Chapter 115:

Vol. 8 Chapter 1-Beginning of the works Part 2

Hour Empty Child


--Pound! Pound!—the sounds of a hammer resounded within Par’s work station. Kudo was hard at work using it by hitting the heated ore currently fashioning it into an ingot.

Then, when it was fully formed, the smoke from the searing hot ingot rising up to the ceiling, Kudo opened up one of Par’s furnaces and placed the ingot inside of it to heat it up once again to form it.

The reason why Kudo was using one of Par’s furnaces instead of his own was that Kudo’s furnace was actually nearly obsolete compared to their high specs. The Portable Furnaces in Roprase were more stabilized—as in that forming the equipment has become much more easier, and the mana consumption has been reduced to single digits now compared to the nearly exhausting Peranim Furnaces.

This was done so that the blacksmiths of Roprase would continue crafting without tiring themselves out in the long run. Though Kudo was rather used to his furnace, he couldn’t believe how convenient the Roprase furnaces was for his mana, which is a great boon for him.

After focusing his mana into the furnace, gripping onto the handle at the top with force as he closed his eyes to focus, he only had one thought in his mind—that single thought that was driving him to work hard and not slack off in the slightest.

(Hinota will be wearing this, so it needs to be perfect. According to her stats, she has become much more stronger, so she needs an accessory that really brings out her all.)

Kudo waited for his equipment to form in the furnace, his thoughts strengthening his resolve to see this through. The heated air permeating his skin as a bead of sweat rolled down his head. He was used to this heat, but somehow, he became warmer than usual.

(Hinota has done so much to improve herself. I need to give her something to celebrate that. And also…)

Then, his thoughts gathered at the pendant hanging on his neck well hidden in his armor. He could feel its hard substance against his skin, and swore to feel the warmth he felt whenever he was near Hinota.

(I need to give her something in exchange for the amulet. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know how I could have handled all these new experiences on my own.)

Kudo’s emotions ran about through his heart and mind, but rather than becoming lost within them, he channeled those passionate feelings through to his furnace, and without him knowing, the fire burning brightly within its barred door burst through the open gaps as if longing to get out and blaze down everything else.

Those emotions, full of endearment and concern for Hinota, were being channeled into the item within the furnace. Hinota’s happiness and well-being was his only goal for creating this item.

(I want Hinota to be safe… no matter what.”

Eventually speaking out his mind, the furnace cooled down from its intense heat. Kudo opened his eyes along the barred door and pulled out the newly-formed equipment with his hand.
“Is this… good?” He looked at it with a curious look in his eyes as he brought out the status window for the item.

Checking out its appraisal, Kudo widened his eyes.

“T-This is…!”

He could barely believe what he has just created.

About two hours passed after the E-Plus entered into the Crafting Garage. The party members that separated before were slowly returning back to the center as promised by Kudo.

“Whoo…” Kuki let out a prolonged breath as he felt his own hands tingle and feeling numb from constant sharpening. “Those guys were relentless…”

“Kui…”

Kuki turned back after hearing the small whimper from his childhood friend, and became surprised to see Raika coming up to him with stains and blotches of food on her equipment and face.

“R-Rai?!”

“Kui… those guys are amazing… so many techniques…”

Raika let out a small smile despite looking as if she was the one being cooked.

“Y-You really went through a lot, huh…” Kuki let out his comment before turning around, only to see more familiar faces.

“Yo!”

“We’re here…”

He saw both Tsuchi waving his arm at them and Mizuri with her back slouched and sighing as they walked up to them with two very different looking expressions.

“I-I guess things went great for you, Tsuchi?” Kuki figured to ask after seeing the grinning look on Tsuchi’s silly face.

“Yep! I got to learn a whole lot! I didn’t think that it would be possible, but it was possible!”

Tsuchi wore a bright smile, as expected of a long-time leatherer who worked with his family.
“A-And you, Mizuri?” Raika asked. Mizuri looked up at her.

“It was tiring… there were so many procedures that I didn’t even realize… I had to write it down on a notepad just to keep it up.”

Mizuri let out a tired smile that showed how much work she put into it. With the four party members together, only their leaders were left out.

“So, wanna see how Hinota is doing?” Tsuchi asked which was on everyone’s mind, making everyone agree to say ‘Yes!’ at the same time.

After their unanimous decision, they moved forward to the small enchanting side of the Crafting Garage. Entering into their section, as shown on the diamond sign of a pentagram in a circle, the party were surprised to see many materials slightly organized in their shelves and tables, but still there were dozens of blueprints on the floor scattered about just as usual.

They had to make sure on not to step onto anything important as they traversed through the crowd of enchanters as they work hard on their creations on their side.

“…Ah! There’s Hino!” Mizuri yelled to the party as she pointed out at the very end of the section, to the very same fiery-red haired girl on the table with her hands on top of a pentagram-shaped insignia drawn on a parchment.

There were two daggers on top of it, each one different in design and shape, and someone else that was right beside her as she glared at the items below.

“Come on! What do you think you’re doing?! Why are you dawdling?! Hurry up!”

“Yes, sir!”

“The only way you can call yourself an enchanter is when you can enchant two items into one! If you haven’t done that, you’re just a baby!”

“Yes, sir!”

It was Fitty who was screaming down at Hinota who obediently followed his word as a nervous sweat streaked her temple, her hands glowing a bright red thanks to the mana being channeled. The daggers below her were starting to glow with the same color, a faint red. 
Hinota gripped her lips with her front teeth as she felt a powerful surge of mana being absorbed by her enchantment, but eventually, the two daggers glowed so bright that it released a flash that rendered the party members to squint their eyes.

Between the eyelids, the party peered at the two daggers moving together, eventually coming together and phasing into one another. The two daggers were now one. Once the flash of light dissipated, Hinota looked down at her creation, seeing the singular dagger showing a powerful aura of red that enveloped its entire body. Hinota let out a tired sigh before turning back to Fitty.

“H-How’s that, Master Fitty?” She asked, heaving heavy breaths out of her mouth.

“Mmh, impressive. Figures that someone like you can get it done on your first try.”

Hearing Fitty’s unusual praise, Hinota smiled as she gripped her hand into a fist to celebrate. 
Then she noticed the people moving towards her and saw that they were her party members.

“Nice job, Hino!” Mizuri let out some praise, slapping Hinota’s shoulder with her hand.

“U-Umm, what were you doing?” Raika asked to learn more about the recent activity.

Hinota chuckled. “Apparently, you can enchant two items together to form into one item. Their stats become fused, becoming stronger and take on one enchantment from the other.”

“T-That’s incredible, Hinota!” Raika raised her hand to her mouth in surprise.

“S-So, you can fuse two items together? That’s insane!” Kuki shouted.

“Nothing’s impossible when you focus on it! Don’t forget that, brats!”

“Y-Yes, sir!”

The group responded in kind, all standing upright and saluting by moving their hands to their foreheads to Fitty’s motivational yet demeaning comment as Hinota laughed at their response.
“So, where’s Kudo? Is he done?” Hinota asked after seeing that there was still one member missing.

“Ah, we were going to check on him now after seeing you. Let’s go!” Tsuchi answered. Hinota nodded and turned to Fitty.

“Master Fitty, may I take a break?” Hinota made sure to politely ask as she is all about making formalities to her senior teachers.

“Feh,” Fitty scoffed as he crossed his arms. “You’re already done. I’ll teach you another trick next time, so go to your boyfriend already.”

“He’s not my boyfriend!”

Hintoa snapped back the moment he made that comment, making him flinch in shock which was completely different from the studious demeanor she had just seconds ago. Hinota’s cheeks blushed a little before returning to her party members, all of them started to snicker which Hinota did not enjoy at all.

The group returned back to Par’s section, where Kudo waited for them just outside her area, seeing the heel of his feet jump up and down, his body visibly shaking.

“Kudo?” Hinota inquired after seeing him shake as if he was becoming giddy, tilting her head.
“H-Hinota, everyone, did you guys have a good time?”

Kudo answered with a higher tone than usual, leaving the others to raise their right brow to that statement.

“I-It’s all good, but what’s happening with you, Kudo? You look a little shaken up.”

“A-Ah, that’s…” Kudo flinched to see that Hinota could see right through him, making Par eventually come out of her section.

“The kid’s been like this ever since he finished,” Par said with both hands on her hips, showing an impatient frown on her face. “Wouldn’t even tell me anything. Apparently, something happened while he was working.”

“Mmh? What did happen?”

Showing her interest, Hinota turned to Kudo who continued to shake vividly in his step. Kudo grinned widely, resembling that of a child finding treasure, and reached into his pocket.

He pulled out a circular band made out of pure silver, catching everyone’s attention.

“Hehe, I made the most awesome ring ever!”

Kudo’s eyes sparkled the moment he said it, holding the ring with his fingers while showing off to his members. The ring was colored silver, the band showing small carvings of intricate lines resembling that of flames, and at the center was shaped like a fire, and adorned in the middle was a shimmering red ruby that sparkled like Kudo’s eyes.

“Whoa…”

Raika, Kuki, Tsuchi, and Mizuri awed at the marvelous ring in Kudo’s hand, eyeing it carefully to see the detail of the band.

Hinota’s slanted eyes widened.

“T-That actually looks good!” Hinota shouted in disbelief. Kudo nearly fell over from shock to hear such a blunt praise.

“You don’t have to be that surprised!” Kudo shouted, furrowing his brows in frustration as Hinota walked forward to eye at the ring herself.

“Did you really made this? It’s incredible…” Kudo handed the ring to Hinota, getting her to marvel at the glinting band shimmering in her hands as she held it up where the light from the ceiling flashed down on it, causing the red ruby adorned at the center to sparkle brightly.

“That’s a fancy looking ring,” Par moved in close to the ring to see it herself, her eyes staring hard at the design. “But what’s the stats on this thing?”

“Mmh, mmh, mmh,” Kudo suddenly smiled to himself, making short pauses for each murmur that escaped from him. It was as if he was doing a drumroll in his mind. “Believe it or not, the stats are what’s impressive.”

Everyone looked back, widening their eyes. Hinota then turned back to the ring, and shouted ‘Appraise’ in haste.

———————————————————————————————————
Name: Flaming Essence Ring
Dragon

Created by a determined blacksmith whose feelings know no bounds. The ring cultivates mana into the inner passionate flame inside the wearer’s heart, raising mana as well as increase the wearer’s power tenfold. The ring has a special ability which increases the wearer’s power beyond her limits.

Requirements: [Lv-190] [INT-800]

【Traits】
{High MP Regen}— Increase MP Over Time +40%
{High Power}— Increase Total Damage +40%



{Forged Skill}: Tyrant- Physical and Magical attacks intertwine. Physical attacks also attack magically, and Magical attacks also attack physically. The two forces stacks.
———————————————————————————————————
“T-This ring is…!” Hinota shouted, her slanted eyes growing as wide as they could.

“Dragon Rank?!” The rest of the members screamed in unison.

The scream of the party members resounded throughout the garage, catching everyone’s attention for a brief moment before losing their interest and continuing their own work.

However, back at Par’s section, each one was left wide-eyed and slack-jawed.

“Hehe, cool, huh?” Kudo practically reveled at this moment, grinning to himself as he held his chin with his hand as if he was gloating already.

“K-Kudo, you actually made this?!” Kuki shouted as he pointed at the ring which left Hinota gaping at the mouth.

“Yep! That surprised me too!” Kudo smirked.

“Oho… impressive,” Par rubbed her chin as she eyed at the ring closely. “This ring went beyond what I expected of you. It even has a Forged Skill, too.”

“F-Forged Skill?” Raika asked, getting Par to face everyone.

“A Forged Skill is a rare extra ability given by blacksmiths to their equipment. Think of them as enchantments made by blacksmithing. It grants its wearer a skill that allows them to do what it describes. However, this ability is a passive and can be activated at all times without a cost. 
Passive Forged Skills are much rarer than your average forged skills.”

As Par explained, the group was left in awe. Kudo listened in as he never had a Forged Skill before and he never read about it from the guidebook.

“Forged Skills are usually made randomly, but it is said that when using proper materials in the right order and applying a correct temperature, you can make one. It’s not just luck—there’s a certain chance when using the ingredients correctly.”

“S-So Kuu was able to make a Forged Skill like this?” Mizuri asked, still dumbfounded at her first glance at Dragon-rank equipment.

“Well, there’s also another way… and this is my favorite.”

“What is it?” Kudo asked, becoming giddy as Par took a moment to answer this as she crossed her arms, forming a smile.

“A blacksmith’s spirit. It takes spirit and the need to protect the one he’s making the equipment for to create a Forged Skill. There’s no logical base for this. It’s a gut feeling some blacksmiths have when they make one. People don’t usually like this since they think I’m guarding some secret.”

“S-So you can make Forged Skills too, Par?” Kudo looked at his fellow creator for an answer.

“Of course I have. I study every day to make sure I get the correct Forged Skill for my clients. Of course, those are more expensive than my usual merchandise.”

A wave of awe ensued from the young crafters as Par relished the admiration for a moment.

“Kudo, since it’s a ring, you can sell this for quite a lot. A Dragon rank ring with a passive Forged Skill… I believe that goes for about 500 million jib.”

“F-F-Five hundred million?!” Raika shouted from within her soul, her head feeling dizzy as her body nearly caved and fell behind, prompting Kuki to catch her in the nick of time before returning back to her staggering standing posture.

“S-Seriously…?” Hinota looked back at the 500 million jib ring in her hand, her widened face stiffened.

“Well, Kudo, what are you going to do?” Par asked as she looked back at him, but she saw Kudo move forward to where Hinota was, a smile on his radiant face.

“That doesn’t matter. This is for Hinota only. I made this for her, after all.”

Kudo answered sincerely, leaving Hinota’s cheeks to redden and her slanted eyes widened. The words he spoke so casually about created an impact in her heart in a way that got noticed by everyone else. The other party members looked back at each other with a smile as Par nodded.

“Figures. That’s the reason why the Forged Skill was made. Hinota, take care of that. It’s Kudo’s entire being into one ring.”

“K-Kudo’s entire being…” Hinota repeated the words as she looked back at the ring, then at Kudo. “But, Kudo, if you sell this…”

“Hinota,” Kudo stopped her right there, pulling the collar of his shirt within his armor. He pulled out the pendant that has been hidden all this time. “I wanted to make you something, for the pendant that has always been with me since then. I wanted to give something back for all the support this brought me.”

Kudo smiled, holding the red gem pendant in his hand. This pierces Hinota right through her heart, causing her to smile warmly at him without even being conscious of it. She held the ring with both hands, clutching it tightly as she answered.

“Kudo… thank you,” Hinota said, warmth overflowing from her words.

However, this brought out a chilling atmosphere from the party members.

Hinota flinched as she realized what she was doing and slowly looked back. Tsuchi, Mizuri, and Kuki now, for sure, snickered to themselves while Raika showed a glittering smile as if she was witnessing a movie scene.

“W-What are you guys looking at us like that for?!” Hinota snapped back, but the party members left it as is as they looked aside, either plainly whistling or just snickering to themselves.

“Hey, Hinota-chii,” Tsuchi looked back and cupped the sides of his mouth to make his voice louder. “Put it on your left ring finger to show it off!”

Hearing that, it was as if a rally followed through as the other members also shout out to do the same by raising their fists and cheering her on. Hinota’s cheeks blushed redder than an apple.

“Y-You guys!” Hinota shouted, getting a wry chuckle out of Par, and a mad blush from Kudo.

Since it took a lot of time for Kudo to make the ring, the party members decided to call it quits for today. They had an enriching experience in the Crafting Garage, and expected to come back when they’re more prepared.

After returning back to the mansion, Kudo and Hinota ate their dinner and said goodnight to one another as they usually did.

In her room, Hinota was at her bed, which compared to her own futon bed back in Peranim, was leagues away in comfortness.

From the opening between the curtains that covered the large-framed window, moonlight showered through and shined down on Hinota’s face, but it didn’t bother her in the least
That was because she was wide awake, her slanted eyes looking at the moon through the window without any shred of sleep. She couldn’t sleep for some reason.

Feeling insomnia, Hinota stood up, her covers falling down to reveal her inner-wear—her black tank top and shorts. She looked to the side on her counter beside her to spot the accessory sitting there.

The shining ring that Kudo made which shone brilliantly thanks to the moonlight. She stared with a widened expression, then for some reason looked to her left side to her right, as if to survey the area for any intruders.

Then, she grabbed the ring, gave it another look, and wore it on her finger.

Her left ring finger, to be exact.

She couldn’t explain why she did this. She logically stated in her mind that it is simply because the finger is meant for wearing rings, and putting it on her left was because it just fits there better.

As soon as she wore it, she could feel power enveloping her whole body, the intensity of the ring seeped deep within her very core. In other words, she could feel the creator’s soul through this.

A smile rose from her lips, something burned within her heart as she clutched the hand wearing the ring close to her chest. She placed her head down on the soft pillow, raised the blanket over herself, and continued to view the ring on the stretched out hand out of the covers.

Her smile never left her face as she drifted off to sleep.

*************************************************
Usually, when a girl receives a ring from a guy, it’s a major thing. From the looks of things, even for Hinota, it’s still a major thing~

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