Hour Empty Child
Sherald slowly crawled up to his feet, heavy breaths heaving from him as he looked up with a snarl of a wild beast. He saw before him the one who had the audacity of hitting him with a partisan’s shaft.
He saw Kudo, the young boy with azure hair that stood before him, along with the unconscious Cirya beside him, but Kudo didn’t pay heed to her at all, and instead walked towards Sherald.
He looked up at the young boy’s face, but instead of he found an expression that a young boy like him shouldn’t have.
It was an expression unlike his usual gentle visage. His eyes were sharp, and his scowl seemed so demonic, it didn’t look human. It still looked like a face, but the way his brows were furrowed was enough to contort his face into that of a battle-hardened soldier ready to destroy his enemy.
His party members stood with this kind of view in their minds when they saw their leader change.
“I-Is that Kudo-chii?”
Tsuchi said with an unnatural sense of fear in his tone. He pointed at the being whom he thought was his leader that looked exactly like him.
“W-Whoa… he looks so different. Well, not different, but more like… he changed.”
Mizuri managed to say without sounding confusing, to say the least. She looked at him with her brows raised in shock along with everyone else.
“H-He looked like that when he saved me and Raika from those phony debt collectors… but he’s way, way more angrier than that…”
Kuki said as he recalled seeing such an expression on his face in that dark alleyway a few months back. He believed that it was an expression he shows when he’s truly angry, but now he sees that it’s nothing compared to what he’s seeing now.
“Kudo… looks so scary…” Raika stuttered, her hands shaking as she felt that the difference between the crazed Sherald, and the angry Kudo, were leagues apart—with Kudo being more frightening.
“Kudo...” Hinota, most of all, became shocked from seeing this change for herself.
Within her mind, she knew the reason why—when Sherald spoke of Dark experience, it was then that they were reminded of that time in Vipory where they learned it first-hand. Her body shivered at the mere thought of that memory, but she sees Kudo is now reacting to that.
Pure rage—utter anger and hatred oozed from him like a waterfall. The sense of malice could be sensed from his very being. She couldn’t believe it—rather, she refuses to believe—that he’s the same Kudo she knew.
Kudo walked forward with a scowl that even the other children found it as a new fear to cry from. Sherald gritted his teeth, no longer caring about his expression.
“Get out of my way! I need this! I need this kill!”
Sherald swung his dagger widely, as if trying to scare him to back away. He didn’t know why, but he somehow felt frightened of him. It could be his sense as an adventurer warning him, but his mind refuses to believe it.
After feeling the kind of strength he received from Dark Experience, it wasn’t possible that he would be afraid of a child who hit him once with a possible fluke of a hit.
He gripped his dagger’s hilt tightly, and proceeded to charge at him without hesitation.
“Give me my kill! ——《Piercing Slash》!”
Sherald decided to activate a skill as he lowered his knees and jumped up into the air, gaining a few meters upwards which cast a shadow down on Kudo from the sunlight above. His blade started to shimmer, not just from the sunlight bearing down on it, but the skill itself made the blade glow an aura of white light surrounding it.
The Piercing Slash, a thief-class skill, allows the user to attack with a slashing motion that has the property of a pierce, allowing it to cut through tough armor—a worthy skill for thieves who attack from behind.
The blade shined with the white glow as Sherald aimed the falling blade right onto Kudo who remained still. Kudo turned his head upwards, and looked up—causing a chill to run through Sherald’s back the moment his eyes met his.
“W-What…?” Sherald could only say before he suddenly found himself in the air, not towards Kudo, but away from him, and a massive pain in his right chest.
He couldn’t believe what was happening. He looked down, and noticed that his chest was pierced by none other than the giant partisan that Kudo used before, only this time, he used the blade.
Sherald looked further below, time moving slowly as he saw Kudo’s expression that never changed, yet he swiftly and precisely launched a fast attack that nearly pierced him.
“G-Gah!” Sherald’s scream echoed across the plaza as he was launched back up in the air and down onto the ground in one fell swoop.
The sound of his body hitting the ground resounded, and the feeling of pain shot through along his spine and head that hit the ground in succession.
Saliva trailed from Sherald’s lips, showing so much suffering over his chest as he clutched it hard with his right hand, blood trailing from it to the ground.
He slowly got up with his elbows, looking over at Kudo who raised his partisan and flicked the blood from its tip to the ground, causing to splatter all over. Kudo then opened the inventory screen and put away his partisan.
“Like I thought—your skin becomes hard after absorbing the dark experience.”
Kudo suddenly said, walking forward with slow steps which made Sherald suddenly gasp.
“So it’s gonna take a lot for me to slice you apart.”
Suddenly Sherald was the one being threatened by none other than Kudo who continued at a slow pace. The others watching couldn’t believe what was happening—the killer who was going to murder everyone he saw was now becoming the victim.
Whether they felt bad for him or not, they definitely weren’t seeing a regular event.
“For someone like you… who goes and kills others for no reason. Even for a reason so stupid like that… someone like you…”
Kudo’s tone, low and grim, suddenly grew higher as he bared his teeth.
“Someone like you deserves to be punished!”
Kudo screamed out, his roar echoing across the plaza as he rushed in like a lion ready to slaughter his next prey.
Sherald couldn’t even react as fast as he was suddenly picked up by Kudo by a single hand on his collar, already lifting up an older male with no sweat at all. Kudo raised his other fist, and delivered a swift hook across his face, blood spewed forth from his mouth from the hit.
But Kudo was not done yet.
He raised his knee and hit his stomach with it. He grabbed hold of his leather armor and pulled him along, swinging him around before he threw him to the ground. His body now on the ground, Kudo then straddled over Sherald by the waist, his furious eyes bearing down onto Sherald who couldn’t follow along what was going on.
Kudo then swung his fist at him—over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.
He didn’t stop.
He didn’t want to stop.
He kept delivering blow after blow across his face to the point where it started to frighten the other citizens. Some parents covered their children’s eyes like they were meant to do to disallow them from seeing such a violent display.
To the E-Plus, they were seeing something that they never got to see before—and they didn’t like it.
“H-He’s killing him…!” Raika’s hands trembled as she couldn’t handle seeing such ferocity coming from Kudo himself.
Mizuri couldn’t even believe that such a nerdy-looking boy who knows how to put up a good fight could even be capable of delivering so much rampage. Tsuchi and Kuki held their breaths, and Hinota felt that she couldn’t breathe.
This definitely isn’t Kudo, but as of now, he is currently about to demolish Sherald with everything that he has.
“You think you can just kill whoever you want just because you want to?!”
Kudo began to yell as he kept punching him over and over again with the same force that was enough to make Sherald spew blood.
Each time, Sherald’s face was starting to distort, no longer looking like himself as blow after blow hit his face.
“You’ll see that when you do, you won’t get your way! No matter what, you’ll never see the light of day again!”
Kudo kept screaming his intent as he finally stopped punching him. He raised himself to his feet, and picked up Sherald with one hand.
Kudo raised Sherald to the point of meeting him face to face, his legs left lifeless on the floor while Sherald’s face was left so battered and bruised that it didn’t seem like he was so frightening just moments ago.
Kudo then moved him towards the tree, and threw him to it. Sherald’s body landed on the tree before falling to the grassy ground, his body left lifeless like a doll without any movement.
Kudo breathed in sharply, and brought out his inventory screen once more. He pulled out his bastard sword, the same black-colored sword with a red color in the center, as if to portray the inner colors within Kudo right now.
He lifted his sword, the sun shining down on the blade which caused it to reflect the light.
He was ready to finally deliver the justice Sherald deserves.
“Now, you’re going to pay—for everything that you did!”
Kudo shouted, gripping his sword tightly as he held it in both hands, ready to strike.
Kudo roared as he swung his sword at Sherald’s neck, aiming to—
Before he could deliver the final strike, Hinota rushed in with her superior speed and stopped Kudo in his tracks by blocking his bastard sword with her katana. Her blade swiftly flew like a gale.
Kudo peered from his sword at Hinota who gritted her teeth, her hands felt numb from the force he delivered as metal grated against metal.
“Kudo, that’s enough!” Hinota shouted, her scowl showing more anger than Kudo. “That’s enough, already! There’s no need to go so far!”
“Get out of my way, Hinota!”
Kudo shouted before he pushed Hinota aside, launching her forward before landing on her feet a few feet away. Kudo gripped his sword tightly, gritting his teeth.
“What are you doing, Hinota?!”
“No, what are you doing, Kudo?! This isn’t like you!”
Hinota snapped back at Kudo, both holding their weapons tightly, though not at each other.
“Hinota, he killed Jax. He was about to kill Cirya! He needs to pay!”
“Not like this! Hinota shouted, her heart becoming in tatters. “Kudo, this isn’t the way to deliver justice! He needs to be judged by the law!”
“The law can never satisfy the dead!”
Kudo snapped back, widening Hinota’s eyes as she saw something within his jade colored eyes flicker.
She saw pain—pain and suffering despite the anger he was showing. She knew exactly what it was, and the thought of it stung her heart.
“That’s why…” Kudo turned back to the downed Sherald, once again raising his blade.
Kudo swung his blade once again. But this time, he didn’t hit flesh nor bone.
His blade struck the tree, slashing the wood across and marking it with a gaping cut. The leaves from the tree fell as Kudo regained whatever calmness he could muster.
His eyes widened to see that Sherald has gone missing. Hinota herself became wide-eyed as everyone else who saw this gaped.
“Hey, look!” Kuki shouted, pointing his finger above which got everyone else to react by looking upwards.
Up above the building at the end of the plaza, they saw two beings on top of the roof. On that roof, one was hidden in a tanned cloak, with a hood that hid his face. The other, being carried within the cloaked figure’s arm, was the bloody Sherald.
“Hey! Who are you?!” Kudo shouted, swinging his sword to the side with enough force to send a gale.
His scowl onto the being who kidnapped his target burned into the hooded figure’s mind, but he didn’t budge. The wind blew on the cloaked figure, his cloak swaying in the breeze as he raised his other free arm, and clutched his fist.
Before long, the two quickly disappeared as a black fog covered the area, the breeze blowing away the fog as it dispersed in the air, leaving behind nothing in its wake.
“W-What the hell…?!” Kudo gritted his teeth as he swung his blade in anger again, breathing heavily.
Hinota wasn’t sure whether this was a bad thing or a good thing as she looked back at Kudo who continued to growl and grit his teeth in frustration.
It was then that the plaza returned to its normal atmosphere, or as normal as it gets…
Meanwhile, far enough away from the plaza, in a section of the city where there was nobody in sight…
A group of well-armored knights were sitting on the ground, tied up together in a big pile as rope-like black energy bound their bodies together. Their eyes were closed as they have lost consciousness.
“Looks like she managed to get him away.”
The figure who stood on the side of the knights looked back towards the direction where the Plaza was. Pushing up his glasses towards himself, the sun shined down on his bald head as it reflected its light by its sheen.
“But it doesn’t look like he did as much damage as I had hoped. Looks like there wasn’t any point in tying up the knights. Well, not like they could do anything anyways.”
The bald-headed intelligent looking man looked back down at the unconscious knights, and with a sneering grin, he lifted his foot and kicked one knight's head, blood spewing from his mouth without him even waking up.
“Talk about useless… and if it weren’t for those adventurers, this day could have gotten to be so much fun. Ah well… guess it’s time to head home.”
Pushing up against his glasses once again as they almost fell from that powerful kick, the bald man looked up towards the sky, snapping his fingers as the rope-like energy around the knights dissipated, the knights fell over on top of each other as the man quickly disappeared in the blink of an eye.
In the end, they managed to resolve the issue, but what’s gonna happen now…?