Hour Empty Child
The festive party that was occurring at the hall has finally ended. The businessmen and their associates each left with grace after tucking themselves out from elated joy over the news of Hikari Valkyria’s lineage continuing onwards, despite the fact that Hikari herself and her son was not even in the party.
However, it was not as though they didn’t have any fun. After the heavy backstory and the revealing of Kudo’s origins, the two have become closer than before. For Kudo, it was truly as if Hikari has revealed all the secrets that she kept from him solely due to the fact that she didn’t want him to know how it happened.
It was mostly because she was ashamed of herself for letting her only child, even after attaining so much strength at such an age, get taken away from her from the betrayal of the Rithenation. Though it made him shiver about the idea of Hikari ‘hunting’ down the members to get him back, he knew that it was only because she was a desperate mother at the time trying to get back her child.
And even after years has passed, she still kept looking for him, even after everyone told her that it was impossible for Kudo to even be alive. He felt closer, as if the gap between them grew shorter, and felt that Hikari truly was his mother.
Though the memories his late parents who took care of him after he was mysteriously sent to Peranim when he was a child still lingered, he believed that they wanted this from the start—for Kudo to not consider his own mother as his enemy, and accept her as his mother.
Leaving the hall, Kudo and Hikari were full on snacks, a smile on their faces as they greeted and said their farewell to Randalf, to which Kudo himself walked up to him and bowed to apologize for his behavior.
Randalf accepted his apology without any issue, and instead grew concern if he was alright, leaving Kudo to answer positively before finally saying their goodbyes and returning back to the Wayfarer that has come to pick them up.
After a cool drive to their hotel, the two were about to enter through the glass doors when suddenly they opened by themselves, revealing a very distraught Hinota.
“Kudo!” A worried look on her face, Hinota ran to him and grabbed hold of Kudo’s shoulders, getting face to face with him. “Kudo! Are you okay?!”
“Y-Yeah,” Kudo was taken aback by her abrasive concerns before he responded. “I’m fine now. But… how did you know that something happened?”
“Me and Dear Sister saw how you were proclaimed to be Kudo Valkyria on TV, and I saw that look on your face…”
“Y-You saw that?! On TV?!” Kudo’s face distorted into pure shock, seeing Kasara standing behind Hinota as she gave a short but heavy nod.
“That’s right, it was publicized on live television,” Hikari said, putting her finger to her chin as she said with a smile.
“You should have told me about that before, Mom!”
Kudo shouted back, now becoming even more embarrassed after realizing that his shameful actions were shown to everyone in the entire city. His face growing hot, Hinota realized his wording.
Hinota looked back at Kudo which got his attention, and after hearing that, he offered a smile in return.
“I’ll tell you what happened—every word.”
Since the two has been together for a while now, Kudo went with Hinota to go to Kudo’s room by themselves while Hikari went back to her vassals and maids in their room. After getting inside the room, the two getting comfortable on the bed as it was rather comfy like in the Valkyria mansion, Kudo explained everything that happened, including his origin and his mother’s search for him.
It was thanks to that explanation that the topic Kudo talked before with Hinota about his class has become clearer now than before.
“That’s incredible to hear…” Hinota was left flabbergasted. “I never thought that someone like you would go through something like that.”
“And the thing is,” Kudo continued. “I have no idea how I ended up in Peranim. Somehow or another, the Rithenation guys left me in Peranim, and someone offered me to my parents in Arkhem.”
“That someone is your savior, huh? I wonder who could it be?” Hinota relaxed on the bed, both hands supporting her as she looked up in wonder.
“I can’t even imagine,” Kudo did the same, a sigh escaping from his mouth. “Nobody in the village found me other than my parents. And it has to be someone from 15 and a half years ago… who knows where he ended up.”
Hinota became quiet for a moment, leaving the topic to dull. Since there wasn’t much else to talk about who could Kudo’s savior be, Hinota decided to press on the more alerting matter.
“Kudo, your father… he really is a demon, then?”
“Yeah…” Kudo confirmed with a nod. “It’s hard to believe, but that’s entirely the reason why I was kidnapped. They didn’t like the idea of Mom having a baby from a demon.”
“That’s awful… you were just a baby. You didn’t even do anything…”
Hinota couldn’t accept this truth. Not about his father being a demon, but the fact that because he was a demon, Kudo was sent to be killed as a young infant. The thought alone filled her with rage, but since it was such a long time when she was just a baby, there was nothing she could do about that feeling.
She wondered if this was a feeling Kudo felt when he heard about her forced marriage in the Flamver clan.
“Hey, Hinota…” Kudo spoke softly, catching Hinota’s attention as it kicked her out of her head.
Hinota tilted her head, noticing Kudo squirming to himself as he struggled to get the words out.
“You… do you… umm… do you still… wanna stay with me?”
Kudo grew hesitant on these words, his face going red. Even if he doesn’t look like it, he was still the child of a demon. Even if he didn’t personally had any issues with his father being a demon, especially hearing that he is a good man according to his mother, Kudo grew worried whether Hinota would think the same way or not.
“What are you talking about?” Hinota responded in such a way that seemed to imply that she was angered.
“W-Well, about me being the child of a demon…” Kudo got more nervous after hearing Hinota’s angered tone.
“And?” Hinota quickly shot that down. “What does that has to do with such a question?”
Hinota didn’t hold back her fury, according to the tone she used on him. Kudo, somehow, was the cause of her anger as she closed in on his face with her own, her slanted eyes glaring and scowling as if she was about to yell at him.
“Just so we’re clear, I don’t care whether you’re the child of Hikari Valkyria, or even the child of a demon—you’re still Kudo Braven, my best friend.”
Hearing his own name, with the Braven name he grew up with, Kudo’s heart sighed in relief. He unconsciously curled his lips into a smile when he heard those comforting words from Hinota herself.
“Hinota… thanks,” He uttered out from his heart.
“What’s there to thank? This should be fairly obvious. Or do you think that I’m some kind of bitch that abandons her friends after knowing who they are?” The look on Hinota’s face curled into that of a sly expression, slightly making fun of Kudo.
“Of course not,” Kudo answered firmly. “I was testing you.”
“Oh, do you think that you’re worthy enough to test me on our friendship?” Hinota snapped back. “In your dreams.”
The two fought back and forth, each with a smile on their faces as they bumped shoulder to shoulder to each other like they have transformed into little kids. To Kudo, though he said he was testing her, he was truly worried that Hinota might be fearful of him after knowing the truth.
He was glad that he was wrong in every way, and he was more glad to see that she still acted the same way to him.
Though their conversation has taken to a serious turn, it didn’t take long for Kudo and Hinota to once again involve themselves in a fun topic since they had some time before they leave.
“The party was an exhausting time…” Kudo groaned as he slumped on his bed with his back on the bed, his eyes on the ceiling.
“Yeah, I could tell. It definitely wasn’t the type you would enjoy on your own.”
Hinota was the recipient of Kudo’s complaints, though she has gotten used to his incompetence on being social. Sitting beside him while looking down at his grunting face, she felt like she was seeing a little animal tuckered out from walking.
“Yeah… I wish you would have gone in there with me. It would have been more fun.”
“Well, of course. I make everything fun,” Hinota answered as if it was the most obvious to say.
“Yeah,” Kudo smirked. “We would have had such a blast together. It really was a nice party.”
“Well, didn’t you had fun yourself?” Hinota lowered herself down, her head near his and her slanted eyes solely fixed onto his own eyes. “I mean, you looked like you really liked it when those girls were waving at you.”
Kudo felt something amiss and widened his eyes. Seeing Hinota’s eyes directly in front of him, it would normally get him embarrassed, but following the phrase she said just now, it made him feel that something was going horribly, horribly wrong.
It became to the point where his skill, the Sixth Sense, was actually blaring at him from the back of his head.
“W-What are you talking about?” Kudo had no idea what this blaring meant. But all he knew was that he was in big trouble for some reason.
“Kudo, I saw everything on TV. You were waving at them with a silly smile on your face,” Hinota answered to him, still looking at him closely with her smile never leaving her gallant face. “It really looked like you were having the time of your life.”
“W-What…? It was nerve-wracking!” Kudo shouted. “I had no choice, or I would have been mean to them.”
Kudo was just about ready to stand up to get away from her deadly glare. Usually, Kudo enjoyed seeing such a glare as they were beautiful to see, but this time, those glaring eyes seemed too dangerous for Kudo to handle.
However, as he was about to stand up, Hinota quickly pushed him down onto the bed, her hand on his chest while still glaring at him from above. Kudo was pushed down unexpectedly, but when he tried to move himself out, he felt a rather strong force keeping him down on the bed. Hinota was using her vast strength to keep him pinned.
“Yes, Kudo?” Hinota answered with a bit of sweetness, but at the same time, an unexpected chill was emitted from her.
“Is there something wrong?”
Hinota said, but her grip on him became even stronger than usual. Kudo felt his heart racing, feeling as if he was about ready to cry.
“But I would love to talk about how you felt during that. How about it? Let’s have a nice little chat~”
Despite that she had the most innocent looking smile on her fine lips, a fire raged like a blazing inferno within those purple eyes. Kudo’s throat ran dry as he knew deep inside that it was too late for any recovery.
He thought subconsciously that he should have brought some potions with him.
In the meanwhile, during Kudo and Hinota’s conversation, Hikari was spending some time with Kasara in her room, where Hinota and Kasara were watching the Valkyria family in their party.
“From the look of things, I say it turned out rather well,” Kasara made her statement aloud, sipping on her cup of tea as she made a small smile to her master.
“Hehe, it did have its setbacks,” Hikari said, revealing her own small smile in return.
“Like the fact that you made your own son hate you? I think that’s more than just a setback.”
Hikari said casually, putting the butt of her hand underneath her chin to see Kasara make her sharp statement.
“Hopefully, this will teach you a lesson on restraining yourself when it comes to personal favors. Kudo isn’t like you, after all. He’s a sensitive boy who was forced to turn tough, as he shown from the secret training he does at night.”
“Yes… I believe you’re right about that,” Hikari muttered to her as she looked to the side. “But what kind of mother would I be if I can’t go all out for my boy?”
“Wasn’t this for yourself, instead?” Kasara tried to correct her words, but Hikari only looked at her.
“This way, Kudo would learn what it is like to be a Valkyria. It wasn’t my intention to use him. I know he’s shy around strangers, but if I don’t teach him the ins and outs of socialism, he might get chewed out by some know-it-all prick.”
“Ah, so you’re teaching him the ways how a Valkyria should act.”
Kasara understood now what she meant. Being a Valkyria had its perks, but it also had its drawbacks. Kasara knows full well the heavy weight of a famous name, though it has been a while for her since she was last seen as part of the clan rather than just her name.
“Well, in the end, it didn’t really matter. Kudo is still Kudo, no matter what. Though I hope that he doesn’t see me as some kind of monster after telling him that story.”
“He already did,” Kasara smirked. “But now he sees you as a caring mom.”
“That’s harsh, Kasara...”
Feeling the full brunt of Kasara’s sharp-tongued remarks, Hikari let out a wry chuckle. Putting her hand down, she made a smile to herself.
“Kasara, is Hinota the kind to judge other people by their race?”
“Of course not,” Kasara clearly denied. “She wasn’t raised to be such a woman.”
“…Good. Then it should be fine for her to learn about Kudo’s true race.”
Her words rang through Kasara, causing her brows to wrinkle.
“…You mean as a half-demon?” She asked which brought back a nod from Hikari.
“This is a truth only a few of us in the Alpha Heart knows—about Kudo being the first known half-demon. It looks like Kudo himself doesn’t believe it as well as I thought, but the truth remains that demon blood runs through him.”
“It’s hard to believe at all that he’s a demon. He shows no sign of being a demon, nor does he have the strength or magical prowess. He does have some strange skills,” Kasara looked back at her cup, her tea nearly being empty. “But that’s just from his strange class.”
“Perhaps his human side took over his physical appearance,” Hikari declared. “Or maybe it hasn’t grown in yet. Either way, perhaps this is for the better.”
“The city of Triun isn’t exactly ready to have a demon living amongst them, anyway.”
Kasara said harshly, her slanted eyes showing the discomfort she feels for that.
“Yes… but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prepare in case such a thing happens.”
Kasara knew exactly what she was saying. Even if it wasn’t spoken, as her vassal and close aide, even being the vice-master, she knows her master well enough to figure out what she was saying.
It was the start of a mission that is indirectly given to her. It’s not exactly first priority, but it should remain in the back of the mind.
Once the air has been cleared from any tension, the group went on to sleep. Fitty and Par were left on their own without even realizing what has happened between Hikari and Kudo. Kagero was in his room sleeping away as Hinota and Kasara were sleeping peacefully together in the same bed, being that it was such a long time since they have had slept together on the same bed since they were little.
As for Kudo, after surviving Hinota’s incredibly detailed interrogation that was done to him for some reason, was recovering from the mental strain put on him as he was sleeping soundly in Hikari’s room… on the floor, because he would rather sleep there than sleep in his mother’s bed where she was. Though she was saddened by this, she didn’t object to this, and slept peacefully as well.
As the moon shone through the window glass in the deep night, Kudo woke up from his rather comfortable bed spreading, becoming teary-eyed as he peered at his side from below to see Hikari’s sleeping face from the light.
Seeing such a face, one would wonder if it was a work of art. Kudo looked back at the ceiling, and decided in his mind.
(After everything that happened, I think it’s time for me to… do something about this.)
Recalling the time within the guild where he would normally stay away from the rest with his party members, he knew that such an attitude was unbecoming for the son of the guild master.
And thus, he agreed to a decision he made to himself.
(It’s only natural… right?)
Kudo smirked to himself as he couldn’t wait to spread his news to the guild.