Hour Empty Child
The Avian, known as the ‘Valliant Steed’ as called by Hikari, flew over the now night sky, the moon could be seen above the avian while the clouds below acted as roads for it.
Near the window in the bright room and sitting on the soft sofa was Kudo who has lost all spirit. He sighed so heavily that his remaining spirit could have been seen coming out.
“I didn’t think it would be so troublesome to sign those papers just to be in Lerabelum.”
His sighing and loss of energy were all because of the strenuous tasks of signing each paper that Hikari gave him in order to enter into Lerabelum.
His right hand ached as he had to sign over and over his name in terrible writing which Kudo did not like seeing repeatedly.
“Of course it is,” Kasara voiced in, walking towards the sofa and sat down on it near Kudo.
“Lerabelum is a place that’s teeming with valuable resources and powerful monsters to gain experience. Though, its difficulty is another story.”
Hearing that, another sigh escaped Kudo’s lips. Kudo got up and peered through the window glass, seeing the vast sky and endless array of clouds before him.
Kasara looked up to him, and from the brightness of the room, showcased his jade-colored eyes and azure-colored hair even more so than usual.
(He really is the spitting image of Master…)
A feeling of déjà vu passed through her when seeing his eyes. However, unlike the confident and haughty eyes of his mother, he had a distant look that stretched farther than the horizon.
“How am I going to see her again…?”
In Kudo’s eyes, flashing memories of Hinota rolled into his mind, only making his predicament even more unbearable.
“Are you talking about Hinota?” Kasara took notice of the context.
“If I’m this far away, how am I going to talk to her again?”
Kudo let out the worry seething in his heart. Kasara’s heart stung at the mention of her little sister, but then, seeing his concern, a feeling of content filled her up. Her lips curled up into a smile.
“You really care about her.”
Kudo looked back to Kasara.
“She’s my best friend in the whole world. How could I not care about her?”
Forming a smile that seemed to correlate with his fondness, Kasara was taken by surprise. Feeling content, Kasara shrugged as she smirked:
“Is that so?” Kasara composed herself from her elation before answering. “Tell me what makes her so great, then.”
“O-Oh! Of course!”
Kudo’s tiredness was blown away, and now he became joyous as he told everything that he thought about Hinota to her older sister. Kasara nodded to each one of his praises and stories about her, a warm smile crossing her face as she listened intently.
Sitting aside from them was Kagero who watched the scene in silence, smirking at his partner who was chatting so vividly with Kudo. On the other side,Hikari’s eyes glinted from the conversation they just had.
(Sounds interesting…) Hikari thought as she made a luxuriant smirk.
Then they heard some kind of feedback noise through the speakers around the room, getting everyone’s attention.
“We have finally reached Roprase airspace! Everyone, prepare for landing!”
An excited voice rang through the room. As everyone started to move, Kudo’s heart raced now that he was finally here. He turned back around to see the window once more, and sure enough, the ‘Steed’ started descending, and once more, he saw the land underneath the clouds.
Finally descending onto land, the ‘Valiant Steed’ makes its way towards the ground. However, unlike the grassland of the forest, or the rocky terrain of the mountain, it was an entirely new land.
It was ground made out of black asphalt——marked with several white lines with lightened lamps on them to guide the ‘Steed’ towards to the surface easily.
Underneath the Steed were the wheels that have appeared out from within its hull, helping the Steed land on the ground with ease which shook the Avian, causing a small scream to be let out from within.
Of course, that scream came from Kudo.
After a while, the avian finally ceased moving, and have successfully landed. The door opens up, revealing Kagero, Kasara, and Hikari where the wind of the country air blew on them as they set outside, a set of stairs came out from underneath the door for them to step on.
After the adults came out, Kudo’s head peered out from the entrance, turned his head left and right before he slowly got himself out of the avian through the stairs. He looked out towards the land and his jaw dropped.
For the first time, he was seeing land made entirely out of black ground. White lines were painted on the ground, and other types of Avians that looked similar, but less decorated, like the ‘Valiant Steed’ were stationed there as well. Thanks to the small lamp lights on the white lines, Kudo would have walked in complete darkness since the moon was behind the clouds.
As he stepped down, and finally touched the ground himself, he body felt strangely lifted. An exotic energy overwhelmed him which made his skin get goosebumps.
This is the first time that he has ever stepped onto a new country. It felt so much like a fantasy where he would hear from his books, but it was actually the reality set upon him—by force—thanks to his mother.
To regain his senses, he touched the ground several times, patting it with his fingers. The ground was rough, thick and hard, to his hands.
“Kudo, this is asphalt. It’s used on roads for Ames and Avians to drive in.”
Kasara gave a small lesson on the ground, getting Kudo to widen in surprise, saying ‘I see’ as he stepped on the ground multiple times to feel it. Kagero chuckled at the sight of the country bumpkin.
“Now then,” Hikari turned back after seeing Shokan getting out of the Steed. “Let’s head on—”
The once regal Hikari contorted her expression into disgust after hearing an old, hoarse voice rang out. She turned, getting the others including Kudo to look at the three robed men closing in on them.
The three of them marched towards the group, each having a sharpened look that seemed to glower at Hikari. Especially the middle one, whose scowling beady eyes seem to focus entirely on her with gritted teeth.
Kudo noticed their appearances that looked like they were of importance. Their robes had a white top over their shoulders, an insignia on the top where he believed is the country they are in right now.
“Horin,” Hikari spoke as if she said something foul. “I should have figured that you would be waiting for me. Did you make an accident at the meeting?”
“Because of you, it was disastrous! Do you know how difficult it was to hold a meeting with one of the councillors of Triun missing?!”
He snapped back at her sarcastic comments, a vein could be seen throbbing on his near-bald forehead.
“You can’t just do whatever you want without consulting us first!”
The other councilman besides Horin shouted which made Hikari heave a sigh, a tired look on her face.
“How can anyone be able to trust you all if you can’t even handle meetings without the rest of you? That’s just being lazy…”
“That’s not the issue!”
Horin pointed at Hikari as he snapped back, but as they closed in, they noticed the young teenager who became intimidated by the screaming men, a sweat streaming down his head.
“You…” Horin’s tone lowered, gritting his teeth. “You have brought a foreigner to this country without consent!? That goes against the resolute laws of Roprase, and everywhere else in Lerabelum! You know better than this, and yet you bring him here?!”
The sudden shouting of the old man caused Kudo to shrink back in fear. Just by being here, he is already being punished, and what’s worse, his mother was getting punished as well.
But then Hikari put her hand on his shoulder, catching him as he looked up in response. Somehow, he felt safe being in her arms as Hikari formed a frown.
“This boy has already signed the documents needed to live here,” Hikari turned to face Shokan, who has passed the set of papers she was holding to Hikari. Hikari then lifted the papers for the old men to see.
“Even if he has signed the documents for a passport,” Horin rebutted. “If he doesn’t pay his clearance fees, then he’s standing illegally on Roprase soil. Of course, as the one who brought him here, you will also be punished along with the boy.”
Horin lowered his beady steel gaze at Hikari, an awkward smile was raised by her.
“Surely, you can turn a blind eye to this…”
“That, I’m afraid, I cannot do. Even if it is for you, Miss Valkyria, there are limits that should never be crossed, and you just did that.”
Horin stubbornly refused, not giving an inch for Hikari. She narrowed her eyes as Kudo felt that something was off.
(It’s like… he wants this…)
Kudo could notice that Horin obviously does not get along with Hikari, and of course, if Hikari does something that’s against the law, then he will quickly act on it. Kudo couldn’t tell whether this man was just upholding the law, or was just cornering Hikari.
“If he can’t pay a total of 500,000 Jib for all of the clearance fees, then I will have no choice but to take the both of you to justice.”
Horin placed his arms behind him, shooting a severe gaze on her. The other two beside him, however, made a small sneer of which they failed to hide in front of Kudo.
“Master,” Kasara closed in on Hikari to whisper. “Even if you can pay for him, they won’t allow anyone else to pay his clearance fees.”
“I know…” Hikari made a bitter expression at the reality.
“Then, what do we do?”
Hikari pursed her lips as she puts her mind into working overdrive to turn this situation around. Kagero narrowed his eyes at the cowardly tactic from the councilmen.
But as Hikari was figuring out on what to do, she received a tug on her shirt, getting her to look back at Kudo.
“Hey, that 500,000 jib fee…” He looked up with a curious gaze. “Is that all I have to pay?”
Hikari, Kasara, and Kagero looked back in surprise.
The councilmen also put on a surprised expression from hearing that.
“Y-Yeah…” Hikari answered dumbfoundedly, getting Kudo to nod once before he turned away.
He opened up the Magic Bag on his hip, and entered his hand into its dimensional space. After a moment passed, Kudo pulled out a brown pouch, jingling as it was brought up. He took a quick look inside to count its contents.
Rare 10,000 jib coins that were colored differently than other coins, a golden coin that seemed to reflect real treasure. Inside, there were 50 of those coins which the Magic Bag made it easy to take out.
He handed the pouch to Hikari, widening her eyes as she took a peek inside alongside Kasara and Kagero, making their mouths gape.
“I-I hope this is okay…” Kudo worried. “Does Jib from Peranim still count as money here?”
Seeing the money herself, Hikari made a huge grin on her face, wrinkling her brows into a furrowed expression.
“Of course it does! Looks like he can stay after all!”
Hikari spoke proudly as she throws the pouch to Horin, getting him to be hit on his chest which took out his breath for a moment, his arms fumbling around before he managed to catch it. After giving a scowl at Hikari, he looked inside the pouch along with the two men, and all three dropped their jaws. Kudo exhaled a sigh of relief knowing that it counted.
“Now,” Hikari said in a condenscending tone. “If there are no more issues, then I would like to be on my way home.”
Hikari motioned her party behind her, getting them all to move ahead while Kagero placed his hands on Kudo’s shoulders as he pushed him, giving a ‘nice job’ while putting on a satisfied smile.
On the way, Kudo took a glance at Horin who showed a throbbing vein on his forehead as his teeth grinded together. Kudo instantly looked away, his body shivering from the angered aura emanating from him.
As they move ahead, finally seeing a building at the end of the asphalt ground. They took a turn towards an opening where wired gates surrounded the entire space.
“What is that place?”
“It’s called an airport.” Kagero pointed at the big building. “It’s a facility that lets citizens use Avians to travel to different countries.”
Kagero answered Kudo’s question on the stone building that they just passed as they head out.
Once they got out, Kudo saw another street that was the same asphalt ground like before, however, it was a rarrow street, something which it looked like only vehicles go through.
But when he saw above the street, he widened his expression into shock.
Giant towers of steel dotted with glass windows covered the entire scenery. Flashing lights from signs, posts, and the vehicles driving by made Kudo’s head dizzy from the sight alone. Dozens of people walked by, each wearing their clothing that seemed so flashy, it was as if they were nobles. Countless noises mashing together into an orchestra of random beeps and skids of the vehicles, along with loud conversations from the citizens walking past him.
He couldn’t compare this to the simple towns he visited in Peranim at all. Not even Olinia can boast such sights, known in his country as the most lavish and populated city in the entire country.
“T-This is… Roprase?”
“That’s the country, Kudo,” Kasara answered. “This is the capital city, Triun. This is where our base is.”
His mind was in complete disarray at all the information given to him, along with this incredible sight. After a momentary dizziness which the three adults enjoyed seeing, Kudo got a hold of himself and asked:
“W-Where are we going?”
Kudo looked up to Hikari, while also glimpsing at Kagero and Kasara who formed a smile to one another as Hikari answered:
“We’re going to our estate, Kudo.”
“Estate…” Kudo left those words out in a daze.
He couldn’t believe that Hikari owned an entire estate, but Kudo’s thoughts were put on hold after Kudo’s ear caught wind of another engine running towards them.
He looked to the side to see a vehicle unlike anything he has ever seen.
First of all, it was a vehicle driving on the asphalt road without any horses driving it.
Second, it was long. Really, really long.
It was sleek black with tinted windows that makes it impossible to see who was driving it. The long vehicle was slowly making its way here, allowing Kasara to take the chance to speak to Kudo.
“Kudo, that’s an Ame, in other words, an Automobile Mana-Engine. Like the Avian, the Ame drives with an engine that runs on mana crystals. The Ame’s doesn’t exhaust mana as much as Avians do, so they don’t need the ley lines in the air. They’re fundamentally better than the carriages you ride in Peranim.”
Kasara put on a teasing smile as she sees Kudo’s gaping expression from hearing that, realizing what an Ame is. The long Ame, with wheels made entirely out of the thickest rubber, slows its speed before coming to a complete stop in front of the group.
The door opens from the right side, revealing again another maid that had similar clothing to Shokan. This time, though, she was smaller in comparison, with brown twin braided tails on the sides of her head, a few bangs over her tanned forehead and yellow eyes. She bowed towards the group. The small maid’s uniform looked exactly the same, however, her headdress’ color was black and white, with yellow corners on each side.
“My apologies for running late,” The small maid greeted with a formal apology.
“No need for that, Chui,” Shokan said as she gestured Chui to Kudo. “This is Chui, our second-in-command. Don’t let her size fool you—she’s more than capable to serve as a Valkyria maid.”
He felt his throat clogging up before making a formal greeting. Chui closed in towards Kudo, and gave a heavy stare to his hair, and then into his eyes.
“H-Hey, could this be… he looks so…”
“Yes, Chui. Like I told you over the phone, this is Kudo.”
Chui continued to stare right into Kudo’s eyes, getting Kudo to feel her breath close to him while seeing her yellow eyes up close.
(A-Are they gonna do this every time?)
Kudo thought nervously as her stare practically pierced into his soul.
Chui uttered out a gasp before closing her mouth with her delicate-looking hands.
“I-Is this truly, truly Master’s…?”
Chui’s eyes were starting to well up tears as she looked back at Shokan, who gave a smile and a nod.
The graceful looking second-in-command shrieked loudly, beating the rest of the noise around the city as she jumped up and down in joy.
Kudo couldn’t show a better-composed face as it twitched from this sudden outburst.
However, it was only temporary as Chui suddenly quieten and clears her throat with a delightful-sounding grunt before speaking:
“Forgive my rudeness. Now, let us go to our estate.”
Finally, her graceful and professional side has return, but Kudo could hardly believe it anymore after seeing that outburst of energy.
Hikari smirked as Chui who looked away, trying to hide her embarrassment by putting on a stoic face as she opened up the doors into the Ame. Compared to the door she went through, the door for the passenger’s seat opened up upwards from the bottom. Everyone got into it quickly except for Kudo who stood and hesitated about entering.
He wondered if this car would shake vigorously like in the Avian, causing him to be still on his feet.
“Come on, Kudo!”
Without asking, Hikari outstretched her hand from inside the Ame, and pulled Kudo into the Ame with ease causing him to shriek in terror.
As he was pulled without remorse into the Ame, it was as if Kudo was back right into the Avian from the design of the inside.
The inside was once again quite spacious, enough to walk around with ease. Seats that lined up the walls of the inside with large windows that allow him to see into the city easily. Kudo imagines that there are secret compartments inside the Ame like there were in the Avian.
But then, he realized something was amiss. The reason was that Kudo was once again sitting on top of Hikari’s lap again, getting him to redden almost immediately and tried to get off, but Hikari held him down before affectionately hugging him again, receiving Kasara and Kagero’s sympathy as Kagero laughed at his misfortune.
The Ame soon turned on its engines, the roar resounded inside the Ame which made Kudo brace himself by holding onto his pant legs for comfort. Suddenly, he was suddenly pushed back from the force of the Ame which have started to drive towards to their location.
Throughout the ride, he imagined that it would shake uncontrollably like in a carriage from Peranim, but nothing like that actually happened. It was a smooth ride, despite that while looking out the window, he saw the buildings passing by in record speed.
Finally letting Kudo off, Hikari watched with glee as Kudo was completely taken in by the atmosphere and the design of the city, looking out the window in excitement while his breath was taken away from him.
Each building, now upon closer look, was as tall as a mountain to him. He saw several places that seemed so strange yet many people visited it. He looked around, and saw a rectangle-shaped screen at the top of a building, showing a well-dressed man talking behind a glossy wooden counter with several words appearing from a small black screen on that counter.
“H-How is that person so big?!”
Kudo believed that the person behind the screen was his actual size, seeing that it was on top of a big building. Kasara moved to the side where Kudo was to answer his curious question.
“Ah, that’s a television. Basically, they show moving pictures called a video that lets people see what other people are doing in another place.”
“T-That’s amazing!” Kudo was beyond astonished. “So you can see another person through that screen?!”
“That’s right, Kudo.”
Kasara couldn’t help but smile warmly from his innocent reaction.
Kudo resumed on looking out, finally noticing the people that seemed to be diverse in races. Several races were together, laughing and talking with each other enjoying their time. He spotted adventurers, by their obvious armor and weapons on hand. However, they wore armor that seemed unlike anything he has seen before in Peranim.
Hikari called him out, getting him to see her curious gaze on him.
“W-What is it?”
“I just wanted to know… what level are you?”
Hikari closed in, her eyes began to gleam as her curiosity was devouring her whole. Kudo also saw the others, Kagero and Kasara, taking an interest to hear what he has to say.
“Umm… I’m level 106. I’m a [B-Rank] adventurer.”
Kasara and Kagero were left awe-struck.
“T-That’s quite high.”
“That explains why you got so much money on you…”
Kasara and Kagero made their comment respectively. Kudo felt a bit praised by their words.
“Really? Isn’t it standard to have a Class Up by now?”
Hikari asked which got Kudo to quickly turn his head in surprise.
“I-It was really difficult!”
He had to say, otherwise he would feel as if he didn’t accomplish anything.
“Ah, right! Of course it was. Being in Peranim, you don’t have the luxuries like we do. I’m sorry for being rude.”
Hikari rubbed Kudo’s head as she corrects her misunderstanding, but it only made Kudo grumble.
“Then, can you tell me what your class is?”
Hikari asked another question which left Kudo to shrink back. Now she’s asking this question?
“Y-You want to know?” Kudo asked to make sure.
“Of course! Which class you got?”
“I’m curious as well,” Kasara said.
“C’mon, show us!” Kagero encouraged.
The three of them once again showed their interest, along with Hikari’s gleaming jade eyes, Kagero and Kasara also showed a peaked interst on their expressions, but it only made Kudo grumble again as he sighed in response.
“T-The truth is… here, I’ll show you.”
He didn’t know how to explain it without sounding ridiculous, so he shouted ‘Status Menu’ which opened up the light screen of his status, and moved it towards Hikari, getting her to read it.
Kagero and Kasara also moved in to read as well, and the response:
They all gaped in shock.
“W-What does this mean?”
“Is that even possible…?”
“This status is so outdated…”
Kagero and Kasara were astounded at the lack of information in the status. However, Hikari showed a rather unamused reaction, as if she was spotting something quite disdainful.
“O-Outdated…?” Kudo tilted his head at his mother’s response.
“Kudo, you went on your adventurer without knowing what your class is?” Kasara asked, getting Kudo to nod his head.
“It was mostly guessing… but I found out that my main stat is Luck, and so far, I’m a support-type class. Though, I kinda wish I knew more about it…”
Kudo said with a hint of regret in his words.
If he had learned more about himself, would he have been able to reverse the situation in Vipory?
But no matter how much thought he put in, what’s done is done. It was time for him to move on.
“Kudo… this class…”
Hikari changed her reaction to that of surprise as she was about to say something, but suddenly, Kudo’s attention was taken away as he glimpsed from the window the large, ornated gates that surrounded a large space which, at the center, had a golden plate with a mark that showed a female warrior adorned in armor, sitting on top of a Pegasus whose wings fluttered about.
“T-This place is…”
Seeing Kudo becoming interested, Hikari smiled as she said:
Suddenly, the gates opened up on their own, metal were grating against each other, yet the sound was nearly quiet as they were oiled well. Once it fully opened, the Ame headed inside before the gates finally closed again on their own.
Kudo was taken aback by suddenly entering into what seems like a forest within a city. However, compared to the pleasant greenery of the forest, they passed through the avenue of decorative trees that harbored small petals as pink as a blush that scattered from the breeze of a wind, burning the beautiful image in Kudo’s mind along the vast garden of an array of beautiful flowers that stretched on what feels like was endless.
“W-What kind of place is this…”
“Oh, Kudo,” Hikari teased. “Don’t be impressed just by the terrace.”
“T-This entire place is the terrace?!”
Kudo couldn’t believe that a simple terrace would include multiple statues different types of adventurers that decorated the area, a pond that seemed to stretch for several meters, and the luscious grass that swayed by the wind’s gentle caress.
However, when the Ame was slowing down on the large round street, Kudo saw what practically beats all the other views he just saw in a flash.
It was a giant white-colored mansion that seemed to be close to that of a small castle. Square shaped buildings that seemed to connect to each other makes up the entire mansion with the same plate above the entrance as the one from the gates before.
Kudo became dumbstruck just from the size of it, but everything else left him completely silent.
“Look, Kudo. This is your new home.”
Hikari said, getting Kudo to gape as he felt his spirit flowing out of his mouth in shock.