendant swung down to his chest.Bookmark here

“No, it looks nice on you.”Bookmark here

Hinota smiled, making Kudo’s heart stung with guilt.Bookmark here

“Even though you gave me so much, I didn’t give you anything in return…”Bookmark here

“Kudo, you already gave me more money and items than I needed. Remember, you’re the one with a Support Class. You need a lot of help when it comes to fighting monsters.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah…”Bookmark here

Kudo stuttered while rubbing the back of his head with a silly smile. However, his thoughts overwhelmed him and made him ask this question:Bookmark here

“Hey… Hinota, are you coming back here?”Bookmark here

He said, clutching onto a single hope that seemed so out of reach.Bookmark here

Hinota became silent for a moment, then she answered:Bookmark here

“I have no idea. My parents can be really busy sometimes. I might not see them immediately when I return. So… I have no idea when I’ll come back to become an adventurer.”Bookmark here

“I-I see… do you.. want me to stay here until you return?”Bookmark here

Kudo offered, looking up to Hinota for approval. Hinota saw his eyes, wanting to have their separation as little as possible.Bookmark here

She wanted that as well, but she shook her head.Bookmark here

“…I don’t want you to stay here any longer than you have to.”Bookmark here

She smiled warmly at him. She didn’t want him to stay any longer in the city where his parents met their demise. It would be too cruel to ask him to do so.Bookmark here

She also wanted him to move forward.Bookmark here

“I want you to continue with your adventures. Become as strong as you possibly can. Maybe then, we’ll be in the same league and be bound to see each other again.”Bookmark here

Hinota smiled, her beaming face beating the sun’s light that finally managed to shine. To Kudo, it was another irreplaceable image that he will never forget.Bookmark here

“…Hinota…”Bookmark here

Kudo couldn’t handle it anymore as tears welled up in his eyes.Bookmark here

Hinota wanted to sigh, but she didn’t realize that she was also nearing to tears.Bookmark here

“Y-You look so pathetic, Kudo… cheer up.”Bookmark here

She managed to say, and outstretched her arms and embraced Kudo again. Kudo returned her hug with a stronger one.Bookmark here

“Kudo, I don’t want you always read your books. Keep training your body like your life depends on it.”Bookmark here

“Got it…”Bookmark here

Kudo felt her heartfelt worry, and acted in kind:Bookmark here

“Hinota, make sure you hold back your snarky comments on other people. Only I can take on your brutal force.”Bookmark here

“Yeah!”Bookmark here

Hinota nodded strongly, agreeing to his words.Bookmark here

The two didn’t want to let go. They wanted to keep talking and keep feeling their warmth.Bookmark here

But they had to.Bookmark here

The two of them let each other go simultaneously, seeing each other’s faces one more time before saying their words.Bookmark here

“…See you around, Kudo.”Bookmark here

“See ya, Hinota. Give your parents a piece of my mind too, while you’re at it.”Bookmark here

“Hehe, you got it.”Bookmark here

She smiled as she turned, heading towards the carriage.Bookmark here

Stepping onto the small stair and through the door, she closed it behind her, and sat on her seat.Bookmark here

The inside was as glamorous as the outside—completely ornated and decorated to fit the expensive looking carriage.Bookmark here

There was a window at her side, and she didn’t hesitate to move towards it and poke her head outside.Bookmark here

Feeling the extra weight in the carriage, Maon closed his eyes, and strongly whipped the horses in front of him with the reins.Bookmark here

The horses neighed, their cries echoing in the air before they began trotting forward, moving the carriage along.Bookmark here

Before it could move, Hinota’s head poked out of the window, facing Kudo one last time.Bookmark here

“Kudo! You better get stronger by the time I see you again! I’ll also become stronger! I’ll become stronger than anyone in the world!”Bookmark here

She shouted, showing her smile as she waved her her hand at Kudo.Bookmark here

“You got my promise, Hinota! I’ll be stronger than ever before! You’ll be surprised when you’ll see me again!"Bookmark here

Kudo waved back as hard as he can, showing a bright smile in return.Bookmark here

The carriage continued driving on the dirt road path as Hinota returned back inside from the window.Bookmark here

Kudo kept watching the crimson gold carriage going, his energy slowly siphoned out of him.Bookmark here

After reaching the horizon, he could no longer see the carriage anymore.Bookmark here

The PlusFire is no more. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.