Hour Empty Child
The mother and son waited at a block farther away from the other’s prying eyes. They waited for Hikari’s personal Ame, known as the Wayfarer, to arrive.
Of course, the Wayfarer arrived within a few minutes without delay. The driver, Chui, opened the doors for them to enter, and drove them to their estate.
“So…” To get rid of the awkward silence between them, Kudo was the first to ask. “What… are we gonna do?”
“First off, Kudo,” Putting up her index finger, she asked him instead. “Can you tell me about how you got your class?”
Kudo raised his brow, figuring that it should be fine and answered:
“Well, I went to the beginning town in Peranim called Klein. I registered in the adventurer’s guild there. They used this pedestal for me to be blessed by the Upperworld God, Isabel.”
Hikari nodded as she listened, understanding how he started.
“Then,” Hikari raised her head to face him. “That’s the reason why your class is garbled and full of question marks.”
She mentioned as she recalls the memory of seeing his status menu before.
“W-What do you mean?” He asked, his hands clutching onto his pants from his heart racing.
Hikari saw that notion and smirked.
“The reason is that you are blessed by the wrong god.”
Out of all the outlandish information she fed him during this time, this was the most shocking revelation. Hikari saw his disbelief expression and stifled her giggling, and reeled in her urge to hug him for his adorableness.
“Kudo, do you know that there is more than one god?”
Kudo shook his head, “No, I’ve never heard of other gods before…”
This sparked Hikari to chuckle, getting Kudo’s cheeks to redden.
“You’re so cute when you’re misinformed.” That comment made Kudo’s cheeks hotter than before.
“S-Shut up…” He meekly demanded, however, it proved pointless as Hikari laughed away and continued.
“There are about six gods total in the Upperworld,” Hikari explained. “Five of them, you could say, controls each region of the world.”
Kudo tilted his head in response.
“You said five… what about the sixth one?”
Hikari’s smile broadened as she answered:
“The sixth god is the god that rules all… and the god that blessed me with his class.”
Hikari said as she placed her chin on the butt of her hand, a smile crossing her lips.
Hikari kept quiet after revealing the true owner of her blessing. She completely left him in the dark, and he was sure that she was enjoying every minute until they reached their estate.
Though the news he received just a moment ago made him somewhat staggering, he still felt a worry stinging in his heart and asked:
“Mother… what about the members of the guild? Are they angry at me?”
He showed a contemplative look, like what he’s done wasn’t at all mature.
“Of course not,” Hikari reassures him. “They have no reason to. Ah, I also punished the bad kitty that was bullying you, so don’t worry about that.”
He knew that she meant well, but he couldn’t help but feel more embarrassed. It was as if the catman made a mother’s child cry, and the mother punished him for it. He felt even worse for the catman who was punished by this overbearing mother of his.
They entered through the wide and ornated doors of their mansion, and once again entered into the realm of the gods that lived in this overly decorated hallways. They continued walking, passing by the maids who greeted their return with a respectful bow.
They continued their way through the captivating corridors of the Valkyria mansion and headed to the east wing. After a few minutes, Hikari took Kudo to a door that seems to connect to someplace.
She opened the door and entered it, finding out that it was a storage room lighted by the mana stones emitting dim lighting. The room was filled with wooden shelves that contained large barrels. Along with the cold ventilation, Kudo could whiff up the faint smell of wine.
“My finely brewed alcohol,” Hikari answered with a bit of pride laced in her words.
“A-All these barrels are alcohol?!”
Seeing that the room had more than 20 long shelves that reached to each end of the room, Kudo could see the extent of her love for liquor.
Becoming swept over by the amount, Hikari led the bewildered Kudo inbetween the shelves’ spaces, finally heading towards another door that seemed more out of place.
A stone door with no knob or handle at the very back of the room. It was lighted by its own stone lamps on the left and right ridge. There was an engraving on the cream-colored door that showed the same mark of the valkyrie from the estate’s entrance.
Hikari placed her hand on the engraved mark, and then the mark began to glow a radiant emerald shine through the lines of the drawing. The door then made a *Crrk!* sound. It opened up sideways on its own without any external help. Kudo’s mouth felt dry after seeing that mechanism occure on its own while Hikari peeked at his surprised expression from the corner of her eye, forming a smirk as she led Kudo through the door.
Then, the door closed on its own the moment the two headed inside.
The two of them walked down the spiral staircase that kept getting wider with each step, enough for them to walk side by side with extra room to spare. Kudo kept looking around his surroundings, seeing the stone tile walls with the magic stone lamps shedding emerald light that brightened up their way down.
The air became still, getting difficult for his lungs to get accustomed to. He looked up at the walls which beared engravings for a while now, with the same delicate and detailed design as the valkyrie mark on the door behind them.
Warriors donned in armor fighting against colossal creatures, mythical monsters, such as the minotaur, cyclops, and even a dragon. Then came the humanized monsters, creatures with a human shape, such as vampires, succubuses, and witches.
He let out a breath of awe at the incredible engravings on the walls that showed a serious battle between adventurer and monster.
“This is our family’s history, Kudo.”
Kudo looked up in surprise. Their family history? The one dating back to their past generations? Kudo didn’t even imagine that he even had other family members before him.
“The Valkyria family were blessed by the almighty god who has created the other gods of the Upperworld, Isabel included.”
Kudo widened his eyes, his breath taken from him. A single god created other gods? Including the god he knew from when he was a child, Isabel? It was hard for him to swallow.
“Let me tell you more about him,” Hikari recalls the story in her mind. “Before this world was created, there was one only one being, named Ritheru. It is the god that has blessed us. Ritheru, out of loneliness, created the other gods to comfort him, but even that was not enough.”
They continued going downwards, and as he listened, he also peeked at the engravings on the walls. 5 celestial beings underneath a single large entity. Though it was hard to describe its appearance, Kudo could tell from the pure majesty of it that it was Ritheru himself, leaving him agape.
“Ritheru wanted to create more, so he created our world and called it Yarim. To keep it alive, he poured his blood into the world. Through that, Mana is born.”
Kudo nodded slowly, absorbing all the information and branding them into his mind. Hikari smirked at how much attention he was given by his glittering jade-colored eyes.
“He kept going, finally creating mankind’s races. First, in his image, he created the Human race. Then, the Fairy and Elf race to imitate the god’s longevity. Finally, they created the Beastmen race from their ferocity.”
As she explained, Kudo saw the engravings change again, this time showing the six gods above several people who bowed before them. There were four people, and they showed obvious signs that each one was a Human, an Elf, a Fairy, and a Beastman resembling a lion.
“…Mmh? Mom, what about the other races?”
Kudo now noticed that she has omitted the other races that were born alongside them, getting Hikari to smirk.
“As for the other races, it is said that they were created by the Demon gods, but we’ll get to that later.”
Hikari let out a wink at Kudo which left Kudo having more questions than an answer.
After walking for a while, about a few minutes at best, they finally reached the end of the stairs.
He looked up at his surroundings, and gazed with widened eyes. What was presented before him was a vast square-shaped hall lightened up from the phosphorescent emerald stone lamps embedded into them. The walls were engraved with the same markings as the ones from the stairway down, but it all converged to a single center where there was a large round altar with a reliquary in the middle. The reliquary held a metal bowl filled with gray dust, lighted by the same stone lamps on the altar itself.
What took most of his attention away was the one behind the altar. A statue as large as the hall itself with a similar design as the engraving of the large entity he saw before. The statue’s eyes stared down at the reliquary, the magic stone lamps on them acting as if it was actually looking down on it.
Kudo was left with awe, his eyes in pure wonder. Hikari made a smirk to herself as she opened up her Magic Bag’s inventory screen, and brought out two items.
Hikari moved forward to the altar and put the items in question into the reliquary’s bowl. A large oval-shaped sapphire crystal, and a necklace made out of green emeralds laced together with a metal string were submerged into the dust. Then, she took out another item: a small square-shaped flask which she opened the cap off it, and doused the gems with some kind of colorless liquid.
The gems quickly responded to the water by evaporating, steam could be seen wafting about in the air. The seemingly hot liquid melted the valuable gems, reducing it into a glittering puddle that showed the same radiance as the gems. Then—
—*Whoosh!*—The puddle combusted into a dazzling jade-colored flame. Kudo was taken aback, stepping backward in surprise after seeing the sudden flame burst into life. Hikari did the same, only her face was smirking like always. She looked back to check on Kudo to see his reaction.
“Kudo, the Valkyria received the class due to their vast courage and willingness to travel into the unknown farther than anyone else,” Hikari turned to him, the emerald fire becoming larger and furious, yet no heat was emitted behind her. “As such, whenever the Valkyria family member needed to be blessed with the class, this ritual we’re doing now is how we start.”
After explaining, Hikari moved behind Kudo. She pushed him forward with her hands on his back as she made a smile that said ‘nothing bad will happen’, but Kudo thought differently.
“W-What are we gonna do?!” Kudo sweated, his heart beating like a drum.
“Why, we’re going to talk to Ritheru,” Hikari answered as if it was an obvious answer.
The two of them stood before the reliquary, the fire slowly becoming stronger and harsher. Before long, the fire rose up like a column, its fiery blaze without heat became surrealy beautiful in Kudo’s eyes. The rising fire pillar crashed into the ceiling, beginning to spiral into the center. It flowed around the ceiling like a torrent, looking like it was creating a portal. As he looked above in shock, he felt his entire self-being sucked into the portal…
Everywhere around him was completely white. It hurt his eyes as he tried to focus through sheer willpower. After much struggle, his vision slowly restored itself, so when he looked above him, he thought his eyes were damaged.
A large being sat on a massive throne. A giant with six arms, two resting on the armrest, the other two folded together, and the last two, one was underneath his chin and the other was resting in the air.
The supreme being who sat with one leg crossed was pure white, green markings all around his body and long azure hair tied into several ponytails behind him, his front hair spiked upwards. A small strand swayed across his gentle, yet heavy gaze as he tilted his head. The gaze itself, seemingly endless in its vast emerald that kept changing its shade, looked down on him.
Kudo nearly lost his bearings. His knees shook, his will to stand was getting drained out of his body. He felt the very air becoming stagnant, causing his heart beat rapidly to keep up with his lack of air.
Kudo knew it just by sensing the mana alone. It was a divine being. There is no other being like it.
He stepped back, the air pressure bearing down on his body was becoming too much for him, but found himself getting caught by none other than Hikari, her gentle smile somehow soothing his panicking heart.
“It’s okay,” Hikari said, her voice gentle and soft. “Stay calm.”
Seeing that he was making a fool of himself, Kudo straightened up his posture and looked directly at the god, now able to withstand its gaze. Hikari shot a small smile before tilting her head up to face the divine being and finally spoke:
Kudo lost all will to stand and fell to the ground, his mouth left gaping.
(C-Can she say something like that to him?!)
Kudo managed to raise himself as soon as he could, but to think that Hikari had enough in her to talk like that to a god is just ridiculous.
The one sitting on his massive throne, Ritheru, looked indifferent about it, and responded:
“Tis’ you, Valkyria maiden.”
His voice reverberated deeply within Kudo’s core. It was as if he was hearing it through his ears and in his mind.
Ritheru then turned to Kudo, “This… is the Valkyria boy?”
Seeing Ritheru looking down on him made Kudo freeze up on the spot, his body stiffened like a pole. He would have sweated profusely if the air wasn’t so cold, yet it didn’t bother him at all.
“That’s right,” Hikari casually answered. “I finally found him. He’s my darling boy with a heart of gold. Just like me~”
“Look who’s talkin’.”
Seeing Hikari relate those words to herself made Ritheru roll his eyes, getting Hikari to snap back. Kudo was left out as he hears the conversation between his own mother and a bona fide god.
“You know,” Suddenly, Hikari’s tone lowered, her eyes narrowed. “If you have done your job, I would have found him much sooner. What kind of god doesn’t keep watch on his own world?”
Kudo shivered from the intense spitefulness laced in her words.
“There was no choice,” Ritheru responded in a cold tone. “For I reside in a plane higher than the gods who governs the world. My hand cannot reach into such remote places.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure, you damn uncompromising god.”
Her snide retort at the being left Kudo to fear for what comes of retaliation, however, it doesn’t seem to happen, making him believe that the two were closer—or perhaps similar—than he believed.
“Now then,” Suddenly, after pointing that out, her tone lightened up and a smile returned to her face. “Let’s let bygones be bygones. If you can bestow my boy with your blessing, then I’ll let your incompetence slide.”
Kudo’s jaw dropped to the ground after hearing such impudent choice of words.
However, Ritheru made a half smile, “You always have that short fuse on you. Understood…” Ritheru then shifted his heavy gaze onto Kudo, “Valkyria boy. Come forward.”
He motioned Kudo with his finger from the hand on the armrest, getting him to flinch from his nerves. Hikari put her hand on his shoulder, saying ‘Go for it’ which got Kudo to slowly nod.
He moved forward as Ritheru said, and looked up to the divine being. Suddenly, Ritheru’s lips curled upwards, and snapped his fingers with the hand in the air, and before long—
Kudo’s body flared. He couldn’t even compare it to the explosion to his stomach from the accident as he felt his entire being encased in fire.
“Ghh! Gaaah! Aaaaarrh!”
Kudo’s screams reverberated in the holy space, the intense burning from his insides channeling to the front of his right hand, igniting it into flames. Kudo gritted his teeth as he stifled his scream, his vision slowly blurry as the green flames continued to devour his whole hand.
Able to see just a bit, he saw his own Class mark changing form, and in the next moment, it looked similar to that of angel wings on the right side. However, the other half of his mark remained barely visible to read.
Finally, the fire ceased to be. Kudo’s body was released from the burning pain and flopped on the white floor, breathing haggardly from the near-death experience.
“Unfortunately,” Ritheru’s transcendent voice echoed. “I cannot uncover the rest of his Class. It remains beyond me.”
“How surprising,” Hikari answered with a glassy stare, her sarcastic tone reaching to the god.
Hikari shifted her sarcastic gaze to Kudo, changing it to a gentle look as she formed a warm smile and picked him up from the ground, seeing the class mark with her own eyes.
“Good job, Kudo,” Hikari caressed his shoulder. “For toughing it out.”
Kudo heard the words but he couldn’t answer. He kept staring at his new Class mark which finally showed itself after all this time. Before he knew it…
His consciousness returned to reality, into the same vast hall in the Valkyria mansion. He saw the altar in front of him, his body standing exactly where it was before he disappeared into the divine realm.
He looked back at his mother, his stare widened beyond belief. She smiled back at him as he looked back to his class mark again.
It was half-completed.