Hour Empty Child
After being somehow challenged, the group followed Hikari out of the Crafting Garage. Being that Kudo was the only one challenged, the group didn’t have to follow them, but of course, they didn’t want to miss Hikari fighting her own son, no matter how strange it sounded.
On their way out of the crafting garage, walking up the diagonally upward staircase, the sounds of their footsteps hitting the stairs filling the air, it was heavy to breathe in for the son of the guild master as he laid his eyes out front, but his mind was somewhere trying to bring back his calm state.
“Mom, w-why the sudden challenge?” Kudo was somewhat hesitant to ask.
“To prove to me that you’re not slacking off, silly~” Hikari cooed, tousling her son’s azure hair which made him nearly squeaked in reaction before closing his eyes while feeling his messed up hair.
“But Master, Kudo couldn’t…” Hinota, using her most formal tone she could muster for the most prominent woman in existence, tried to convince her otherwise.
However, the look on the proud guildmaster’s face didn’t change.
“You all should also pay close attention. See that your leader is not the kind to focus only on equipment. Sometimes, you can only trust your body’s instincts.”
“S-So, leveling up, right?” Mizuri stuttered for a moment before giving her answer.
Kudo felt a slight twinge when he heard it like that. It sparked an awful memory he wished he could keep buried deep in his heart. Hikari responded with a shake of her head.
“Nope. I mean your actual instinct. Levels are nice, for increasing your power a little, but there’s nothing more beautiful than a wonderful body that can react to any situation no matter how unexpected it can be.”
Hikari’s tone of voice sounded so cheerful despite the solemnity in her words and the cheery smile plastered on her regal face. The E-Plus could only look at each other, somewhat puzzled by her wording. Kudo, however, could understand it, only a small sense of the sentence, though.
It took a short while as the guildmaster led the party around the guild building. Apparently their home away from home was bigger than anybody would have expected, but of course, Hikari would not have it any less. After getting back to the hallway, walls as always riddled with fancy decorations, she led them around the intersection and went straight as an arrow towards the end of the hall, where they saw another intricately designed door with an artistic picture that resembled warriors duking it out one another.
Like many before, the E-Plus knew exactly what this room was about. As soon as Hikari opened the two-set doors, the group felt their breath once again taken away.
What they saw before them was similar to the training room back at the mansion, but there was no machinery for training their bodies. Instead, there were rows of seats on two sides which were separated by the staircase that led down to the main center of the room, a large empty space where the floor was made with the finest furbished wood that could reflect their images like a mirror if one look upon it.
On that floor, white lines were drawn to resemble a large rectangle, with another line on each end marking small squares. The walls were the same furbished wood on the floor, and on the walls were shelves carrying weapons of varying degree, from sword-type weapons such as sabers and zweihanders up to spear-like weapons such as halberds and partisans.
Square lights shined upon the entire room from the ceiling, giving the room its festive sense as if they could watch gladiator matches here.
“W-What is this room?” Kudo asked, his eyes mystified by the view.
“This is where we test out our new equipment for those who want to try it out as soon as possible,” Hikari, seeing the young adventurer’s faces, smiled widely. “Our adventurers gather here in order to see how they fare against each other. You want to try out a new toy? Head here to fight. You want to have a lively discussion with one another? Head here to have it out. You just want to show off to everyone else? Show off as much as you want here. This is where we call this place the ‘Challenge Room’.”
Hikari placed her hands on her shapely hips, a grin on her face and a lively aura emanating from her as she walked down the stairs and entered into the rectangle area. She turned back around, eyeing at Kudo as she lifted her hand. She bent her index finger towards herself, motioning Kudo to come forward, towards the battlefield.
“I-Is this really happening?” Kudo could not believe what was going on for a single second.
“Kudo-chii, I think you should go…” Tsuchi whispered what was obvious to everyone as they nervously nodded their heads to his response.
Hearing the unanimous agreement, Kudo could only sigh within his mind as he walked down the stairs, dragging his feet as if drolling on towards his fate. Seeing that the two were getting prepared, everyone else could only sit on the soft plushy seats where they could see this bout for themselves.
During his walk down the stairs, an idea sparked in his mind. He might as well pull this out for the sake of his experience.
“Well, since everyone is watching, might as well let him watch too,” Kudo figured as he stood for a moment and raised his hand. “——《Plus Summon》!”
Surprising everyone, including Hikari, the magic circle appeared in front of him, flashing the bright light as it summoned the white-furred creature that cried out as soon as he was summoned.
“Oh, how adorable!” Hikari let out a loud cry after seeing Kudo’s summoning for the first time.
The small creature, Shiro, who licked his translucent white fur on his paw, looked around to see the larger than life woman bend her knees to greet him.
“Hello there, cutie~! My, you’re as adorable as your owner, aren’t you~?”
“Mya!” Shiro responded happily as if reveling from the compliment.
“Mom…” Kudo, however, couldn’t take such a compliment, his cheeks blushing rapidly.
“Well, if he’s doing it, then I should do the same,” Hinota decided to copy his action. “——《Flare Summon》!”
Since it would be troublesome to summon her where the seats are, Hinota does the sane thing and summoned Ako from the stairs. Once the pillar of fire blazed about, Ako came to be from its intense flames.
“Nya!” Ako let out a sharp but eager cry.
“Ooh, they’re here again~!” Raika, her ears shaking from total elation, rubbed her hands together near her check the moment the two kittens came about.
Kudo then told Shiro to wait at the seats as he moved forward to the arena. Shiro then got to the seats, only to be grabbed by Raika and left on her lap as Hinota does the same by leaving Ako on her lap.
“My, to think you could summon a creature as well. What can he do?” Hikari asked after returning back to the arena with a satisfied smile.
“To be honest, I don’t know. Not even the skill could explain what he can do.”
Kudo answered truthfully, rubbing the back of his head as he looked up to Hikari and hoped that she could tell him something about Shiro with her vast knowledge.
“Is that so? Well, perhaps we’ll soon learn of it in the future. Now, come on!”
Hikari turned back around without giving much of an answer, and headed to the wall where the weapon shelves were. She grabbed two of what appears to be wooden swords with a small circular guard at the top of the handle, their blades shaped at the tip triangularly.
Hikari then chucked one of the wooden swords to Kudo. After catching it with one hand, Kudo felt his hand tingle after receiving it, widening his eyes.
“This weapon… is enchanted?” Kudo asked, feeling a tingling sense of energy spiraling around the weapon, his hands feeling some sort of small vibration that is difficult to detect.
“That’s right,” Hikari answered with a wink. “It’s enchanted by none other than Fitty. It’s to make these weapons, no matter how strong the user is, limits his or her power. There’s no difference between high level adventures and low level adventurers when using these weapons. This is so that everyone can have a fair match.”
Hikari spun her own wooden sword behind her, walking up to Kudo who looked up to her.
“See? I’m not mean~. I don’t plan on hurting you at all.” Hikari cooed, a wry smile showing up on his face as he looked back at the sword and uttered out ‘Appraisal’ on it.
Name: Training Sword of Limitations
A specially designed weapon solely made for training purposes. The attack power of this blade doesn’t exist, so to speak. It changes according to its user. As long as the user holds this, their level does not matter in the slightest. The weapon was made with specialized wood of high caliber so its durability has no end.
Attack: ???, Durability: ∞
【Enchant Item】 [Limit One’s Self]
“I’ve never seen this kind of enchantment before…” Kudo uttered, a stunned breath leaving his mouth.
“With these, we can fight each other without regret. Now, let’s get over to the sides~”
Hikari said with a cooing tone as she walked over to the left side of the white rectangle, swinging her wooden sword horizontally with little force. But that was enough to create a sharp arc of light as if she was cutting apart the air itself.
Kudo swallowed his saliva after seeing this display before walking towards the opposite side where Hikari was. He stood on the right side and turned to face Hikari with a crease in his brows.
“S-So they’re really going to fight?” Raika’s voice stuttered, tinged with worry.
“The Master demanded it, so it’s not like he could refuse,” Kuki answered her as his eyes rest on the battleground with his heart rapidly beating in anticipation.
“I believe Kuu’s a tough guy to beat, but this is Hikari Valkyria we’re talking about…” Mizuri had her own doubts about whether Kudo will get out of this fight safely.
Ako purred as she rubbed up against Hinota’s belly, getting into a comfortable sitting before turning to the field to watch the fight. Seeing that got Hinota to slightly unhinge from concern, but her glaring eyes were still solely looking out with clear intent.
“Mya…” Even Shiro, sitting front-face on Raika’s lap, furrowed his brows in worry.
“Hopefully Master is a master of holding back,”Tsuhci made a light joke, but even he couldn’t escape from feeling the intensity of the sight.
“Mom,” Kudo figured that he should ask. “What about our equipment?”
Kudo was wearing his usual black clothing suited for non-adventuring use. It’s not like he could wear his armor 24/7, even though he would prefer that, so he asked to see if they needed their armor.
“This lesson is about relying on your body than your equipment. Our skills as adventurers, our instincts, and our techniques. All of that will be tested,” Hikari moved her wooden sword forward, the tip pointing right at her son. “The equipment will only get in the way of that.
Relying too much on your equipment will only result in kicking yourself later.”
Hikari’s words hung in Kudo’s ears and brought his heart to a sudden haste. He knew too much what she meant by that. His sword will break when its durability ends, and his equipment can only go for so long as well. In the end, he can’t help but be forcefully reminded of the words Shinezu left with him back at Vipory.
How levels are the most important aspect of an adventurer, and that it doesn’t matter how it is attained as long as it works.
He couldn’t accept that. He will never accept that. His eyes showed a glint that made Hinota notice instantly. She felt her skin tingling the moment her glaring eyes rested on his.
“Are you ready, Kudo?” Hikari swung her sword again, her other hand on her hips as she put herself into a fighting stance, one fitting for an expert.
Her stance, in Kudo’s eyes, was powerful, but it seemed like it was showing many openings for him to take advantage of. Yet, he could feel it. Even with the wooden sword hindering her powers, her overwhelming and dominating aura was not reduced at all. The surging energy emanating from his mother, despite showing a carefree smile on her rosy lips, made Kudo hesitate on even attempting to fight this beast.
But he has no choice in the matter. Instead, he wanted to do this. Even if it seemed impossible or downright insane. He needed to know how to face an incredibly tough opponent with nothing but a sword in hand.
“And skills? Are they allowed?” Kudo asked again, his tone slowly changing to a solemn state.
“Of course,” Hikari answered with a smile.
“Then… I’ll do it,” Kudo lowered his stance, bending his knees while pointing his sword at his mother.
Suddenly, the air around him changed. The depressed, reluctant attitude he showed before dissipated, transforming into a solid warrior, his hands gripped tight and his muscles tensing up.
“Go ahead. Face me with everything that you got.”
Hikari smiled again as she could tell that her son slowly changed.
Then, Kudo furrowed his brows—and attacked.
The moment has finally arrived. Kudo faces off against the one and only Hikari Valkyria. Will victory be within his grasp? What will happen to him on the way…?