Chapter 138:

Vol. 9 Chapter 2: Let's find our Savior Part 1

Hour Empty Child


Kudo remained within the extravagant office within Alpha Heart. As the framed pictures shimmered from the glimmering sunlight peering through the window glass, it was only the calm before the storm.

A fist rose to the air, gripped tightly as if veins throbbed on that slender yet terrifying fist.

—Boom!

“Ghh…!”

Kudo braced himself, but he never realized just how strong was that fist. He was currently sitting on his legs that were folded beneath him, both hands clutching onto his knees ready to draw blood at any moment.

The fist that flew at the top of his head giving a whallop belonged to none other than Hikari. Even to her son, she gave no light punishment as Kudo’s eyes began to well tears just from the pain alone.

Kudo was highly leveled compared to normal adventurers—yet that fist managed to bypass his defenses and hit him where it hurts. It was the kind of pain that no mortal should ever come across.

“Kudo, you understand why I had to hit you, correct?”

Compared to her usual jolly tone and atmosphere, this time Hikari displayed a cold and harsh demeanor that made Kudo nod in agreement.

The reason for the punishment is obvious—Kudo almost let someone in his party die.

And not just that—that someone almost died because of the leader’s stupid mistake.

“Why didn’t you told me about taking on an Extreme Quest?” Hikari’s voice cried out, glowering at her son which in turn caused him to look down in shame. “An Extreme Quest is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

“I-I’m sorry…” Kudo turned meek. “I… I just figured to prove that we could handle it so that maybe we’ll be treated more like proper adventurers than just kids in the guild.”

“Did you ask your party if they could handle it? Or was it that you think it was fine without telling them?”

“O-Of course, I asked them! They said that it was fine!”

Kudo defended himself from turning out to be a horrible leader, but Hikari displayed a look that didn’t believe that.

She let out a short sigh. “An Extreme Boss has parameters that go beyond that of a simple Boss. Not even the usual Alpha Heart member can defeat it so easily, even if they were higher level. A Named Boss is nothing to sneeze at.”

Kudo flashed back to the time before he left for the quest. Those were the words that Kasara mentioned to them, but Kudo ignored it, arrogantly thinking that it was going to be fine since they were properly equipped and highly skilled.

They were surely wrong.

“It’s too much for you,” Hikari continued, flapping the papers in her hand which are the quest details given to her by the counter maid. “Though, I can probably guess why the other members didn’t stop you. They wanted to teach you just how strong it was. I guess they realized how overly cocky you kids were being.”

Kudo pursed his lips. It was true—they were cocky since they just got to B-Rank. Clutching further on his pants, his arms shook in shame.

“I’m sorry…”

“There’s no point in apologizing to me,” Hikari pointed it flat out. “You should be apologizing to poor Tsuchi who took in that monster’s hit and could have possibly died for absolutely nothing.”

Her words cut him deep into his chest. He wanted so much to hide in a hole and be forgotten by time, but the world wouldn’t easily let him do it.

In the next moment, somebody knocked on the door on the other side. Hikari raised her head, “Come in,” she said before the door opened up.

“I-I’m here…” Hinota poked her head out, her voice soft and gentle much like Kudo’s.

“Good, you’re here now,” Hikari stepped forward, pointing her finger on the floor. “Now come.”

“Y-Yes…”

Hinota became like Kudo in a sense that her guilt also reached her. She walked forward ever so slowly as she stood right near Kudo, making herself sit in the same position with her head down.

“Are you sure about this, Hinota?” Hikari asked again, looking down on the poor flaming red-haired girl. “This is something that belongs to the party leader. There’s no need for you to take this.”

“This is my responsibility as well,” Hinota answered, but her tone wavered. “S-So I should also be punished accordingly as the co-leader.”

“…Understood,” Hikari raised her fist. “As expected of my son’s best friend.”

Hikari raised her fist, and much like a thundering boom of lightning, her fist traveled fast and slammed against Hinota’s head.

“Ghh…!”

Hinota cried out, clutching her lips together to not let out a pathetic cry like a child, although her slanted eyes also welled tears as Kudo did. Kudo winced as the punch was enough to break iron walls and perhaps even adamantite, though he might be over exaggerating when he thought that.

“I’m so sorry, Hinota…”

Kudo raised both his hands in prayer form, apologizing to Hinota in soft words.

===

“Ow…”

The two co-leaders of E-Plus walked together through the hallway before the lobby. One of them still groaned as she rubbed the affected area of her head with her hand.

“She left a bump…” Hinota hissed, rubbing the big bump on her head.

“Again, I’m really sorry…” Kudo lowered his head down again for the second time.

“Stop apologizing. If anything, I regretted not saying anything about it. Rather, we’re both to blame.”

“Yeah,” Kudo let out a short sigh. “I didn’t think that Extreme Quests would be that hard.”

“They’re called ‘Extreme’ to begin with,” Hinota scratched her cheek with her finger. “Maybe we should have taken that into account.”

“If we did, Tsuchi could have gotten away in better shape.”

His words hit them like bricks as they continued walking, but their bodies remained still as they did. The guilt of letting their usually easy-going comrade getting hurt so badly left a scar on their confidence.

“What do you think we should do now?” Hinota asked, not letting the guilt keep her down. “I know that we’re going to hold off on celebrating the rank-up.”

“I’m thinking of giving Tsuchi something,” Kudo answered. “Not to apologize, though.”

“I know,” Hinota nodded. “I wouldn’t see you in a better light if you thought that giving something away would forgive you for that. So what are you going to give him?”

“Something that can put ourselves into a better mind.”

Kudo said as he flashed a small grin, a glint on his jade-colored eyes.

===

A day passed ever since the E-Plus returned from their quest. The guild members were having fun as usual in the guild lobby, enjoying their drinks and watching their favorite programs on the hanging televisions.

Meanwhile, the E-Plus were at their usual table. Out of everyone there, the only one enjoying himself in the bubbling atmosphere was the one who was injured in the first place.

“Whoo! Yeah, this is awesome!”

Tsuchi shouted as he grabbed his mug into the air, pretending that the orange juice he was drinking was alcohol. He chugged it straight down, some of the liquid flowing from the mug and streaming down his chin.

The other party members, specifically Raika, Kuki, and Mizuri, all were watching the giant teen celebrating without remorse.

It didn’t take just Mizuri’s healing to recover him. Just like Kudo did before he left Peranim, he received an injury that left a huge damaging scar.

That’s why Hikari stepped in herself to help him recover. Using the same procedure as before, Hikari administered a special medicine, a specialized healing potion that can recover even the most remote veins and fibers in his body, allowing him to recover almost instantaneously. His scar healed up like it never happened before and he was standing upright in an instant.

“How can you just take it like that?” Kuki asked, honestly wondering how he acted right now. “You almost died…”

“That’s just how he is,” Mizuri said, her head resting on the palm of her hand while laying on the table. “He doesn’t let things get to his head.”

“That’s incredible…” Raika said in amazement as she wouldn’t usually let things like that go so easily.

“Yo…”

Before their eyes, their leaders came into view as Kudo lifted his hand up to wave at them. However, his wave was slightly lethargic as they could notice the dark shadow under his eyes. His smile was also missing the energy he usually put out.

“Kudo!?” Raika shouted, nearly lifting herself from her chair. “Where have you been? You were just gone!”

“Ah…” Kudo rubbed the back of his head. “I was busy with some crafting till the early morning…”

As he said that, the other party members noticed Hinota who walked up beside Kudo.

“He didn’t even rest until he made it. That’s why he looks like this,” Hinota said, showing a slight concern over her usual regal face.

“Right… Tsuchi,” Kudo pulled out his inventory screen, grabbing something through the light screen. “Here you go.”

Tsuchi hung his head back in surprise as Tsuchi pulled out some cloth. However, it was actually chain mail as the criss-cross metal lined shirt with sleeves. Tsuchi grasped onto the mail given by Kudo and felt it in his hands. Though the feeling was metallic, there was a sort of comfortable cloth when tugging at the shirt completely.

“This is… armor? What for?” Tsuchi asked again, looking back at Kudo.

“Just look at the stats,” Kudo smiled, this time a bit of energy returned to his face.

Tsuchi did just that and appraised the shirt in his hand. The screen popped up in front of him.

———————————————————————————————————————

Name: No Armor, No Glory Chainmail

Dragon

Created by a determined blacksmith. The armor was created through a special process of using only the finite metal, allowing it to be used as chainmail. Though the defense is weaker than ordinary armor, the traits more than make up for it.

Defense: 742, M. Defense: 486, Durability: 410/410

Requirements: [Lv-130] [VIT-70]

Traits

{High Wall}— Increase Total Defense+40%

{High HP Regen}— Regenerate Health Over Time +40%

{Forged Skill}: Guardian- Attacks that ignores defense will be nullified. Any sort of debuff will be nullified. When attacked, the armor reflects the damage back to the enemy.

———————————————————————————————————————

“W-Whoa?!” Tsuchi cried out. “D-Dragon-rank chainmail!?”

The other party members all lifted themselves off from their chairs and stared at the screen in front of Tsuchi. Much like Tsuchi, the other party members had awed expressions and gaping mouths in pure shock.

“T-This is incredible!” Mizuri shouted, holding the top of her head in surprise. “Y-You made this, Kuu?”

“Yeah…”

Kudo answered, but his tone was lower than usual. The other party members noticed this and turned to him as he bowed forward, his head hanging low.

“I know that this won’t forgive me, but I’m sorry, Tsuchi!”

Tsuchi once again hung his head back in surprise. Tugging onto the shirt, Tsuchi gazed upon Kudo whose head was lowered without ever turning up.

“Because of my mistake, you were injured gravely… I made the armor so that nothing like that will ever happen again. But still, I wanted to apologize.”

“H-Hey, come on now!” Tsuchi raised both his hands, a sweat streaming down his temple. “We’re cool! I don’t blame you at all!”

Tsuchi lifted himself off of his chair, his height difference completely outmatching Kudo’s. He tried to stop Kudo from bowing any further, but Mizuri stopped him from doing so, putting her arm forward in front of Tsuchi.

“Mizuri-chii…”

Tsuchi groaned, but Mizuri turned her head to him, facing him with her glowering eyes. They told him directly ‘You better let him do it’.

“Kuu,” Mizuri turned back to Kudo, getting him to raise his head to meet her gaze. “Tsu won’t say it, but I will—Please make counter-measures the next time we face an Extreme Boss. We’re relying on you to guide us when we do our quests.”

“Right,” Kudo nodded his head, lifting himself from his bow. “I promise I’ll do my best to properly research next time. And I’ll make sure that we’re thoroughly prepared so that nothing like that will ever happen again.”

“…Good,” Mizuri smiled, her eyes shimmering with warmth. “I know that you will. You always look out for us, even now. I trust you as our leader, so you better earn it.”

“Right!”

Kudo gripped his fist, showing a determined expression that got Mizuri to smile wide. She moved forward, swung her arm, and hit Kudo right in the back with her hand. Kudo winced at the pain, but Mizuri didn’t care.

“Good! Next time, we’ll be so high level that we can beat any Named Bosses easily!”

“…Yeah!” Kudo smiled back, but then turned to Tsuchi. “Tsuchi, I promise to look out for you guys better.”

“Don’t worry about it!” Tsuchi smiled, holding onto his newly attained chainmail. “With this, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about anything ever again! Guess it was worth getting almost killed!”

He began to rub his face onto the chainmail, the tough texture rubbing up on his skin. However, he didn’t care how uncomfortable it was since it was such a high-quality armor. Unfortunately, a fist flew right onto his head, getting him to squeal out in pain.

“Nobody thought it was worth it, you stupid idiot!”

Mizuri’s fist shook in rage, her brows furrowed at her friend who took the opportunity for the nice equipment. Kudo smiled regardless of that, knowing that everything was alright.

===

After a nice conversation between each other, the party members decided that since yesterday was pretty bad, they’ll have a nice time off for today. It made everyone excited except the select few who thought it was a bit of a waste.

“Well, since we’re gonna have a break anyways,” Kudo let out a short sigh, disappointed at the lack of adventuring. “Then let’s figure out what we need to do together.”

“It’s gonna be fun regardless,” Hinota flashed a smile. “I’m looking forward to it.”

As the two talked to each other about what to do with everyone here, the said everyone gathered together, away from their party leaders, to whisper to each other.

“Hey,” Kuki whispered. “Don’t you think that this might be a good chance for them to go out together?”

“Ooh, I like that idea!” Raika clasped her hands together, but then a doubtful look showed up on her expression. “But what do we do?”

“We gotta make it so that we’ll get out of their way, but what do we say…?” Tsuchi tried to think about it, but his brain couldn’t give any answers.

“Hehe, leave it to me.”

Mizuri pointed at herself with her thumb, getting everyone to nod slowly in amazement.

“What are you guys doing?”

Hinota suddenly asked, getting the party members to get nervous and started to sweat with wry smiles. Meanwhile, Mizuri showed to be more composed, a gentle smile on her face.

“Actually,” Mizuri answered. “Me and Tsu need to call our parents back at our hometown, so it’s gonna take a while. Right, Tsu?”

“O-Oh! Right!” Tsuchi shouted, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. “Yeah, my Mom and sisters would get worried if I don’t talk to them every once in a while!”

“And my family are always worried about me since I’m a girl, so I have to call them up every so often.”

Tsuchi and Mizuri answered, hoping that the leaders would understand. Kudo nodded in understanding, but Hinota somehow tilted her head.

“I… see,” Hinota then turned to the childhood friends. “Raika, Kuki, what about you guys?”

“Oh! Uhh…” Kuki struggled, trying to get the words out. “Th-The thing is—”

“We promised the guys here that we’ll practice shooting from them!” Raika suddenly shouted, surprising both Kuki and Hinota. “They said that they’ll teach us on some stuff ranged fighters should do when out adventuring. So, I’m very sorry…!”

Raika bowed her head slightly, surprising Hinota again as she lifted her hands up to fan down her concern. “D-Don’t worry, I understand. It’s better to learn a bit more about what to do, after all.”

“Yeah, that sounds awesome!” Kudo said with a smile. “Learn lots of what to do! I’m sure that these guys will be awesome teachers.”

Kudo had no suspicion about their secret plan and gave his full trust on the Alpha Heart members, getting Kuki, Raika, Tsuchi, and Mizuri to turn to each other, their lips raised upwards.

“Sorry for real, you guys,” Mizuri stated, but she then she winked at them. “Guess you all gonna have to spend it together to make it up for us!”

The moment Mizuri said those bold words, Hinota understood instantly. With everyone gone, it was only going to be just her and Kudo. She turned to Kudo who had no clue on what was going on as he smiled innocently. Then Hinota turned to Mizuri who, after witnessing Hinota’s stare, gave another wink and a thumbs-up at her.

Hinota’s cheeks blushed, but rather than say anything about it, she just kept quiet as her face returned to its normal color. “Then, I suppose that we’ll just take you up on that, won’t we, Kudo?”

Hinota turned and smiled at Kudo, not able to properly hold in her excitement as her bright smile was showered with glee. Noticing that, Kudo’s mind stood there blank for a moment before actually answering.

“Y-Yeah!” Kudo answered, his cheeks almost red in color. “I-It’ll be fun even with just us.”

Somehow, seeing Hinota smiling like this, his heart began to beat a little faster than normal. If he wasn’t misunderstanding… then this is a date.

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