Hour Empty Child
The family returned back to the party where it was still in full swing despite that the main guests were going through a solemn time just a few moments ago.
Upon returning, they heard hurried footsteps and short gasps, making them turn to face against the running Randalf and his subordinate who came side by side to check them out.
The look on Randalf’s face showed an expression that seemed unlikely—full of concern for them.
“Miss Valkyria! What on earth has happened? Has something happened to the boy?”
His tone of voice and his overly-concerned questions brought Kudo to a dazed state, surprised to see Randalf change a full 360-degree turn for their sake.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” Hikari assured. “There was a misunderstanding, but it’s fine for now. However, I do wish for you to arrange a room for us to have a private conversation. May I ask this of you, Randalf?”
“O-Of course, Miss Valkyria. Please, follow me.”
Randalf’s subordinate knew to give him a handkerchief as his sweat was trickling down his face. After calming himself down, Randalf led the two back to the hallway where they once were, bypassing the other businessmen and reaching to the door at the end.
Once again back at the hallway where he ran away from, Kudo looked up at Randalf from the back, still stunned to see his behavior.
“He may act slimy,” Hikari answered Kudo’s silent question. “But in truth, he cares a lot when it comes to his close allies. He’s a softy during emergencies.”
Taking her answer to himself, Kudo figured that Randalf was actually a nicer person than he believed.
They finally reached the single crimson door, and when Randalf opened it up, it was a considerably fancy room.
The inside was as if it was from the Valkyria mansion. The interior design seemed like it came from a castle, furnished with various furniture and a single table with chairs to sit upon. It was exactly the kind of room one would have a meeting with associates to discuss business.
“Please, use this room.”
Randalf has given them the exclusive hall’s meeting room, usually used for himself when talking with his business partners, so that the Valkyria family would have a long talk. Hikari knew of this first hand, showing a pleasant smile on her face.
“Thank you, Randalf. I’ll compensate you when everything is over.”
“Please, think nothing of it. Take your time.”
Randalf politely bowed his head before leaving the two along with his subordinate. Waving her hand to him, Hikari turned to the door and entered inside which inevitably invited Kudo in.
The air was cool and nice, and the atmosphere was pleasant, unlike the complete festive mood going on in the main hall. Kudo sat down at one of the chairs near the stone-marble table, where Hiari sat at the opposite end.
“Ah, finally. Alone at last.”
Hikari commented with a smile, but for Kudo, it became tense for him once more. He was about to find out about his past, and about what Hikari’s reason was as to why he was in Peranim.
What she said earlier bothered him a lot, so he had his full attention on her.
He said, but he couldn’t get any words out. However, Hikari knew that it was a tell sign of him to say that he needed to know now.
“I can tell that you’re eager to know, and I’m willing to tell you,” Hikari said as she conjoined her fingers together underneath her chin, now a somber expression showing on her regal face. “But, to be honest, I didn’t want you to know about this.”
She looked down at the table for a moment before meeting Kudo’s eyes with her own.
“I’m sure you must be aware that it is insane for someone like me to have a child. And for the most part, it’s mostly true.”
Kudo listened carefully, feeling his throat clogging up from the tension.
“First,” Hikari clasped her hands together, making a clapping sound once as if to resolve herself to tell her story. “I need to tell you about the Valkyria family. Let me just say that in our family, we always strive for success.”
“It’s a given, from what our class let us do.”
Hearing about the class again, Kudo furrowed his brows.
“The Valkyria class… it is a class blessed upon us by the one and only Ritheru. Not only that, but in our family, we are the only ones who have a direct link with him. I’m sure you know by the encounter we had with him a few months ago.”
He couldn’t ever forget that moment even if he tried. Kudo met a god for the first time—a real live god. Remembering him made him recall the burning he felt in his body, and the half mark Ritheru created on his hand.
“As such, since this country and some parts of the world know of our connection, we have always been famous. For example, the very first one to receive Ritheru’s blessing, Yurigen Valkyria, was the very one who took control of the battle against a horde of monsters in this region, eventually leading up to the formation of the Roprase country.”
“R-Really?! Our ancestor made the country?!”
“Not exactly. It was his close friends who formed it. He was the one that cleaned up the monsters that crowded in it.”
Since Lerabelum is a nation with the strongest monsters, it was obvious that Yurigen, Kudo’s ancestor, would be known worldwide for defeating them to make a country within that nation.
He could picture that very ancestor in his mind. He imagined a strong character, both body and spirit, with a body of a colossal titan sculpted to perfection.
“So, it’s because of that that the world would watch us for anything, because we have the power to control the very foundation of this world.”
“W-What can the class do?” Kudo figured as he couldn’t exactly know from his own class.
Kudo said in a way that meant it to be in awe, not in praise. Such a power is too much for a 15 and a half-year-old boy like Kudo.
“Still, it’s not like we’re stone cold gods or anything. We’re really just regular humans with interesting skills as adventurers. Other than our fame, we normally get along with each other. Though, since we like to go out in the flames of glory, me and you are the only ones left in the family.”
“Our family are a dangerous lot of adventurers.”
Hikari smirked, forming a glint in her eyes as she said it, though it left Kudo to feel that it must have been lonely for Hikari to be the only one left.
“Still, that doesn’t mean I was alone. I joined the guild Alpha Heart, created solely for adventurers with Special Classes. I believe I was around your age when I did…”
“I-I see…” Kudo got to learn more about how she started. “And you became the guild master, too…”
“You thought that the guild was formed by me, right?” Hikari gave a small smirk.
“Hehe,” Hikari chuckled. “It may seem like I formed it, but in truth, the guild was rather small before I joined. We didn’t have that many members, though there were some that knew of our existence due to the number of Special Classes.”
“Eh…” Kudo nodded slowly.
“Though, it was after I joined that we started facing raid bosses and win all the time, so that’s another reason why you could say that I was destined to become a guild master for the Alpha Heart.”
“A-Ah…” Kudo felt his sweat streaming down his temple.
“But the doctrine of the Alpha Heart guild stayed with me since the former guild master stepped down, so I make sure that everyone in our guild acts like an alpha.”
Hearing Hikari speak so fondly of their doctrine, Kudo could tell that she loved the idea of everyone being the leader in their own right.
“Though it wasn’t just the Alpha Heart that kept me company. Our family, throughout the years, have indirectly formed a… cult, of sorts.”
Somehow, the word didn’t bode well for him. If he remembers correctly, a cult is a fanatical group of people who strictly follow their religion, even if it meant doing something radical.
“Yes, and those people are the worst.”
Sometimes, Kudo wishes that he can be wrong sometimes.
Suddenly, Hikari’s tone was lowered, and her gaze steeled itself into a furious look. Kudo could feel the air around her change dramatically.
“The cult was called the Rithenation—a group of people who gathered together to serve under our family, apostles of their beloved and only lord, Ritheru. The Rithenation were the ones who worshipped Ritheru, and after finding us to find out that we had his blessing, they served us to their utmost extent.”
“S-So they’re like servants?”
Kudo tried to make the distinction between them and the maids who serve Hikari in her mansion, however, he couldn’t see that at all from the look on Hikari’s face.
“Close. They were also our clergymen. The Rithenation gather people together who believes that Ritheru is the true god, and the other gods were just his puppets. They try to convince everyone that Ritheru should be the only one worshipped.”
“T-That sounds…” Kudo could hardly make up the words.
“Kudo, you know that everyone worships different gods according to the region, right?”
“Yeah. Though in Peranim, we only worshipped Isabel.”
“That’s about right, but the Rithenation tried to take down the other gods’ name in order to bring Ritheru into the spotlight. They were ‘those’ kinds of people that tried to force their religion down people’s throats, and nobody liked that. But since they served our family, nobody tried to say anything against them.”
“So…” Kudo felt his chest tightened. “They were using the Valkyria family to further their own goals?”
“Yes,” Hikari smirked. “Looks like you already got it. It was clear to our family what these people were trying to do, but it wasn’t as if they were doing anything terrible. We just let it slide, as long as they didn’t do anything rash.”
Kudo could tell that there was more to this story. Hikari continued on.
“When I was born, they helped raised me to be a proper successor to the Valkyria name, and if you know me, you would know how terrible that turned out.”
“Y-You didn’t get along with them well, did you?” Kudo guessed at his best.
“Oh, not at all,” Hikari answered as easily as she could, getting Kudo to break out into a sweat. “They tried to control me to be the great apostle worthy of Ritheru’s name, and even had the gall of controlling my love life as well by finding a man for me to marry.”
“A-And what happened after that?” Kudo became more interested, like he was hearing a drama show regarding her life.
“Well…” A smile rose from her lips. Compared to before, that smile of hers showed her feminity. “I found a man of my own, and fell in love with him.”
Kudo could tell the most that this man was certainly someone of interest in her eyes.
“And that’s…” Kudo guessed.
“Yes. He is your father—Yamiro.”
“Yamiro…” Kudo repeated his biological father’s name again.
It didn’t sound natural to him, but yet, it felt somewhat nostalgic despite that he never heard it before.
“W-What kind of guy is he?”
Kudo’s attention now turned to his father getting Hikari to smile warmly after seeing her son’s sudden interest.
“He’s…” Hikari’s smile turned awkward. “A quiet man. He didn’t speak out much.”
“Eh…” Kudo tilted his head. He didn’t understand that part.
“However, his character stood out far more than his words ever did. His actions speak for themselves, I believe that’s how the saying goes,” Hikari continued. “It was strange how we first met… but I knew from then on that he would be the one that I would stay with for all my life.”
“And… what happened afterward?” Kudo nearly swallowed air.
He couldn’t believe that something must have happened to Hikari’s beloved, but he still feared for her response.
“Why, we got married, and then we made you.”
Kudo almost fell off his chair. It happened so quickly that it seemed like it was that fast in real life.
“Hehe, we were that much in love with each other. Though, there were some concerns from the other people.”
“L-Like what?” Kudo asked as he positioned himself correctly on his chair to hear more.
“Like how your father was a demon, for example.”