Chapter 97:

Vol. 6 Chapter 4- The Decisive Party Part 4

Hour Empty Child


“My, my,” A chorus of giggles and swoons filled the air. “You look very handsome, Master Kudo.”


The reasoning for the harmonious sounds of girls squealing was the group of Hikari’s maids who have come from Roprase to La Ruinda in a fantasy-like speed that still renders Kudo confused up to now.


Of course, Shokan was the one who spoke to Kudo in his most… dastardly situation.


Instead of wearing his armor like usual, he wore a suit made out of the finest silk imaginable. Ebony covered him from his shoulders to his ankles and wrists. He wore a black coat over a pure-white dress shirt with black pants binding his waist. The coat was buttoned up to his neck, where the bow tie stood above it which was practically overkill for Kudo as it was colored bright azure with shining emerald gems embedded into them. His manly physique, along with the suit, granted him an air of an intimidating, yet dashing gentleman from noble society.


His extravagant bow tie—complimentary from his mother—felt as though it was strangling his neck, since he wasn’t used to wearing such things in his life.


“You look so handsome~!”


“As expected of Hikari’s son!”


“You inherited her looks rather well!”


“Ah, what I would give to be your date at the party…”


The comments from the maids made it difficult for Kudo to come back from that. His face grew hot from the intense blush on his cheeks, and the last comment made him nearly lose his marbles.


Outside of where Kudo was, the master herself turned to the door and opened it. They were currently at the Caravan’s Rest, and inside the room was quite lavish, where there were exquisite paintings for exotic tastes.


However, she turned to only see the young man who was getting dressed up by the other maids.


“Ah, so handsome! I knew you would look good in a suit!” Hikari bellowed as she takes another closer look at Kudo. “It comes from my genes, you know~”


“Yeah, I heard…”


Kudo agreed with an air of sarcasm around him, though it looks like Hikari took it as a compliment as she gave a huff of air out of pride.


Looking at his Mother now, she looked divine in a different way. Hikari wore a stylish black dress that hugged her body like a champ. The dress was tied around her neck, showing an opening of her chest that showed her voluptuous snow-like cleavage impressively.


However, what made her dress more jaw-dropping was the way that her entire back was revealed, showing off her hourglass figure. The dress itself was shining from the small jewels encrusted in it, which is, of course, a favorite of Hikari who liked to dazzle, as it extends over to her ankles where she wore high-heel shoes that showed her perfectly pedicured feet.


“W-Wow, Mother, you look amazing…” Kudo said in disbelief. It was his own mother, but he couldn’t help dropping his jaw.


“Why, thank you. Hearing that from you is very pleasing, knowing that you’re sincere about it,” Hikari smirked as she said, though it only served to make Kudo tilt his head.


“Master Hikari often gets complimented for her beautiful image, but it’s only because they wanted something from her,” Shokan stepped in to whisper to him after seeing him in confusion.


“R-Really? But she really looks amazing,” Kudo couldn’t believe that at least not one of her compliments was actually sincere.


“Of course,” Shokan answered again. “Other than wanting something from her, they also do it because they wanted to impress her. After all, everyone believes that Hikari is single and ready to mingle.”


“That’s…” Kudo nearly cringed after hearing that. But then he caught wind of what she was saying. “…Believes? Does that mean that she’s—”


“Kudo, it’s time to go,” Hikari suddenly interrupted, unaware that she did so, as she turned to the door. “Leave him off so that he can do his quest.”


“““““Yes, Master Hikari.”””””


As per usual, the maids stood aside, forming a row of maids to make a pathway, and bowed instantly to her words. Shokan stood aside and bowed at Kudo, getting him to turn to Hikari, his throat running dry.


(It’s times like these that I really wish I can talk to Hinota with my mind…)


Kudo wished that he could bring his phone along to talk to Hinota, but according to Hikari, it’s very rude to do so in a party. Having no choice, Kudo stepped forward, led by Hikari to head off to the party.



Meanwhile, as the Valkyia family heads off to their party, left behind in the hotel were the Flamver family as well as the crafters. The crafters had their own rooms, and looking ahead, Kagero and Kasara had their own room as well, with Hinota staying with Kasara.


Kagero was the one who made this arrangement as he knew that Kasara and Hinota would want to spend time together. There was also the part where Hinota would hate him even more if he were to stay in the same room as Kasara, despite that they were already married.


Resting in his soft and silky bed in his lavish hotel room, Kagero slept soundly, no longer at hold by Hinota’s ferocious hostility.


In the other room, the walls had a beautiful yellow color and adorned with portraits to provide the usual exotic atmosphere, the floor covered by a soft rug that was pleasant to their barren feet, and to top it off, the beds were as soft as plush where Hinota gladly comforted herself by laying on top of it.


“Mmh…” However, Hinota wasn’t exactly ecstatic by the room itself.


“Hinota, are you worried for Kudo, by any chance?” Kasara sat near a desk with a large oval-shaped mirror where she was brushing her long blazing red hair with a gripped brush, turning her head to Hinota as she asked what she already knew what was on her mind.


Kasara just took a hot shower after training out in the fields, and was now trying to keep her image of controlled hair by brushing it every now and then.


“Dear Sister…” Knowing that she would read her anyways, she figured she would tell what’s on her mind. “It’s just… Kudo gets really nervous around people. I should have come with him.”


Looking upward, she imagined a scenario in her intelligent mind where Kudo is surrounded by malicious individuals, where he was slowly backing away from them and hit his back against the wall where he has no chance of escape.


“You worry too much,” Kasara reassured her. “Master is there with him, you know. There’s no possible way that Kudo would be in any danger as long as she’s around him.”


“I-I know that…” Hinota said, though her heart was troubled nevertheless. “But… I can’t help but worry. I got this bad feeling that something is about to happen to him.”


Turning to her side, Hinota furrowed her eyes as she spoke from within her heart.


“You really do like him, huh?” Kasara let out, seemingly surprised at how different she acts when Kudo is not around.


“A-As a friend, Dear Sister!” Hinota quickly changed the meaning behind her words. “He’s my best friend in the whole world. But he always gets into trouble plenty of times! So that’s why I took it upon myself to make sure to look out for him as he does with me.”


“Fufu,” Kasara snicked to herself. “You don’t have to defend yourself like that. I meant it that way, as well.”


Correcting herself, Kasara enjoyed seeing Hinota’s face redden like an apple, getting her to cover her entirety with a blanket to avoid being seen.


“D-Dear Sister, you’re mean!”


“Ah, is that so? You’re just too easy to tease, Hinota.”


Kasara felt giddy as she stopped brushing her hair and placed the brush on the desk. She stood up and, making sure her presence isn’t known, extended her hands and poked the large lump on the bed multiple times.


“D-Dear Sister! S-Stop! H-Hahahaha!” Being precisely hit on her sensitive areas, Hinota couldn’t stop herself from giggling from being tickled. “I-I’m too old for this! S-Stop! Hahahahaha!”


Hinota’s cries were ignored as Kasara continued her tickling assault. Meanwhile, Kagero smirked to himself in the other room from the loud screeches on the other side, as if he was relishing the little sister’s torment.



The day was coming to a close as night time soon commenced, the moon shone through the star-lit sky throughout Portmin. Its gentle moonlight accentuated the atmosphere of the rustic city. The Wayfarer, Hikari’s private Ame that was brought with the Valiant Steed somehow, drove on the barren streets where not a single person was walking by at night as they were all in their homes, or at the party that Randalf created.


As the moonlight shone through the tinted windows of the Wayfarer, Kudo was given an explanation by Hikari on the purpose of the event.


The party is a sort of meet-and-greet with some of the potential business partners around the country. As long as she was in Lerabelum, Hikari has gained control of the market all across the nation, especially in Roprase. However, it was only made possible by the companions working together. The economic industry is too large for even Hikari herself to take control, and thus she makes sure to be friendly to all the major partners working together with her.


Randalf is just one of the many social friends she keeps, and there are plenty more as well. Each of those business partners helped Hikari tremendously throughout her journey, so it is only natural that she introduces her child to them.


After hearing all of this, Kudo now, though barely, knew what is going on. Though he isn’t so big on being friendly with so many strangers just like in the guild, since he is only meeting them possibly only once in his life, he should at least make an appearance for Hikari’s sake.


Finally, the Wayfarer has made it to the end of its path, and Shokan got out to greet her masters. The doors of the Wayfarer opened, showing Shokan who has graciously opened for them. Hikari is the first to come out, and of course, following after her was Kudo.


However, as he stood up and took a glance upwards, he was left slack-jawed. The location for the party was a giant building flashing so bright in the dim darkness of the block as if it was a shining star within the darkness of the city. Contrary to the other buildings, the material made for the party’s building is strictly metal, much like the Adventurer’s Hub back at Triun.


The rode that leads to the building was furnished with luscious grass, exquisite statues, and a single large fountain blowing out water from its spouts. It created a rainbow light around it thanks to the bright lights behind it, only making it even more beautiful to watch than usual.


Kudo was left with a wide jaw and a glittering look in his eyes, mostly thanks to the bright lights.


“I-Is this where we’re going to meet up?” Kudo asked, his sight still on the building as Hikari firmly placed her hands on her well-shaped hips.


“Hehe, it looks like they really pulled off a large welcoming for the rich folks,” Hikari commented. “Come on, Kudo, let’s head on.”


Hikari turned to Kudo, a smile which made it more charming thanks to the light of the building. Kudo firmly nodded, as if he was preparing his mental fortitude for the trouble ahead.


Shokan bowed the moment they left their side, and got back into the Wayfarer to go back as per Hikari’s orders, and will come back at a later time.


Upon reaching the entrance, doors made out of crystalline glass separated them from the party, but it was easily opened by some unknown force which Hikari did not even hesitate to move forward, followed by the very hesitant Kudo.


Reaching inside, Kudo truly believed that he has entered into a utopia.


Furbished walls and floors so clean and bright that it resembled a mirror which reflected every light and figure available. It was a large hall where everyone was dressed in such fancy clothing that it truly resembled the ball back in Peranim.


However, the style of dresses and suits in Peranim could not even compare to the lavish and stylish clothing the party in Portmin showed. It was truly only where the rich, the nobles of Portmin, stayed and frolic about.


There were tables spread about which pleasantly showed off gorgeous looking food that were succulent to the eyes, and pleasing to see. A sweet yet melodic tune reverberates the hall, showing that it came from the small band of musicians, possibly people of the Bard Class, playing at the main back center of the hall.


“Whoa…” Kudo was impressed more than usual. Though it wasn’t as if he wasn’t used to the scenery by now.


After living in the mansion, he thought it would have dulled his senses whenever he sees someplace flashy, but the party itself took the top spot for now.


“Looks like the party has already started. Well, as they say, the main characters appear right when the moment gets good.”


Hikari gave her own philosophical standpoint, but it only distraught Kudo from hearing that he’s the main character. Hikari led him towards the center where most of the party goers were going out of their way to enjoy themselves in the evening.


Before Kudo could take another step forward, someone appeared in his vision, a man wearing a suit similar to that of a waiter.


“Would you like a drink, sir?” The man politely asked, holding a gray tray that held several glasses filled with carbonized drinks with ease.


“U-Umm, I don’t drink,” Kudo felt hesitant as he wasn’t a strong drinker.


“Then, I’ll take one.”


Kudo stepped back as Hikari took one for herself, and gulped it down in one second. With an empty glass, she put it back on the tray which made the servant bow once before heading off to another party goer who would love a drink.


“Could be a little bit stronger. I guess Randalf’s pockets aren’t flowing out as much money as I thought,” Hikari gave her own critical thought on the alcoholic drink she gulped in one second.


“T-This is way too high level…”


Kudo had a feeling that he didn’t belong here, seeing as how this is only for rich people to go.

Before he could completely take in the atmosphere—


“—Hey!”


A loud shout permeated the air which made them turn around.


“Ah, Randalf,” Hikari called out as Randalf walked forward to meet with the family.


He was still wearing his same old suit, as it was already been worn for the sake of the party. With an everlasting glistening smile, Randalf bowed once again.


“My word, Miss Valkyria, your stunning beauty makes everything else in this fine establishment dull in comparison,” Randalf started off with a massive praise.


“Fancy words, but I’m here to party,” Hikari smirked, easily taking in that compliment like it was obvious.


“Of course, Madam… and what about you, young Valkyria boy? Are you having fun?”


Randalf turned to Kudo, who was practically a head smaller than him, and offered a gentle smile. It seemed as though he was genuinely concerned about his situation, but from what he remembered from Hikari’s words is that this is most likely what he mostly does—to get under your skin.


“I-I’m fine,” Kudo answered the best he could.


“Great!” Randalf clapped his hands loudly. “Please, enjoy your time here before our grand finale. After all, you two are our main guests of honor!”


With that out of the way, Gandalf returned back to where he came from with an ecstatic smile on his face. While Kudo wasn’t sure what exactly he meant to say when he said grand finale, he was sure that he was a part of it. Knowing that, he felt his stomach tightened, and his face going slightly pale.


“Kudo,” Hikari, however, didn’t notice his paling expression. “Let’s have some fun while we’re waiting.”


A smile similar, but more charming, than Randalf on her face, Hikari pushed forward Kudo towards to one of the tables, where he has no choice but to guess that he is going to meet more people than he would like.


However, something caught his eyes as he noticed something big and metallic on his side. He found several men dressed not in fancy suits, but instead gray colored one-piece suits, and each one was carrying some kind of equipment—not the armor kind—such as some strange rectangle-shaped box with a round glass in front. Several others had some lamps, and a few others had black foams that they carried as poles at the top of their heads.


“What are those?” A question mark appeared above him after seeing those strange men fiddling with their machines.


“Ah, don’t mind those~” Hikari said sweetly. “They’re nothing to worry about.”


Hikari showed a closed-eye smile, as if it really wasn’t much of a concern to her. Seeing her expression, Kudo knew that it was more than meets the eye, but as of now, he has higher priority problems to deal with.


During his time there, he met up with several business partners that knew of Hikari for a long while. Meeting them at first, most of their reaction was a surprise, followed by elated congratulatory comments. There were a few that did not believe that Hikari ever actually had a child, and if she did, it would be some sort of demon or god.


That comment in particular made him twitch his right eye a little.


Though, it wasn’t so bad. Each one gave their praises and comments that were mostly positive. Though some were particular more personal than he would like to go through, but none of them gave him any kind of trouble.


At the very least, it wasn’t as bad as he had expected.



Sitting on top of the edge of her bed, Hinota held a small rectangular shaped controller in her hand, pressing the buttons which caused several noises to come out of the TV to switch instantly to different kinds of noises.


Seeing as how they have already spent their day training and were resting peacefully, Hinota took it upon herself to watch a bit of television to learn more about her expanding world. Though she has already learned enough to be assumed that she lived here for several years now, she still wished to learn more, as it was the very country that Kasara has lived in for a long time.


Kasara herself was resting peacefully on the large chair, her back feeling the pleasant softness which enveloped her completely soothed her mind as she watches Hinota flip through channels.


“Hinota, what are you trying to watch?” Kasara asked her question as she saw Hinota possibly struggle to find the channel she wants to watch.


“Not really sure yet. Just flipping through channels.”


Hinota answered as she continues to switch channels in such a rapid pace that nobody would be able to even tell what’s on TV before it got switched over to another channel, but to Hinota, she knew exactly what she was seeing, but she wasn’t interested.


“Then, switch to channel 108. I’m sure that there must be something very interesting to watch~”


Kasara smirked as she figured that the time was perfect to change it, getting her to stand up from her comfy chair and went over to the bed to sit on it. Listening to her suggestion, Hinota switched to the described channel.


On the TV, it showed a very glamorous hall and dozens of people in well-dressed clothing.


“Is this… a party?”


Hinota read the words as they flew about on the screen that said the name of the channel, saying something about the news. It looked like someone was recording everything on live as the camera looked like it was moving left and right slowly.


It was then that, when a person was talking outside the camera’s view about the party itself, she noticed the two very distinct people walking together, both their hair colored azure, and upon turning, noticed their jade colored eyes.


“I-Is that Kudo and that woman?!” Hinota remained in shock as she receives her answer when the man talking outside the view mentioned something about the Valkyria family.


“Their party is very well known all across this country,” Kasara giggled after receiving Hinota’s look of shock in her eyes. “Of course, there are a few countries watching this as well, especially Roprase since Master is involved.”


“S-Seriously…?” Hinota remained in silence as she recalls the reasoning why Kudo had to leave to that party. “They went there because Hikari wanted to show Kudo around, right?”


“Basically. It’s to put further connection with the others by informing them of her child’s founding. It’s only good manners, after all. So that’s why we had no place there.”


“I see,” Hinota understood the meaning well. “But… Kudo doesn’t look like he’s really that into it.”


“He’s quite shy around strangers, correct? So this should be good training for him to be social. He needs to, since he is Master’s son.”


“R-Right…”


Hinota agreed, but her heart grew weary as she watches Kudo on TV showing a rather stiffened expression, shaking hands with some stranger and smiling awkwardly as he exchanges meetings. The ‘businessman’ look on Kudo doesn’t suit him at all in her eyes.


Though the suit on him, on the other hand, looked rather good.


It was then that they kept watching the channel as the man continued to speak, learning about how Hikari has been on the rage lately on the economic spectrum, showing visuals of Hikari and her, according to the news, surprise guest as they mingled with the party goers.



“Oh, look, Kudo, you have fans~”


Back at the party, Hikari points to one side which got Kudo to turn, only to see near the buffet tables that there were a group of rather young and beautiful ladies leering at him from afar, their eyes solely on Kudo’s person.


Some of them noticed their stare and started to giggle and whisper among to each other, each one showing a gleaming smile and some showing red-tinted cheeks at the young man giving them a glance.


“Guh…” Kudo created some strange sound after realizing that the girls were actually, what the young ones call, ‘checking him out’.


“Those girls are daughters of some of the partners that I know of. They brought their children as guests so that they too can meet up and know each other. If you like, you can go up to them and talk to them~”


Hikari spoke with a flighty tone, enjoying the moment of her son’s popularity. Kudo reddened his cheeks on even thinking about talking with them, slightly shaking his head.


“I-I think I’m good…”


He said so hesitantly, knowing that dealing with young girls near his age would be too much for his boyish mind. However, one of the girls at the distance grew enough courage to face Kudo directly in the eyes, getting him to automatically look back.


The young girl, a brunette who was easy on the eyes, affectionately waved her fingers one by one at him, an embarrassed smile on her face as she does so. The girls around her started to squeal silently, awaiting Kudo’s reply.


Kudo calculated what to do on the receiving end of such a friendly wave. He figured that ignoring them outright would be mean, but doing the same gesture would be too… embarrassing for him to handle.


So he did the choice of just waving his hand left and right, a stiff smile on his lips, hoping that it would suffice.


And apparently, it was so as the girls now squealed a little bit louder than usual, each of them grabbing the brunette girl by the arm and pulled her back and forward in excitement, as if the girl has done a good job of doing a good impression.


“Nice, Kudo~” Hikari praised as she watched the moment with pride welling in her heart.


Kudo was not sure if he did a good job or not, but he was sure as hell had his nerves shot from doing so. And, strangely, he felt some kind of foreboding from somewhere outside, but he dismissed it as just part of his imagination.



*Thunk!*


Kasara widened her eyes after seeing the TV being pummeled by the very same rectangle-shaped device she just saw earlier in her sister’s hand. The TV turned out well as it somehow lasted the controller’s weight and managed to show the scenery just fine.


She looked back to Hinota on the bed, and noticed something frightening even for her. A scowl unlike anything she has ever seen on such a pretty visage. The air around Hinota turned red as crimson, as if the fiery blaze of hell was burning around her.


“Oh.”


A surprised sound escaped from Kasara’s lips. She made sure not to say anything else.



About an hour passed since then, and Kudo felt his [HP] completely drained. Though it wasn’t as if he took any damage—his mind was just burning on steam as he had to meet up with several people at once, including those girls that gave his mind a whirl.


A glass cup in his hand, he drunk the red liquid—a small wine, not very alcoholic—from the glass to his mouth in a big gulp, no longer caring about its complex taste as he just wanted to recover energy.


“Hah…” Kudo let out a relieved air out of his lungs. “A-Are we done yet?”


“Not yet,” Hikari said as she drinks the rather alcoholic drink in her own glass, gulping it down without a hitch. “We still need to do the grand finale.”


Remembering that, Kudo once again let out another non-relieved air out of his body as he knew that there was more trouble ahead. It wasn’t as if it was completely terrible for him, but meeting new people all the time was making him run on fumes. Though, he has no idea what kind of ‘grand finale’ his mother has in store for him.


It was then that the big footsteps, familiar in his ears, resounded behind him, turning out to be the very same host from before.


“Miss Valkyria—it is time for the great showing.”


Randalf said as he made a quick bow, his arm crossing in front of him as his hand showed the from where he came from.


“Ah, perfect. This night is almost over for us, Kudo. We just need to do one final thing.”


Hearing that got him to feel almost relieved, but he had to be sure exactly what was going to happen, since Hikari is being finicky about not telling Kudo about it.


The two then followed Randalf through the hall, passing by the party goers merrily enjoying the party which left Kudo to nearly spin his eyes. He was getting tired of seeing those faces as the family members moved towards the furbished wooden doors, and entered inside.


Inside, he saw the metallic hallway extend farther than his eyes can see. There were several other doors around, and bright lights on the ceiling enough to light the whole area. Kudo guessed that this is where the workers head inside before going back out to the party.


Randalf led the two behind him towards a location forward, their footsteps reverberating across the small hallway as Kudo looked up to his mother.


“W-Where are we going?” He asked, since getting away from the party is good, he felt as though something big is going to happen.


“We’re moving our spot. We have already made our presence known to some, but now, we need to address them all.”


Hikari said with a grand smile similar to that of a monarch getting ready to head out into the open. Kudo was left with a curious question forming in his mind, and his heart was starting to quicken its pace.


The two then found themselves going up the stairs after reaching the end of the hallway, going around in a spiral staircase before going back to the same hallway on the second floor.


It took them a few short minutes of walking before finding another set of doors, but this time, it was vastly different than the doors on the bottom.


The two doors were completely red like crimson, with golden colors on the edges , as if it was an entrance to paradise. As the group went in closer, they stopped before the doors, leaving Randalf to move forward and put both hands on the two golden handles.


“Let me welcome you two to my special ‘zone’, the second floor reserved only to those who have made themselves known in the business world. These are the elites—the top tier, as they say. As such, we’re going to your own zone, Miss Valkyria.”


Randalf continued to shower praises on her, however, Hikari didn’t seem to mind. Though it made Kudo wonder if he was even worthy of entering into this special ‘zone’.


However, it was already too late for Kudo to say anything about it as Randalf pushed open the doors with ease thanks to his giant body, the bright light cracking through the middle before shining on them as they open.


It was then that the familiar sound of the music playing at the background, and the dozens of voices permeating the air resounded in his ears. He was back at the party, only on the second layer above.


The floor, compared to the marble below, was covered by a crimson rug this time up here, his feet feeling the intense softness even from in his shoes. There were a few people compared to the ones on the bottom in the second floor, and each one looked as fancy as the rest of them down there. Unlike on the bottom floor, the people here were sitting on their small round tables covered by a red drape that was the same as the rug. On those tables were candles sitting on top of miniature busts of elegant animals.


However, the floor didn’t had a center flooring. There was a big hole in the center, cornered by golden railing that shined from the bright light of the chandelier hanging at the very center of the ceiling above where the floor was. The party was happening directly below them, hence it was the reason why they could hear the music from up above.


Randalf, being the one who opened for them, stepped forward after seeing somebody, a young boy a little older than Kudo, stepping forward with what appears to be a microphone in his hands. The boy hands the microphone over to Randalf as if on cue as Randalf moved towards the golden railing, making his appearance shown to the people below him.


He sucked in his big gut, and before long—


“Welcome! My fellow merchants and business partners! I hope you all are enjoying yourselves on this fine night.”


His bellowing voice, already loud enough as it is, blast through the speakers surrounding the hall, inevitably catching the attention of every single guest that could hear. Each one faced the owner of the party, his hand resting on the golden rail as his other hand occupied the microphone near his fangy mouth.


“Now I am undoubtedly sure that you all journeyed here from far and wide from hearing the wonderful news. You may believe that such a thing is downright impossible, and even if you see it for yourself, you wouldn’t believe it in your heart! However, in truth, a miracle HAS occurred!”


Randalf’s voice was like an instigator to rouse up the guests in a frenzy, raising their hands and giving out their roars as if Randalf was an announcer for a fight, revving up the guests who were watching a tournament.


Kudo could tell just how much charisma he had just from this stunt alone.


“Coming from a far away land, and now he has returned back to his homeland!”


The way Randalf spoke in such a way caused Kudo to sense something was wrong. Perhaps it was his sixth sense, or perhaps it was how familiar those words sounded to him. It was then that Hikari put a hand on his shoulder, getting him to look up to see her smiling as brightly as always as she ushered him to move forward with her eyes. The two walked forward, nearing the golden railing as Randalf continued his hype.


“Please, welcome him back with open arms and a strong applause!”


Randalf spotted the two coming forward, finishing with this sentence as Kudo came up to the railing, making his face visible to everyone there.


“Raaaah!”


A thunderous uproar of shrills and applause rained down upon them, showering them with praise and delight which has left Kudo stunned.



“W-What is going on?! Why is Kudo going up there on the second floor?”


Back at the hotel room, Hinota was more closer to the TV as her sight was dead set on Kudo and Hikari as the man talking on the TV said something about Hikari finally moving up on the second floor.


Seeing the poor young man looking stiff as a board after receiving that thunderous applause, his arms and torso shaking from the sudden noise, caused her to feel endless worry.


“Looks like it’s finally starting. It’s time for the proclamation.”


“P-Proclamation?” Hinota turned back to Kasara’s words. “What do you mean, Dear Sister?”


Hinota felt her chest tightening as she watches the news as Kasara kept silent for this moment.



“And now!” Back at the hall, Randalf continued his hype. “Please welcome, Hikari Valkyria’s next lineage, her very son, Kudo Valkyria!”


Kudo’s eyes shot open from hearing his name, and was left shocked at the last part. The crowd’s cheering was as powerful as usual, but in Kudo’s ears, they turned muffled and hard to hear.


It wasn’t Braven, but in fact Hikari’s name, Valkyria. As the people below roared in response to the happy reunion between the family, inside, his mind remained blank. He asked before if he had to forget his old name, and take in what was supposed to be his original name, yet his Mother said that he didn’t need to.


Yet, his name was gone. There was only her next ‘lineage’. His heart echoed its beatings, he lost strength in his arms. His head slumped down, and his eyes turned nearly empty.


His name was gone. His last name. The very name that has reminded him of his home, of his country, and of the people that raised him.


It was just gone.



“Kudo…!”


Hinota didn’t even had to call him or talk to him to know what is happening. She could see it all on his face through the screen, even though the guests giving their cheer right there weren’t even noticing. It was devoid of any kind of glistening light that she was used to seeing.


It was as if he was being erased on the spot.


“Oh my… that’s not a good reaction.”


Kasara noticed this herself. She studied Kudo more than anybody, and she could tell just how distraught Kudo looked. But she has never seen Kudo actually change the light in his eyes to turn so dim and empty.



Back at the hall, Hikari waved at the crowd with a celebrity kind of smile, receiving their praises like it was a natural thing. She turned to her side, expecting Kudo to be showered with praises and feeling awkward, but perhaps he was enjoying it.


But the look on his face completely overturned her expectations.


The people below could not see anything different, but to the people who knew and were close to him, they could see it as plain as day.


“Kudo…” She let out a concerned voice.


“Mother… why…?”


Before she could speak any further, Kudo raised his head and turned to Hikari, a different kind of light in his eyes.


A spark of anger.


“Why? I thought you said that it was alright for me to keep my name! Kudo raised his voice, but in amidst of the roaring cheers, nobody could hear the rise in volume except the one standing near him.


“Kudo, please calm do—”


“You said so! You said I could keep my name! When did I become your next ‘lineage’?!”


Kudo stepped back, no longer wanting to be near her. His eyes furrowed as his face showed every emotion that was flowing from his heart.


“Damn it!”


“Kudo, wait!”


In a short burst of anger, Kudo turned and ran to the door that they came from. Hikari shouted to stop him, but her hand was just too short a reach to stop him.


Randalf quickly noticed this after seeing him leave, his elated mood now turned sour as he sees this bout occur right in front of him.


“Miss Valkyria, is everything alright?”


Randalf’s tone now showed his true sincerity. He asked in concern as Hikari balled her hand into a fist as it trembled.


“Damn it, I’m such a fool!” Cursing herself, she turned quickly back. “Randalf, I’ll be back later!”


Giving out a quick demand, Hikari ran to the door, leaving behind Randalf as he was stunned to even know what was going on.


“M-Miss Valkyria?!”


His cry was left unnoticed as Hikari disappeared to find Kudo.