Hour Empty Child
Clashes of weapons ensued. From one fight to another, serious blows were afflicted to one another, whether they meant to end a life or not. The ground couldn’t handle the force delivered by them as they were scratched up like tears on paper.
In one fight, Mizuri’s proficiency with her bo staff was exemplary as she spun it around her fingers and arms as if she was controlling it with her mind. Raika’s eyes couldn’t follow the way it moved as they were spinning around too fast, but she only notices it right when the metal end was about to crush her face.
Raika’s savviness of not getting killed under Kudo’s teachings guided her head to the left, the metal end barely grazed Raika’s cheek. It gave her the opportunity to pivot her foot outward, slicing the air with her dagger straight to Mizuri’s abdomen. But Mizuri eyed this and slightly shifted her bo staff to use its bottom part to intercept the dagger, causing them to grate against each other which birthed flashing sparks, a high-pitched squeal resounded.
Being a failure, Raika retracted her body backward just before the other end of her bo staff could meet up with her face with a downward strike, hitting against the ground which burrows deeply into it, and soon after, a disappointed hiss liberated from the user.
“You’re always weaseling out. Stop moving!” She cursed, expecting that Raika would take it like she wanted.
“L-Like I would stop and get hit by you, y-you musclehead!” Raika didn’t have another insult to use, so she repeated her last statement.
“Y-You just called me that again, you girly bitch!”
Somehow, it managed to work for Mizuri as her red face showed a throbbing vein on her partly-hidden forehead. It looked like that word alone was enough to rattle her mental state.
In her rage, Mizuri spun her bo staff with great acceleration, gyrating a small wind before finishing it off by pointing one end to Raika, the wind blowing right at her through the force alone. It made Raika’s skin tingle to see someone with that much power held within such a slim body.
Then, Raika noticed Mizuri’s smirk as she shouted: “——《Aqua Blast》!”
Her eyes widened after hearing her shouting her skill as at the end of her bo staff, the air in front of it began to solidify into liquid, forming together to form a torrent-like sphere, the sounds of rushing water filled her ears as it was ready to attack.
The torrent sphere Aqua Blast, like a cannon, shot out of her staff and flew straight for Raika.
It was then that the time around Raika slowed down. Her mind wasn’t capable of invoking thoughts at the speed of sound, but instead, it was her body that moved against time itself. Her instincts, that of a beast woman ready to hunt, sheathed her dagger with just one flowing movement with one hand and grabbed the bow holstered to her back with the next hand. That was one second. In the next, Raika pulled an arrow with her free hand from her quiver and nocked it which she then fluidly moved to pull the string right afterward.
Without a second thought, she imbued mana into her arrow as the Aqua Blast was nearing her.
Her voice echoed in the air before she released her arrow that has become imbued with powerful electricity, heading straight for the Aqua Blast.
It resulted in a steamy explosion between Raika and Mizuri, the shockwave that followed made them stumble backward.
Recovering from that, Mizuri looked on in surprise and gritted her teeth, barely seeing through the steam that within the radius of the explosion, the ground was scratched off.
(Damn, just how fast is she?!)
There was nobody who could fire off a skill in such a close proximity to her attack before, and nobody who could react so quickly. She looked ahead, her eyes becoming cloudy from the steam, but then widened her eyes when she hears light footsteps becoming louder.
She saw Raika charging through the steam, her bow already put away and her dagger in the open and aiming right for her abdomen.
A white line of silvery light flashed, and bits of red liquid flung out.
Raika felt the girl jumped back, knowing that she cut something, but it wasn’t solid. Out of the steam, Raika looked up to see Mizuri out of breath, possibly too shocked from the sudden near-death experience as she held her stomach with her hand, blocking the blood that stained her eloquent teal clothing.
“Y-You’re fast…” Mizuri spoke in nothing but praise for the bunny girl’s skill.
But Raika did not answer to that. Like a cold-blooded beast, she spun her dagger to hold it in a reverse grip, intensifying her glare at her enemy.
Mizuri now knew that she wasn’t facing some dainty girl that couldn’t hold her own in a battle, but in fact a borderline hunter ready to kill at any moment.
(This bitch… is scary,) Mizuri thought, but she wasn’t conquered by fear, but instead, her eyes grew wide and formed into a frenzied look.
She gyrated her bo staff and moved it behind her back, pointing one end to the killer bunny girl.
Raika didn’t mean to pierce her stomach directly. However, after being subject to such harsh training under Kudo, her killer instinct grew too far for her to control. In fact, she was glad that she missed, but it also frustrated her that it didn’t end the match.
(This isn’t what Kudo taught us for…)
■ ■ ■
It was misty in the morning, the sounds of struggle could be heard in the forest near the city of Triun.
A bunny girl fell on her back, fortunately hitting the soft grass below her. Her body felt pangs of pain, mostly on her arms and torso as she struggled to lift herself up. Then, she noticed something in front of her: A hand.
She looked up, and saw the ever gleaming and gentle smile of her leader, Kudo.
“Can you get up?” He asked, his voice showing concern. Raika nodded as she took his hand which lifted her up.
“You’re doing great, Raika. But you need to let off on holding yourself back.”
As Kudo gave his lecture, Kuki watched from the distance while sitting down on the grass for recovery. His body bent on edge just from their fight.
“Hah, Kudo, I can’t beat you… what’s the point of this training?”
Her exhaustion reaching her peak, Raika asked as she bends her knees, clutching them as she breathed heavily.
“…The reason we’re doing this sparring training is that, sometimes, we can’t help that we have to fight other adventurers.”
Kudo showed a glassy look in his eyes, and looked away from her as a memory flashed within his mind.
Raika noticed this, becoming fumbled at Kudo’s heavy tone.
“You’ve gotten better at handling monsters, but you need experience when it comes to fighting with people. Because you never know when someone will attack you for no good reason. You have to respond in kind.”
Kudo’s eyes returned to Raika, his words not only for her, but to Kuki as well as his brows wrinkled, displaying a look of ferocity, but at the same time, gentleness from his jade-colored eyes.
“Raika, even if you injure an adventurer, they have potions to survive. As long as you don’t reduce their [HP] to zero, do not hold back. That goes for you too, Kuki.”
Kudo turned back to Kuki which made him flinch in response, but then gave a quick nod in silence.
“Now,” Kudo switched back to Raika. “Let’s keep going.”
■ ■ ■
“Kudo has… helped us so much,” Raika spoke to herself. “He knew that this would happen, so he trained us for this… he really is wise.”
Garnering more respect for her teacher more than ever, Raika assures herself to keep fighting for her survival.
Then, something unexpected happened.
Mizuri activated another skill, this time shoving her hand onto her wound. Raika steeled her position to ready herself for the incoming attack, but instead, it created something else.
Some form of steam gathered at below her hand and above her wound, and then like a cloud, it began to drizzle water onto it. The water then coiled together, shrouding the injury with a torrent of water similar to that of Aqua Blast.
Raika became confused at exactly what she was doing, but after another look with her excellent eyesight, she realized something spectacular is happening.
The wound that was barely visible, but shown completely with Raika’s eyes, gradually started to reduce. Raika knew instantly what skill it was.
“A healing skill…? You’re a healer?!”
“That’s right,” Mizuri answered Raika’s shock. “However, I don’t stay at the back and let others do my fighting! I have something called a Special Class, an [Aqua Strider]!”
As she proudly shouted her class, the wound that wasn’t as deep but looked quite serious has already closed up, now only leaving behind the blood that stained her clothes.
“Still, I didn’t think you would force me to use a healing skill so soon. You… definitely got what it takes.”
A wild smirk grew on her face,” That’s why I’m not gonna hold back!”
Alongside their fight, another dispute was happening beside them. While the girls were absorbed into their fight, one reluctant gunner faced a rather tough opponent. Sounds of guns shooting resounded, though the aftermath of a hammer breaking the ground apart from its strikes overtook the sound entirely.
Kuki had his both arms raised with his guns in hand, his fingers pulling the triggers on each of them as he shot for his life. He shot a volley of bullets similar to that of an incoming torrent of water right at his opponent.
But instead, the big hulking mass of muscle managed to deflect every bullet imaginable.
“W-What’s with this guy?!” Kuki growled, reloading his barrels as he watched Tsuchi plastering a silly smile on his face as he swung his hammer around.
The massive hammer with the mallet the size of his torso, he swung it over his head and placed it over his shoulders.
“You can’t touch me with bullets. Your shots are as small as your body,” Tsuchi gave a cocky grin.
“Leave my body out of this!”
Taking it personally, Kuki’s frustration was shown thanks to Tsuchi’s easy going personality.
“Dude, with my defense and [HP], no matter how many times you shoot me, you can’t get me down.”
Tsuchi wasn’t just stroking his ego—he’s telling the truth. Every bullet that was shot at him barely even grazed him. Though the bullet was heading straight for his body, as if it was going straight to a wall, the bullets grazed off of Tsuchi’s skin as if it was made of powerful steel, only scraping the skin off and blood trailed from the impact.
The other bullets that didn’t hit his skin were just deflected by the hammer itself. Despite its size, he was capable of stopping fast bullets thanks to his muscles used to carrying such big weight. What's worse, it appears that his wounds were closing slowly, as if he was regenerating his own body back to its normal state.
Seeing this fortress-like adventurer actually existing right in front of him, he noticed that it might have been a defense-enforcing skill. At this point, Kuki was at a bind.
Well, not really.
He raised his arms, cocking the guns right at Tsuchi’s body, ready to shoot at any time.
“You can keep going, but that ain’t going to—“
Tsuchi was about to go on another tangent of it being useless as he swung his hammer outward and was ready to deflect the incoming bullets, but then, when the hammer swung upwards which impeded his sight on Kuki for just a moment—
—the gunner disappeared from his sight.
Seeing his enemy disappearing like magic, his body’s awareness increased to spot him. It was then that an increasing shadow was being cast from above him, raising his head to see the very same gunner in mid-air, his legs stretched outwards and aiming his guns straight at him.
He pulled the trigger, shooting a bullet from the barrel which, upon being in contact with the atmosphere, became encased in a spiraling whirlwind of gales which aimed right at Tsuchi’s blind spot.
“Khh!” Tsuchi grunted, silently casting “——《Iron Skin》!” to bolster his body’s defense to take the blow. Tsuchi’s body began to shine like metal, enforcing his skin with a toughened exterior.
However, he didn’t realize that the Air Bullet denies such a skill.
The Air Bullet cut through his toughened skin, grazing his right forearm and abdomen which cut off the bit of armor and making deep cuts which made him wince back, swinging his hammer away which made him feel more of the pain coursing through.
“D-Damn, it penetrated Iron Skin?!”
Tsuchi cursed as Kuki lands on the ground, once again aiming right at Tsuchi. However, at this distance, Tsuchi smirked:
“——《Call Left Hand》!”
Kuki became on edge after hearing a skill name, however, nothing happened on his side. He lowered his guns and looked around, putting up his guard.
It was then that he heard something cracking underneath him. He shot his glance downwards to see the barren ground literally cracking open like an eggshell. Something burst out of the ground, a limb resembling a hand made entirely out of dirt and rock.
The hand clutched its fingers tightly and shoved a punch right at Kuki. With the distance too short, he resorted to blocking with his guns which proved to be no avail as he felt like an Ame crashed into him, launching him through the air.
He twirled as he flew, managing to capture his center of gravity as he lands upright, scraping the ground while barely able to hold on.
His arms felt broken—least that’s how he felt, but instead they were just throbbing with pain. Though, being hit by the very ground itself was a rather unique experience.
He looked ahead to see Tsuchi smirking wide despite that his torso was cut up by his bullets.
(I can’t handle this,) Kuki thought. (This guy’s too tough. This doesn’t look good. I should…)
As Kuki feared for the worst, the same thoughts were passing through Tsuchi’s head.
(This guy got a really annoying skill. It doesn’t look like Mizuri-chii’s listening. I think I better…)
Having similar thoughts, believing that they had the time while the other was distracted, the two pulled something out of their pockets. They were mana phones.
Kuki pressed the number on his hunter-green phone while Tsuchi did the same to his bronze-colored phone. After a while, the calls were picked up which made the two answer.
“Hey, we’re in big trouble! Get over here quickly!” Kuki shouted fervently.
“Yo! We’ve got some issues! Come over as soon as you can!” Tsuchi shouted intensively.
Having two different conversations but had the same meaning, they shut off their call and resumed their glare at each other.
“…Did you just call someone?”
Kuki finally noticed that Tsuchi’s phone was in his hand.
“No way, you did it too…?” Tsuchi was also flabbergasted at his exact response.
It was then that, besides them, the girls who were fighting each other to the death were closing in on them from their bout. Taking her shot, Mizuri managed to land some precise hits on Raika’s body, showing bruised injuries on her pale skin. However, it wasn’t as if Raika did nothing. While she was receiving hits, she delivered as many cuts as she can, grazing Mizuri’s body bit by bit.
As Mizuri thrusts her bo staff’s end right to Raika, she jumped back, the force of her jump enabling her to go as far as Kuki’s side landing right beside him. Mizuri ran up to Tsuchi’s side, breathing haggardly from the many injuries they instilled onto each other.
Mizuri and Raika looked to their sides, noticing the phone in the boys’ hands.
“Tsu!” Mizuri shortened Tsuchi’s name this time. “You better not have called her!”
Giving a glare that said ‘If you did, there’s going to be hell to pay!’ to him, making him flinch under her deadly sight.
“I-I got no choice!” Tsuchi defended himself. “They were getting tough to handle. Look at yourself—how many times did you heal yourself?”
Tsuchi noticed the many open wounds that let blood trailed from them. Mizuri tried to hide them, but then gave up as she knew that Tsuchi made a point.
“Grr… this girl attacked me so many times, my [MP] was running out. If I go for a potion, I would have gotten killed…”
“Ah, figures. These munchkins are crazy,” Tsuchi swallowed his saliva after seeing Mizuri conceding to him. He gave a tired grin as he put himself into a stance.
Meanwhile, on the other side…
“Kuki!” Raika snapped, seeing the phone in his hand. “Why did you call him?! I had her!”
“Rai,” Kuki snapped back. “I don’t know what happened to you, but stay focused! We can’t handle them on our own!”
Hearing his reasoning, Raika also conceded in defeat. As the winds blew past their battlefield, the two groups of followers shot a glare at each other, now commencing another fight.
“You guys are screwed!” Mizuri cupped her hands. “No matter who you’ll bring, he’s no match for our leader! She’s going to burn you all to smithereens!”
“Yeah, you guys got no chance!” Tsuchi hyped Mizuri’s claim. “You better just give up now!”
“Hah, you got nothing on us!” Kuki responded. “Our Boss ain’t like everyone else!”
“That’s right!” Raika followed. “He’s going to tie all of you up and b-b-blow you away!”
It was then that the two groups realized that it might take a while for their leaders to catch up to them, so they have all entered into a showdown of who’s the better leader…
Running at full speed, Kudo made haste straight to where Kuki and Raika was. Feeling the wind brush against his skin, his heart raced from fearing about what’s going to happen.
During the short conversation they had, Kudo considered what kind of special classes their opponents had, hoping that none of his members were too harmed.
“Kuki, Raika, please be alright!” He silently prayed as he put his legs into overtime and kept running at full speed.
He knew that this day would come eventually, but he never expected that it would be so soon, when Raika and Kuki were on the verge of realizing their potential. In his heart, he began to panic.
It’s as if that incident is going to start all over again…
“Ghh! I got no time to think negatively!”
Kudo used his hand to slap his cheek, pain coursing through it and at the same time knocking the negativity out of himself.
He weaved around the wooden structures and jumped over the railings that got in his way—he was working double time to make it to where his comrades were.
He then saw the corner of the house, the biggest wooden house on the south side where Kuki told him they were nearby, and turned the corner, finally seeing his comrades far ahead of him.
“Guys! I’m here!” Calling out to them, Kuki and Raika noticed his cry and responded:
“You’re here!” Kuki shouted.
“Kudo!” Raika showed a relieved expression.
Then, on the other side:
“You made it!” Tsuchi shouted.
“Sorry to bother you!” Mizuri, looking frustrated at herself, apologized.
Kuki and Raika heard them talking as they see someone else enter around at the same time. Kudo ran past them, opening up his inventory screen and bringing out his trusty bastard sword. He didn’t even look ahead as he knew that the adventurers in front of them were the enemy who was messing with his juniors.
Withholding no mercy, he swung his sword overhead of him and brought it down with force. It was met with an equally powerful strike of a weapon, colliding each other into a powerful clash, sparks flew out as soon as they did.
Kudo showed a determined expression, knowing that the opponent he’s facing was a powerful adventurer.
But then, he noticed the all too familiar tied hair flowing behind her, reminding Kudo of a fiery blaze that flowed ever gallantly in the air. Her slanted purple eyes were all too much for him to even continue colliding with her, and it was the same for her.
The two faced each other, both eyes widened.