Hour Empty Child
This time, Kudo fell over from his chair completely and landed on the ground. Hikari looked over from across the table in surprise.
“Kudo, are you okay?!”
“Of course, I’m not okay!” Kudo answered, his feelings bursting forth as he stood up on his butt with a furious look. “Don’t you think you should have told me first that my father was a demon?! Actually, how does that even work?!”
Kudo couldn’t believe at first that demons actually existed. He read a book about the different races in the world, and according to the books, Demons were actually a race. All he knew about them were how vicious they were, and how one should be avoided at all costs due to their natural super strength and incredible magic prowess.
“Mother, did you actually marry a Demon?! How did you even made me?!”
“Why,” Hikari put her hands on her cheeks that became red as she wobbled left and right. “ When a wife and a husband love each other very much…”
“Don’t say it like that! I meant how can two different races have a child together?!”
Kudo stood up on his own two feet as he demanded an answer this time. He was far too emotionally disturbed to just let this conversation flow through easily.
“Hah, I was just kidding…” Hikari returned to normal, showing her usual smile. “Kudo, your father and I really loved each other. I know we had our differences, but… do you truly dislike the idea that your father is a demon?”
Hikari asked, as if she really wanted to know. The way her eyes looked so earnestly as she asked this made Kudo have no choice but to let his real emotions out.
“T-That’s… I never met a demon myself, so I can’t really tell whether I like them or not. But… I can’t really hate my father who is a demon without even seeing him once.”
“I see…” Hikari nodded her head, as if she knew that this would be his answer. “Then you’ll be glad to know that he isn’t my husband for nothing.”
Kudo thought more about those words. His father, the one and only Hikari Valkyria’s husband, was a demon. He couldn’t tell whether he should be proud of that or just be even more amazed that his mother was able to do such a thing.
“The demons are also one of the races that the Demon Gods created, alongside Dwarfs and Dragmers.”
“R-Really?” Kudo recalled the conversation they had when Hikari took Kudo down to the basement to see those murals on the walls.
“Yes… and that’s exactly the reason why the Rithenation was against it all.”
Now, Hikari’s eyes suddenly glowered. Kudo stayed quiet as he picked up his chair and sat back down to listen again.
“You see, because the Rithenation believes that Ritheru is the one true god, they believe that the Demon gods that were born alongside Ritheru were abominations. Anything they create, so they say, is evil and malicious. So, anyone who is involved with the Demon Gods in any way is evil in their eyes, whether or not they even knew of their existence. Demons themselves, on one hand, garner the most hatred from them.”
Kudo felt his chest tightening the more he listened. He doesn’t believe that there is a happy ending to this story.
“And so… when I became pregnant with you, they mentioned to me plenty of times to get rid of you. Because a Valkyria giving birth to a demon’s child would be nothing but a spawn of the demon for them.”
Kudo could pretty much pick up on what happened next. However, he continued to listen intently for the conclusion.
“We never saw eye to eye, so of course, I never listened to them. I loved my husband, and I loved the child inside of me. So, when you were born, I was so happy…”
Kudo spotted from the corner of his eye that Hikari’s hand formed into a fist, and that fist shook slightly with rage.
“W-What did they do?” Kudo hesitantly asked.
“…They kidnapped you, Kudo. They believed that if I couldn’t get rid of you, then if you were born, they would do it themselves.”
Kudo’s heart grew heavy. He was kidnapped, and was planned to be killed at such a young age. However, he remained alive.
(Then, how come I’m still alive…?) Kudo couldn’t believe how he thought of this without feeling slightly disturbed.
“D-Did you save me?” He thought of the possibility, but Hikari showed a frown in return.
“No… when you were kidnapped, I was administered powerful drugs from all over the world. They got me when they only wanted to talk with me to make amends. I was tricked, and became nearly paralyzed for a few short minutes.”
Kudo couldn’t believe it—whether it was how he was kidnapped, or how she was able to survive against the most powerful drugs in the world which, he assumed, would kill just about anybody.
“When I broke through the paralyzation, I rushed to get to you, but you were already taken away. I…” Hikari stopped. For a moment, she choked a bit before trying to resume. “I couldn’t save you.”
For a moment, he felt as if he understood what she felt.
Anguish, despair, pain, and anger. Losing a child, she must have felt so destroyed. No matter how much of a journey he has gone through, Kudo believed that he would never be able to understand the pain of losing a child that was just born recently…
Kudo could see just how much pain she was going through. Even if years passed by, Kudo could understand how that one moment would scar her forever.
“I wasn’t strong enough. I was overconfident and arrogant. I was, by far, the worst type of mother. I never even considered the possibility of you being taken away. And yet, it happened,” Hikari continued, her memories stinging her heart more than before. “I kept looking for you. I kept looking for a long time. But there was no trace of you. Then, I realize that the Rithenation took you out of the country. You were somewhere around the world, all alone with nobody to take care of you. I was… scared.”
The word ‘scared’ doesn’t fit her at all, yet it showed on her visage like an open book.
“And, so, I did what was natural for me back then. I hunted down the Rithenation—one by one.”
He felt his body freeze up. His eyes widened at how her tone of voice changed at that moment, and the air around her chilled to the point of becoming a deadly winter.
“Mother,” He uttered, his body almost shivered at her response.
“Kudo… this is the one thing that I didn’t want to tell you. But it’s only right that you should hear this.”
Hikari answered as soon as Kudo did, getting him to be silent as she continued her story.
“However, none of them knew where you were. And so, for the years after that, I kept looking for you. I searched every country, every little island, every remote place imaginable. When years passed by, everyone believed that you were dead… but me and your father knew differently.”
Hikari nodded, “I believe he’s still looking for you, somewhere out there.”
“Yes, though the problem is, even after I found you, there’s no way for me to contact him. He can be… pretty peculiar about that.”
Hikari smiled awkwardly as Kudo could understand what has happened in their history. Kudo was born, and the Rithenation was against it. They kidnapped him, possibly planning to kill him, and Hikari kept looking for him ever since then. It explained why she was so ecstatic, and even took him away without his permission when she finally found him.
Kudo could guess that he managed to survive and found by his foster parents, Trun and Meiki, back in Arkhem like they said. But then that means that somebody found him and put him there. Who was it? Was it a Rithenation member who felt bad for what he did?
Either way, he has no way of knowing since it happened so long ago.
“…That’s everything. There are still many things I want to tell you, but that’s pretty much how it happened. Kudo…” Hikari turned silent for a moment before answering. “Kudo… can you forgive me? Your foolish mother who couldn’t save you back then?”
She asked, this time, pleading from her heart from the look of her somber eyes. Kudo couldn’t even answer it properly, so he answered with his heart.
“…I don’t think I can hate you for what happened. There was nothing you could have done because of that. I… I’m glad that you were still looking for me, even after all this time.”
Kudo felt the sincerity of her words when she told her story. Kudo gripped his pants as he told his honest feelings.
“I’m still glad that I was raised in Arkhem. I… I had a good life, even if I wanted something more out of my life. I loved my parents.”
“I know,” Hikari answered sweetly.
“But… but then… you also… deserve to be loved too.”
Hikari widened her eyes. She met with Kudo’s eyes, looking determined, but at the same time, hesitant.
Kudo knew that she deserved better than this. That’s why she deserved to be called this.
“Even if so much time passed, is it… okay for me to call you Mom?”
Her heart swelled. Tears flowed from her eyes as she smiled and tried to wipe away the tears with her hand.
“Of course you can…!”
Kudo felt relieved knowing that Hikari answered gladly, her eyes glistening with pure joy.
Some time has passed since they started conversing. It was then that the door was knocked, catching the family’s attention. The door opens to reveal one of the subordinates under Randalf, a dwarf male, who drove in a cart that carried trays filled with small snacks and teapots for drinks. Putting them on their table to eat, the dwarf said nothing and bowed his head to them, and immediately left after receiving Hikari’s thanks.
“Go ahead, eat what you like~” Hikari’s mood seemed to have lightened after seeing Kudo widen his eyes at the treats on the table.
Joyfully eating the snacks on their table, Kudo and Hikari were having their fun bonding as the party back at the hall was nearing its end. They could have come back, but they would rather try to get back the time they have lost during these years.
Kudo answered, almost getting used to calling her by her new name which Hikari cooed as her response.
“So, how was I born? Am I a demon, too?”
Kudo had to ask, as Hikari didn’t explain that part quite well. Hikari looked up for a moment before looking back at him.
“Well, when you were born, you had nothing that would make people think that you were a demon. You had no horns, so it looks like you took on my human side.”
“I-Is that so?” Kudo felt complicated, not able to determine whether to be relieved or be a little bit sad on that.
“But…” Hikari took a moment, putting down her snack on the plate as she answered with a smile. “When you were born, me, and your father, couldn’t believe how beautiful you were when you were born.
“Hahaha…” He felt embarrassed from hearing that, but he decided to let her say it for her sake.
“When you did, though, your eyes looked more different than any other baby.”
“My eyes?” Kudo perked up his ears to hear more.
“Yes,” Hikari answered. “Your eyes, rather than the light green like right now, like my own, they were empty.”
“That’s right. How can I say this…?” Even Hikari was stumped as she explained the best she could. “They were like looking up at the night sky. There were no glittering lights, but there was a certain sheen to them. Some kind of brilliance that was difficult to describe. We thought that it was how you normally look, but when you smiled, your eyes shined so brilliantly like they do now.”
Hikari smiled endearingly as she recalled.
“So, we were joking around, but we decided to call you ‘Our Empty Child’.”
“Our empty child…?” Kudo tilted his head.
“Yes, because your eyes looked empty, like the void, but there was something beautiful about it.”
Hikari answered as she took a bite out of the muffin in her hand. Kudo couldn’t believe that he really looked that empty, but he decided to let go of it as he enjoyed the bite of his vanilla cake.