Hour Empty Child
Ever since Hinota has moved into Roprase, she has been adventuring like her life depended on it, along with her new party members—Tsuchi and Mizuri.
During the time that has passed, Hinota and the others grew closer together the more quests and grinding they went through.
Hinota put them through the ringer when she put them on her hellish spartan training, which is usually just working out their bodies till they can’t take it anymore, and the two jocks were used to training daily.
Other than training their main core stats, they were also grinding, such as hunting small monsters around the vicinity to collect not only loot but experience and proficiency in their skills.
Because of that, Tsuchi and Mizuri have grown stronger than they had before, making Hinota proud of her work.
During their time together, they also shared stories about each other whenever they had the time. Hinota learned that Tsuchi and Mizuri came from the same city called Eugonich, and their families knew each other since they were young.
Tsuchi’s family were, surprisingly, full of women, and Mizuri’s family were the opposite—full of men.
Hinota couldn’t believe such a family at first, but after taking a closer look at their personalities, it clicked. Mizuri was stubborn and direct, like a man. It didn’t help her at all that her chest was also similar to that of a slim man.
Meanwhile, though Tsuchi had such an intimidating presence, he showed an aura of a caring and gentle bear. What made him more feminine is that he was used to knitting and sewing, his family’s specialty.
The two families knew each other since the Seaser family always needed armor from the Eartherin family, so the two were very close.
Tsuchi and Mizuri knew each other for a long time, much like childhood friends. The two set off together on a journey the moment they became of age, and graduated out of Adventurer’s School after 6 required months.
It was then that Hinota told her own story, from her time adventuring in Peranim. The two were surprised that she came from such a backwoods country, but they realized why Hinota seemed out of place even when dealing the most basic of appliances.
Because of that, the two took the time to teach her about the useful appliances she will use in her new life, and even had fun as they saw Hinota looking so adorable as she fumbles around like a true country bumpkin, much to Hinota’s dismay.
They even got a Mana Phone, an extremely useful tool more efficient than the Growth Crystal communicator since they can also send texts and even make video calls, a feature that leaves Hinota dazzled.
Since then, months passed by, enough to make the EarthFire party members move out to different cities and travel around the country.
“So, the end goal is to reach Triun?”
Hinota, on the way there by the taxi ame, sat beside the two childhood friends in their plushy seats and asked about their finishing line. With an excited look on their faces, Tsuchi and Mizuri explained:
“Yeah!” Mizuri answered.
“We’re hoping that we could join a guild there,” Tsuchi explained their excitement.
“A guild, huh? What’s it called?”
Hinota has already learned the process of guilds and how they work, so she asked which exactly was the guild that got her party members all riled up.
“It’s called Alpha Heart. It’s known as the greatest guild across Roprase—no, across the entire continent!” Mizuri spoke highly of the guild, enough to see sparkles coming out of her eyes with a big smile on her lips.
Hinota was left surprised at how such a guild is so famous across the continent, especially the continent known as Lerabelum, the toughest land in the world.
“Are they really that impressive?”
“Hell yeah!” Tsuchi answered with gusto. “They do raids whenever they get the time, so they got so many treasures that we never even heard of!”
Hearing Tsuchi’s over-ecstatic reply left Hinota to lose her usual composure and nearly burst out screaming.
She learned from Kudo as he learned it from the guidebook. A raid was something about taking out the most powerful boss, a couple of times stronger than the usual powerful bosses. And just doing one raid is enough to deplete every resource known to man, and it takes a lot of time and planning to complete even among high-ranking adventurers.
For a guild to do multiple raids to the point of even doing it in their spare time, and hearing that they succeed every time, Hinota couldn’t believe that such a guild actually existed.
“And so far, rumor has it that Alpha Heart is looking only for members that have Special Classes, something that all of us have!”
Tsuchi said with a wide smile that brought Mizuri to smile as well. The two were ecstatic knowing that since they had Special Classes, they can join the guild as part of the requirement.
Hinota was left astounded that they had such grand goals, but she quickly smiled knowing that those were worthy goals to pursue.
“And not to mention, we could see the most powerful adventurer of all time!” Mizuri clasped her hands together, her tone changing to that of a fangirl in awe.
“The most powerful adventurer?” Hinota’s ears perked up hearing this.
“The MOST powerful! The only one of adventurer-kind that can manage to get the SSS-Rank, and is called the legendary adventurer that has ever come across our time!”
Hinota sounded even more stupefied to hear about the adventurer’s own ranking. Was there such a thing as SSS-Rank? That sounded like a made-up rank for those stupidly powerful adventurers.
“W-Who is he?” Hinota had to ask, her curiosity bubbling like a volcano.
“Not he—she! She’s the one and only Hikari Valkyria! A powerful adventurer with a Special Class said to have been granted personally by Ritheru!”
Mizuri said as a major fan of that adventurer. Hinota was not only surprised that the legendary adventurer known to adventurer-kind is actually a woman, but even hearing a new name that she has never heard of before.
“W-Who is Ritheru?”
“Ah, right. Of course you don’t know about Ritheru, right?” Tsuchi realized as he took the time to explain. “It makes sense that Peranim wouldn’t know of Ritheru since he’s usually known here in Roprase. He’s supposedly a god that have created the other gods in the Upperworld.”
“Wait… You mean he’s the one who created the other gods?!”
Hearing this brought Hinota to nearly lose her faith in what she knows about religion.
“Yeah,” Mizuri followed up. “Ritheru created everything, from the gods to the world of Yarim, and he’s supposedly the one who granted Hikari Valkyria her Special Class.”
“I can’t believe that…” Hinota uttered out as she felt that she just heard world-shattering news.
“Well, that’s sort of like an urban legend,” Tsuchi explained which caught Hinota’s ears. “They say it came from a pretty crazy fanatical group that followed Valkyria, but nobody knew exactly what happened to them afterward…”
“W-What did happen to them?” Hinota had to ask.
“Who knows?” Mizuri answered, looking up at the window as she remembers. “But we sure know now that hardly anyone talks about Ritheru these days, so it might just be rumors.”
“So, what about you, Hino?” Mizuri took the conversation onto Hinota. “What were you planning to do here in Roprase?”
“Ah… I wanted to get stronger. Strong enough so that I can look out for a friend of mine.”
Hinota said with a growing smile on her lips. The mention of her friend got her to feel invigorated enough to try harder at her quests.
“Oh yeah, you said something about that friend of yours,” Tsuchi recalled their past conversations. “Kudo-chii, right? What’s he like?”
“Hey, yeah,” Mizuri also realized this as she snapped her fingers. “Hino, who’s this guy that you mentioned before? Like, how you knew each other and stuff?”
“Ah, you want to know?”
Hinota couldn’t escape from smiling from seeing her party members smile and nod in agreement.
“Well… Kudo and I met up outside the town when he first became an adventurer. He…” Hinota hesitated a little, looking away before facing the two. “helped me out one time when we were facing some goblins.”
“Oh, so that’s when Hinota-chii got help to become the best she is now!” Tsuchi commented which further boosted Hinota’s ego.
“So, ever since then, we partied up and had each other’s backs ever since then. Why, we went and…”
Hinota told the story about how they met all the way to how they departed. She spared them the details of what happened to Kudo before they separated since it was private, and only told the heart-wrenching tale of their forced separation.
As she did this, she fell into her memories, smiling all the way. Perhaps Hinota needed this. Kudo has never left her mind, so she wanted to talk to someone about him.
Throughout all this, Tsuchi and Mizuri didn’t look the least bit bored. They closed in to the edge of their seats, both eyes widened and in awe from hearing such a fascinating tale, woven brilliantly by Hinota who managed to make her story as enriching as well as interesting.
Of course, she omitted some parts that showed her embarrassing side.
“You guys sure sounds tight…”
Mizuri spoke in awe while Tsuchi commented in amazement.
“And… what else? I think that’s about everything.”
Hinota added in as she put her hand beneath her chin, her elbow on the window frame as she looked up at the sky through the pane, seeing the scenery whip past before her as the taxi ame drove.
“Kudo sounds pretty awesome,” Tsuchi said as he looked at Mizuri.
“Yeah, but he sounded kinda wimpy, to be honest.”
“Hehe, he kinda is, but he’s a really sweet guy.”
Hinota said with a warm smile that spoke volumes about her feelings. Tsuchi and Mizuri both felt this warmth with a smile.
“And it’s so not fair how your family would separate you like that!” Mizuri pounded her lap with her fist about the recent story that took place with Hinota.
“And to think that you would not only kick this douchbag’s ass, you even cut up your ties with your family so you wouldn’t have to deal with their crap! That’s so awesome, Hinota-chii!”
Tsuchi spoke like a true giddy fanboy from hearing about Hinota’s victory.
Hinota, in her mind, scoffed at how brilliant she was at telling her story, especially about the battle between her and her cousin. She even impressed herself, to be honest.
“Hino, I really hope that you can meet with your boyfriend again someday!”
Hinota felt something shatter within her mind the moment Mizuri’s sentence rang in her ears. Her chin that was resting on her palm slipped past and made her chin fall right on the window, causing a big thud which surprised the other two.
Though Hinota recovered from that, she showed an extremely shocked reaction as she faced the two with widened slanted eyes and blushing cheeks.
“It’s not like that!” Hinota shouted, her glaring eyes looking furious at the two. “I told you! He’s my best friend—someone who has my back! We’re not in any kind of relationship!”
“Huh? Really?” Tsuchi responded with a surprised expression. “But you sounded so into him like a girl in love.”
“W-What?!” Hinota reacted with a sharp question.
“Yeah,” Mizuri looked surprised but continued to speak her mind. “I mean, to be honest, Hino, you sounded so girly like you just couldn’t wait to see him again and that you really miss him.”
“W-What are you talking about, Mizuri?!”
“Hey, come on, don’t be shy!” Mizuri smirked. “I mean, I’m really jealous of how much you sound so girly!”
“But it’s not like that!”
“Well, that would surprise me,” Tsuchi said in a cool manner to Mizuri.
“True dat. I think that would surprise anyone who heard that story,” Mizuri responded with the same cool expression.
“What do you mean ‘surprised’?!”
Hinota shouted, getting the three to have a rather lively conversation as the taxi ame made its way to their destination.
On their way there, Hinota figured that—while making sure to skip the embarrassing topic of Kudo being her ‘boyfriend’—they should relay the quest they had accepted for their first C-Rank quest.
During the three months they had worked together, the EarthFire members reached to C-Rank. It’s supposedly an incredible achievement done by beginning adventurers even in Roprase, and it was all thanks to Hinota’s work efficiency.
Borrowing Kudo’s work ethic, they hunted every day without break in order to rack up on proficiency and stat leveling. As of this moment, Hinota and the others focused solely on their lacking stats, since the Adventurer’s School only focused on increasing their overall levels.
This has not only boosted Tsuchi and Mizuri’s abilities, but they have also gained several techniques on using their skills to the fullest.
Though their strategy of attacking, then receiving damage with the tank then healing it back with the healer was sound, Hinota put in that they should alternate attacking and defending in a sort of an evolving algorithm.
Tsuchi’s specialty is summoning earth objects to do his bidding at the costs of his Health, his [HP]. Since tanking classes bolsters defense mostly, securing [HP] is a stable way of fighting. You could say that using skills that saps [HP] might be detrimental, but not exactly so.
It would be detrimental if Tsuchi doesn’t naturally regenerate [HP] along the battle. Which is exactly what Hinota has done.
Using her vast wealth, Hinota bought a rather expensive Skill Book called [Renegerate Health], a valuable passive skill that allows the adventurer to recover [HP] even as the battle progress at a fast rate. Though Hinota vastly reduced the price down thanks to her own skill which Kudo rudely called [Devil’s Deal], the book wasn’t exactly that expensive since hardly anyone can naturally raise the proficiency for the skill without purposely injuring themselves.
But Tsuchi can do exactly that. As such, his passive skill raised levels naturally, and thus enabled him to use his skills to defend himself and others without costing too much [HP].
But if that wasn’t enough, then Mizuri would step in. Being an all-rounder healer, usually, this would be that she won’t be very much good in a fight. Her class lets her heal her allies and herself and recover [HP] faster, and her other skills involve using range type spells to defeat enemies.
Plus, her natural fighting ability with the Bo staff is not to be laughed at, but considering her versatility, it would be difficult to deal out damage. That’s why Hinota placed her under spartan training, increasing her stats immensely, including raising her Intelligence stats with her level up points to increase her skill’s potency.
Because of the hard-natured training Mizuri had to endure, her fighting skills with the Bo staff has increased to a frighteningly high level, and her skills increased power, thus making her into powerful healer in her own right.
And of course, Hinota made sure she trained herself more into her damage dealing capabilities. Taking advantage of every passive skill around, she increased her damage far more than before.
They have also gained more equipment, changing Tsuchi’s equipment to have more defense and Mizuri to have MP Regenerating equipment for her healing. Hinota herself had her own equipment that is more suited for agility than anything else.
And thus, the EarthFire has become a potentially powerful party around the cities they traveled to.
This quickly raised their ranks to C-Rank, and is now taking up their first ever C-Rank quest to start themselves off—hunting Heliwraths.
Their quest was given by a researcher who believes that before humankind existed, creatures called dinosaurs reigned supreme. Though the very idea that giant reptiles sounded absurd, he was paying quite a lot to collect the Heliwrath’s loot such as a claw or even their scaly skin. The scientist believed that the Heliwraths are the first part of the path to study these ‘dinosaurs’ and asked the Adventurer’s guild to collect the loot items he needed to study on.
Since the quest pays a lot, this would be considered EarthFire’s first quest. They had to take a taxi ride to the area where heliwraths are known to gather, and apparently, they have gathered at a former nomad’s settlement in search of food, so there should be plenty to hunt down.
Once the taxi has reached its destination, the EarthFire got off the Ame with a skip in their steps as the Taxi drove away. Unfortunately, it couldn’t stay due to the danger of other monster attacks, but Hinota can easily call up the taxi service to hire another car to drive them back home, and with their wealth, it’s rather convenient to have.
Seeing the open field for themselves, the blistering heat from the sun was scorching the barren ground with only little patches of grass still left alive. They saw in the distance the wooden structures that showed that it’s the same settlement that the nomads lived in.
In this kind of heat, Hinota was already used to it due to her natural Fire affinity, but the same couldn’t be said to her party members.
“It’s so hot…” Tsuchi let out a groan, fanning his face as sweat streamed down from his bandanna-covered head.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby!” Mizuri said, though her face already had a sweat streaming down. “We’re the almighty EarthFire! You can’t make Hino look bad!”
“Eh… but you’re sweatin’ too!” Tsuchi complained, obviously noticing the bead of sweat on her cheek.
“Ignore that!” Mizuri snapped back, furrowing her brows.
“Relax, guys,” Hinota spoke which brought the two to quickly straighten themselves up like rods. “It's our first C-Rank quest. We can’t falter now just because of some heat.”
““Right!”” The two members responded quickly.
“Then,” Hinota smirked, a fire being sparked in her eyes, as she gripped her hand into a fist. “ Let’s get ourselves a move on and hunt these bastards down!”
The two members raised their fists in the air from Hinota’s call to action, getting the trio to move ahead into the settlement to hunt their prey.
But then… there was no prey to hunt.
They turned the corners and passed through the intersections of the buildings, only to find nothing but the barren ground and the empty houses that was once filled with people. The heat getting to their heads, they could hear the wind practically mock them as it passed by them, making them more and more irritable.
“Gah!” Mizuri groaned as she rubbed her light-blue hair violently. “Where are they?!”
10 minutes went by, then 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, until finally an hour passed by, and there was no sign of any Heliwraths to be found.
Mizuri stomped the earthy ground with her enraged foot as she groaned and complained while Tsuchi was getting impatient himself as he stretched his fingers in a wriggling like movement that seemed as if he was desperate to hunt something down.
“If we don’t find at least one… I’m going to go nuts!” Tsuchi screamed out loud, his hands covering his head as well as he bent his back to scream out to the sky above.
Hinota watched the two from behind, noticing that their frustrations were reaching their peak. It wasn’t as if Hinota wasn’t affected by this as well, as her own frustration was bubbling over like a boiling pot.
However, she put her frustrations aside for the moment to worry about the state of her party members. Being in an environment where they could get attacked without warning, it put their minds into a restless state.
Hinota believed that if they don’t find at least something to kill, they might take their over-activeness to another level and turn it into a problem later on.
“Come on, guys, let’s just keep looking. We can’t leave this quest without at least killing something.”
Hinota said as it would be shameful for the EarthFire to not finish their first C-Rank quest like this. Hinota calmly ordered the two to keep their composure, but she could tell that it wasn’t working much, but at the least they followed her orders.
After a few minutes of skulking about in the large settlement with no signs of life other than their own, Hinota decided on something.
“Lets split up,” Hinota said, stopping in the middle of the intersection of buildings and turned around to see her party members walking up to her, their feet dragging and their bodies tilted forward.
“Right…” Tsuchi raised his head, getting a bit of vigor back as he realized this simple tactic. “That way, we can cover more ground!”
“I hate to split up with Hino…” Mizuri’s fingers started to shake, her eyes showing impatience by furrowing her brows. “But if I can just kill just one Heli, then I’m fine with anything!”
Hinota nodded, getting her to order her party members to go to the south side while Hinota goes to the west side of the settlement. Receiving their orders, Tsuchi and Mizuri went off on their own.
“Hopefully, they can find a heli to kill before they make trouble…”
Hinota hoped that there was nobody to set them off, especially Mizuri.
Hinota learned that Mizuri had a bit of a problem with girls who act all girlish and bitchy. Though the girlish part doesn’t set her off that badly, the bitch part of the girl usually makes her seething, especially when they look like such perfect young ladies.
She always had bad experiences when involving girls of her age, and Hinota was lucky that Mizuri only had fascination and respect for her considering her graceful and dignified demeanor.
Tsuchi is usually there to calm her down, but when she’s off her nut, Tsuchi is usually along for the ride, making them a troublesome duo.
Hinota hoped that there won’t be any issues with them as she went on ahead to her own path in the settlement.
As Hinota walked on the dirt path, her hand on her katana tied to her hip as she kept an eye out for the Helis, her prey for completing her quest.
Considering her affinity, she was already starting to break down from the heat as a bead of sweat rolled down her cheek. She could tell that her frustrations were getting to her.
What’s even worse, she had to skip a few meals at breakfast because they were in a hurry to get to their quest. Her stomach was already rumbling so much from the frustration and restlessness.
Rubbing her face to get rid of the sweat, she thought of the conversation she had with her members before arriving here.
It shouldn’t be possible for her to contain feelings for Kudo. When Hinota first met Kudo, she has always thought of him as a pure but naïve boy from the sticks who knew nothing of the world.
Though he had knowledge when it comes to being an adventurer, he was just a shy boy who grew to be a good partner for Hinota.
But then the memories flooded in on the parts where Kudo showed to be more than just that. He was an incredibly kind boy with a down-to-earth sense. Not just that, he was also the only boy who would treat Hinota like she was more than just a noble girl or some powerful adventurer.
He treated her like a real girl—a real friend.
There were times when they would fight, but in the end, they would resolve things together because they knew that each of them cared about the other.
So why was it that the two best friends keep getting mistaken as a couple? Even if Hinota continues to deny such a relationship, she can’t help but feel that she wasn’t really that against denying it…
Then, something within her pocket started to vibrate. Feeling the rumbling of the item and hearing the ringing chime, it was a call from her mana phone. She pulled the phone, a scarlet-colored mana phone and checked the screen, seeing that it was Tsuchi who was calling.
She placed the receiving end on her ear after accepting the call.
“Tsuchi, what happened?” Hinota spoke on the phone, knowing that they would only call her if something happened.
[We’ve got some issues! Come over as soon as you can!]
Hearing the details of the call, Hinota furrowed her eyes and turned off the call. Putting the phone back, she knew exactly what she needed to do.
She turned back around, and lowered her knees. Putting herself in a running position, her glaring eyes flashed and lunged forward. She dashed off to the point of bursting through the air, leaving a large dust cloud in her wake.
Running at top speed, she saw every scenery whip past her as she focused on getting to the south side where her party members should be at. Remembering the details, Hinota calculated what she needed to do for the Special Class adventurers that they were fighting.
Hinota could tell immediately that they started the fight, but considered that the adventurers could be dangerous from the way Tsuchi was talking so hastily.
Not to mention, she can’t help but get angered by the fact that there are some adventurers hurting her precious comrades. That will not be forgiven.
Their location getting near, she discarded her thoughts as she brandished her katana from her sheath. The sound of her blade slicing the air made her remember her battle back at the manor.
She is no longer the little princess that followed her parents’ every word. With Inferuno, Lisa, and Maon at her back, she can do anything and take down anybody that would get in the way of her adventures.
After turning a corner of the wooden structure, she noticed her two party members, looking dirty and with small wounds on their open skin.
The two turned around after hearing rapid footsteps coming in, getting them to smile in relief.
“You made it!” Tsuchi shouted, looking relieved and a sparkle in his eyes to see their savior.
“Sorry to bother you!” Mizuri apologized, looking distressed and frustrated at herself.
It looked like the Special Class adventurers proved to be a difficult fight for them. She became furious at the people who injured her juniors as she noticed in her vision someone approaching her with a giant sword in hand.
She swung her katana from the bottom diagonally upwards, meeting with an equally powerful force from his own bastard sword as sparks flew from the collision.
Hinota glared at the opponent in front of her. In her vision, she saw the two behind that were possibly the adventurers fighting her juniors, but there was another one in front of her. The two behind him was a green-haired tanned human male, and a bunny beast girl with blond hair.
And the boy in front… seemed too familiar. His azure hair flowing along the wind and his jade-colored eyes furrowing, showing a determined look that she was all too familiar with.
The two faced each other, both eyes widening.
Whoo! Finally! I managed to publish both volumes. Hopefully you had a good read and enjoyed yourself seeing the history behind Hinota's decision and the following future afterwards.
Now, for news. Thankfully, I managed to publish the novel before I move away to Pennsylvania this coming Wednesday. Due to circumstances which you all already know from Wattpad, I had to move away, but this is a good thing! I always wanted to move to the U.S. so this is a plus for me. That's why I wanted to publish this as soon as possible the moment I finished reviewing it so that there won't be any issues afterwards. I have to get my feet wet first so I can start my life over there. So, I might be able to write Vol. 8 sometime in spring or earlier (so expect maybe... about 4 months after the new years?) and I'll be looking forward to write about that!
Thanks to all who offered their prayers for the island, things are going well with my family and some others, and hopefully we'll see each other again in the internet at the next volume of Hour Empty Child! See you then!