Hour Empty Child
Sitting on top of the chair, soft and plump to the touch, Hikari formed a smile within her massive room. Compared to Kudo’s room, it was more elegant in design as there were exotic plants that stood by in the corner of the glass windows, several paintings of iconic adventurers facing against monsters, and to complete her ambiance—a beautiful maid who stood by her with a radiant smile named Shokan.
The room was lit dimly by the magic stone lamp on the small table by her side, providing a relaxing visual to the eyes.
Hikari had her curvy legs crossed as she had her phone to her ear. Coming out of the phone was a similar voice that she heard a long time ago who she had contact with for many years.
“Yes, that’s right,” Hikari said with a flighty tone in her voice. “That’s why I want you to do what you can. Mmh, I see… then, I’ll get started with the paperwork.”
Hikari pressed her phone’s screen to end the call which made Shokan ask: “Master, have you finished talking to him?”
“Mmh, he’s pretty excited about it. It looks like it was part of his plan this entire time.”
“That’s great!” Shokan giggled at the mention of this individual’s grand plan, then responded with an excited voice. “I’m sure that he will be happy!”
Hearing her elated voice, Hikari formed a wide smile herself.
“I can’t wait to see the look on his face.”
Following that was Hikari and Shokan cackling to themselves, which at the distance and in the slightly dark atmosphere, the two resembled villains in an old novel, hatching a plan that will involve a certain son of hers.
The morning sunlight showered through the window glass, and it was at the worse possible timing as its sunlight hits exactly where Kudo’s eyes were. Burning from the pleasant morning sun, his bloodshot eyes popped open, aching from the lack of sleep.
It was the first time that Kudo had gone on night training, and no matter how many potions he drank, it was still too much for his body. After his first successful hunt, it didn’t come so easily for him later on. He was backstabbed, slashed, and overall beaten by the Shafoxes’ rapid attacks that it made repairing his damaged heavy armor that much more troublesome.
His body ached from the several bruises the monsters gave him when he tried to get up from the bed. It was then that the door was lightly knocked. The door opens, revealing another maid.
This time, it was a beast girl who had light-colored fluffy hair, a sheep girl.
“Good morning, Master Kudo. Breakfast is ready.”
Kudo groaned, “Alright…” which made the sheep girl bow her head and closed the door.
He was too tired to be nervous of his surroundings and of his circumstances, despite that it happened already as he made his way out of his room with great pains.
Once again, the maid that has awoken him stood beside the door waiting for her master with an elegant air around her body.
“Y-You don’t have to wait for me. I know where the breakfast hall is.”
He said as he didn’t want to bother the maids for something so trivial, but the sheep girl shook her head daintily.
“Forgive me,” The sheep girl firmly stated. “But it is my duty as a maid to always accompany you whenever we can. Even if you learned, I will always wait for you to finish first.”
Kudo could feel her endless loyalty pouring out of her proper tone, leaving him silent in awe. He took her words to heart as he followed her, regardless whether he could do it himself or not.
Once again, Kudo and the sheep girl returned to the breakfast hall where the maids were enjoying their meals and chatting in leisure to their colleagues. Just like before, Hikari was at the very center of it all, talking with her servants in the equal standing despite that Hikari was their master.
Kudo could sense the limitless charisma she emitted just by watching her, seeing her being friends with even her maids like it was completely normal. Seeing him, Hikari smiled at him like usual and waved to call him forward.
He made sure that he wouldn’t blab out his time away from the house last night. Though, as he thought about hiding it, his legs were too stiff to even walk as he made his way to her table, sitting in the wooden chair and sinking his head below his shoulders as he sat between several maids at once.
“I hope that you had a good morning, Kudo.”
“Y-Yeah, it was…”
Kudo barely lied as Hikari smiled without reserve. Then, she shot a glinting look that said that she will expect him to eat a lot this morning as well.
Once the other maids brought in their meals, with Kudo once again devouring his food for nourishment, Hikari started the conversation first:
“Kudo, do you plan on going to the guild again?”
A chill ran up his spine after recalling on running away from the angry cat man before, getting him to cringe whenever he remembers that.
“A-Actually, I think I’m just gonna hunt outside…”
Hikari noticed the slight pause for a moment, realizing what he’s going through.
“Kudo,” She spoke gently. “I know that it’s a bit scary, but the guild members are good people. I can count on them for having my back in the battlefield.”
Hikari said in hope that saying so will get Kudo unhinged.
“I-I’ll check in every once in a while… but not right now.”
However, it didn’t work. Hikari heaved a sigh through her nose, and smiled warmly at him.
Kudo hesitated on asking this, knowing that it could cause some permanent change. Hikari perked her ears up to listen.
“Umm… about your… last name. Do I… have to get rid of mine?”
He looked up with his eyes, his head kept facing downwards. Knowing that he had a last name before Braven, he wondered if he had to keep it. But in truth, he didn’t want it.
Such a name like Valkyria is too much for him. It’s a heavy name that garners respect all over the land, and known as the most powerful family. At his level and standing, it was too much for him to accept it. More importantly, Braven is the only thing left he has from them…
“Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to force yourself to take the Valkyria name. I don’t mind. Because… your last name, Braven—it’s from them, right?”
Saying that, Kudo knew that she was talking about his late parents. Kudo nodded slightly.
“Then, it’s fine. Because they raised you to be such a good boy, it’s only natural and righteous that you should keep something that belonged to them.”
Hearing her words, Kudo’s heart has lightened a little. At the least, he won’t forget his last name anytime soon.
Once Kudo has finished his meal—which was a full-time cuisine—he was about to head out until Hikari grabbed him by the shoulder, getting him to freeze up before slowly turning back to see his mother.
“Kudo, before you go out, you need to take an hour lesson.”
Kudo tilted his head after hearing that, finally hearing footsteps stepping in front of him. He turned to see the familiar fiery-red hair that swayed in the air before looking back at Kudo with her slanted purple eyes.
“Fufu, that’s a good way to call your teacher, Kudo.”
Kasara chuckled upon receiving that name. Kudo then remembered that one detail before coming here, and that was that Kasara was given a job to teach Kudo about the general side of Roprase.
He looked back at his mother who showed a bright grin on her face, leaving Kudo’s sweat to trickle down his temple.
Kasara led Kudo to a room within the mansion that seems to replicate a classroom—a big room with a black chalkboard and a single student seat. Kudo was astonished by the feel of the room, and stared in wonder at the student seat which he never saw before. He looked at each corner in awe which made Kasara told him to sit down on it, which he has done so.
Once he was done settling in, Kasara started her lesson. It was mostly the general rules of Triun, and more importantly, the laws within Roprase.
He learned many things which got him to be engrossed in his lesson. Paying close attention to his best friend’s older sister, he learned about how one would interact with the Knights if there were trouble, and the social structures of the city. The city is run by democracy rather than monarchy, where several people take charge rather than having one single governing body.
Though, politics wasn’t something he was fond of, but he would know now how things work around here thanks to that lesson.
“Do you understand a little about how Roprase works?”
Kasara asks once more, a smile that was pleasant to the eyes on her lips.
“Yeah,” Kudo nodded. “It’s really easy to understand when you explain it like that. It’s like being taught by Hinota herself.”
Kudo commented as he felt the most vague sense of déjà vu when he was taught by Hinota. Kasara’s slanted eyes widened a bit after hearing that.
“I see… so Hinota teaches you as well.”
“She does. I would have made a fool of myself dozens of times if it wasn’t for Hinota.”
“Fufu, I can’t help but feel the same sort of similarity of Kagero from you~”
“H-Heh, you think so?”
Kudo brushed the back of his head from Kasara’s comment, smiling in a teasing manner. It was a sight to see, especially since she was related to Hinota whom often steals his eyes away.
After Kasara finished her lesson, Kudo’s brain was frizzing from all the new information. The way he struggled to keep everything in check in his mind was a funny sight for Kasara to see.
Kasara then left Kudo after bidding goodbye to get started on her own business. After doing so, Kudo went to his mother and told her that he will shop for more potions before heading out to hunt. After getting permission, which he doesn’t even realize why he should, he left the mansion.
The walk from the Valkyria estate to the city was enough training for Kudo as his legs felt fatigued from the trek. Though despite that the day was as clear as it is blue, Kudo stepped into the realm of flashiness and eye-catching colors of the city.
Thanks to the lesson, he felt as if he knew now the custom workings in the city. The economic situations, the social structures that have no nobility, and the law enforcement are all clear in his head. Though he still felt a bit overwhelmed by the grand size of it, thanks to Kasara who was also a Peranian, she made it abundantly clear for him to understand which was a big help for him. It granted him a bit of reprieve whenever he would walk on the sidewalk as he made his way towards the marketplace.
Once he headed in, he felt that the atmosphere in the marketplace has somewhat lessened in its intensity, giving Kudo a piece of mind. It’s true what they say: ‘Knowledge is power’.
He headed to the pharmacy once more, and studied more about the different kinds of potions. He now knows that there were more than just [HP] potions which only generally heals the body. He learned about the different kinds of muscle-healing potions, as well as disinfecting-potions for several diseases so small that a Cleanser is not enough to get rid of. Seeing these many brands, Kudo felt that his wallet receive a heavy blow if he was to use his 5-potion each method of being safe, but his conscious mind told him that he needs to be in good condition in order to fight properly.
He remembered the special potion that healed his scar, fixing up the chronic damage that would have impeded his career, so he knew that how important these potions were. Making a worthy sacrifice, he bought several potions worth investing money into. He left the pharmacy building, feeling slightly reinvigorated knowing that he made a responsible purchase to ensure his safety.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the street…
“Kui… what are we gonna do now…?”
The tired girl begrudgingly asked her partner who was walking forward in strides. A scowling look on his face as he turned to retort.
“We’re going out and hunt again! We have no choice!”
“But… it’s just going to end up the same anyway…”
The girl admitted which made the boy grunt and ignore it. A sigh escaping her lips, she glanced at the side and, widening her eyes, spotted someone who caught her by surprise.
The same boy from yesterday… her eyes gleamed as if she spotted someone who, within her tired and nerve-wrecked mind, had a chorus singing behind him, light shining down from the heavens above.
She stopped in her tracks, the boy going farther than normal from her. Her heart racing, she bit her lip as she clenched her tiny fists. Within the small window of opportunity, she ran across the street with the help of the street signs to pass, leaving the boy by himself.
“Come on, Rai, let’s just… Rai?”
Finally noticing the missing crying voice, he looked back and spotted the girl running on the other side of the street. His eyes widening, he outstretched his hand.
Back to Kudo…
He was about to make his way towards another shop to see any more items he needed for his adventures, but then—
—“H-Hey! Wait up!”
A light voice shouted behind him. He turned back after hearing that voice and his eyes suddenly met two long and furry ears.
Strangely enough, the ears were shaped like zig-zags at the center, resembling that of a lightning bolt. He then looked down at the recipient of the ears, and became pleasantly surprised.
A young girl that had long blond hair with bangs covering her entire forehead. She had a pale-colored face, her lips slightly quivering as she looked up at him with her round green eyes. She wore brown light armor that covered her perky small chest, long fingerless leather gloves that reached up to her forearms, and a wooden bow affixed to her back. Wearing a frilly black shirt with black shorts that stuck to her hips and brown high-knee boots, She balled her hands into adorable little fists near her chest.
He was shocked to see such an adorable girl. Not only that she was a bunny beast girl, but her appearance herself made her seem like a small, frightened animal that Kudo had to fight the urge to pet.
“U-Umm… that is…”
The girl’s green pupils darted left and right, a sweat trickled down her pale skin. Kudo instantly knew what was happening.
She was nervous. She was so nervous and was trying to find the words needed to speak to him. He understood that better than anyone else. It’s like a connection between fellow introverts. That’s why, for her, he’s willing to wait for her to make her statement.
“U-Umm… w-what I’m…”
She seemed to have her tongue tied, trying to force herself to give an answer or otherwise believed that she would get screamed at. But Kudo waited. He knew that she was combating her own shyness and was rooting for her in his heart. However, considering the time taken, he believed that he should ‘push’ her along the path that she’s trying to get to.
“It’s okay. You can tell me.”
He spoke gently, his voice reaching to her long ears which made her squeal and jump in surprise. He figured that she is super jumpy, but then her eyes widened and was left in awe. Was what he said that shocking to her?
But from the looks of things, it looks like that helped clear some of her worries. She gave herself time to breathe out her troubles slowly, and was right about to ask:
The girl cut short by the loud volume of a young boy’s voice shouting behind her. Both Kudo and the girl, Raika, looked to see the boy who was the girl’s partner.
A boy with a scowling look on his slightly-tanned face, spiky green hair with bangs that frames his forehead. He wore brown light armor similar to Raika, with black, short fingerless gloves and boots that went along with his baggy pants. What took Kudo’s attention the most was that he had two holsters on each hip, carrying strange weapons with thick grips.
“Raika!” The boy shouted. “What are you doing talking to this guy? Come on, we gotta move!”
He went on and grabbed Raika’s arm and pulled her towards to wherever they were gonna go. Raika had a panicking look on her face as she kept looking at Kudo and at her friend pulling her away.
Seeing her trying to say something, but it was clearly ignored by the boy, she gritted her teeth as she suddenly jerked her arm away, surprising the boy as he almost fumbled from her action.
“Kuki! Just shut up!”
Raika completely interrupted him, shocking the boy called Kuki as she turned to face the surprised Kudo. She quickly ran up to him, putting on a determined expression.
With her long furry ears twitching from her nerves, despite that Raika was trying to show as a determined girl, Kudo couldn’t handle how adorable she looked.
Raika then bowed, her torso at a ninety-degree angle with her head facing the ground.
“P-Please train us!”
Both Kudo and Kuki gaped, getting Kuki to shout: “W-What?!”