Chapter 63:

Vol. 5 Chapter 1- Miracle Upon Miracles Part 2

Hour Empty Child

The youth who caught their attention, Kudo, weaved around melancholic citizens without a spring in his step. The way he moved was asif something was possessing him to move forward, the look in his eyes seemed distant.Bookmark here

Under the gloomy atmosphere, along with the bleak citizens, it was no surprise that Kudo wouldn’t exhibit an excited manner.Bookmark here

The three adventurers followed him, using the crowds to cover their presences.Bookmark here

Hikari was particularly relentless in her trailing. Her narrow eyes were affixed onto his person, not letting go of her sight at any cost.Bookmark here

This was apparent to the two adventurers following behind their master. They expressed a look of concern over the matter of their master’s sudden request to follow this boy.Bookmark here

“Kagero,” Kasara glared at him. “This is all your fault.”Bookmark here

She is clearly pissed as it was Kagero’s big mouth that made Hikari act this way.Bookmark here

“Hey, it’s not my fault. I just pointed him out, that’s all.”Bookmark here

Trying to defend himself from the blame, Kasara continued to glare at him, her aura becoming frighteningly dangerous. Shaking off the dreaded daggers being pointed at him, Kagero asked:Bookmark here

“Hey… do you think it could be him?”Bookmark here

Kagero turned away to face outward, asking this single question stemming from his doubt and his hope. Kasara was taken in surprise by his sudden question, now forming her own solemn gaze.Bookmark here

“Whether or not it is true,” Kasara answered. “I only hope that Master doesn’t set herself up for a fall…”Bookmark here

What matters more for Kasara is her master’s mental state.Bookmark here

As a mother, losing one’s child is equivalent to losing a part of yourself. The bit of happiness, pride, and love nestled into that child, now completely vanished from her life, affected every aspect of her life.Bookmark here

It happened a long time ago even before Kasara and Kagero met with her. Even then, they knew from their times together that bringing up the topic of her child would only reflect in her eyes the void that was left in her heart. That is why nobody would dare bring this up, and why Kasara wanted to punish Kagero for suddenly doing so.Bookmark here

Because even after losing him, Hikari has been searching for him for all these years, and each of those searches bore no fruit. But even then, the hope within the void continues to fester inside.Bookmark here

Throughout all their missions, this was the first time that Hikari has shown so much perseverance on scouting out a person, much less a child. Bookmark here

Kasara’s heart stung, silently praying to the gods above that Hikari can recover after this if her senses were proven wrong.Bookmark here

“Kasara, it looks like we’re heading over to Lamosil District.”Bookmark here

Swallowed by her thoughts, Kagero brought Kasara back into reality. Kasara looked up to see that they have entered into the north-eastern side of Vipory.Bookmark here

The Lamosil District is where only one particular business laid—the Lamosil Cemetery.Bookmark here

It was there where the deceased of the tragedy were sent to be cremated.Bookmark here

Behind the Lamosil Cemetary was a large grass field, spanning over miles of beautifully cut grass and the graves that lined up in rows from each other. Each grave had a stone above them, words chiseled onto the front to name the recipients of those graves.Bookmark here

The atmosphere, comparing to the air around in the city, was relatively cordial. Unlike the doomed city forced to live on in total guilt, the graves were, like their definition, at peace. There were other people as well, and not all shared the same gloomy expressions. Some teared up at the sight of their loved ones no longer around, and others displayed cheerful expressions, mainly those from children who were visiting their passed family members with their parents.Bookmark here

Truly, the place where there is nothing but the dead felt more alive than the bustling city.Bookmark here

‘Such a strange feeling,’ thought Kasara. It’s as if the peaceful rest from the graves was affecting the atmosphere.Bookmark here

Taken in by this surprising emotion, the three noticed Kudo entering through the cemetery’s gates. The three were left stunned as they faced the ebony iron-barred gates with the sign that had the name ‘Lamosil Cemetary’ on it.Bookmark here

Hikari raised her head to see the sign, her brows wrinkled by realizing what this means.Bookmark here

“Master, maybe we shouldn’t go…”Bookmark here

Kagero showed a sense of guilt in his eyes as he pleaded his master. He was clearly reminded the reason why Kudo would go there.Bookmark here

“Master,” Kasara chided. “This is an invasion of his personal privacy. We can’t do this.”Bookmark here

Kasara knew that when the Master is set on something, she would do it no matter what. However, if she proved that she was wrong, then she has done a horrific disservice to the poor child.Bookmark here

However, the look in their master’s eyes did not lose its fire.Bookmark here

“Let’s keep going.”Bookmark here

Once she gave her order, she pushed herself through the gates, an unbreakable will showing on her expression. Kasara looked back at Kagero, only to see him brushing his hair with a frown.Bookmark here

“I’ll apologize to him after this. I will promise that.”Bookmark here

Once they entered, the sunshine glimmered on the graves as if they were being paraded by the sky itself. They spotted several graves—some were simple and plain, while others were outrageously big and gaudy. Supposedly, some would rather keep it simple, and clearly others like to go out with a bang.Bookmark here

Weaving around the graves, making sure not to disrespect the dead by stepping over the graves despite that there were no bodies below the earth, the party followed, their boots stepping onto the fresh soft grass, the pleasant heat of the sun showering them as they spotted Kudo not too far away from here.Bookmark here

However, where Kudo was going was somewhere in the cemetery that was not the norm. The stones further ahead were not part of the scenery until just recently.Bookmark here

There were about dozens of these stones—a simple stone, flat and arch-shaped, with rushed chiseled writings that didn’t seem to fit in eloquently like the others before. None of the words spoke their names—only the same few set of words written on each one.Bookmark here

These were the graves of the victims from the tragedy.Bookmark here

There was nobody there that were citizens of Vipory. The victims, the farmers of the exchange, did not know anybody in this town, and as such, only receives a passing prayer from them whenever one gets close.Bookmark here

Save for one.Bookmark here

Kudo trudged further, passing through the stones towards a certain section.Bookmark here

The sky was slowly becoming submerged into an orange hue, the sun descending downwards to the horizon. The heat from before was starting to lesson, but the tension of following the boy remained high.Bookmark here

Seeing that there were no cover for them to use, Hikari motioned the two behind her to stop, and then, raised and lowered her finger to them.Bookmark here

It was a signal to activate their abilities.Bookmark here

The two nodded, and focused on the internal mana to concentrate.Bookmark here

They hve activated their skill—Vanishing.Bookmark here

Their auras that were emanating such a powerful presence have gone silent, their appearances to the outside world, like the name of the skill said, vanished.Bookmark here

This skill is a Support Skill that allows the user to shut off his or her aura and presence completely. Not even those proficient in tracking could be able to sense the user, even if they were right in their faces.Bookmark here

As long as their levels were high. At low levels, only the slowest creatures lose their presence—those who are used to sensing others could still sense them even if they stepped just a meter close to them. But with the party’s levels, nobody will be able to find them, let alone stop them from following Kudo.Bookmark here

The three continued to follow, their bodies shrouded in silence, until finally their target ceased walking.Bookmark here

He stopped near two stones who were next to each other. They were quite a few ways from the other stones. These stones were special—they were created solely for Kudo’s state of mind.Bookmark here

The atmosphere around them became heavier, knowing exactly what he was doing. Both Kasara and Kagero wanted to leave—it was too personal to pry into, but Hikari stayed resolute in staying.Bookmark here

Then, the young teen dropped to his knees.Surprsing Hikari and the others, his head sank down, no longer having the energy to keep standing.Bookmark here

Their hearts stung at this imagery. Hikari ushered herself to move ahead to peek at the stones in front of him, reading the special text written by the young boy himself.Bookmark here

‘Here lies Trun Braven. A good father. A good husband.’Bookmark here

‘Here lies Meiki Braven. A good mother. A good wife.’Bookmark here

Simple, and yet the best descriptions that portrayed the people they represented.Bookmark here

Hikari surmised that these two were important members in his life.Bookmark here

An obvious pair of gravestones, and an obvious grieving boy. It was clear to them that they had no right to see this.Bookmark here

Hikari knew of this, however, her burning desire to see proof for herself broke her reasoning. But then, she noticed a tear dropping to the grass. She saw Kudo’s body jerking his shoulders, short gasps filled the air.Bookmark here

Then, Kudo moved his hands towards the bag holstered to his hip. It was his [Magic Bag]. He dipped his hand into the dimensional storage and took something out.Bookmark here

It was a book—a rather thick book that seemed so aged and used, it would have no value in the market.
But to him, it was the living memory of the people who have given it to him.Bookmark here

He opened up the book’s cover, revealing the pages that were dirty and hard to read, but to Kudo, he could see it clearly, remembering every word that he has learned over the past 10 years.Bookmark here

As he cried, Kudo flipped page after page, his tears continuing to drown his eyes.Bookmark here

“…There’s nothing…”Bookmark here

He whispered, in between short gasps, he kept whispering to himself as he held back his tears with a strong force of will, but it was slowly breaking.Bookmark here

Page after page, he kept flipping them over, desperately looking for something as he gripped hi chest with his other hand. The tears that escaped from him dropped onto the dirty pages.Bookmark here

Finally, he stopped. He couldn’t deny the truth anymore.Bookmark here

“There’s nothing… there’s nothing that can get rid of this pain…”Bookmark here

Those words resonated within the onlookers, pursing their lips and looking away.Bookmark here

Those words were not only from someone who has lost his family members. They were the words of someone who has lost someone thanks to their incompetence.Bookmark here

If they were faster—if they had gone ahead and captured the one responsible, the poor teen wouldn’t have to suffer through this.Bookmark here

It was even worse for Kasara. Her heart became wrenched in pain as this boy was her little sister’s friend. The same one that her sister held onto and was willing to give up her life to protect him from the incoming attack of Shinezu.Bookmark here

There was nobody around that felt more guilty than her. Perhaps this was the reason why she didn’t want to follow him. She knew that she would have to see the mistake she made by not getting there faster, and the consequences that followed.Bookmark here

As the thought of why her friend wasn’t here to be there for him passed through her mind, she saw Hikari moving ahead which surprised the two.Bookmark here

Her next action then shocked them. Hikari released her Vanishing skill. Her powerful presence became known, but the young teen could not notice her in such an emotional state.Bookmark here

“There’s no advice on how to handle the pain.”Bookmark here

Hikari spoke out loud, her tone stern and firm. Kudo remained looking down at the ground.Bookmark here

“One handles pain by various methods. Some go drink, and others drown themselves in the flesh of others. But I don’t suggest a young man like you to do so. It’ll only make your soul rot.”Bookmark here

A smile rose from her lips. She joked in a way to soothe his heart. However, the boy remained still, completely silent. Bookmark here

“…Nobody knows what to do when they had someone taken away so forcefully like this. What you’re feeling is natural. However, there is no point in continuing to despair.”Bookmark here

Hikari could not mince her words nicely for him—he needed facts. Taking the displeasure to shove reality to the boy, Kudo responded with an exasperated grip on his fingers, scraping the grass underneath them.Bookmark here

“One must keep moving forward. There is no turning back for anybody.”Bookmark here

A cool breeze rolled in, their hair swayed and their skin felt cooler. Kagero and Kasara kept themselves quiet, hearing every word as if it was for themselves as well.Bookmark here

It was the same words that Kagero learned long ago, taught to him when he went through the toughest ordeals of his life. He brushed his ebony hair again, a smile reflecting those times of his past.Bookmark here

Kudo’s tears finally ceased, and asked what has been nagging away at his heart.Bookmark here

“…What about the people that were taken away?”Bookmark here

Kudo said without facing her. His heart is a mess, and his head in a fog. He wanted to ask this of someone, anyone, to relieve him of his pain.Bookmark here

“We must keep moving forward—so that the people that were taken away can look down on you from the Upperworld with a smile on their faces. I believe that’s how they gain peace.”Bookmark here

Feeling that it was unnecessary now, Hikari undressed her cloak, revealing the figure underneath it.Bookmark here

Black clothing donned her exquisite body. It was the epitome of a powerful adventurer. She had a toned hourglass figure with a voluptuous chest that wore a black shirt and pants that fit her snugly. With armored gloves and boots, her long azure hair and jade colored eyes reflected the shine of the evening sun that no artist could ever hope to recreate in their image. Along with a powerful presence, there was a warm smile that was reminiscent of a goddess that has descended onto the world.Bookmark here

Kudo knew that this was the answer all along, and yet it soothed his aching heart. Using his forearm to wipe away the tears, he turned to face the stranger that has conversed with him in his hour of need.Bookmark here

Facing him, Hikari’s breath was taken away. Her chest tightened and her heart ached, the void within finally being filled.Bookmark here

The same azure hair that flowed with the wind. The bright, jade colored eyes that caught the sunshine from the fleeting sun. A bright, rounded face with a bit of redness around his eyes.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Miss… Now, I need to know what I’m going to do now...”Bookmark here

Kudo felt as though he has lost his way, but the words made him feel a little bit hopeful.Bookmark here

But he just noticed how Hikari was staring at him, her eyes widened. Then, he flinched when he noticed Hikari’s body tremble all of a sudden. She lifted her finger, and pointed at him.Bookmark here

“Y-Y-Y-You are…”Bookmark here

She stuttered, surprising her followers who were seeing this kind of reaction for the first time themselves. Hikari wouldn’t usually show such an expression, unless…Bookmark here

“Y-Your name… what is your name?!”Bookmark here

Dropping to her knees, she cupped Kudo’s shoulders with her hands, making him jump in surprise from the sudden grip that held him so tightly.Bookmark here

“M-My name…” Kudo hesitated to answer. “My name is Kudo Braven. I-Is there something wrong?”Bookmark here

It was in that moment, she was left with an agaped expression. When Kudo felt flustered and tried to understand what was going on, he sees her eyes starting to well.Bookmark here

“W-Wha—?!”Bookmark here

Kudo gasped in shock. Who could keep their cool when a strange woman started crying after hearing his name? It was then that the two followers turned off their skills, making their presences known as they walked up to them, both having stunned expressions.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?!”Bookmark here

Kudo worried, showing concern for the woman who has aided him in his time of need. Hikari’s tears fell to the grass, holding back her sharp inhales as she slowly whispered:Bookmark here

“I… finally found you. After all this time, I finally found you…”Bookmark here

Those words made Kudo’s head tilt.Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry… I have no idea what you’re talking about.”Bookmark here

Hoping that she would explain more on her vague words, Kudo was suddenly, without warning, embraced by her.Bookmark here

“H-Hey?!”Bookmark here

Kudo flustered after having this strange woman suddenly hug him out of nowhere. Feeling more flustered, he decided to rip her off of him, but when he did, she only made her embrace tighter. Her strength was abysmally strong. So strong to the point that he felt his torso was being crushed by her arms alone.Bookmark here

“W-What’s wrong?! What’s going on?!”Bookmark here

Sensing that his life was in danger, he shouted out, hoping that somebody around would aid him in his other time of need.Bookmark here

“Master, you should really calm down and explain what’s going on for that poor boy.”Bookmark here

Kasara responded to his plea, getting hm to look back at the owner of that female voice, finally realizing that two new people showed up near them.Bookmark here

Were they there this entire time? This question would have passed through his head, but when he glanced at the other woman raising her hands and showing a concerned look, he widened hi eyes.Bookmark here

Not only the man who gave him advice on the day of the incident, there was also a woman who… resonated within him.Bookmark here

Long, crimson hair that reaches her back, and sharp, slanted eyes that pierce right through you. Her voluptuous body covered in mage’s clothing has made it clear that she has an uncanny resemblance to his partner.Bookmark here

(C-Could that be… Hinota’s sister?)Bookmark here

Kudo couldn’t believe it, but he saw the resemblance for himself. However, the clear difference was that the older sister’s face was more mature, her facial features were more well-defined than Hinota’s rounded face.Bookmark here

When the words about her relation to Hinota were at his throat, Hikari’s embrace loosened, getting him to turn back to her, wiping her eyes with her hand as she looked back to him with a smile.Bookmark here

“You’re right, Kasara.”Bookmark here

Hearing the name himself, Kudo knew now that it really was Hinota’s sister as she shared the same name that Hinota spoke of so fondly.Bookmark here

“Kudo,” Hikari formed a gleaming smile. “I’m sorry for surprising you. You may not believe this…”Bookmark here

Hikari took a moment before answering, leaving Kudo to widen his eyes, his heart throbbed from anticipation.Bookmark here

“I am Hikari Valkyria… I’m your mother.”Bookmark here

Time seemed to stop around Kudo.Bookmark here

His vision slowly blurred, his mind racing from this sudden fact.Bookmark here

She is his mother. When she said those words, Kudo remembered the topic his parents talked to him before.Bookmark here

He was adopted. His real parents were out there somewhere.Bookmark here

But he never thought that he would find one of them so soon. Not to mention, her long azure hair, and her jade-colored eyes—Those features were hard to ignore, and thus proved that she was right.Bookmark here

“Y-You’re my mother? My real mom?”Bookmark here

He had to ask again. His eyes trembled and his breath was nearly taken away. Hikari then nodded vigorously.
“Yes…! I have been… I have been looking for you for a long time now.”Bookmark here

Those words have not only made Kudo surprised, but it also made her heart swell with so much emotion that it could burst.Bookmark here

“Kudo… were these… the ones who have taken care of you? Your foster parents?”Bookmark here

He couldn’t believe what she was saying. But after a moment, he realized that his parents who have cared for him since he was a child were truly his foster parents—parents who took him in.Bookmark here

Hearing no answer, Hikari smiled as if his silence was all he needed.Bookmark here

“Kudo… my darling Kudo… from now on, I will take care of you.”Bookmark here

Hearing those shocking words, Kasara turned to her and asked:Bookmark here

“W-What are you planning to do, Master?”Bookmark here

She asked with a slightly high tone, fearing for what might come next. Hikari only stood up to her feet, forming a proud stance by putting her hands on her hips, a grin flashing on her face.Bookmark here

It was a different grin than the ones Kasara and Kagero saw before.Bookmark here

“It’s obvious that I’ll be taking Kudo with us to Roprase!”Bookmark here

The three around her became pale. It was as if her words struck them with lightning. Kudo couldn’t believe it himself, but both Kasara and Kagero knew better than that.Bookmark here

“W-What?” Kudo became flabbergasted. “W-Who says I’m coming with you?!” He snapped back, now furrowing his brows, but he didn’t felt anger—he felt fear rising up in him.Bookmark here

“Well, you said that you had no idea on what to do, right?” Hikari quickly reassured his last words, getting him to flinch in surprise.Bookmark here

“I-I did say that…”Bookmark here

“Then, why not come with us to Roprase? That way, we can be together!”Bookmark here

“E-Even if you say that… I have to make sure that…”Bookmark here

“Whatever the case, I’m still taking you!”Bookmark here

Hikari intercepted with a flashing grin, leaving him stiffened up.Bookmark here

“W-What?!” Kudo felt exasperated as he shook. “You… can’t do something like that!”Bookmark here

Kudo may not know much about social interactions as much as Hinota did, but he knew that suddenly taking him somewhere without asking his permission was borderline illegal.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about those silly details, Kudo. Now, come on, let’s go to our home!”Bookmark here

“M-Master! You can’t just take him like that. Forcing him to go is a bad idea!”Bookmark here

Kasara tried to bring order to this somewhat chaotic reunion between mother and child, but when she saw Hikari’s eyes burning with willpower and the drive to go forward with it, she knew that she wouldn’t back down from this.Bookmark here

“Kasara,” Hikari turned to her, showing an instant solemn expression. “There’s no way that I’ll ever miss this chance.”Bookmark here

Saying that, Hikari bend down to Kudo’s level and, without warning, picked up Kudo by the waist and lifted his body upwards.Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

Uttering those words, Kudo’s body was lifted off easily from the ground, and was placed gently on her right shoulder. When it did, a sharp pain coursed through his abdomen.Bookmark here

He was being carried as if he was a bag.Bookmark here

“W-Wha—?!” Kudo cried out, the situation becoming more dire than he realized.Bookmark here

“M-Master!”Bookmark here

Kagero intervened this time, his hand outstretched to stop his master from going as far as kidnapping, but it went unnoticed as Hikari lowered herself again to pick up his guidebook.Bookmark here

“Ah, this guidebook takes me back. Your parents were good people to buy you this,” Hikari had a flash of nostalgia when she read the guidebook’s cover, then turned back to Kudo. “Now then, let’s keep moving.”Bookmark here

She acted as if what she was doing wasn’t a total crime at all. Hikari walked forward, turning back to the two and ushered them to follow her.Bookmark here

“Come on, guy! The day’s burning away!”Bookmark here

“M-Master, at least be reasonable!” Kasara quickly chided.Bookmark here

“Master, this is going too far!” Kagero added in.Bookmark here

“No matter what, I will bring Kudo with us. I won’t hear any more refusals. Now, Kudo, let’s keep going!”Bookmark here

Hikari proudly proclaimed as she walked forward, with Kudo now beginning to struggle to break free, but her grip strength was far beyond anything he has ever seen.Bookmark here

Kasara and Kagero could only look to each other, beginning to sweat as their Master’s whims were too much this time for them to swallow.Bookmark here

When they turned back to see Kudo, he looked up to them, his eyes were widened with terror and confusion.Bookmark here

Seeing this, the two could only raise their right hands in a prayer form.Bookmark here

“Sorry, Kudo,” Kagero apologized fervently.Bookmark here

“Please, just go along with this,” Kasara pleaded, her face turning blue.Bookmark here

“L-L-Let me goooo!!!”Bookmark here

Of course, Kudo’s scream went unnoticed. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.