Hour Empty Child
After the whole adult display of affection, the summoned creatures returned back to where they came from, but the image was still left on everyone’s minds, especially Kudo’s who believed that Shiro was honestly violated.
“To think that Ako would be so aggressive…”
“Like I said, I’m sorry!”
Hinota had to apologize various times to Shiro for Ako’s behavior.
Now that it was over, the E-Plus went back to their sparring session. They decided to have a small tournament, with Kudo and Hinota out of the matches between the party members— the reason for that is because they were too experienced and were the ones who taught these four how to fight in the first place.
It went like this—the four members would pick Kudo’s Plus Chains within his hands, and the one who has a certain length along with the other will face that one in the tournament. After taking the chains, Raika and Tsuchi were first, while Kuki and Mizuri were second to fight.
“S-Seriously…?” Raika whispered to herself as she and Tsuchi went up to the mat.
Once the fighting started, Tsuchi felt a little reserved on facing the small and meek Raika, so he took it easy by planning on grabbing her from behind and squeeze her a little bit to get her to tap out.
However, the moment he went in to grab her, Raika suddenly disappeared from his sight, making Tsuchi go through a deja-vu as he remembered going through this just now, and looked down. However, she wasn’t below him.
Instead, Raika was behind him and delivered a knee kick to his back while pulling back his arms, causing Tsuchi to shriek. Then, Raika pulled him down using his own giant weight and brought him to the floor, putting both shoulders on the mat which got Hinota to call off the fight.
The win condition is to place both shoulders of your opponent on the mat, which made Raika the winner. Tsuchi looked up to see Raika’s adorable expression showing furrowed eyes and a fire blazing within them, causing Tsuchi to widen his eyes.
“Y-You’re a tough little bunny, ain’t cha’?” Tsuchi asked.
Raika responded with a bright smile.
Now, it was time for Kuki and Mizuri to fight to settle for the semi-final round before Kudo and Hinota. Once Kuki and Mizuri stepped onto the mat, Mizuri looking ferocious with her eyes furrowed while Kuki pursed his lips, the fight began.
The result was plainly obvious—Mizuri got behind Kuki in a heartbeat which caught Kuki off guard and swept his feet, making Kuki fall to the mat. Kuki, however, managed to get up from the mat without his shoulders touching it, but Mizuri followed up with a knee to the cheek, causing him to fall down again.
Kuki got up again, and Mizuri quickly grabbed him by the arms by placing her arms beneath them and putting her hands behind his head to pull him down, causing Kuki to go through immense pain by Mizuri’s hold.
“Do you give up, Kii?!” Mizuri shouted with a ferocious grin.
“Gah, ghh!” Kuki incoherently responded.
“Good! That’s what I expected of you!”
Mizuri somehow took it as a ‘No’ while Kuki was trying to say ‘Yes!’ as Mizuri bent her back, bringing Kuki along for the ride as she pile-drive him by pulling his body behind her to the mat, her back arched like a bridge while Kuki’s head met with the mat with extreme force.
Kuki’s eyes looked white without any irises as Mizuri finished him off by pinning his shoulders to the mat. Hinota quickly finishes the fight as Kudo ran towards Kuki, worried for him who remained unconscious.
Then, it was time for the final round between Raika and Mizuri. Once Raika and Mizuri went up to the mat, they both put themselves into a stance.
“This won’t be like last time, Rai!” Mizuri shouted, gripping her hands into fists.
“L-Let’s have a good fight!” Raika let out while furrowing her round eyes.
Hinota shouted by raising her hand, beginning the bout. Both Mizuri and Raika rushed into each other and fought it out. Their hands were moving fast to the point of leaving the boys in shame.
Mizuri strikes with a palm thrust to Raika, but Raika intercepted it with her hand to deliver a back-punch to her cheek, but Mizuri dodged it by moving her head back, and the fight went on as the two danced around with each other with their punches and kicks.
It was a close match, with Mizuri gaining momentum with each strike. Raika now understood what she meant when she said it won’t be like last time. Mizuri was reading her movements, using the last fight they had with each other as a study guide to fight Raika.
Soon enough, Raika was starting to lose strength from her earlier bouts, her legs giving way before she could deliver another strike which got Mizuri to take her shot by grabbing Raika’s neck to the mat quickly pinning both shoulders onto the floor.
“Finish! The winner is Mizuri!”
Hinota raised her hand to signal the end of the fight, getting the boys in awe and clap at the well-done fight. Raika, on the mat completely sprawled out, let out a big sigh before finally noticing the hand stretched out to her. Raika looked up to see Mizuri with a smile on her face. Raika grabbed her hand and stood up to face her.
“That was a good fight!” Mizuri exclaimed.
“Hah, I couldn’t do anything to you…” Raika said, getting Mizuri to notice her depressed tone.
“But you were good! I had to bring out my all to take you down!” Mizuri assured her with a smile which inevitably got Raika to smile back.
After the entire tournament, it was decided that Mizuri was the winner. A short applause resounded from the 3 participants for the victor who blushed in response and rubbed the back of her head.
Kudo and Hinota were also partaking in the applause, seeing the well-fought battles which appeased their evaluations.
“Now that that’s done, how about we get started on our day?” Hinota said as she looked up at the clock on the wall, seeing that it was 8:00 am, the time to begin their usual routine.
“H-Hey, wait!” Mizuri suddenly shouted, raising her hand up for her leader to pay attention.
“Can you show us a fight between you two?”
The sudden question astounded the leaders which also did the same for the others. However, Kuki followed suit.
“Hey, yeah! I wanna see a fight between these two. See who’s the best between them!”
“I-I am kinda curious…” Raika responded, meekly showing her keen interest.
“Whoo! Yeah, go for it!” Tsuchi raised his arms as he cheered for the two to fight. He eventually got the others to chant ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ to rile them on to spar.
Kudo was left with a sweat streaming down his cheek as he raised his arms to see if he could calm them down, “T-That’s…”
“Why not?” Hinota asked. “I think we should give them that, shouldn’t we, Kudo?”
Hinota placed her hand on Kudo’s shoulder, showing a glint of confidence from her slanted eyes. Seeing that, Kudo smiled wryly.
“Umm, if you’re sure about this…”
“What? You scared?” Hinota teased, revealing a devilish smirk with her chin raised high.
“W-What… No way!”
Kudo snapped back, feeling his confidence being stabbed by Hinota’s provocation. Even if he knew she was just riling him up, he had to at least take the challenge in front of his peers.
The four cheered as Hinota and Kudo stepped onto the mat both focusing their minds and bodies as they face each other. Hinota punched her palm with her hand, and began cracking her knuckles with a scary looking grin.
Meanwhile, Kudo felt his sweat trailing down his temple and his heart racing. It’s been a while since he last sparred with Hinota. It was about back in Peranim when they had their practice sessions every now and then to keep up.
However, something within his belly burned to see how far he has gotten since back then. It would usually be Hinota who wins the fights, but this time, Kudo has been diligently training this entire time.
He gripped his fists. He was ready.
“And… Fight!” Mizuri, being the referee, raised her hand to start the fight.
Kudo, upon hearing the call, rushed in and delivered a punch straight to Hinota. Hinota saw this coming and tilted her neck to the side, avoiding the punch with barely a graze and grabbing Kudo’s arm near her face in return.
She turned around in quick succession and pulled Kudo’s arm forward, bringing Kudo’s entire body above her own and straight to the mat. Feeling that the match would be over in a second, Kudo immediately turned around mid-air, his face forward to the floor, and pulled Hinota’s leg forward.
But Hinota also saw this coming. While her leg was taken by Kudo, she lifted her other leg and delivered a stomp right on Kudo’s face, pushing him away as Hinota backflipped using Kudo’s face as a foothold and landed perfectly on her feet.
“Is that the best you got, Kudo?” Hinota jeered.
Mizuri and Tsuchi became awed in admiration, their eyes shimmering in delight over their leader’s powerful presence. Kuki and Raika responded with shouts of cheer and positivity, with Kuki saying ‘Kudo, go for it!’ and Raika saying ‘You can do it!’.
Kudo, after rolling backward, stood up to his feet in quick succession, his nose aching in pain from being kicked without mercy. He felt liquid trailing from his nostril, and he brushed it off to see bits of blood on his hand.
Kudo let out short breaths. “You do know this is a sparring session, right?”
“Yeah,” Hinota answered curtly. “And?”
Kudo let out a sigh, feeling overwhelmed from Hinota’s egotistical yet brutal response. However, his lips curled into a smile to see that Hinota was the same spartan-like warrior as always.
“Then,” Kudo readied himself, gripping his fists tightly enough that his nails dug into his skin. “I won’t hold back!”
“I was waiting for that!”
Hinota roared as she pushes herself towards Kudo in a mad rush. Her speed is equal to none, even to Raika and Kuki’s speed, so she closed in as quick as she could, thrusting a fist towards his torso.
Kudo retaliated by pushing away Hinota’s fist with a back slap, and using his other hand to counter with a jab to her abdomen. Blam! Hinota took the hit. Though it sent a jolt of pain through her, she endured it as she strikes Kudo’s belly with her knee by driving Kudo’s neck down with her hands.
Kudo got pushed back by her attack, holding his aching belly as Hinota raised both arms above Kudo and brought them down upon his head, her fingers conjoining together to make a large fist.
Pain coursed through his head after taking the impact, but as his head lowered due to the force, without Hinota noticing, Kudo raised his hand above him to deliver a strike to Hinota’s chin. His palm hits her directly in the chin, her teeth colliding together forced her to give out a cry.
Gritting her teeth in frustration, Hinota took a step back before suddenly lunging towards Kudo, to which he fully took it on with his body.
Away from the fight, the party members watched in awe at their leader’s bout that seemed to connect with each other so well that it seemed like they were reading each other’s moves.
Kudo blocks and counters while Hinota dodges and parries. The two were at each other neck and neck, a series of blows and thuds resounding in the training room before long.
About a good thirty minutes passed before the fight was winding down to a close. Kudo breathed heavily as he felt his body sorely bruised, mostly on his torso and arms, while Hinota was no better than him. She breathed heavily, closing her right eye as sweat streamed down her fair visage.
“I-It’s close…!” Mizuri let out in praise to the two’s fight. She never felt so on edge before despite being in bouts herself.
After a while of glaring at each other, trying to gain back their breathing pace, the two leaders finally—
“Hah, I’m done…” Kudo stated.
“Yeah, let’s call it quits…” Hinota agreed with a smile.
All party members united in their disappointment as they let out a simultaneous outcry. They raised their arms and jeered at them as if they witnessed an unfair move.
“Come on!” Tsuchi wailed.
“At least give us a winner!” Kuki jeered.
“Come on, guys. It’s a spar—not an all-out brawl,” Kudo responded while feeling the jeers coming to him.
“Well, even if it was a brawl, I would still be the winner, so there’s no point,” Hinota plainly stated, as if it was the obvious thing.
“Oh, you’re very sure about that, aren’t you?” Kudo said in sarcasm as he took his towel from his magic bag to dry his face, showing a raised brow at that statement.
“Of course~” Hinota replied with a smirk and a wink, getting a towel from her own bag.
Though the two leaders smiled and laughed with each other, the other members were too put off by the disappointing ending, each crossing their arms and puffing their cheeks into a pout.
It’s nothing unusual from getting your high expectations dashed. That’s why it’s better to just go with the flow, like the two leaders~