Hour Empty Child
It took the party a fair bit of time for them to return back to the guild, with their new friend in tow. In order to show his trust in her, Kudo did not hold her wrist this time. This is so that Kudo will show Saka just how he trusts her to not run away. Since they were doing all this so that they could help her, Saka decided to go with them on her own terms, though she did lag behind in a short distance throughout their travel.
Perhaps all of this was still too much for her. This was what Kudo thought after turning his attention back to the girl lagging behind. Her head was down, and a frown still showed on her beautiful but saddened face. It was as if she was caught by the knights for some sort of wrongdoing, which only made Kudo feel worse considering that she was just an innocent girl.
They eventually got back to the larger-than-life guild base that stood mightily in front of them. Kudo looked back at their new companion, seeing her head craning upwards to view at this magnificent building in all its splendor with a face full of admiration and awe.
He was like that as well when he first saw this building.
“Come on, let’s go!”
Kudo ushered his party to come, but mostly to the young girl who flinched at his call for a moment before showing the same expression before, only a little bit more relaxed this time.
Kudo pushed open the doors, revealing the wild-like lobby as the adventurers came back from their quests to enjoy themselves in their stupor. The young Saka remained at awe at the magnificence of the lobby but remained shocked by the number of people inside. Her shoulders hunched, she tried to hide by tucking her body to herself.
“Come on,” Hinota said as she placed her hand on top of Saka’s shoulder. It forced her to keep moving despite still trying to protect herself from any possible danger.
The E-Plus walked through the Alpha Heart members who were cheering on as usual, drinking their alcohol, and enjoying themselves to their fullest. They looked for the sole person who was at the center of all this chaos.
“Ooh!” One Alpha Heart members shouted. “It’s Junior! He’s got another member to join! And it’s a cute girl!”
The members who heard the man’s cry got themselves riled up as they howled and cheered at Kudo. Saka retracted herself back to the huddle of the party, pushing herself against Hinota who let out a short sigh of exasperation at the member for shouting. Kudo wryly chuckled as he cursed himself for forgetting that this would be the reaction from the members when bringing another person to the guild.
“Oh,” Kudo remembered through his thoughts and turned back to Saka. “Hey, do you have a Special Class?”
As Kudo stopped, everyone else followed. Each one turned their heads to the girl to hear her answer as they were all curious about her fancy skill of teleporting.
Saka took a moment before she answered, “Mine Special Class derives from the demon god from the deep recess of the world—[Illusion Reaper]. Tis’ a name that hath brought fear to men’s hearts and weaved chaos through the world long ago.”
“Oh… so it’s a pretty powerful class, huh?”
Kudo took a moment before he answered as well, however, the other party members were all scratching their heads at her comment.
“Kudo, how on Yarim you were able to understand what she said?” Kuki answered, fully knowing that Saka was speaking their language but still had trouble deciphering it.
“I can just sort of understand what she’s going through,” Kudo smiled back as he answered. “I’ll go look for Mom to let her join the guild. That way, we can look out for her better.”
“Understood,” Hinota replied as Kudo waved once to the party before leaving.
Kuki still did not understand what Kudo meant by that as he was seen visibly scratching his head. Meanwhile, the party members, after returning to the lobby, returned to join in on the merrymaking of the guild. Tsuchi, Mizuri, Raika, and Kuki left Hinota and Saka to join since they had nothing else to do at the moment.
“Whoa, so you’re the girl that saved Junior and his party, huh?”
“Ain’t you a pretty thing to look at, eh? And ya even took down an Extreme Boss?”
“Wow! Pretty and powerful! You’re what every woman should strive for!”
The men and the women spread around Saka, surrounding her and showering her with praises as they all heard about Kudo’s Extreme Quest details.
As each one of their faces popped up in front of her, asking her questions about what her level is and what skills she had, Saka’s eyes darted left and right as if she was seeing the very definition of hell itself. Her tanned skin began to sweat as she continued to step back to avoid the crowd swarming her.
She continued to shake her head, not answering a single one of their questions as she gritted her teeth behind closed lips. She was about to turn and run for the nearest door—until her hand was caught by someone.
She turned around. Hinota’s glare was dead set on her eyes.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
Hinota caught her by the wrist just like how Kudo has before. Kudo did trust her, but he was afraid that she might regress back to her survival mode if not properly watched and leave. That’s why Kudo taught Hinota how he managed to catch her, which is basically just making sure to put her hand on Saka’s body in order to disable her skill activating.
Saka groaned in frustration, trying to swing her arm left and right to let go of Hinota’s tight grip, but she remained steadfast and denied her freedom.
“Take it easy, Saka,” Hinota gently said. “They’re not here to hurt you.”
“Unhand me,” Saka sternly replied. “Or else you’ll feel my wrath.”
Her words carried an unbelievable sense of hostility with the help of her maddening glare. Her ruby eyes that seemed to penetrate deep into a person’s soul glared directly at Hinota’s own glare. Her eyes said it all—she could cleave her head right off her body in an instant if she doesn’t let her go.
But Hinota remained. In fact, she continued to glare back at Saka’s gaze without surrendering. Her purple orbs, their colors so bright, passed through the hostility swarming around Saka and reached to her, causing her to flinch even if just for a moment.
Saka breathed out of reflex. She turned her head down for a moment before meeting back with Hinota’s glare. Hinota continued her own glare, not letting up on the intensity of her staring. No matter what she tried, it wouldn’t work.
Because Hinota could pick out her bluff a mile away.
Hinota is a sort-of master when it comes to social interactions This was something Kudo knew since the moment he met her. Hinota has always been able to pick out a lie or bluff no matter where she goes thanks to all the jazz and excitement of being a high-born noble in Peranim.
Even if she has been transferred to somewhere where her status means equal to to the masses, the abilities that she prized forever since she was little remained as her deadliest weapons.
Saka had no reason to pick out a fight—Hinota could see it in her eyes. Though they carried an intense hostility, buried deep within was a sense of fear. Fear of meeting new people and interacting with them, just like Kudo.
Saka remained still for a moment, trying to combat her stare. But in a hopeless situation, she gave up as she lowered her head, and loosened her resolve to let go.
Once her hand slumped, Hinota lets go of her wrist and lessened her glare’s intensity.
(Even though she’s more powerful than me, she refused to fight,) Hinota gathered her thoughts in an instant. (She’s kinder than I imagined, but… she’s still suspicious.)
Hinota continued to stare at Saka as she became bombarded with adventurers’ questions and whatnot. However, after realizing how uncomfortable Saka was displaying, the other members realized this and backed off by walking away, but they still said that they will help her out when she needed it.
Those words caught Saka by surprise, but she continued to look down at the pristine flooring while huddling her hands together to support herself.
Hinota walked forward to her to place her hand on Saka’s shoulder. After knowing that it was Hinota, without any words, Saka followed Hinota to an individual table on their own.
“Hey, I’m back!”
Kudo shouted at the two girls sitting on their own table, getting Hinota and Saka’s attention as they turned to find Kudo walking to them alongside the guildmaster.
The girls stood up to face them, but only Saka got to be amazed once again at the person beside Kudo.
Her gallant features, her indomitable stance. Her brimming array of confidence poured from her very being, and more than ever, her beautiful aspects came shining through in a heartbeat. Saka couldn’t help but gaze at the guildmaster walking to her, her blue-colored hair swished about as she moved.
“So, this is Saka Illusura?”
Hikari stepped forward in front of her, her tall figure looking down on the nervous girl who practically shook in her boots. Saka craned her neck up to the tall being in pure fascination, something that both Kudo and Hinota knew very well.
“That’s right,” Kudo responded in Saka’s stead. “She’s was chased by the Dark Players. And she has a Special Class. I was hoping that you can let her into the guild.”
Hikari bended down to Saka’s height, looking directly at her eyes. This caused her to whimper without her knowing, her shoulders shaking like a small animal. For a moment, this moment reminded Kudo of another beastfolk adventurer in his party that did the same reaction.
“Mmh, you’re so cute!”
Before Saka could even comprehend what could happen, Hikari reached out her arms and embraced Saka’s whole body. A yelp resounded from Saka as Hikari hugged her without warning, or even permission, tugging at her small build with a powerful hug that made both Kudo and Hinota nervous.
“M-Mom, take it easy!”
“Mmh, Kudo, you always have such good luck finding me such adorable adventurers to join our guild! And she even has a Special Class—your luck is world-renowned!”
Kudo let out sweat from his mother’s praise as Hikari continued to hug Saka without any hesitation. Hinota let out a short sigh as she held her forehead with her hand, hoping that this wouldn’t further traumatize Saka.
Saka, in all her might, tried to let herself go from her grip—but Hikari was far too strong to even be able to struggle free. She had no other choice but to become a hug-pillow for Hikari for a few good minutes.