Chapter 89:

Vol. 6 Chapter 2- Old friends together again Part 4

Hour Empty Child

The ame drove in leisure towards the capital, which upon reaching the massive gates that provided them entry into the city, left the party who has joined them to be in awe at the sight.Bookmark here

Once again getting back into the colorful atmosphere of the city, as the two looked out the window, Kudo glanced at Hinota who looked out in wonder. Her slanted eyes widened and her petite mouth gaping at the sight.Bookmark here

Seeing this image for the first time in a while was like a fresh breeze in a hot draught for Kudo, an ecstatic smile on his face.Bookmark here

“T-This is incredible, Kudo!” Hinota looked back, showing the same excited smile. “So you were living in here?”Bookmark here

“Yep,” Kudo answered gleefully. “It gets kinda overwhelming at first, but this place has everything you need.”Bookmark here

“Eh…”Bookmark here

Looking back at the window, Hinota’s mind was already processing the kinds of items she would get being in this city. Then, a question arose from her mind.Bookmark here

“Where are we going?” Hinota looked back at him again.Bookmark here

“Mmh, we need to finish the quest, so we need to go back to the guild, but…”Bookmark here

“Ah, Master Kudo!” Through the small window on the wall that separated the driver’s seat from the passenger’s seats, Chui spoke up. “You can just leave the quest to me! I’ll bring back the reward for both of your parties!”Bookmark here

“I-Is that okay? I don’t want to bother you with such a thing…”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about it!” Chui let out a haughty puff of air out of her nose. “Let this be my compensation for making you all wait! Master Kudo, you should spend time to hang out with your new friends!”Bookmark here

Saying those words got Kudo to redden his cheeks. Somehow he felt so childish when she said it like that.Bookmark here

“A-Alright. Thank you, Chui.”Bookmark here

“Please, think nothing of it, Master Kudo!” Responding with a bright smile, Chui went back to focus on her driving.Bookmark here

“Well, at least we got that covered, so now we can head on to the estate.”Bookmark here

Getting back to his friends, Kudo smiled. However, Hinota caught something in her hearing a word that she never expected Kudo to say.Bookmark here

“Estate?”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Throughout the ride, Kudo left the topic in the air, despite that Hinota kept asking him about it for the next 2 minutes. Despite changing her question to his party members, Hinota could not get an answer from Raika nor Kuki as well.Bookmark here

Nearly losing her restraint, she was about to blow a gasket, only until finally—Bookmark here

“We’re here!”Bookmark here

Chui shouted through the window, leaving the three EarthFire members to look up ahead, and all three were left slack-jawed.Bookmark here

They saw the large pearly-white mansion from the distance and entered through the gates to drive through the large terrace that could be mistaken as a wondrous flower field up in the grassy hills. The beautiful cherry blossom trees which its petals scattered about in the gentle breeze created such an amazing sight that it left stunned expressions on the members’ faces. Those reactions were the reason why the StormPlus left the topic be.Bookmark here

“Pretty amazing, right?” Kudo asked, knowing that they were already amazed.Bookmark here

“S-So when you mean the estate, you really mean entire estate?” Hinota uttered out, her eyes were taken away by the majestic sight of the location.Bookmark here

“Yep,” Kudo chirped.Bookmark here

“S-So this mother of yours, Hikari Valkyria… she’s that incredible, huh?” Hinota was left in awe which got Kudo to figure something out from her tone.Bookmark here

“Did you hear about her?”Bookmark here

“I heard from Tsuchi and Mizuri. She seemed so unreal, I didn’t think she could actually exist. There’s so many outlandish things that she’s done that doesn’t seem like she’s human at all.”Bookmark here

“Yeah… I guess.”Bookmark here

Kudo answered in a dead-panned tone. ‘Is he alright?’ Hinota thought as she noticed his strange cringy look on his face for a short moment.Bookmark here

Once the Ame drove to the entrance of the mansion, Chui turned off the engines and got off the driver’s seat, going over to the passenger’s side to open their door.Bookmark here

“Welcome to the Valkyria estate! Please watch your step, and enjoy your stay!”Bookmark here

Chui chirped as she gave a quick bow to the passengers who got out of the Ame, the EarthFire with stiffened expressions while the StormPlus were already used to the scenery.Bookmark here

Kudo moved ahead of the group and, turning around, faced them with a gentle gaze.Bookmark here

“Let’s head inside.”Bookmark here

He smiled as he expected them to follow him as he went up to the loggia. Mizuri and Tsuchi approached the estate in tippy-toes to ensure that they don’t step into anything, especially the jewel-encrusted flooring used as the entrance.Bookmark here

“Come on, guys, it’s fine,” Hinota had to calm them down, otherwise they would reach the front door by nightfall.Bookmark here

Upon reaching the well-detailed, largely fancy doors, Kudo opened them up with a thrust of his hands, the doors seamlessly opened like a book, revealing a shining and luxurious surprise.Bookmark here

“ “ “Welcome back, my Masters.” ” ”Bookmark here

Women clad in black uniforms all spoke in unison, each lined up in rows as they greeted their visitors with an exemplary bow that spoke volumes of their grace.Bookmark here

Each of the different races was colorful and wondrous to their eyes. The fact that each maid, a beauty in their own right, is another matter of luxury.Bookmark here

The StormPlus were, at the least, used to this, but the Earthfire were left gaping. Mizuri and Tsuchi had their jaws hanging down to their necks, and Hinota was left in disbelief—in an entirely different manner.Bookmark here

Her body trembled as if she was going through a seizure. While she tried her best to keep it in, it was easy to spot that she was rattled to the bone.Bookmark here

“K-K-K-Kudo,” Hinota stuttered like a bird. “T-T-This is…”
Bookmark here

She lifted her finger, albeit still trembling to the group of beautiful maids who still bowed to them, apparently enjoying their reactions in their own, snickering way.Bookmark here

“These girls…” Kudo became tongue-tied. “They’re servants that follow my mother. She… has a knack for beautiful women in maid’s clothing.”Bookmark here

It could be obviously seen that Kudo wasn’t fond of saying that, as shown by him rubbing the back of his head awkwardly.Bookmark here

However, deep inside Hinota’s recesses of her powerful mind, a disaster struck within her core.Bookmark here

(So this whole time, Kudo has been staying in this place with all these kinds of girls?!)Bookmark here

She could not even process this type of information, despite that her Intelligence stat has reached a high number. She has never expected, even through dozens of different simulations, that Kudo would wind up living in the same place as all these beautiful women.Bookmark here

It disturbed her mentally. Something was beginning to break—a crack formed on the glass within her bountiful mind.Bookmark here

“Is Mother here?” Kudo looked back at the maids and asked. “I want to show her my friends.”Bookmark here

“Master Hikari is in her office inspecting some matters over from the council,” The High Elf maid responded. “Knowing her, she will finish in several minutes.”Bookmark here

“I see,” Kudo placed his hands on his hips. “No choice then. Guys, let’s kill some time by going to the living room.”Bookmark here

Kudo looked back at the group, getting each of them to nod as they followed Kudo to the said living room, though Hinota was the last of them to go as her mind was still fizzing out with the reality of the situation.Bookmark here

Getting to the living room, the vast space left some of them dizzy, but once they saw the larger-than-life TV screen in front of them, Mizuri and Tsuchi went ahead to watch it. Kuki and Raika followed suit while Kudo stayed behind with Hinota.Bookmark here

“T-This is an incredible house,” Hinota finally managed to say, her mind now working properly for now.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but the people here are more incredible. They’re amazing in their own way, Hinota!”Bookmark here

Kudo said it in such a way to praise their amazing capabilities as maids, which was cleaning the entire mansion spotless, or cooking up such delicious food that even Raika couldn't beat—though it would be a very close match—and of course being able to follow along Hikari’s insane demands.Bookmark here

However, in Hinota’s mind, she heard the complete opposite. Her heart became rattled as those innocent-sounding words actually seem somewhat immoral.Bookmark here

“I-I see… so… you didn’t… you know…”Bookmark here

Hinota’s words were let out of her mouth without properly thinking. Her face faintly blushed while her eyes darted left and right. Noticing this aberrant behavior, Kudo asked:Bookmark here

“Hinota, are you alright?”Bookmark here

He asked in the purest, innocent way which left Hinota to freeze up on the spot. In that instant, she asked herself:Bookmark here

(I-It’s not like I’m curious about his relationships here—of course not! I’m just very worried that they might have done something to him during his mourning! It is my job as his best friend to make sure that he wasn’t taken advantage of in his personal time.)Bookmark here

That thought of her only took a nanosecond, and in the next nanosecond, her mind has already composed herself so that she can ask this question.Bookmark here

“Kudo…” After recovering, her tone returned to normal, and her smile returned which caught Kudo’s attention. “Your mother… she didn’t do anything… bad to you, did she?”Bookmark here

“Ghh!”Bookmark here

Hearing an unexpected grunt, Hinota raised her right brow.Bookmark here

Now, she sees Kudo looking away, his eyes off into a distant space with a stiffened expression, the corner of his usual smile quivering. A sweat trickled down his pale skin.Bookmark here

“O-Of course not,” Kudo began to shake. “Nothing happened here. I was just—”Bookmark here

But he was cut right off. Hinota closed up right up to his face, facing him with her eyes. The look on her face placed a heavy pressure on his very being, like some demonic force was exuding off of her very presence.Bookmark here

A furious flame erupted from her purple eyes, showing an expression that she has never shown before to him.Bookmark here

“…Did something happened?” Hinota asked in such a way that perturbed Kudo through to his core.Bookmark here

“N-Nothing happened! …Per say.”Bookmark here

“Per say…?”Bookmark here

“Ah!”Bookmark here

Kudo cursed himself for adding something extra at the end of his sentence. Hinota’s glare became heavier by the second, and Kudo could feel as if the entire atmosphere around them turned dark and ominous.Bookmark here

“N-Nothing bad happened1 Really! You know the scar that I had? The one that wouldn’t heal from the potions?”Bookmark here

“…Mmh? Yeah…”Bookmark here

Hinota caught Kudo’s words and then her atmosphere around her turned mild as she listened to his plea.Bookmark here

“See, my mother helped me out by giving me medicine to heal it…”Bookmark here

“That’s right!”Bookmark here

Kudo’s heart nearly jumped out of his chest as a new voice chimed in. Hinota looked to the side to see the maid with a colorful red-and blue headdress adorned on her purple hair.Bookmark here

Shokan, the head maid, made her appearance.Bookmark here

“Who are you?” Seeing as how Hinota was right in the middle of her interrogation, or as she calls it, just a questioning, her tone was less than friendly when she was faced with another beautiful maid beside Kudo.Bookmark here

“It is a pleasure to finally see you, Master Hinota. My name is Shokan, Master Hikari's personal maid,” Shokan graced Hinota with a pleasant bow, not disturbed by her expression at all.
Bookmark here

Hinota’s face returned to its normal glare after seeing her introduction, “I see… and, what’s this about the medicine used to heal Kudo?”Bookmark here

“About that,” Shokan raised her head, her dainty hand on her cheek and a somewhat coy smile. “You see, our master is not the kind to see her precious son in such shape, and so, after observing his injury from the bath, we made sure that we administered it in his sleep. Of course, we made sure that he was pleasantly comforted as we have done so.”Bookmark here

The suspicious words alone left Kudo gaping. The way she said all that made it even shadier to begin with.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Hinota stood still, turning into a statue, a small smile frozen in shock on her face.Bookmark here

Another crack formed deep within her mind. This time, it grew wider in each second.Bookmark here

“B-Bath…?” Hinota managed to hear this one word out of the rest more clearly. Her body shook as something was coming out of her ears, similar to that of steam from an overheated brain processing.Bookmark here

“A-Ah, it’s nothing! So they did it without my permission, but it was with all good intentions!”
Bookmark here

Kudo tried to fan down the flames festering within Hinota’s aura as it grew fiercer by the second, but thanks to his phrasing, those flames burst forth in a massive explosion.Bookmark here

“What happened in the bath?! And what do you mean ‘without your permission’?! They drugged you?!”Bookmark here

“A-Ah, that’s…”Bookmark here

Kudo now felt like kicking himself for failing so hard on trying to keep things under wraps. He turned to Shokan, a shocked and despairing look on his face while Shokan merely placed her hand over her mouth and a light chuckle was let out.Bookmark here

(D-Did she do this on purpose?!) Kudo panicked and truly believed this from the look of her expression.Bookmark here

Hinota’s face was overridden with anger, her scowl becoming more ferocious by the second while Shokan just pleasantly walked away from the rising pillar of flames growing even stronger.Bookmark here

“Kudo, did they do something to you?!”Bookmark here

Hinota held onto Kudo’s shoulders with a tight grip, flaring her nose and gritting her teeth as she dug her fingers further into his skin for answers.Bookmark here

“Mmh? What’s going on?” Tsuchi managed to look away from the glorious TV and spotted a commotion going on behind them.Bookmark here

“Mmh? What did they do to him?” Mizuri looked behind from the couch, getting Raika and Kuki to follow suit.Bookmark here

“Kudo! Answer me!” Hinota once again insists on the answer.Bookmark here

“Ahh, it’s really nothing! I rather not talk about it anyways…” Kudo looked away, visibly sweating as he recalls the awful memories of when he first came here and took a bath, and the traumatizing events that followed afterward.Bookmark here

He wanted to avoid telling Hinota that at all costs.Bookmark here

“What do you mean ‘you rather not talk about it’?! Did they do something horrible to you?!”Bookmark here

Despite his best efforts to let it die down, Hinota’s fire became enraged with fury, nearly at her peak of the boiling point.Bookmark here

“Yo! We’re here~”Bookmark here

Suddenly, a cool voice reverberated through the giant living room. Realizing who it was, Kudo felt his skin crawl at the impending doom soon to come.Bookmark here

Coming into the living room were two people, a man and a woman. The man, sporting a black leather jacket and a carefree smile, Kagero waved as he came inside to the group in front. Meanwhile, alongside him was the one who captivated the EarthFire members and even still the StormPlus members.Bookmark here

Her long, blazing red hair that swayed along her steps, a regal scowl that accents her overall beauty. Her slanted eyes moved to them, a smile on her lips.Bookmark here

“Good to see everyone so energetic… mmh?” Right as Kasara said it, she spotted the two apparently having a fight. Kudo nearly froze up as he sees Kasara coming in from the back, and saw Hinota’s face later.Bookmark here

Her face stiffened up, her scowl no longer apparent, only a surprised expression. Hinota saw her nostalgic red hair and similar slanted eyes.Bookmark here

“…Dear Sister?” She looked back, her mouth shaking and her voice trembling.Bookmark here

“H-Hinota…?!” Kasara, known for her cool-headed personality, became surprised out of the blue. Left stunned, the two sisters met each other again, in such an unexpected meeting place.Bookmark here

“Dear sister… you’re here?” Hinota walked up further to Kasara, not realizing that Kasara actually took a step back in accordance.Bookmark here

“H-Hinota… How… but I thought I had time…” Kasara looked just as surprised, beginning to panic within her mind.Bookmark here

“Dear sister…. It’s really you…” Hinota was just about to well up tears in her eyes, but then she spotted Kagero at the corner of her eyes. “And… who’s this?”Bookmark here

Feeling the similar heavy gaze from her, Kagero felt like he was seeing a smaller version of Kasara. He’s used to being glared at, so he smiled warmly and introduced himself.Bookmark here

“Hey there, Hinota. Do you remember me?” Seeing that Kasara was too stunned to even speak, Kagero figured that he should begin speaking. “It’s been a long time, probably since you were a little kid. But I used to see you whenever I drop by the manor.”Bookmark here

“Huh… ah.”Bookmark here

His words sparked a memory within Hinota’s backlog over a few years ago. Thanks to her high Intelligence stat, she is able to recall those memories perfectly. She recalls, in her manor back in Erijo, a dirty looking boy would come by every so often, avoiding the watchful guard’s eyes to see both the sisters specifically, more so, to see Kasara.Bookmark here

She recalls seeing him and playing with him and then before long, he would disappear before the guards would come by. His slightly good-looking face and black hair made an impression on her young mind.Bookmark here

“You’re… Kagero, right?” Hinota slowly asked as Kagero nodded.Bookmark here

“That’s right!” Kagero felt somewhat elated upon hearing her remembrance. “I’m so glad that you remember me after so lo—”Bookmark here

Suddenly, a boot meets his face.Bookmark here

Everyone saw it as if it played in slow motion. His smiling face was slowly getting contorted in a distorted way. It happened so quickly, but everyone was able to see how Hinota raised her right leg and gyrated herself, raising her right leg high as if she was doing a split in the air before her boot swung right across Kagero’s face.Bookmark here

It caught him completely off guard and his head flew along with his body from the massive strength she held within her thin and toned legs.Bookmark here

“Kagero!!!” Kudo screamed in horror, while Kasara was left gaping as Kagero flew right into the fancy wall and made his own decoration on it by slamming his face into it. The wall cracked apart as Kagero fell to the ground after the wall absorbed the shock.Bookmark here

His face had a boot-marked red cheek that was smoking from the impact after the high-velocity kick, and Hinota’s right boot also let off a small trail of steam from it, her expression showing a deep scowl.Bookmark here

“Filthy,” Hinota’s tone was dark and spiteful, containing no mercy for the one she just kicked. “Bastard that always follow my Dear Sister like a stalker. Even now you keep up with it. How despicable can you be?”Bookmark here

Hinota lowered her leg as she sent a scowl so condescending to Kagero as if she was staring at a cockroach wallowing in trash letting off an expired stench.Bookmark here

“Whoa?!” The members who were innocently watching the scene were left flabbergasted by this turnabout. Tsuchi and Mizuri were, in a sense, impressed, while Kuki and Raika were left frightened by her seemingly vast strength.Bookmark here

“H-Hinota’s insane, just like I thought!” Kuki commented, his body trembling.Bookmark here

“Y-You were right! She’s so scary!” Raika trembled, holding onto her childhood friend for safety.Bookmark here

“H-Hinota! Why the hell would you do that?!”Bookmark here

Kudo was more shocked than anyone. She would have never assaulted someone just for introducing himself politely.Bookmark here

“Kudo, he’s nothing but trash. A filthy stalker that invades our home and tries to woo Dear Sister, but it never works. Of course I would deliver punishment to him now that I’m able to do so.”Bookmark here

“H-Hinota, that’s going too far! Even if he did something bad to you—”Bookmark here

“He didn’t actually do anything bad to me,” Hinota corrected. “He just followed Dear Sister a lot and I didn’t like that.”Bookmark here

“That’s even worse!”Bookmark here

Kudo, for once, couldn’t make sense of her logic. He looked at Kagero whose eyes spun around from such a kick that even at his high level knocked him out. Just how strong was that kick?Bookmark here

“Hinota! You shouldn’t do that!” Kasara stepped in as she thought that Hinota might hurt Kagero again might be possible. “He’s… he’s family! He’s your brother-in-law, in short, he’s my husband now!”Bookmark here

Kasara believed that if she explains this, then her anger would settle down. But because of their time being separated from each other, her yearning for her dear sister brought Hinota to this level.Bookmark here

In short, it only brought out the pandemonium in her soul.Bookmark here

“Eh…? Eh? Ah… No way, no way, no way, no way… that can’t be possible, I mean… it’s Dear Sister, but with Kagero…? That’s… that can’t be right. It’s not possible. It’s against nature…”Bookmark here

Hinota continued to mutter, her body trembled, her eyes losing their color and her mental state was slowly breaking. Even for Kudo and Kasara, they have never seen this before in their lives.Bookmark here

“H-Hino’s gonna blow?!”Bookmark here

Tsuchi shouted, but it could even be true as he and the other members hid behind the couch to avoid the aftermath that’s soon to follow.Bookmark here

“That can’t be! I refuse! I refuse to accept that dirty, no-good, piece of trash Kagero as my dear brother! I refuse to believe that he’s married to someone like you! No way, no way!”Bookmark here

What came after was an outcry of a childish motion from Hinota who stomped the ground, tears welling in her eyes as she screamed outright. Kasara and Kudo were taken aback by this sudden childish outburst, and for Kudo specifically, this was a new side of Hinota that he has never seen before.Bookmark here

Kudo knew that Hinota garnered so much respect for her sister, but to see her so visibly obsessed to the point of rejecting Kagero, it blew his mind.Bookmark here

“Hinota, stop acting like a child! This is fact!”Bookmark here

“No way! I’ll never believe it! I’ve never seen you two married, and how am I supposed to know what happened when you never even told me that you got married?!”Bookmark here

This time, her outburst was directed at her own sister, but they became valid as Kasara was taken by surprise which made her freeze up on the spot. Sweat trickling down her fair skin, Kasara knew that this day would come.Bookmark here

“T-That’s… due to circumstances…”Bookmark here

“How could you, Dear Sister?! To marry someone as worthless as Kagero?!”Bookmark here

“You don’t have to take it that far!”Bookmark here

Kasara, for the first time, became at a loss to which Kudo couldn’t even imagine. Seeing the situation for himself, Kudo acted.Bookmark here

“H-Hinota, please calm down—”Bookmark here

“Kudo!” Suddenly, Hinota turned to him, her eyes glowering not at him, but at someone else. “That woman, Hikari Valkyria… she did something to both you and Dear Sister, right?!”Bookmark here

“N-No! Nothing bad happened! Please, calm down!”Bookmark here

Kudo knew now that Hinota was too rattled to make conscious decisions. She wouldn’t normally lose control like this, but after her sister became involved, she has lost her sense of composure. It was up to Kudo to make sure that nothing else bad happens that will push her off to the edge of sanity.Bookmark here

“I’m here! Whoo! Finally done with all that nonsense.”Bookmark here

The one who caused her sanity to become at breaking point was now entering the house, making her presence known. Everyone turned back to see Hikari walking through the entrance of the living room with a gait, a satisfied expression on her noble face.Bookmark here

“T-That’s…”Bookmark here

“W-Wow… it’s really her!”Bookmark here

Tsuchi and Mizuri were left in awe after seeing the mighty Hikari Valkyria for themselves. Wearing her usual black attire, her long azure hair and her remarkable jade eyes made their impression on them, finally seeing the woman who has topped every single adventurer in sight.Bookmark here

Of course, Hinota noticed her too.Bookmark here

“Oh,” Hikari turned to them, an ever care-free smile on her face. “Are these the new visitors that Kudo brought in? How do you all do? My name is Hikar—”Bookmark here

And suddenly, boot meets face once more.Bookmark here

Before Hikari could even introduce herself as she stepped in with a bright smile on her face, a toughened leather boot came in flying across the room, and unfortunately, it landed right on it.Bookmark here

Like before, everything happened in slow motion. Hinota gave herself a running start, then she bent her knees and jumped as high as she could. Raising her boot once again in front of her, she flew through the air with a powerful air kick that landed right on Hikari’s face. Her boot nearly made her nose along with everything connecting to it sink in as she landed.Bookmark here

“It’s all because of you!!!”Bookmark here

Shokan, who came in alongside her, was left with a haunting expression. The party members: Tsuchi, Mizuri, Raika, and Kuki were left as if their faces were jolted by a bolt of electricity, their mouths gaping and their eyes bursting out of their skulls.Bookmark here

Kagero was left completely knocked out for him to see this event at all.Bookmark here

“HINOTA!!!”Bookmark here

The best friend and older sister screamed in unison, their souls synchronizing in pure terror as their screams echoed across the hall and throughout the mansion.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.