Hour Empty Child
Kudo knew at one point that he needed to improve their overall damage and protection, thus, his crafting side burst forth out of his heart, and urged greatly to create something.
After hearing about Adonis mentioning a place that was perfect for his crafting needs, Kudo walked up to his mother, who was drastically thinning the numbers of able-bodied adventurers, to ask a very important question.
“Is there a place where I can craft items?”
Hearing those words got Hikari to stop her rampage, a sparkle in her eyes as she stood up from her seat and led Kudo and the party members to the back of the guild hall, leaving behind only destruction of the adventurers in her wake.
They saw a two wide-door entrance which Hikari pushed through to get them inside. They walked through the lavish and decorated hallway, filled with minor luxurious busts and intricate paintings of landscapes as if they were walking around in her mansion again, and eventually came across a giant door at the end that had the carving of a hammer, a thread and needle, a mortal and pestle, a fork and knife, a wood-cutting saw and finally a pentagram forming some form of star in the center.
“You can tell already what this hall is used for,” Hikari turned back to them with a smile on her face as the others clearly knew what she meant.
Hikari then pushed open the door and revealed a large stairwell that continued downwards to a frightening level of deepness to the young adventurers. Hikari led the party down to the bottom of the stairs, enough to reach another set of doors, showing the same carvings as the last one. Hikari opened the doors, revealing the large hall that showered the young adventurers’ eyes with glamor.
Or it should have been. If it weren’t for the chaotic atmosphere of people shouting and screaming, the hall filled with messy papers and tools beyond recognition, and of course, a few loud pandemonium-like sounds that echoed across the dome-like circular hall.
“Welcome to the Crafting Garage!” The moment Hikari shouted so enthusiastically, an explosion occurred right behind her as she said it, as if it became the casual firework for Hikari’s grand reveal as the people within the hall screamed in a panic and tried to bring down the fire burning from the explosion.
Meanwhile, the young adventurers themselves were at a loss for words to describe exactly what they were looking at.
“Whoo, always a mess here. That means you know that they’re working hard!” Hikari placed her hands on her hips as she turned her head to see the large garage for herself with a smile.
She explained that the Crafting Garage was a round hall that expanded roughly a kilometer in diameter, and the people in there were creating such a mess that the hall literally needed to be big to contain all the items currently on the floor. What’s more, since they make a lot of noise and ‘accidents’ like the one that occurred just now, they had to make the Crafting Garage way below the Alpha Heart Guild Base so that they could work in peace without bothering the other residents in the city.
“Basically, the Crafting Garage is set up to make 6 stations—each one for Blacksmithing, Woodworking, Leathering, Cooking, Alchemy, and finally Enchanting. Each station have their own groups working on items to practice until eventually they make it good enough to sell.
That is basically how the Crafting Garage works.”
Hikari’s explanation flowed smoothly for the adventurers to understand. Each one had their eyes widened, but only to marvel the efficiency of the garage for themselves.
“By the way, if you plan on selling a created work, you only need to speak to one of the maids to help you out as they will take care of selling the item for you on the market. Each one of my maids is very specialized in the market industry,” Hikari further explained, showing a bit of pride in her tone for her hard-working maids.
“T-This is amazing…”
Kudo spoke in awe as he hears the sounds of hammers hitting metal, the fire gushing out and burning the air around it. Hinota stepped forward alongside Kudo.
“Kudo, what’s the first on the list?” Having no hesitation, Hinota asked for the next part of their plan.
“W-Well, I wanted to ask for some advice from Par first…” Kudo said as his head was on a swivel, turning around each time he hears a new unfamiliar sound. “She should be at the blacksmithing station, right?”
Having said that, he turned to his party members as they nodded in agreement and headed towards to the chaotic mess known as the Crafting Garage.
Kudo led the party like they were in a metal jungle that had suspicious sounds all over the place, making them somewhat anxious due to their highly-evolved senses. The sounds of hammer splitting their ears could be heard a bit of distance away, so Kudo presumed that over there is the blacksmithing station.
When the party got there, he could see various smaller stations, tables filled to the brim with equipment such as cuirasses and sabatons, and various ores dropped on the ground like they were trash—and some were even rare ones that Kudo has never seen before.
Kudo and Hinota walked forward with their party in tow—more like, they were hiding behind them due to the fear of the unknown—until they eventually got to where they felt as though they have finally seen the end.
By that, the end where they saw the single largest curved table that was nearly the size of the table back at the Valkyria mansion’s dining room. On that silver-colored table made purely of metal were dozens of Portable Furnaces, each with their own unique design. Some of them were even turned on without the use of someone else using it, and they saw the one using a bigger version of a Portable Furnace that was burning intensely to the point of feeling the heat burning their bodies.
“Mmh? Oh, Master Jr.! Welcome!”
Par, the busty blacksmith woman in charge of the table, noticed her surprise guests walking forward with a friendly smile. The party looked around, mostly Kuki, Raika, Tsuchi, and Mizuri as they viewed the surrounding room filled with dozens of blueprints taped on the small walls separating the others from Par’s section, a few bits and pieces of metal strewn about like dust on the floor, and equipment so rare that they were left slack-jawed.
“Sorry for the mess,” Par gave a short smile. “I didn’t expect company to come in.”
“N-No worries,” Kudo barely answered, nearly stupefied. “Par, you’re working on something?”
“Yeah,” Par lets go of the giant furnace, finally letting it cool down in a hurry which got the adventurers to feel relieved as they felt their sweat trailing down. “I’m working on a chest armor that a client of mine asked that has resistance to poison-type monsters. I’m just giving it some finishing touches to go along with his weird design.”
As she explained, she opened up the giant furnace’s barred door with her hand covered in a glove. She reached inside the furnace, still hot from just being used which made the younger adventurers nearly wince from the supposed burning she must be feeling. The glove must have been enchanted to keep cool no matter what.
She reached inside and pulled out the cuirass that she was talking about. It had a purple colored design with bluish seams. It was a metal plate armor that seemed so gaudy that it left the others, specifically Hinota, to cringe.
“Yeah, he doesn’t have a very good fashion sense, but that’s business. Can’t say anything about it.”
Par even looked uncomfortable despite that she was the one making it. Kudo could even notice himself how bad looking it was, but he could see it with his blacksmith's eyes that it was a rare and powerful equipment.
The aura surrounding the gaudy chest armor that was giving off a hidden pressure to Kudo was proof that it was made by a highly skilled blacksmith.
“So, what brings Hikari’s boy to my section? Since I never see you in here before, is this the first time for all of you?”
The party nodded in agreement.
“I see! Well, if you’re all crafters, then you’re gonna love this place!” Par jumped out from her position behind the table and landed all the way to the other side with ease. “The Crafting Garage is like a second home for crafters of the Alpha Heart. Some take it literally by sleeping over here while they work on their crafting. We even got some beds over at the other room on the west side.”
“W-Wow…” Kudo uttered as Par walked over to the entrance of her section and turned around.
“So, what you guys plan to do here?”
Getting back on track, Par asked which prompted Kudo to focus and remind himself of his goal.
“I-I want to make some equipment.”
“I see,” Par answered. “What kind?”
“W-Well, for now, I want to make some equipment for Hinota.”
“Huh?” Suddenly hearing her name, Hinota raised her head in surprise. She didn’t expect him saying that at all.
“What do you have in mind?”
“Well… I kinda wanted to ask you some advice about that,” Kudo looked to the side where Hinota was for a second before returning to Par, putting his fingers together as he said it with a mild blush on his cheeks.
“Oh, got it!” Par pounded her chest, which involuntarily got her giant breasts to jiggle within her apron which caught the party’s attention fully, even the girls. “Then, leave it to me! I’ll teach you some tricks to make her swoon!”
“I-I don’t need to do that…” Kudo chuckled wryly before turning to his party members. “Guys, I’m going to take a while. Go ahead and do what you want while I work.”
“K-Kudo, you’re going to make some equipment for me?” Hinota asked which got Kudo to grin.
“Of course! It’s been a while since I made something for you, and I want to make something that can beat your current equipment!”
Hinota could sense that Kudo was getting competitive for some reason due to borrowing equipment from her family, but she smiled to see that Kudo would still make equipment for her. She wondered just how far Kudo has progressed during his time here.
“Alright,” Hinota nodded. “Then, I’ll look around for Master Fitty to have him help me out on enchanting.”
“Good idea,” Kudo nodded and turned to the others. “What are you guys going to do?”
“U-Umm, I-I think I’ll go and c-check out the cooking area…” Raika stuttered a little, her shoulders fidgeting as the chaotic atmosphere made her ears shake from all the noise.
“Then, I’ll see what’s going on in the woodworking section,” Kuki rubbed the back of his head, slightly worried for Raika who seemed to be shaking a bit more than usual.
“I’ll go check out the Alchemy section,” Mizuri pointed at herself with her thumb.
“Then, it’s the leathering section for me!” Tsuchi grinned, his hands behind his head.
“So Mizuri is an alchemist, and Tsuchi is a leatherer?” Kudo, hearing their crafting skills for the first time, became surprised.
“These guys had these before I met them,” Hinota pointed at her two former EarthFire members. “Tsuchi’s family runs a leather shop, so he usually helps out using the needle.”
“Eh…” Kudo let out an impressed awe.
“I picked out Alchemy because I figured that I could make my own Mana potions when I really need it,” Mizuri answered which got Kudo to nod.
“That’s great! Then let’s meet back here when we’re finished, and show off what we learned!”
Hearing himself proclaim like that, Kudo wondered if that was lame. But after seeing the other party members showing the same determined expression and screaming a powerful ‘Yeah!’, he became satisfied.
The party quickly left each other in hopes of learning something new for their crafting skills. Since they were already well-known in the art of crafting, they seek out experts who were at it way longer before they were and hoped to learn some fancy new technique to bring out their hidden potential.
The first was Raika who walked a bit throughout the chaos. Her furry ears shook after each loud sound from an unknown source, causing her eye to twitch every time. It’s not as if Raika was suffering—she just isn’t used to hearing so many loud noises at once.
It was going to take a while for her to get used to the noises as she muddled through the pandemonium of the Garage until she eventually picked up a faint scent. The scent was enticing, and while her hearing is currently going through a grinder, her highly sensitive nose picked up the appetizing scent of meat being smoked from the distance.
Her many years of cooking led her to believe that the meat being cooked is nearly done. The nose acting as a guide, Raika followed the smell to get to the source, leading her out of the chaotic mess. She eventually came across to her goal.
It was the section where she saw, on a wall, a diamond-shaped sign of a spoon and a fork crossed together to signify cooking. She came through the large opening of the small walls and entered into the section with ease.
There, she came across various cooking stations strewn about, each station consisting of a table with a chopping board, utensils like knives and ladles alike, and of course, the ingredients that make up the core of cooking. She saw with dazzling eyes the creativity each person showed in charge of each of those stations, some boiling vegetables and some chopping them up into fine pieces. She even spotted the one cooking the meat with the most enticing scent she could smell.
Since she usually cooks alone, she was stunned to see so many people cooking at once. Then, she spotted someone approaching her.
“Oh, are you the cute bunny girl from Master Jr.’s party?! So you’re a cook, eh?”
It was a young woman, barely older than Raika was, with spiky red hair that covered her forehead with bangs and wore a white apron over her black attire. She looked like a hardcore adventurer who just has an apron over her modest chest. A healthy grin could be seen on her energetic face and her slim build showed that she keeps fit.
“U-Umm, yes…” Raika was taken by surprise to hear herself being called ‘cute’. She answered with blushing cheeks and a slight stutter. “Umm, is this the cooking section…?”
“Yur damn right! Welcome, welcome!”
The lively girl placed her arm around Raika, making her flinch a little from the sudden grapple as the young woman dragged the distraught Raika further into the section without her saying so.
On the other side, Kuki was off on his own path to the woodworking station. Though the idea that Raika was all alone in a messy place like this disturbed him so, he decided that Raika should learn to handle this without him—because otherwise, how else can she grow and learn to become social?
Well, the reason why he picked the woodworking skill at all is so that he can aid Raika in giving her well-made bows. In truth, he didn’t wanted to take up a crafting skill, but the idea of paying overly priced bows was too much for them to handle, so he decided to take up woodworking since Raika was intent on choosing the cooking profession.
So, trying to keep his worries in the back of his mind, he continued on to the woodworking section, where he came across it and eventually got himself marveling at something with widened eyes.
He was looking at the finished creation of a bow that had curved ends and a glossy bluish exterior. The material that was used for it and the sheen that it gave off shows that it was far beyond Kuki’s expertise.
His mouth was left slack-jawed as the bow was held firmly by another woodworker, a young man with a bandanna over his hair like Tsuchi is but had a much slimmer figure while wearing a white shirt with gray overalls. The woodworker was wiping delicately with precise strokes, being wary of damaging it without batting an eye.
“Y-You can make it like that?” Kuki asked, mostly about how the woodworker was able to make such an intricate shape out of the bow without damaging its performance.
“Of course you can!” The woodworker grinned and replied. “You just gotta do this little trick…”
Kuki looked on to whatever the woodworker was showing with sparkling eyes, like a young child learning the true meaning of craftsmanship.
Perhaps he had a keen interest in it without him knowing so.
On the other side, Mizuri was on her way towards the Alchemy section, and, to her surprise, she could instantly find it by just following the musky scent of medicine in the air.
Though she said that the main reason she chose this profession is to make mana potions, deep within her mind, she believed that making medicine is something that a girl would do.
Creating health potions to heal the wounded, making antidotes to cure the inflicted. The idea of being a goddess of medicine enticed her to become an alchemist.
So, ever since then, she has been diligently creating potions to practice so that someday she would be of use to her party. According to Kudo, it looks like that won’t be a problem. But she still wanted to be better. She wanted to pursue her minuscule dream of becoming the goddess of medicine.
As such, due to her diligent practicing, she could pick up the scent of different medications, no matter how nauseating it might be. Once she followed through, she came across the section with the sign of a mortar and pestle on the wall, signifying the alchemy branch of the garage.
She entered inside and was practically bombarded with different types of smells that made her nose curl. No matter how much she was used to it, this level of smell would make her dizzy.
As she struggled to move forward because of the stench, she nearly fell over after stepping onto something round beneath her feet. She looked down to see dozens and dozens of empty flasks for potions on the ground, discarded with some having stains of different colored liquid inside of them proving that they were once used.
Mizuri flinched after hearing a piercing cry from behind her, getting her to turn around to see a small-statured girl with braided twintails coming with her. Wearing an oversized dressed shirt and long black pants, it was as if she was pretending to dress up like an older woman.
“You new?” The girl asked.
“Umm, yeah…?” Mizuri answered the best she could, shrinking away from the daunting little girl’s pressure.
“Then, help me out! I need help in making some anti-disease potions! I’m a couple of hands short!”
“H-Huh? Anti-disease potion?” Mizuri tilted her head to hear some new potion that she actually never heard before.
“Don’t dilly-dally! Come on!”
The girl grabbed Mizuri by the wrist with her small hand and dragged her towards to wherever she was taking her. Mizuri became shocked to see such a little girl having the strength to pull her around with ease, her body contorting to try to release herself but to no avail.
Meanwhile, Tsuchi was off on his own towards his path of a leatherer. Being raised in a leather shop with his two older sisters and mother, Tsuchi grew up with making leather just as Raika did with cooking. He chose this crafting skill for the sole reason of wanting to continue his work so that he wouldn’t lose his touch the next time he comes back home to his family’s shop.
He already found the leathering section with ease, and has already started doing some work.
“Whoa! You’re pretty good at this!”
A man shouted, a tanned short man with a black crew cut hair while wearing toughened gloves. He bended down and had his hands on his knees to look with glimmering eyes at Tsuchi who was seating down and knitting a leather onto the armor with a needle.
The man shouted with such surprise because it was the first time he found someone so young that could precisely pierce the leather without damaging it, and proceed to needle through the tough leather with precision throughout the seams of the leather armor.
“How long have you been leathering?” The man had to ask.
“Since I was just a small kid!” Tsuchi replied with gusto.
“Oh, I can totally see that!” The tanned man grinned, putting his fingers to his chin as he studied Tsuchi’s technique in closer detail.
Tsuchi grinned widely to hear praise so soon as he kept working on piercing the needle through the leather with ease.
While the party members were at their proper sections, each learning their techniques to further their crafting proficiency, Kudo listened intently on Par’s handy tips.
Surprisingly, there were a lot of tips that he has never heard about, such as the efficient way of preserving mana through long processes and using mana to control the stats by a minuscule amount. But since Roprase is an entirely different country compared to Peranim, he figured that would make sense.
“I didn’t realize that you could go as far as to change their looks even after making them,” Kudo asked in surprise to which Par smiled as she nodded.
“Customers can be a pain when they suddenly changed their opinions about their armor’s looks, so it’s a given that we can change their appearance at least rather than the stats. Of course, I always charge them extra for the hassle.”
“Hehe…” Kudo chuckled wryly. He also figured that Par would charge a lot for her services.
“Now then, are you ready to make it? It looks like you’re about good enough to make one of your own. I mean, from the look of your armor…”
Par spun around Kudo as she eyed at his equipment he was wearing with a keen interest. The glossy black sheen coming from his ebony armor along with the red carmine-like lines on the seams. Even for the renowned expert of Blacksmithing, as well as leathering and woodworking, could see that this kind of work was not done by an amateur.
“You learned everything from Peranim, right?” Par raised a question.
“Y-Yeah,” Kudo turned his head to answer.
“Mmh… Well, go ahead and work on it. You can use my station if you like.”
Par pointed at her station behind her with her thumb, showing the messy but well-used station filled with Portable Furnaces.
“I-Is that okay?”
“Sure, it’s gonna take a while to make space for you in here, so just use mine.”
“Y-You’re making my own space?” Kudo could hardly believe what he was hearing.
“Of course!” Par grinned. “Now that you’re here, you’re bound to work on some stuff here as a crafter, though even if you don’t go here as much, there’s still a place for you here whenever you need it. Of course, we can’t help it that there’s always a mess here.”
“I-It’s no problem! I’m just glad that there’s a space for me at all…”
Kudo took a moment to think about his own space, and wondered if he would make a lot of mess in the near future. Seeing himself making dozens of equipment, he chuckled as he thanked Par once again after she left to start her other business.
Walking toward one of the furnaces, Kudo punched his hand, his eyes furrowed with a grin on his lips.
“Time to work!”
It looks like things are heating up for Kudo. What kind of equipment he will make? Find out on the next part!