Hour Empty Child
The servants came to the main hall and were ordered to drag the table away from the center. With the table to the side, it provided more space for the two to fight in.
The hall had enough space to not only have a good fight on its red rug, it also let the other servants watch the fight alongside the Flamvers.
The Flamvers believed that the outcome was inevitable, with two of them fearing for her life and the other two sighing and snickering about the outcome.
Entering onto the large rug, Hinota steeled herself by the look of her fiery purple eyes. She moved her hand to the sash of the kimono and untied the sash.
What would have been a rather naughty image was actually Hinota taking off her kimono to reveal her already adorned Silver Blazed heavy armor that Kudo has painstakingly created for easier movement.
She was already wearing the armor underneath the kimono, and only wanted to do that to show off her armor in a dramatic fashion, and how she was serious at fighting for her freedom.
“I-Is that Rabacite armor?!”
Zukan, being an adventurer himself, was left slack-jawed after noticing the silver sheen on her armor, even though it was being bent and bended as if it was leather armor. It also caught everyone else by surprise by the look of their shocked expressions.
“B-But that kind of ore is impossible to find…”
Haruka, being knowledgeable in the market, noticed the rarity of that ore and knew of its lack of numbers on the shelves.
However, entering into the rug himself, Lariz stood with no change in his expression. He took a while to put his armor, but now he wore his excessively gaudy armor of red and gold, his lance standing proudly in his right hand.
Hinota figured that Lariz wouldn’t falter even after seeing her armor and reached for her magic bag on her hip. Her hand disappeared into another space like an actual bag and took out a sheathed weapon, long and curved, into existence.
She placed the sheathed weapon onto her hip, attaching it to it, and proceeded to pull the katana out of the sheath. She brandished the splendid blade and positioned it right in front of her, in the same position that she took for her daily training.
Steeling her gaze, Hinota glared at Lariz who snickered as he smirked, having no worry plastered on his face.
“Listen, I’ll be nice,” Lariz said in a haughty tone. “I don’t want to tear up your pretty face. But since you made me angry, I’ll only leave one scar or two.”
Lariz pointed the lance directly at her, a smile creeping on his hips as his mentality cannot even fathom a loss to her.
Hinota smirked, becoming giddy, “I’ll also won’t hurt your only redeeming feature, but if it comes to that, then I apologize in advance.”
Hearing such a nonchalant provocation only caused a growl to be let out by Lariz gritting his teeth in frustration.
“Hinota! Stop this foolishness and beg for forgiveness!”
Kinako shouted at the top of her lungs. Though this kind of act is expected as a mother, but the logic behind it was making Hinota slightly more frustrated on the inside.
“We’re willing to forget this pointless aggravation. Just calm down and—”
Hinota’s tone of voice suddenly cut through the air, leaving everyone to jolt as Hinota turned her head around, her heavy glare finally reaching to her mother.
“You will no longer speak for me.”
In translation to her formal words: ‘Shut the hell up’.
Kinako remained shocked at the fact that her own daughter has said this to her.
“L-Lord Father-in-law!” As his last-ditch effort, Honchu faced against Inferuno. “Please! Don’t’ let them do this! Hinota will get hurt!”
Hearing that her father had absolutely no faith in her abilities, Hinota’s frustration was reaching its peak. However, she put this aside as she tried to focus on the battle at hand.
“I’m sorry, Son-in-law,” Inferuno said in a slight casual manner. “But this is a decision Hinota herself has made. She chose this, and she will act according to that choice. This has always been the Flamver way, though it has been lost for some time now.”
Inferuno ignored the distraught look on Honchu’s face as he looked directly at the two adventurers who were waiting for their match to start.
“When an adventurer disagrees with another, it only makes sense that one fight it out to show what they are truly feeling. Hinota has always been the quiet-type inside the manor, but now we are hearing her true voice. This might be our last chance of hearing it, so I suggest that you perk up your ears.”
The words Inferuno said rang through the hall, reaching through every family member, both Honchu and Kinako especially. On the other side, Haruka saw this bout with a slight wrinkle in her brows.
“Lariz! She is still your future wife! You better not hurt her too much!” Having no choice, Haruka gave a warning to her son.
“Understood!” Lariz agreed wholeheartedly. “I’ll only beat her around a little to show just how rough adventurers can be!”
“Bro! Take her down from her high horse!”
Zukan, Lariz’ younger brother, cupped the right side of his mouth while launching a fist in the air. Lariz smirked as he also raised a fist to show that he will do so.
“Now then,” Inferuno clapped his meaty hands together. The result formed a powerful sound that reverberated throughout the hall. “It’s time for the fight to begin! Flamvers! At your swords!”
Upon his words, Hinota immediately got into position and formed a stance by lifting her blade upwards, the blade gleamed from the light of the mana stones as if her very presence was as sharp as a sword.
Lariz, however, was not faltered by this as he also put himself into a stance. Moving his lance forward while bending his knees, Lariz formed a confident grin.
“Little Hinota, tell me when it hurts. Because sometimes I don’t know my own strength.”
Lariz’ words, used as provocation, brought chills down Kinako and Honchu. However, when they reached Hinota’s ears, she grinned back which surprised Lariz.
“Come and show me just how rough adventurers can be then, Lord Cousin.”
Hinota loosened her stance, making it seem less serious and more confident as if she has this in the bag. Lariz wrinkled his brows as he pointed his lance at Hinota.
“You’ll regret your words!”
Having no more patience to deal with his little cousin’s impudence, Lariz charged forward, the tip of his lance aiming right at Hinota’s torso.
Kinako and Honchu were left agape to see that it actually started. While Haruka and Zukan looked on with a concerned look, Inferuno watched with an elated look on his face.
His speed was enough to cover the distance between the two as he used all he had to charge in as soon as he could. However, Hinota smiled as she could see the attack as if it was in slow motion, and instead of dodging it, Hinota positioned her katana instead.
*Ting!* Hinota bounced the charging lance’s attack off as if it was just a flying pebble. The sound of the two weapons clashing reverberated throughout the hall as sparks flew out in reaction from them. A look of shock went through Lariz’ face as the other Flamver members were kept silent.
“Ooh…?” Inferuno grinned to himself after seeing such a wonderful block.
Lariz couldn’t even believe what just happened. Finding his arm holding the lance outstretched from the force, he took a few steps back and quickly got back into his stance.
The look of Lariz’s distraught face was all it took to make Hinota curl her lips into a devastating devil smile.
“D-Did she just…?” Zukan, who was also an adventurer, could barely manage to see what just happened.
Hinota has deflected Lariz’ powerful strike as if it was nothing. Even her parents had a look of shock on their faces as Lariz gritted his teeth.
“Is that all, cousin?” Hinota continued to gloat, moving her body to a relaxed stance while tilting her head. “Or are you just playing around?”
She pointed the katana at Lariz, a jaunty smile on her lips. Lariz’ vein throbbed even more, gritting his teeth enough to grind them together in frustration.
“You damn bitch!”
His anger grew to substantial levels and charged in again, his lance flying out of control and aiming right at Hinota.
But even as he lunged his lance right at her, Hinota once again blocked it by intercepting the attack to the side, once again the sparks flew out as the sharp sound reverberated.
Lariz wouldn’t take this down and continued his onslaught, his rage stacking up. However, Hinota still showed an easy-going smile on her face as she blocked each of his attacks.
The sounds of weapons clashing and the sparks flying out between the two left the onlookers shocked and amazed at the same time. The servants had a hard time believing that Hinota, the youngest of the family, was fighting against the pride of the Flamver family like an adult fighting against a child.
Meanwhile, Lisa and Maon looked on with a smile on their faces as they knew exactly how the match will end up. Maon gripped his fist as he smirked to himself while Lisa lowered her brows as her gaze watched every scene, especially with Hinota as the center star in her mind.
Lariz would pierce with all he had, but he could never catch Hinota’s flowing movements, as if she was dancing around the battlefield with her katana as the fan. It was like the traditional dance for their city where the girls wearing kimono would move their hands along the air with one fan in their hand to show off their grace and elegance, enough to charm those around them.
Hinota was doing exactly that. Her flowing movements and focused attacks were like a dance in itself, leaving everyone gaping at the sight.
To Lariz, each attack of his was like trying to pierce a leaf falling from a tree on a windy day. And even if he could aim right at her, Hinota would just deflect it off like a sturdy boulder that wouldn’t even budge.
Lariz grew even more frustrated. Feeling humiliated to the point of reaching the edge of his sanity, Lariz took a step back and swung his lance over his head.
The lance then combusted into flames, the once gold and red look became shrouded in a powerful blaze which caught Hinota’s attention.
Lariz shouted at the top of his lungs, his eyes becoming bloodshot as he swung down his lance, the tip of his lance aiming to cut apart Hinota.
However, Hinota was prepared for this. Her katana, glimmering from the light, also combusted into flames, catching everyone’s attention as she made her own skill.
Hinota swung diagonally upwards, her flaming katana and Lariz’ flaming lance heading right for each other.
Sparks and embers flew out between each other as the two weapons clashed. As they did, the result showed a powerful explosion of fire bursting forth, leaving everyone to the edge as their surroundings became shrouded in black smoke.
““Hinota!”” Kinoka and Honchu both shouted together, sweat streaming down their faces as the smoke was starting to clear.
Coming out of that smoke was Lariz’ body flying out, his scream ringing through the hall before he caught himself in time and landed properly on his feet.
His face and armor looked dirtier than before, becoming covered in soot. His body heaved heavy breaths as his shoulders slumped up and down as he looked ahead, a scowl on his pretty face.
Coming out of the smoke was Hinota who walked as easily as passing through a door, not a single soot covering her beautiful visage while a confident smile grew on her lips. Her armor showing no soot whatsoever, she aimed her shimmering katana right at Lariz.
“W-What the hell… are you?!”
Growing outraged, and at the same time frightened, he asked in a way as if he was looking at a monster.
Her smile never leaving her face, she answered: “An adventurer, Lord Cousin. I’m an adventurer.”
“S-Screw that! There’s no way that you can get this powerful so easily, and just in six months!”
Gripping onto his lance’s hilt, he demanded another answer that will satisfy his unjust rage. Hinota’s smile now turned into a serious frown as she lowered her sword.
“Unlike somebody here who spends their time and money celebrating in bars and enjoying the luxurious stays at expensive inns, me and Kudo were out training and forming strategies to get ourselves more powerful than before. Our vacation time is putting more time into our grinding, so to speak.”
Reminding herself of the past, Hinota’s smile returned. She looked back at Lariz who seemed to be seething with rage.
“Increasing our proficiencies, training our crafting skills, grinding our stats from hardcore training… we did everything we could to have the best items and status. That’s why, Lord Cousin, I am beating you with all of my hard work and experience.”
“SCREW THAT!” Lariz snapped. “That’s not possible! I’ve been an adventurer for years! Years! More years than you ever spent! It’s not possible!”
“It is possible. Even with a head start, you’ve been fooling around for so much that your level was stuck and never improved. You never took the time to train yourself against various monsters and only focused on completing quests to gain more money. Taking quests is important, but to take down more difficult quests, adventurers should always train themselves for whatever situation there is.”
“Shut up! Who are you to lecture me?! I am your superior!”
Lariz pointed at Hinota as if he was relaying a true fact. Meanwhile, Hinota was growing annoyed at being put aside despite that she was trying to give him advice as the stronger adventurer.
She understands that it is difficult for someone to accept what could be helpful to them from someone who was younger than him. Even to the point of knowing what it feels like when everything you did couldn’t compare to beating someone with more levels due to an unfair glitch in nature.
However, she knew that she had the right to say this. Unlike Shinezu, who only relied on taking out innocent people, she worked herself to the bone to increase her power, and helped other people in the process.
That’s why she will never accept Shinezu’s ideology of getting ‘stronger faster’. While there is taking efficiency into account, cheating your way through by taking the easiest path and exploiting other people is never the correct answer for true strength. She will continue to believe that the way that she and Kudo have made to make themselves stronger is the correct way.
So, seeing Lariz who is too ignorant to even try to understand the correct way of becoming stronger is not worthy of spending her time.
“Then, why don’t we prove it?” Hinota had enough of his screaming, catching his attention.
“H-Huh?!” Lariz shouted, his throbbing vein being very apparent to everyone watching this fight.
Hinota unsheathed her katana, surprising the family members as she slowly lifted her hand upwards. Channeling her mana, she gathered heat in front of her palm, and soon, sparks flew out and ignited a powerful fire in a spherical form to appear.
Lariz widened his eyes. This was the first time he ever saw a skill that large and majestic before. He could even feel the heat coming from Hinota’s fire even from the large distance between them.
“Are you ready to see just how your skill can match up to mine? We’ll see with the first skill we ever learned as Hell Knights!”
Hinota’s eyes grew sharper the moment those words rang out. Lariz was left trembling, his body instinct forged from his adventures telling him that the skill she put out was more stronger than his own.
However, in the back of his mind, he couldn’t believe it. It became to the point that he was ignoring the heat, gritting his teeth as he tossed away his lance to the floor, and forcibly brought his hand out.
“Grr!” A similar flame to Hinota also formed in front of his palm, though the radiance and the heat were slightly lower than the one Hinota formed.
“Are you prepared, Lord Cousin?!” Hinota once again asked.
“J-Just shut up!” Lariz snapped back, a sweat streaming down his temple.
“Then, here I go!”
Both fireballs were shot right at each other. One fireball, burning with a furious blaze, and the other, a somber like flame, quickly crashed into each other, making everyone believe that it would result in a huge explosion that would leave the room desolated.
However, contrary to what everyone believed, the bigger fireball that Hinota shot devoured the small flame Lariz made, the bigger fireball now heading straight towards Lariz who was left slack-jawed and wide-eyed.
An explosion took place, just as the crowd expected. But it turned out that the end result of that explosion was done on Lariz who was covered in a rising pillar of smoke which nearly covered the hall.
Everyone who coughed tried to see what was going on while others wisely used a handkerchief to cover their mouths and noses.
The Flamver members could finally see the end result after the smoke cleared. Hinota remained standing as she usually did, leaving a powerful impression of a lioness that could stand against a horde of monsters.
Meanwhile, the smoldering pile on the floor with his limbs stretched out and eyes completely white was Lariz who was knocked out by a ‘simple’ fireball.
“N-No way…! Dear Brother lost?!”
Zukan rose to his feet to see his beloved big brother defeated by their young cousin so easily. Haruka also stood, her mouth gaping at the sight of her son.
“L-Lariz!” Haruka screamed out as she ran to her son to aid him.
Kinako and Honchu could not make a more shocked look on their faces even if they tried. The mere thought that Hinota could be able to beat their star adventurer is too far-fetched.
Yet, it was done so. And Hinota barely broke a sweat.
Turning back to them, Hinota gave one final glare to her parents, as if relaying the words ‘I had this’. Leaving an impression on them, Hinota didn’t have to spare any words for them as she turned back around to see Inferuno whose smile never left his lips.
“Lord Grandfather, I have proven my abilities,” Hinota walked up to Inferuno as she relayed her report. “If you like to, you can even see my status.”
“Mmh,” Inferuno saw Hinota’s stern and powerful glare and smirked. “Yes, I would like to see it for myself.”
Hinota, giving Inferuno a smile, spoke ‘status menu’ and a screen popped out in front of her. Hinota then dragged the screen with her finger and flung the screen towards Inferuno, the screen appearing right in front of him as he read her status.
“Mmh… incredible. To think that I could see such a status in this family…” Inferuno was much more interested in the class name than the points, his index finger and thumb rubbing his bearded chin.
“Lord Grandfather,” Hinota spoke once again, catching Inferuno out of his trance as he looked back at her. “I wish to make my demand.”
Hinota moved forward, ignoring her downed opponent as his mother called in the servants to aid him with potions. Hinota then bowed, her right knee on the floor as she raised her head to face Inferuno.
“Ah, yes, you said that you wanted a demand. What would you like for me to do?”
Hinota waited for this day to come. Everyone looked in surprise as they expected her to demand to not marry Lariz as she wanted.
But it won’t end there.
As long as she lived there, she will be under constant watch by the other members. She was sure that after this, not only will they try to put a tighter reign on her, they will also, most likely, use her vast strength to further their own agendas.
Even if she is free of marriage, the fact that she will continue to be trapped within the family is still high.
Not to mention, there was still the matter of Kudo being persecuted as a criminal under false charges.
So, she made the one possible answer that will fix both problems at the same time, finally releasing her to break the chains her family has wrapped her in.
“…In order to let this family retain its honor, and to protect my friend, there is only one demand I would like to ask.”
Inferuno furrowed his brows as he looked at Hinota closing her eyes once before opening them up, as if resolving herself to do this.
“I… wish to cut my ties with the Flamver family.”