Hour Empty Child
It has been several weeks since Kudo moved into Triun. At the beginning, he was against everything that has been happening to him, but now that time has passed by, he was finally starting to get used to his circumstances. During his weeks here, Kudo noticed how small-minded he was about the world, and learned to expand his view with not only the help of his newfound friends, but from his mother who has graciously offered her wisdom whenever she can.
However, in the end, no matter how much she offered to help, Kudo has not been able to officially see her as his ‘mother’.
It was… strange. He knew that they were blood-related—that much is for certain. The fact that Kudo was able to be blessed by none other than Ritheru himself is proof of his lineage. However, with the way she was trying to force herself into Kudo’s life, trying to get him used to the idea that she was his parent, Kudo felt his chest tightening, as if crying out that it was not natural.
Hidden within his dimly-lit room, he was getting used to his new surroundings. It no longer felt alien to him as his body was getting used to the cold night air that rolled in through the opening of the window. His covers over his chest provided all the warmth he needed that kept him sleeping soundly at night. Compared to when he was living in Arkhem, the difference between the two were worlds apart.
However, his thoughts were all focused on the party members who have worked with him for a while now. His eyes were open, a glassy stare that kept glancing at the ceiling above him as he recollects the information that was recently given to him.
Name: Kuki Windrow
Class: Wind Soldier
Tile: Caller of Gales: (Increases Wind-based Skills’ damage by 15%)
HP: 4630, MP: 4030, SP: 3830
Attack: 2033, Defense: 568, Sharpness: 40%
Magic Attack: 1035, Magic Defense: 367, Speed: 743
STR: 58 INT: 38
VIT: 43 WIS: 31
DEX: 593 LUK: 8
Available Points: 0
Name: Raika Eledad
Class: Jolt Artisan
Title: Striker of Thunder: (Increases Lightning-based Skills’ damage by 15%)
HP: 4510, MP: 4610, SP: 3230
Attack: 1802, Defense: 568, Sharpness: 40%
Magic Attack: 1371, Magic Defense: 367, Speed: 751
STR: 50 INT: 43
VIT: 32 WIS: 34
DEX: 603 LUK: 10
Available Points: 0
A smile rose from his lips from the radical changes in their progress.
First off, Kuki and Raika would outright refuse to dissect a monster, but after explaining the importance of drop items, they learned to swallow their bile and how to properly dismantle.
His next issue after that was selling those drop items. Just like he thought, after some research, it would be difficult to sell items unless you have a merchant license. In order to gain one, one needs the gain a permit by studying on economics in the most well-known schools in order to become a legitimate merchant.
As he was being dismantled himself by these gnawing issues, his mother listened to his worries and said ‘You can just leave it to me!’ while punching her voluptuous chest in pride.
Long story short, Hikari had the full control of the trading industry for items specifically for adventurers. It was one of her many exploits in this country which has given her this high status of prestige.
In fact, she said in her own words:
“My income continues to increase thanks to the hard work of my girls, and now I literally cannot spend more than what I gain!”
In other words, no matter how much money she spent, thanks to her hired merchants, who were her very own maids gone international and properly received their merchant licenses, her income will instantly cover up the costs in a matter of seconds. Kudo became frightened knowing just how much money she was receiving. It also explained why she would spend so much on making her mansion so gaudy—because she has no idea what to spend on anything else.
Thanks to that, Kudo has decided to make a contract with his mother which involves him trading his drop items to Hikari who will handle selling them through her merchants. Then, the money will be transacted to Kudo’s guild bank which he can use his Magic Bag’s card to use it. He would obviously divide the cash to his party members who have also worked hard by swiping his card onto their embedded gems on their own bags, delivering the money to their own cards.
Now that his issue with money is well covered, the StormPlus continued to work hard on their adventures, always heading to the Adventurer’s Hub to do their quests and raise their rank. Thanks to the rewards of the quests, the dropped items, and the steady progress of raising their levels, the StormPlus has reached a new level of strength that exceeds those of the usual adventurers hunting on the outskirts of the city.
As he prided himself on these hard-earned feats, his eyes felt a burn which made him squint them, only to realize that the sunlight shined on his eyes through the window. The bright sunlight, similar to how he would usually wake up from in Peranim, made him somewhat melancholic. As he was wide awake anyways from being so pensive, he got up from his bed to start his day.
A maid came in as usual to greet him. He got out of his room and as usual, he would go to the breakfast room with a maid to eat his fill. Throughout the weeks, he has been steadily eating more than his usual fill, even increasing the amount by the day. As such, Kudo’s weight has substantially increased.
Though, he didn’t gain fat. Instead, his body expanded into pure muscle. Though at first glance, they don’t show through his clothes, but when shed, it was like a complete transformation skill has taken effect. Hikari commented that he was becoming more like a warrior every day thanks to the harsh training regime he put himself through.
As he was on his way, someone came out of the corner, a sliver of crimson hair waved as she passed in front which made Kudo wide-eyed.
“Oh my,” Kasara showed a pleasantly surprised look. “You’re up.”
She curled her lips into a smile which beat the sleep right out of Kudo’s eyes.
“Are you heading to eat in the breakfast room?” Kasara asked which made Kudo nod.
“Yeah. What are you doing here early? You usually come by an hour later.”
He knew this since the two have always shared a one-hour class which is usually after breakfast. Before she responded, Kasara scratched her cheek.
“I had a certain business to talk to your mother. I’m done with that now.”
Kasara looked like she was awkward about it. Something about her tone and body movement made it look like she just heard some unsettling news, but Kudo figured that he should leave it be.
“So,” Kudo wanted to change the topic to assure of her privacy. “Are we going to have a lesson again today?”
“Oh,” Kasara curled her lips, her eyelids half-closed which shows off her playful side. “I see that you’re looking forward to my lessons. Is it that fun learning from your big sister~?”
She gave a wink, getting Kudo to react with heated cheeks. “I-It’s just fun learning new stuff from you. N-Not to mention, you explain it so easily…”
The way he tried to cover up his embarrassment did absolutely nothing. It was like he was caught red-handed—well, red-faced.
“Fufu, you’re so cute, I can understand why Master wants you to be back into the guild so much.”
Hearing the word ‘guild’, he knew that she was talking about Alpha Heart. Hearing that word again, Kudo felt his chest tightening into an awkward squeeze.
For a while now, Hikari wanted Kudo to come to the guild every time she had a chance, but Kudo would often reply that he will visit when he can. However, he’s now starting to wonder if he would actually come back at all.
Hearing a new voice, he saw someone coming out of the same corner, turning out to be Kagero who gave a lazy wave at Kudo.
“I see that you’re up bright and early,” Kagero made a silly grin. “Nice job~”
“Hehe, it’s not that much of an achievement…” Kudo brushed his hair, chuckling while giving a wry smile.
“So? I hear that Kasara is now soliciting Kudo back into the guild?”
While saying that, Kagero casually landed his hand on top of Kasara’s head, practically ignoring her heavy glare which Kagero responded with a smile.
“It’s not soliciting,” Kasara retorted with a frown. “I just wanted to show Kudo that the guild is not all that bad.”
“I know, I know,” Kagero repeated as a sweat trickled down his temple. “So don’t give me that scary look.”
Kagero immediately got his hand off her head, resulting in Kasara immediately turning her head sideways with a haughty puff of air.
“But, what she’s saying, Kudo, is right.”
Kagero turned his attention to Kudo now as he realized that the two of them shared the same feeling.
Kudo knew that he was contradicting his goals from the start. He told himself that he will become friendlier by all means, and should discard his introverted ways when he began his career as an adventurer.
But the idea of going back to the guild after that horrid experience… No. He was using the excuse that he had a bad experience with the catman so that he wouldn’t go back there at all.
But as he realized this, he felt someone’s hands cupping his shoulders, getting him to look at Kagero face-to-face.
“Kudo, the reason why you’re hesitant on going back is because everyone in the guild is Master’s friends.”
Then, the true reason of Kudo not wanting to go was thrown at his face. It made him wide-eyed.
“They’re scary, but it’s not because of their appearance. They’re scary to you because they’re your mother’s guild members. Knowing that they’re your mother’s comrades made you awkward around them since they carry the same air as your mother. We know better than anyone that meeting more than one Hikari Valkyria is too much for an ordinary person’s mind.”
Kagero chuckled at his own joke as kept looking right in Kudo’s eyes, easing his nerves with a warm smile.
“My advice is this—just treat them like they were complete strangers, rather than them being Master’s friends. It’ll turn out that they’re just like-minded people cut out from the same cloth. Maybe then, you’ll be able to be friends with them.”
“J-Just treat them like strangers…”
Kudo’s head drooped, taking in those words to heart as Kasara gave a smirk at the two. In her mind, she believed that Kagero sees a little bit of himself in Kudo, and through a gut feeling, Kudo sees himself in Kagero as well.
“In any case, if you got any issues with any of them, just come to us. We’ll make things better, but you’ll need to work hard if you wanna be a good adventurer. The real skill of being a veteran is being social, after all.”
“…Hehe, you’re right.”
In that regard, Kudo agrees completely as he made a chuckle from that statement.
“Then, how about we get something to eat? Kasara, you’re coming with us, right?” Kagero turned to Kasara who asked while expecting what the answer will be.
“Of course, I will. I planned to do so from start. I’m so starving, I could eat the whole room~”
Kasara formed a beaming smile as she made a joke, but both Kagero and Kudo felt a chill running up their spines as they both knew first hand of what a Flamver stomach can handle. They actually believed for a second that Kasara could eat the entire room.
As time passed, their fear dissipated now that Kasara ate her 20 pound fill of food. Once they were done, Kudo went back to the classroom, the same room with the large whiteboard and the single wooden student chair where Kudo landed his rump onto it. For about an hour, Kudo learned from Kasara the fundamentals of business.
During their class, Kudo learned more about the Adventurer’s School that have been running in several countries in Lerabelum.
He learned that the Adventurer’s school is a sort of education facility for those immediately starting out as adventurers. They gain enough levels to have enough stat points for the monsters living in the outskirts of the cities. Almost every country in Lerabelum has their own school, and usually, they take about half a year to train new students to level 100 which is the standard level for a starting adventurer.
When he first heard about this, he was shocked to know that throughout half a year, he was doing the exact same thing as if being in school. However, he had to work in every single moment while there was a facility that helped the adventurers kill monsters easily. Kudo felt indignant about it, but there was nothing to feel bad about since the adventurers only focus on their levels, not grinding their stats.
“Well, their way is only the easy way out. They focus more about churning out adventurers with suitable levels rather than focusing on their personal stat growth. They miss out several chances of becoming even stronger than before, unlike what you are doing with your party members right now.”
Kasara flashed a smile as she looked proud of Kudo’s methods. Knowing that he’s got Kasara’s seal of approval, he knew that he’s doing something right.
As the class went on, Kudo noticed from his back that Kagero was watching the class go by, but he knew that he wasn’t watching him study. He was watching Kasara teaching.
If he remembers correctly, these two are always together, so he’s guessing that he’s admiring Kasara from far away as she teaches a student. Kudo would do the same if it was a certain someone else.
He wondered if the two were romantically together, and spotted a single ring on Kasara’s left ring finger.
“Umm…” Kudo uttered, his face growing red. “C-Can I ask a personal question?”
“Mmh? Go ahead,” Kasara gave her approval.
“Umm… you and Kagero… are married, right?”
His cheeks were becoming redder by the second, thinking if he was going too far with saying such a thing for some reason. It should have been fairly obvious, but he needed to make sure. But instead of getting called out on it, Kasara made a teasing look in her eyes.
“Oh, so you’re curious about that~” Kasara made a playful tone, her eyes displaying like a fox who found its playmate.
“That’s right,” Kagero answered in Kasara’s stead from behind, his back against the wall as he told his story. “Before that, we were long childhood friends.”
Kudo showed a surprised look, his eyes widened knowing that two long friends turned out to be married. Something sparked within Kasara’s mind, narrowing her slanted eyes as she made a sneer.
“I-I see…” Kudo made the connection. “Y-You’re both from Peranim, right? So, how did you guys ended up here?”
He was getting curious for the two people who came from the same country as him, or in this case, where he was raised in. He then imagined if these two were kidnapped just like how he was by his mother.
“Fufu, it certainly wasn’t because Master kidnapped us.”
Kasara giggled as she managed to read Kudo’s expression to tell what’s on his mind, resulting in him showing a redder expression.
“Well,” Kasara went on. “This happened several years ago. We were only teenagers at the time, and I received documents from my Lord Grandfather to enter Lerabelum.”
“It was quite troublesome,” Kagero said as he walked up to them. “Just like you, we were swamped by its laws. But the advantages beat our complaints.”
Kagero glanced at his side when he passed by Kudo’s desk, eyeing at his written sentences in his notebook. It caused a reaction from Kudo as he got self-conscious on his writing and tried to hide it with his arms. Kagero chuckled at such a childish notion, but Kudo wasn’t enjoying it at all.
“It was at that time,” Kagero continued. “That we met up with Master.”
Kasara’s brows wrinkled before she answered,” It was… a rather shocking event for the both of us.”
Kudo tilted his head, “How so?” He innocently asked.
She knew that he doesn’t know, and she wishes to keep it that way. She kept silent and looked away, trying to find the words to explain to Kudo. He got more curious as he kept staring at Kasara, causing an unexpected pressure to fall on her.
“Let’s say that Kasara tried to make an enemy out of Master,” Kagero grinned. “And it didn’t turn out well…”
It left Kudo wide-eyed and turned to Kasara for proof. The guilty look in her eyes as she tried to look away with a wry smile says it all.
“Kagero, you shouldn’t have said that,” Kasara frowned as she gave a dirty look to Kagero. “Kudo might have a bad impression on me.”
Kagero grinned, “If your sister is like you said, then he already knows all of your bad habits.” He placed his hand on Kudo’s shoulder and asked ‘isn’t that right?’ for confirmation.
It surprised Kudo, but if they were talking about Hinota, Kasara’s little sister, it made him make up a similar scenario.
“…It might be possible…”
He uttered, a glassy stare in his eyes looking above as he imagined an angry Hinota trying to fight it out against Hikari—a graceful bird versus an almighty dragon. It was an obvious outcome.
Kagero made a big chuckle which sparked a sigh to come out of Kasara.
“Either way.” Kasara couldn’t wait to change topics quickly enough. “Through some odds and ends, she found out that we had Special Classes, and invited us to the guild.”
“We gained some prestige as long time adventurers,” Kagero went on. “And got to a high position to be our Master’s vassals.”
“Wow, that’s amazing!” Kudo could not hold in his excitement, his eyes gleaming from hearing their high positions.
“Hehe, pretty impressive isn’t it?” Kagero beat his chest in pride, a puff of air escaped through his nose.
“Hah, I swear, boys can get so lost in power…”
Feeling disgruntled, she took another look at the two boys excitingly sharing their stories. Seeing them smiling, it left a subconscious smile on her stern face.