Hour Empty Child
Everyone were invited to the luxurious dining hall where they took their seats. On one side of the larger-than-life table, it was Kudo and Hinota sitting aside from each other, with Kasara near Hinota and Kagero right aside Kasara.
On the other side were the party members, Mizuri with Tsuchi, and then Kuki with Raika. Finally at the very end of the table, where only the king of the mansion can reside, Hikari sat in a graceful position, an ever gleaming smile on her face while her bandage was still plastered on her cheek.
The table was already filled with so much food on the plates that it left the party members drooling before they could even start to eat. Tsuchi and Mizuri especially, who weren’t used to such luxuries, were more enchanted by the intoxicating aroma of the meals that they have never dreamed of eating.
“Everyone,” Hikari raised her overly-decorated glass high in the air, already filled to the brim with the most delicious—and expensive—alcohol her liquor storage can offer. “Go ahead and eat your fill! You can always ask for seconds, so don’t be shy! Now, eat! Eat!”
Hikari shouted as she wanted them to enjoy as much as they can. The group wasn’t going to refuse her order and delightfully began to devour their meals without a second thought.
The StormPlus and EarthFire members were enjoying every bite, while Kasara and Kagero shared the same expression, but did so in a mild manner.
Seeing the gorgeous meal for herself, Hinota did not hold back and ate each meal with precision and ferocity. Tsuchi and Mizuri have already seen this, but once again Kuki and Raika were astounded by how such a slim girl like Hinota can eat so much. Though, seeing her sister eat just as many meals as Hinota, it was another shocking surprise.
Hinota knew that, though Raika’s cooking was great on her own, the meals of the maid’s cooking were on another level entirely. She savored every sensational bite, mixed with various spices that combined together into a harmonious melody of flavors in her mouth.
The aftertaste was phenomenal, and of course the drink to top it all off couldn’t just be cast aside.
However, as she enjoyed her meal, she expected something similar to happen when she looked over to Kudo’ side on her right. However, she was caught by surprise by something completely unexpected.
Kudo was eating his meal, and it was nearly the same size as Hinota’s. Not only that, Kudo took one huge bite after another at a quick pace. Hinota would recall Kudo reading his book while eating, slowly biting them as he spent his time to read.
However, there was no patience. It was just rapid eating that seemed to plow through each meal like they were kegs to be drunk in a hurry. Her fork was left hanging in the air near her mouth as she gaped at the sight.
(K-Kudo’s eating this much…?)
What could have happened that made Kudo, the reluctant eater, eat so much already? What happened to him in the three months that followed after their separation? Whatever the case, there was one thing she knows:
She knew now how Kudo became so big now.
“I hope the feast is to everyone’s liking,” Hikari said out of being formal, but she knew that, from the ecstatic look on their faces, that it was a good meal.
“It’s delicious! No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to make this exotic flavor…” Raika spoke out of her experience in cooking. Tasting the juicy and tender meat that seemed to seep deeper into her tongue with every bite was at a level she herself couldn’t reach.
“Haha, that’s because my maids have their Cooking skills at such a high level. I’m sure that someday you will reach it as well, Raika. Don’t lose hope!”
“I-I won’t, Master!”
Hearing those inspirational words, Raika took another bite of her meal, this time savoring each flavor to learn how to present her own cooking for next time.
“Man, I can’t wait what Rai will make next time.”
Seeing Raika wanting to improve, Kuki felt his taste buds losing feeling from imagining the kinds of meals Raika will make in the future.
Once their meals have gone underway, each plate on the table became empty, licked clean by the visitors of the mansion. Once again, Hinota was astounded to see so much food that Kudo picked up actually gone into his stomach, leaving herself agape.
The maids came in as graceful as ever, each sporting their beautiful maid dresses for everyone not used to seeing such wonderful splendor as they picked up the plates with smooth fluid movements before rushing back into the pantry to put them away.
“Man, living in this place must be awesome!” Tsuchi commented, clutching onto his engorged stomach. “Kudo-chii sure lives the high life!”
“Hehe, I guess…” Kudo awkwardly chuckled as he scratched his cheek. He knew that he was blessed for everything here, but at first he wanted to deny all of this. He didn’t know how to respond to that.
“Master Kudo, would you like us to bring you desert?” A maid appeared, this time it was a beautiful fairy maid with short pink hair and vibrant eyes. Kudo looked back with his own eyes, sparkling from hearing about their next meal.
“Then, please wait a moment, Master.”
Bowing to him, the fairy maid rushed back to the pantry to prepare for dessert. As soon as she came back in, different maids also appeared behind her, each holding a small glass bowl filled with top-of-the-line vanilla ice cream piled on top of each other in perfect spheres, slathered with chocolate sauce, and at the top were various strawberries that accented its tasty appearance.
“Ooh!” Kudo’s eyes sparkled the brightest upon feasting his eyes onto the tasty treat, reminding Hinota of his love for sweets from back in Peranim.
Though, Mizuri and Tsuchi were surprised to see such a reaction, Raika and Kuki waited happily for their desserts.
“Please, enjoy slowly as to avoid brain freeze~” The fairy maid advised before she and the other maids bowed their heads to them before heading back to the pantry.
Soon enough, each visitor joyfully tasted their dessert with elated expressions, each one moaning in delight from the sweet splendor of the icy flavors.
Though, the only one tasting ice cream without presence of mind was Hinota, who looked over at the over-excited Kudo as he took a spoonful of ice cream with the small spoon and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The reason was that during the exchange between himself and the fairy maid—rather—with all the maids, Hinota felt disturbed.
(Kudo looked way too excited…)
Taking into account of his love for sweets, Hinota figured that something else made him so severely excited. She couldn’t help but wonder at the possibility of what happened over the last three months.
Seeing again Hikari who took a spoonful of ice cream herself, she surmised that she’s the kind of woman that wouldn’t fuss so much about morals.
Something sparked inside of Hinota’s mind.
Once they were done with their dessert, everyone was about to prepare to leave. However, before they could leave the dining room to start talking about what to do…
“Kudo, I decided,” Hinota suddenly said, as if she has mulled it over for a while before making her decision.
“Mmh? What did you decided on?” Kudo looked back, tilting his head in response.
“I decided to stay here in the mansion.”
Everyone was left speechless.
Kudo was dumbfounded as he was the only one who reacted to that statement.
“What are you talking about, Hinota?!” Kudo asked, once again losing his bearings over Hinota’s decision.
“It’s obvious that I can’t just leave you here while I go away to an inn. Now that I know that you’ve been living here, it also gives me a reason to stay here to make sure that we stay together.”
Hinota remained steadfast in her decision, leaving Kudo and the other members to look back at one another. Tsuchi and Mizuri both knew how persuasive Hinota can be, and once she decided on something, it’s nearly impossible to change her mind.
Kudo looked back to Hinota, her glaring slanted eyes not giving way in any form. Kudo resolved to try to settle this matter before it could get out of hand.
“B-But then you will live in the same place as me!”
“He’s right, Hinota,” As if to backup Kudo to turn Hinota down, Kasara stepped up to the plate with furrowed eyes.
“You can’t just proclaim something so selfish and expect everything to go your way. You haven’t even asked Master, the owner of this mansion, if she would even let you stay here.”
“Oh, I don’t mind, though.”
However, Hikari stepped in afterward, shooting down whatever help Kasara tried to do to convince Hinota to turn down her decision.
“Master, please…” Kasara grumbled, nearly losing her balance before quickly getting back straight up. She didn’t expect this kind of side attack at all.
“Oh, come on, Kasara,” Hikari egged her on. “What right do I have to keep these two separated? Why, I don’t mind if the two were to sleep in the same room together.”
The moment those words escaped from her lips, everyone under the age of 21 blushed to their noses, especially Kudo and Hinota who were the ones being proposed to stay together. Meanwhile, the adults wanted to shake their heads in shame over her choice of words.
“I-I wouldn’t go that far!” Hinota tried to correct her misunderstanding. “I just meant that I don’t want Kudo to live here on his own! This place is too dangerous for his young boy mind to handle!”
Hinota claimed as she put on a solemn look that displayed that she was completely serious, however, it left Kudo reddened in the face looking shocked.
“W-Why on Yarim would you think that, Hinota?!” Kudo at least wanted to defend himself, but Hinota then forced a glare on him.
“I know you, Kudo. I know that this place will be too much for you. I’m worried that these maids might do something strange to you, so that’s why I’m staying here!”
“E-Even if you say that…”
“That’s right, Hinota,” Hikari intercepted. Hinota looked back at her to see her response. “Even if you want to stay here, it’s not as if I can’t just let you stay here for free. You do have to pay rent here. I can’t just let you stay here for free.”
“I don’t mind,” Hinota held no hesitation in her voice. “I planned to do so from the start.”
“I see, so you planned this, then? Then I’m sure that you can cover the expensive costs as well?”
“Yes,” Hinota nodded. “I’ll pay for everything.”
“Hehe, I see,” Hikari smirked, a sly smile rose from her lips. “I really like you. You’re so protective of my boy. As expected of the best friend Kudo always talks about.”
Hinota’s cheeks blushed hearing about that certain information, leaving Kudo to be left embarrassed from Hikari spilling the secret so openly.
“Hehe, you don’t have to worry about the costs. Knowing your intentions, I know that you’ll be a fun addition to the house. I expect you to properly take care of Kudo—in all kinds of aspects.”
“I will… not in the way you’re thinking of.”
Hikari worded it in a strange way which caused Hinota to react with an expectant response, but then denied the strangeness left in her tone with blushing cheeks.
“T-Then, Hino is going to stay here?” Mizuri asks, both her and Tsuchi stunned by this sudden decision.
“Yeah. I’m sorry for not telling anything in advance. This is…”
Hinota knew that her decision was sudden, and apologized for her selfishness.
“We get it, Hinota-chii. You wanna protect Kudo-chii. We understand,” Tsuchi responded in a way that seemed like he knew that this would happen.
“Don’t worry about us! Just go and do your job!” Mizuri provided back up for Tsuchi which made Hinota smile.
“I’m glad that you guys understand…”
“Then, we’ll be heading back. Kuki-chii, Raika-chii, can you show us a good inn?” Tsuchi looked back to his new friends from which they responded by nodding.
“Thanks for understanding…” Hinota said.
(E-Everything is moving so fast. My mind can’t keep up…) Kudo was left puzzled at the current events that have transpired.
Once the situation died down, the party members said their goodbyes and left, leaving Raika and Kuki to help Tsuchi and Mizuri to find a place in their inn.
Though Hinota still had her questions, Kasara quickly went away to settle a few businesses, leaving her exasperated from Kagero getting to stay with her. Once they left, Kudo and Hinota were on their own with Hikari and the other maids, however, there was only one question in Kudo’s mind.
“Hinota, are you really sure about this…?” Kudo asked once again, making sure that Hinota was on her right track of mind from making this decision.
“What? Do you not want me to stay here with your precious maids?” Hinota asked, her tone filled to the brim with a slight irritation. It made Kudo shiver just from her words alone.
“I-It’s nothing like that!”
Kudo wasn’t sure why she was especially angry over the matter of the maids, but he was sure that if he doesn’t convince her otherwise, she might think of him as someone lecherous.
However, even Hinota considered that statement taking it too far, causing her to sigh in return.
“I’m sorry,” Hinota said, folding her arms and admitting her folly. “I didn’t mean it that way. Like I said before, I’m worried about you all on your own.”
“B-But I’ve been living here for 3 months now,” Kudo relayed his experiences. “Nothing bad happened.”
“Oh, so please tell me about your ‘incident’ from before. I would gladly hear it.”
Those words caused Kudo to flinch, a sweat visible on his temple before looking away as his stiff smile showed it all.
Hinota felt a little peeved knowing that Kudo was keeping it a secret, but she decided to let that go… for now.
“Anyways,” Hinota steered off their topic, relieving Kudo of his stress. “If you’re worried about me staying in your home, then there’s no issue. We lived in the same inn since we started adventuring together, didn’t we?”
“R-Right…?” Kudo wasn’t sure where she was going with this.
“So, this mansion, which is possibly ten times bigger than any inn we’ve ever been in, should serve perfectly as a place for both of us to live in. We’ll just live in different rooms and it’s as if nothing has changed.”
Hearing Hinota’s idea, Kudo’s eyes widened in awe. It was that simple.
“I-I’m so amazed by your logic…” Kudo wasn’t sure if the same logic applies, but still, he was impressed.
“Isn’t it great?” Hinota stroked her own ego after hearing that slight praise. “It’s not like an accident will happen. So there’s no need to worry. Plus, I have that woman’s permission—so there’s no problem whatsoever.”
Kudo was glad to hear Hinota’s sage-old wisdom coming into play again, but the way she worded his mother troubled him.
“Y-You call my Mother as ‘that woman’…”
Kudo knew that there could be dozens of issues underneath the surface, but he decided to let that slide. It’s Hinota. She’s bound to stay here if her mind is this made up.
“Then,” Kudo took his defeated self away and responded with a grin. “I’ll show you around. I always wanted to show you off this mansion.”
“Then do that in the beginning instead of getting worried. Though, that’s how you always are.”
Kudo chuckled as Hinota grin, the two getting back into their groove as Kudo led Hinota from the entrance hall to the rest of the mansion.
Though the mansion was quite large, Kudo could only introduce the places that Hikari showed him before—the living room, the dining room, the breakfast room, and finally, the library.
“Wow…” At the spacious library, Hniota spun around slowly as she looked up at the towering bookshelves that seem to multiply continuously without end.
“This place is amazing!” Hinota commented, becoming ecstatic at the amount of information available.
“Hehe, cool, huh? She said she has all kinds of books here. I always shut myself in here and try to read to raise my stats.”
“I can see that perfectly…” Hinota said as she stepped further into the room where the tables were, and headed to the bookshelf.
Taking a book out of it, she looked at the cover and felt oddly excited.
“I know it’ll be a quick read for me, but I can’t wait to read it when I have the time.”
She mentioned the book in her hand which had the title ‘Warrior’s philosophy on the battleground’, a book referencing an old retired Warrior Class adventurer who wrote his beliefs for the generations to come.
After having spent a good time in the library, Kudo took her to another of his favorite rooms in the mansion: The training room.
“Whoa, so you can train here?” Taking a gander at the training facility, Hinota’s head was on a swivel as it turned left and right.
“That’s right, you can train here to your heart’s desire. Everything here is essential for training your core stats, like in the library.”
Kudo explained as he watched Hinota go for one of the shelves in the middle of the room and took out one dumbbell. The sudden large weight nearly pulled her down, but her smart thinking got her to use more strength than usual, bringing up the dumbbell slowly.
“Quite heavy for such a small thing…” Hinota commented in surprise at the dumbbell.
“Apparently, they’re enchanted to become heavier,” Kudo explained exactly what Hikari explained to him.
“Roprase is incredible, isn’t it…?” Hinota spoke in amazement.
It was then that she decided to ask him to train with her. Being a hard-worker himself, he happily obliged.
Showing her the ropes on how to train on the machines here to build stamina, Hinota learned valuable information as well as put in her daily workout much more quickly than usual.
As an hour passed by, the room became warmer as the atmosphere became humid by their sweat. Hinota was lifting a heavy 25 kilo dumbbell on both hands, switching from one arm to the other for a steady equity.
Looking at her side, she noticed Kudo was giving his all raising his entire body by pulling himself up with the handle bars. Both hands on the handles, he lifts his body with just his arms, enforcing more force into his torso as he slowly let himself down, and repeats the process.
All the while, his shirt was becoming caked to his back with sweat, yet it didn't repulse Hinota.
Rather, it left her widening her eyes in gleam.
“Kudo has grown up really big…” She uttered in a low whisper, and the moment it escaped from her lips, she couldn’t believe what she just said.
Feeling her face hot, she wondered if she was working too hard, or the air around them was becoming hotter, despite that the air conditioner was working steadily.
Kudo has truly grown. She remembered one time when she saw him disrobe his shirt for the first time to look at his progress, and she couldn’t believe how skinny he was. Barely any muscle, with rough hands and feet, but it made sense since he couldn’t eat much during his childhood.
Now that he has eaten more and trained his body, it was like he became an entirely different person.
“Hinota?” His sudden question knocked Hinota out of her trance. She noticed Kudo looking back at her with a slightly curious glance.
“You okay?” You’ve been staring at space for a while,” He asked, seeing that Hinota seemed out of it while still holding her dumbbells in her hands.
“Ah, I was just thinking about how to use this training facility from now on,” Hinota quickly formed a lie. “And even if it’s cold here, I’m getting rather sweaty…”
“Ah, that’s true,” Kudo took in her half-lie.
She really was sweating as he noticed her flawless snow-like skin being drenched in trickling sweat down her cheeks and neck. Again, it made another provocative image.
Suddenly the door opens up, and Shokan’s head popped out from between the small opening.
“Master Kudo, Master Hinota, the bath is ready now. Would you like to come in?”
“Oh, I can’t wait what the bath will be like!” Hinota took the chance to change the topic as she stood in hurriedly.
“Ah, you can go ahead. I’ll take it later.”
“You sure?” Hinota asked.” Well, okay. Just don’t push yourself.”
“I won’t. Have a nice time.”
Kudo waved, which made Hinota wave back as she returned out the door with Shokan to head to the bath.
Walking through the halls, always favoring the sights and recording them all into her grand mind, Hinota stopped before the doors that were rather simple compared to the rest of the grandeur household.
Shokan slid open the doors, revealing the room before the bath separated by the glass doors.
“Please take your time…” Shokan said and bowed once again before leaving Hinota to her own devices.
Hinota widened her eyes at the sight and immediately began to prepare. First, she stepped forward and eyed at the shelves filled with baskets. She figured that she would just pick one to put her dirty clothes in.
Hinota took a look at herself wearing her simple clothing—she changed out of her armor before she had her meal and separated from everyone else. Like Kudo, she was wearing all black—a black tank top and short pants. Once she has chosen her desired basket, she pulled the edge of her tanktop upwards, getting snagged by her busty chest before finally getting released and took it off. She placed her thumbs into her pants’ waist and slid them downwards her thin, supple legs. She revealed her innerwear, a bra covering her mountains that were white, covering by the sides only and held together by a small latch, with silk panties that her hips seemed to burst out from it compared to her slim waist.
It only took her a matter of seconds before she shed off those as well, revealing all the wonders of her body. At last, she released the tie around her pony tail, and her fiery red hair cascaded downwards like a waterfall before reaching to her higher back. For a moment, with her long hair down, she looked strikingly similar to her older sister, Kasara. She spotted a towel and a few strange containers that seemed to mention about hair improvement, so she took those and headed straight towards the glass doors.
She opened them up, and quickly felt the heat overwhelm her, already making her head and back swell sweat. The steamy atmosphere, as well as the serene sounds of water cascading down to the large pool of heated water, made her feel at bliss—it was nostalgic, to say the least, since it reminded her of her own big bath at the manor back in Peranim.
Quickly, those memories were shaking out of her head—she knows now that there is no point in dwelling in the past. Hugging the towel to her well-developed body, she walked forward and sunk herself into the bath, putting the towel to the edge of the bath.
Normally people would test how hot the water is, but in Hinota’s case, the hotter the water, the better. Her body encased in warm liquid that seeped into her skin and her long fiery red hair caked to her back. Her fatigue slowly evaporating, her mind almost turned to mush at how hot and exquisite the water was.
“This is so nice… Kudo must have had a good time…” She said to herself, but she can’t help but feel as though Kudo had a difficult time as well.
As long as she knew it, Kudo wasn’t the type to enjoy such luxuries without thinking of its costs. Being in such a place without even having to pay anything seemed too good to be true, even if it was his own mother giving him everything.
“Those maids were awfully cute… I wonder if Kudo…”
A worry swelled in her heart. With all those beautiful women at his beck and call, it wouldn’t be strange if Kudo was taken over by his male instincts and let his ‘little Kudo’ run wild.
“Did he do anything…? Was he corrupted…? Gah, I really shouldn’t keep thinking this, but…”
Somehow, the thoughts of those girls doing whatever they wanted to Kudo irritated her to no end.
Some minutes later, Kudo was still inside the training room, giving another set of pushups a try as sweat riddled his face and trickled down to the floor. Th reason he was working so hard into this was so that he could take his mind off this certain situation.
Unfortunately, no amount of grueling training can prepare for what might come of this.
“I never expected Hinota to stay here…,” Kudo spoke to himself. “Why is she so insistent on this? I can’t help but worry, even though this place is so big…”
Kudo sat back on the floor, his hand over his knees as he tried to breathe his air back in again. It was then that another similar knocking occurred, the door opening and revealing Shokan yet again.
“Kudo, Hinota has finished her bath. Please, go ahead and use it.”
“Oh, is she done so soon? She usually takes a while…” Kudo tilted his head, remembering how often Hinota likes to cleanse herself from her daily grinding.
However, Shokan opened the door and bowed to him, “I assure you that the bath is available for use. Please, go ahead and make use of your time.”
She finished off with a grand smile, one that resembled a trustworthy and loyal maid to the end. However, Kudo felt something off with that sparkling smile, which even his Sixth Sense is activating from the back of his head.
But he couldn’t sense any form of hostility whatsoever, so he figured that it was harmless and ignored it. He took his clothing from the floor and headed off towards the bath.
(I wonder what’s going on?) He asked himself as he headed towards the bath.
Once he got there, Kudo opened the door and headed inside. He got to a shelf to see no baskets in use. However, as he took his sweaty clothes off and put his towel to cover his privates, he failed to notice that at the other shelf behind the shelf he was using had one basket in use…
Kudo, with his one arm holding the products needed for his bath, slid open the glass doors, the hot air permeated his skin as soon as it was opened. He walked inside with a gait. He was excited to use the bath since it felt so great to use, and the bath is always such a sight to see.
But now, he was seeing something that was more amazing than the bath.
The sounds of water splashing about occurred without him being there, and a being rose herself out of the water upon realizing that someone came inside.
Kudo widened his eyes, unable to even comprehend what was going on at this very moment.
He saw Hinota—in all her glory. Facing her back, her wet fiery red hair caked her back as her head turned around in shock, her slanted purple eyes widening as well. Her snow-colored skin, dripping from the heated water, was in full view Kudo to see.
Fortunately, her bust wasn’t in complete view, but they still showed their sides as she quickly covered the privates with her arm. Her wide hips, her hands covering between her supple legs, they were ALL in full view.
“Ah… Ah…” Kudo stuttered.
Meanwhile, Shokan was walking away from the simple doors, as if she has done everything she can and left with satisfaction. Then, Chui ran up towards her.
“Shokan, why did you lie to Master Kudo about Master Hinota not bathing?” Chui asked with a slight curiosity in her tone. She wasn’t mad at her decision, but instead she was mildly curious.
“Why,” Shokan answered. “To make them better acquainted with each other. These two are best friends, yet they were separated for so long. It should be obvious that a little bit of skin contact is necessary.”
“Ah…” Chui nodded slowly as if she understood, but a question rose. “But, Shokan, you sound like you had something else in mind…”
“Ohohoho,” Shokan laughed mischievously. “I just planted a seed of curiosity for the both of them…”
Chui tilted her head, not able to see what she meant by that as Shokan continued to smile to herself.