Hour Empty Child
Back at the southern part of Virpory, in the forest was the young maid waiting for her master without moving a single step.
As she wondered about what they were doing, she took a look at the silver-banded watch wrapped around her left wrist. On it was an eloquently stylish hand-clock that showed that an hour passed by.
“It’s about time. Master should be here with Master Kagero and Master Kasara any second now.”
Shokan said as she knew that her Master would never be late or go back on her word. Once she says something, she plans on doing it. That’s her rule.
As she returned her hands clasped together, patiently waiting for the seconds to roll by, her highly trained ears perked up after hearing soft footsteps on the grass.
She turned to face the causes of the noise and knew that it was the three returning back.
She saw Kagero and Kasara walking side by side as she expected.
Shokan was about to wave at them before she noticed their looks of discomfort shown on their faces. Kagero and Kasara pursed their lips as if guilty of a crime, their sweat streaming down their temples as their eyes kept darting at the front and at their side.
She looked aside at them only to see Hikari walking with a gait, an energetic smile that seemed different than the usual ones she showed before.
She also noticed something that was on her shoulder. It looked like a bag that was as big as a human, but then noticed that the bag had legs fluttering about like a butterfly.
It wasn’t a bag, it was an actual person.
She became stunned as she sees the person’s legs kicking up in the air, as if trying to release himself. She also heard grunts and shouts which emanated from the small person.
“L-Let me go!”
That person, Kudo, shouted his lungs out as he tried to wriggle his way out for dear life.
From the distance, it looked like Hikari just caught live fish, wriggling its way around Hikari’s arm and Hikari showing a smile that resembled a fisherman finally catching a big one.
“L-Let me go! I-I’m serious! Let me go!”
The boy repeated as his desperate pleas were fell on deaf ears as Hikari used her free hand to wave at her maid.
“Shokan, we’re here. Right on cue, if I may add.”
She casually joked as she praised herself for her cordial manners. Her tone was high and her face was beaming with delight.
“M-Master, what happened?” Shokan could only ask after seeing such a spectacle.
“Ah, something good happened, Shokan~! I finally found him!”
The poor maid tilted her neck in confusion after hearing that. Hikari smiled wider as she walked past Shokan, revealing the boy’s face to her.
Shokan widened her eyes after seeing Kudo’s face right in front of her.
“H-Help me! This crazy woman is trying to kidnap me!”
Seeing that none of the other people around him would listen, he resorted to asking another stranger.
However, Shokan didn’t respond, and just stared deeply into his jade eyes, then moved her sight above to see his azure hair. For a moment, Kudo felt uncomfortable being stared at for so long like before.
Then, just like before, tears welled up in her amber-colored eyes. One ran down her clear skin.
“W-Wha…” Kudo was once again flabbergasted at the familiar sight that just occurred.
“My gods… it really happened… He’s finally been found…!”
Rather than out of sadness, they were tears of joy. Shokan covered her mouth with her petite hands, both trembling along with her shoulders as she stared in endearment to Kudo.
“Thank the Upperworld… this must be because of all her good-doings all these years… having good karma really does exist.”
“How is this a good deed!?”
He rebutted, knowing that this wasn’t a good deed at all. Hikari turned around which left Kudo to spin around in response, a smile on her face as she patted Shokan’s head.
“Now, let’s go home.”
Shokan nodded with a strong nod as she ran up the stairs with a skip in her step.
“Now then, let’s go ahead, Kudo.”
“Wait! Wait! Where are we going?! What is this thing anyway?!”
Kudo kept asking questions and pleaded for them to hold up as he realized that there was a strange vehicle beside him.
“Hehe, impressed?” Hikari asked. “This is my greatest ride in all of the natural world. Nothing else can compare to my ‘Valiant Steed’!”
Sounding her horn in pride, her voluptuous chest stuck out in pride, making a haughty scoff.
“V-Valiant Steed…” He whispered as he sees the strange vehicle up close with widened eyes.
“Like the famous Valkyries, they ride on flying horses called Pegasus that flies in the skies with complete freedom!”
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about! Let me go!”
Not knowing a single word that came out of her mouth, Kudo continued to wriggle his way out of her arms, but Hikari secured her tight hold on him even tighter as she walked on the stairs up to the entrance, the two partners trying their best to ignore the wailing of the young teenager as they followed.
They entered into the Valiant Steed and Shokan closed the door behind them. Once Kudo calmed down, he saw the room for himself and his breath was taken away from him.
The room inside was more spacious than the outside would have made him believe. It was enough to fit in dozens of people at once. The cream-colored walls had small square-shaped windows which he could see the forest that stood outside. Red soft chairs made with exquisite design that would fit a royal noble—Red cover with yellow-line sewn elegantly on it—and the same-designed sofas that lined up the walls. There were about two black cubes which seem to have handles on them, turning out to be some type of storage appliance. The air inside the room was also pleasantly cold, unlike the warmth wave from the outside.
“W-What is this vehicle, anyway?” Finally acting with a cool head, Kudo asked again. “And, how are we going anywhere with this without any horses?”
All the vehicles he knew about needed to be carried by horses. That is natural to those living in Peranim. How else can such a large vehicle transport other people?
But instead, Hikari turned to him, showing a look of pity from her smile.
“Oh… how awful it is to be so uninformed,” She told herself as if reminding that Kudo was not educated well. “Don’t worry, Kudo. You’ll definitely be impressed with this.”
Hikari answered as she gave a silent nod to the patient Shokan, who bowed in response as she went into the other compartment.
After she left, Kudo now realized that he was still being man-handled by the monster-like kidnapper. So far she didn’t realize that the tight grip on his abdomen was making it ache from the burns, getting Kudo to wince.
The accident that robbed him of everything left him nearly crippled. He could still move and possibly fight, but the burns on his abdomen did not go away. Not only did the potions failed to fix the leftover pain, it still left a hideous burned scar. As it was made just a few days ago, it was still painful to bear.
As he tried to wriggle his way out again, Hikari walked forward to her favorite chair, the biggest and possibly the most gaudiest chair at the center of the room. It wasn’t just big, there was a wooden plaque connected at the top which had a marking that Kudo wasn’t able to see thanks to Hikari dragging him away.
Once she sat down, she picked up Kudo from her and positioned him right onto her.
It was then that Kudo realized that he was sitting on her lap.
Every ounce of manhood he had within him vanished into thin air.
He tried to get off now that he was just sitting, but Hikari still had her hold onto him by grabbing his hips. Tried as he might, he could not release himself from her clutches.
Aside from the terror of being kidnapped from his country, he also had to bear the shame of being in such a humiliating position.
“That’s too much, Master…”
Kagero almost winced after seeing the poor teenager being reduced to that of a young child.
Kasara sighed, “Let’s just go.”
Hearing Kasara practically give up on asking Hikari to reconsider, Kudo surged himself to get off as much as possible.
He can’t leave. They’re saying that they are taking him to Roprase, but he never heard a place like that before, so he figured that it would be out of Peranim.
He had to get out, otherwise, his only chance of being with Hinota someday will evaporate from existence.
He struggled, summoning up every ounce of strength he had in his grip strength which he prides himself with, but all that became pointless as Hikari’s dainty-like fingers would not move a single inch.
As his struggles became practically pointless, the room started to rumble. Suddenly, everything around him shook violently which made his heart jump out of his chest.
He felt as if the earth was shaking, as if an earthquake just started. His instincts against the unknown kicked in and he clutched onto the one person who he was close to—his biological mother.
The sounds of the roaring engines of the Valiant Steed bellowed in his highly trained ears, beginning to ache. He closed his eyes in fear as he clutched tighter to Hikari.
But then his own weight suddenly lifted.
His eyes popped open as he realized that they have just launched into the air. He glanced at the windows, and the trees were no longer in sight—nothing but the orange hue of the evening sky.
“W-What’s going on?!” Kudo panicked.
“Yaah~ You’re so cute, Kudo!”
Hikari squealed and grabbed hold of Kudo to embrace him once again, her giant chest pushing out the air out of his body thanks to the strong arms that bind him.
“Don’t worry, Kudo! Everything will be fine~ If you’re scared, just hold onto mommy~”
She spoke in such a high-pitched tone that it seemed unlike her, especially to the two who sat across from her in their own seats.
Kudo, as he was nearly crushed by her strength, kept looking out the window, not believing the sight of them actually in the air.
“A-Are we actually… flying…?!”
Kudo couldn’t tell whether his breath was taken from the view, or from Hikari’s monstrous strength.
Seeing the poor boy in peril, Kasara cleared her throat loud enough for grab the excited Hikari’s attention.
“Master, that should be good enough, right? So please give Kudo some air.”
Kasara spoke with a clear and crisp tone, making a sharp gaze at the woman who pouted at her proposal, uttering ‘Boo…’ to Kasara before finally letting Kudo go.
Kudo nearly jumped out of her seat, regaining his breath and his personal space.
After gathering his thoughts, Kudo was about to turn back to voice out his many complaints, but then the room started to shake again, causing Kudo to react to it quickly as his adventurer senses told him to, getting him to hold onto the floor to keep him stable.
Fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, confusion—all of these feelings circled in his mind and body as his mental state turned into a chaotic mess.
“W-What are you going to do to me!?”
Kudo was no longer one of the strongest adventurers in all across Peranim.
He was nothing more but a frightened teenager who was kidnapped by a group of adults and taken to someplace completely foreign. He was nearing to tears as his body shook in despair.
First his parents have passed away, second was Hinota having to leave, and now he was being taken against his will. Kudo scoffed at his substantial amount of [LUK] that proved to be useless after all.
Seeing the poor teenager in such a state, Kagero’s chest tightened. As he was one of the people who took him away, it was only natural that he would stand up from his seat, remaining steady with his perfected balance as and knelt near Kudo’s side.
“Calm down. Nothing bad is going to happen.”
He spoke calmly. Kudo looked up, seeing the serene brown eyes of the man who have encouraged him to take a step forward.
He finally relaxed and asked:
“…W-Where are we going? W-What is this thing we’re riding in? What’s going on?!”
His mouth let out nothing but questions that continuously filled Kudo’s mind, his mental state already in such a maelstrom that he couldn’t keep his train of thought right.
“Now, now,” Kagero motioned his hands, telling him to take it easy with the questions. “First I’ll answer about the ‘Valiant Steed’. We’re in an Avian, an air-type vehicle which uses the ley lines of mana in the air to fly.”
“Ah, I gotta explain that,” Kagero brushed his head with a silly smile. “The ley lines are particles in the air that contained an extraordinary amount of mana. They existed ever since Yarim was created. These Avians were created to ride on those ley lines as these vehicles need a lot of mana to fly."
Kudo tilts his neck in response to everything he said.
“So cute~” Hikari squealed as she cooed. “Kudo looks so cute when he’s confused!”
“I-I’m not cute!”
Recovering his manhood, he retorted back by taking away the most unmanly comment he could receive. His cheeks burned brightly as Hikari squealed once again at the sight. Kagero could only laugh wryly.
“Master Hikari can be quite… abrasive. But I promise you that she only has good intentions.”
He turned around to face the woman who bears so much resemblance to his partner back in Peranim. Seeing her with such beauty left him breathless, not realizing that he was caught staring at her.
“Oh, are you interested in me?” Kasara teased, forming a coy smile which made Kudo blush.
“Fufu, I’m flattered, but I’m afraid that I’m already taken.”
“T-That’s not what I was doing!”
He madly blushed as he tried to correct such statement, getting Kasara to chuckle. Regaining his bearings, he gathered the thoughts to ask her a question:
“U-Umm… could you be… Hinota’s older sister, Kasara Flamver?”
For a moment, she remained still, staring at Kudo like a doll. A moment later, she curled her lips upwards, but there was a tinge of sadness within her smile.
“Yes, I am. I saw you along with her before we headed off, so I knew that you were her party member. I’m glad to see that you survived.”
Every word came from the heart as she smiled. Kudo felt even more entranced after seeing her visage.
“May I ask where she is now?”
Grabbing the chance, she asked what was on her mind. Kudo took a moment as well, but he reacted with his head drooped down.
“She… her family called her over, so we had to disband,” His tone dampens compared to before, and his eyes looked distant.
Kasara’s words were laced with a clear hatred, not to Kudo, but to the family that has broken up the PlusFire.
Kasara has her own problems regarding her noble family in Peranim. Her face and body did not show it, but the aura around her flared in anger—something that Kagero noticed instantly.
Realizing that he was having a serious conversation, he turned back around and glared at the one responsible for this mess to begin with.
“Kyaa~” Hikari cooed. “You look so adorable, the way you look so angry like that!”
“I’m not adorable!” Kudo refuted with every fiber of his being. He then raised his finger and pointed at her.
“Where are we going?!” Kudo demanded an answer, finally having enough of this mess.
“Hehe~” Hikari chuckled, forming a silly smile. “Kudo, we’re returning to our home. We’re taking you to our territory—to Triun, the capital city of Roprase.”
“H-Huh…?” He couldn’t believe how she answered it, but then another question was raised. “L-Like I said, what is Roprase?!”
When he asked, a look of surprise came over Hikari’s expression.
“You don’t know? Truly?” Hikari asked dumbfoundedly. “I thought it would be common knowledge in Peranim.”
“Well, I don’t know!”
Kudo swung his arm at the side to show his exasperation. He doesn’t know anything, including other countries, so now they’re treating him as if he was educationally challenged.
Hikari then took a moment, folding her arms together as she put on a solemn expression with her eyes closed. Raising her head, she opened her eyes, finally making up a plan.
“Kasara,” Hikari turned to Kasara. “Would you be a dear and teach Kudo about Roprase?”
Kasara looked surprised upon receiving her master’s proposition, getting her to exhale shortly before answering.
“Well,” answered Kasara. “If I must. It looks like he’s going to be one of us.”
Knowing that she’ll be teaching a new member, she turned to Kudo with a warm smile.
“O-One of you…?” Kudo tilts his neck again at those words.
After a moment of silence, Kudo managed to finally sit on his own seat—However, Hikari was right by his side, her arm around his shoulder and her head plopped on top of his.
The soft bosoms pressing themselves up against his body didn’t help at all.
Sitting across from him was now his teacher, Kasara, who somehow brought up a white board out of nowhere—apparently from her [Magic Bag]—and by using the black marker, started to draw and write a few words on it.
Kudo tilted his neck after seeing such strange devices, but then he realized what she was drawing when he saw the outline of what seems to be the world of Yarim.
“As you can see,” Hikari points at the biggest continent, where she had an ‘X’ on one big part of it. “This is Roprase, the capital country known in the Lerabelum continent.”
Kudo widened his eyes as he starts to recall a vague memory in his past after hearing that.
During his travels with Hinota, Kudo stumbled upon a book that explains the geography of the world. One which caught his interest at the time was a continent called Lerabelum.
Lerabelum, in its own sense, is a realm of powerful monsters. It was akin to that of the demon world, where the monsters are higher leveled than any other place in Yarim.
It takes an extremely strong adventurer party to have the courage to even step into this land, full of unknown dangers and the like.
“I-Isn’t Lerabelum the place where they have lots of strong monsters?” He asked in a high tone. “The adventurers living there are practically legends?”
To say that he wasn’t excited would be a lie, but within that excitement was the same terror and shock that he was used to feeling right now.
“That’s right,” Kasara answered. “Though it’s more special than that. To get here, you do not only need a passport, but you also need clearance to enter from the Adventurer’s Guild. Being in such a place is dangerous, but it’s also the hotspot for gaining a substantial amount of cash. There’s a lot of security levels to go through before being admitted to entering into the continent.”
“T-That sounds so complicated…” Kudo folded his arms. He didn’t knew such elaborate procedures are needed to enter.
Before long, Hikari made a sudden gasp, surprising Kudo and the other two to look back at her.
“Oh my, I completely forgot about the passport!”
Hikari suddenly lifts herself off, leaving Kudo by himself for once as Kasara and Kagero showed a tired expression.
“That’s why this is so problematic, Master…” Kagero sighed, dropping his head onto his palm.
“W-Wait!” Kudo lifts himself up to shout. “Why did you take me along? I didn’t want to leave Peranim!”
He voiced out his complaint which should have been answered at the start. Before Hikari could start looking, she turned around to face Kudo.
She gently placed her hands on his shoulders, a gentle smile forming on her lips.
“Because from now on, I will take care of you, Kudo. As your mother, I’ll be taking you back home where we belong.”
She spoke in a gentle manner, to ease him of the changes that will occur. Hearing that, Kudo realized that as long as she is his mother, and since they were already up in the air, he had to follow her.
He started to remember the memories of the times he has spent with his mother Meiki, who passed away so suddenly. It was too much for his adolescent mind to take in just yet.
If he accepted her, what would happen to his late mother? Would she disappear?
Kudo looked downwards as he finally received his answer, but his heart was too rattled to say anything else. It was then that Hikari continued her way towards one of the sofas, and dropped to her knees as she pulled the edge near the bottom.
Suddenly, it was pulled out slowly, revealing what seems to be a cabinet filled papers with printed words that were neatly piled up inside.
Kudo’s eyes widened when he saw a hidden drawer underneath the sofas as Hikari rummaged through the papers with quick precision. Hikari use her several Support Skills to scope out the specific paper she needed by reading at an extraordinarily fast pace, saying to herself ‘where is that stupid thing…’ as she searched.
Once again, she surprised Kudo as she pulled out several papers as if she has found a legendary item. She quickly stood up and walked to Kudo with the papers in hand.
“T-These are…” Kudo took the papers for himself, and glanced at the papers. The papers weren’t written, because if they were, then they were written with such detail that it seemed mechanical.
“Documents to secure a passport into the city. Ah, and don’t worry about the other complicated matters. I’ll do everything, so you can relax and fill out the papers.”
“F-Fill out…” Kudo looked up to face her. “So that I’ll live in Roprase?”
Hikari nodded her head, leaving Kudo to look back at the papers.
Seeing that he was kidnapped, and there is no plan on going back, Kudo only had one decision to take—that is, to do as they say and live with them.
But he then thought of Hinota. What would happen if Hinota would come back to Vipory to see him? However, she also said that Kudo should go ahead and become as strong as he can. Even if it meant that he will leave the country.
Then… he made a decision. As Lerabelum contained powerful monsters that are perfect for leveling himself up, Kudo decided to go to Roprase, and when he becomes stronger, he will go back to Hinota in Peranim on his own.
Kudo took the papers and did as Hikari say. He sat down at one of the chairs and put his papers on top of the table near him. Hikari gave him a pen for him to write on it.
Seeing Kudo beginning to write, an idea popped up in her mind and turned to Kasara again.
“Ah, you also need someone to teach you the general studies of Roprase. So, Kasara, you’ll be the one to teach him.”
Without any warning, Kasara has received another job of taking care of Kudo from the grinning Hikari. Kudo looked back in shock with an ‘Eh?!’ as Kagero made a wry smile.
Kasara herself seemed surprised as her slanted eyes widened, but then she gave another sigh, forming a small smile.
“W-Why do I need to study?!” Kudo asked as Hikari turned back to face him.
“It’s obvious that you’re gonna need a lot of education. Being in Peranim clearly undermined your intelligence, so you’ll be learning from a more respected teacher.”
“W-What do you mean by that?!”
He stood up, slamming his hand on the table in frustration. However, Kasara quickly placed her hand on top of his shoulder, getting him to look up to her.
“Kudo, she doesn’t mean anything bad. She just wants to teach you how we work over there.”
Kasara fanned down the flames of Kudo’s anger, making them subside. Kudo managed to calm himself.
“Ah, you’re so cute! I just want to hug you and keep hugging you!”
Hikari, without hesitation, grabbed Kudo from behind to hug him, nearly suffocating him from the lack of air.
“By the way, Master,” It was Kasara’s turn to ask. “Why assign me the position to teach Kudo?”
“Why not?” Hikari answered, her grip still taking away Kudo’s breath. “Don’t you wanna teach my son, who is also your little sister, Hinota’s partner?”
Hearing her little sister’s name caused Kasara to widen her eyes. Her cheeks blushed with a faint redness as Kudo managed to gain air from Hikari’s loosened grip to ask.
“S-So you know who Hinota is…”
He never expected Hikari to learn about Hinota’s name. Hikari looked back to Kudo and formed a gleaming smile.
“Of course I knew! How could I not, since Kasara just loves talking about her whenever she gets brought up.”
“T-That’s not true!”
A high-pitched rebuttal was heard from Kasara, surprising Kudo as the other two, Hikari and Kagero, smiled mischievously at her, getting her to quickly redden her face.
Kudo also stared at her, a look of surprise and astonishment at her sudden reaction as Kasara could no longer say no to that kind of face.
“…Fine. I’ll do it. If not, I won’t be able to take responsibility for taking Hinota’s friend away.”
Kasara said while forming a smile to Kudo, getting him become almost enraptured by such a pleasant smile on her sharpened expression.
For a moment, he was reminded of Hinota from that reaction and smile. These two were strikingly familiar.
“Hehe, for now, I’ll help you out on what to sign. Let’s see here…” Hikari then grabbed Kudo’s hand holding the pen and moved it to where he needed to sign.
“H-Hey! I can do it on my own! Also, get off me!” Kudo made another retort as Hikari was still hugging him as she’s helping him sign.
The three looked over Kudo’s passport as he prepares to enter into Lerabelum, the land known as the strongest land in the world.