Hour Empty Child
They walked forward through the cream-stone hallway as they head to the next floor. Despite only reaching the second floor of the possible hundred-floor dungeon, the tension was already beginning to rise within the party.
It was as if a heavy presence was on top of the party, holding everyone down. Kudo himself could feel it after all the time he spent being with the party. He turned his head to glance at his party members. All of them had hard-to-discern expressions on their faces. He then turned forward, to notice Saka’s back in front of him as she led the party for some reason.
It was as if a single word could make everything blow up. One single word and everyone could go into a fight with Saka. Kudo knew before that Saka had difficulty being with the party, but he didn’t think it would happen so soon.
“Kudo,” Hinota stepped forward, whispering to Kudo with a low voice. “This was bound to happen either way. There’s not much we can do.”
The party continued to walk under the heavy atmosphere till they reached to a large room with a row of doors that were closed in front of them. There were four doors each with a white color and a silver knob for each. There was some sort of insignia displayed at the front, but they had no clue on what kind of insignias they were.
“So this is the second floor?” Raika asked.
“Doesn’t seem very impressive…” Kuki commented, tilting his head.
“So we gotta choose one of them, huh?” Tsuchi walked forward to one of the doors but was hesitant to choose. “But one might be a trap, right?”
“Probably,” Mizuri said. “Still, this is kinda lackluster, ain’t it?”
“Well, it’s still the second floor,” Kudo said. “Maybe the good ones are at a deeper level?”
“Does it matter?” Saka intervened, her eyes furrowed. “Let us choose one and let it be over with.”
Saka said with a direct tone, leaving the other party members to furrow their brows at her. Kudo expected this, but he pursed his lips at the sight of this happening.
“Now, now,” Hinota stepped forward, ready to diffuse the situation. “It might be possible that each of these doors could be a trap except for one, So let’s rely on our own luck.” She then turned to Kudo. “It’s your turn, leader.”
“Yeah,” Kudo nodded, thankful for Hinota’s quick thinking. “I’ll go ahead.”
Kudo moved forward to one of the doors in front of him. In this small time of thinking, Kudo was thankful that Hinota managed to diffuse it so easily, but as a leader, he should be the one to try to do something like this. It was his responsibility to try to mitigate the issues regarding the new member he brought in, but it was already turning out to be sour at the moment they partied.
During his thought, he took a moment to choose a door. Sometimes, his luck is great, but it can sometimes bite him in the arse. He wished he could just have reliable luck like Hinota said, but rather than that, he wished he could have the luck to turn over the entire situation into a fun one like he imagined.
He sighed in his mind as he nevertheless chose a door out of just pure luck once again. He pointed at the door that Hinota was actually close to.
“That one,” Kudo pointed as he said. “I got a good feeling about that.”
“Then, I’ll open it up.”
Hinota said as she grabbed the silver knob and turned it. The door unhinged with a loud clunk and opened up with a slow grind. Hinota was pushing it normally, but the door was already making a loud sound that made their ears upset.
Despite being opened and lightened up by the surrounding lights of the walls, the door showed nothing but pure darkness inside. Hinota, however, didn’t hesitate on entering inside, getting everyone else’s nerves to jack up as they leaned in on the door to see what was going to happen.
Their bodies jumped. Their blood ran cold as an unexpected shriek of their co-leader resounded in their ears. Kudo especially felt his face turn pale as he panicked.
Without caring for anything else, not even letting his usual calm-thinking occur first, he rushed into the door and straight into the darkness. The other party members were astounded at this quick reaction as each one held a hope that nothing bad will happen.
Kudo entered into the darkness, his mind in a blaze as a million simulations ran as to what might have happened. He turned his head like a swivel to try to get his eyes adjusted to the darkness as quickly as he could. He yelled out with his chest burning with worry.
“Hinota! Are you okay?!”
Kudo yelled out as he moved forward at a steady pace into the darkness. Strange. Usually, the room would lighten up as soon as the door was opened, but it was strangely dark despite that. As he moved forward with no sense of direction to lead him, he wandered and wandered until finally—he stepped onto something.
It was all he could say before his body was sent over from his weight slipping on the slime beneath him.
Kuki shouted as the party finally looked into the dark door which has finally shed the light from the walls like it should have done.
Bu the moment the light turned on, each of their faces lit up in red.
The group said simultaneously at the sight before them.
It was a single large room with purple slime covering the entirety of it. The room was covered with moving purple creatures known as the Purple Slime. The purple slime is known for making things slippery—that’s it.
It wasn’t a difficult creature, but it was certainly an annoying creature to deal with. However, none of the party members cared about the monsters that were crawling about as they had no attacking power for them to be afraid of.
Rather, they kept looking at the leaders who were caught up in their annoying antics by slipping up on the purple slime themselves.
Kudo slowly opened his eyes, noticing that despite him falling, he didn’t get hurt. It was as if he landed on something other than the floor. Something soft. He shook his head to shake off the delirium as he tried to grasp the floor with his hand.
But again he caught something soft. Incredibly soft. Like a pillow with a nice shape and form and felt comforting to the touch.
It was surprising for him to find something soft within the stone dungeon for some reason, then his natural thinking set in, getting him to realize that there shouldn’t be something so incredibly soft in the dungeon.
Then he remembered that Hinota was here, and he looked down.
Hinota’s purple eyes stared at him with the same usual glare, but they were widened, completely eradicating the scary intimidating look she had. Now, she had a red-tint color on her cheeks, her lips pursed.
Kudo’s face was completely next to hers, but he wasn’t thinking like that. Instead, he looked down, and noticed where his hand was at. It was right on top of her chest, underneath the chest armor and straight onto the softest part of her body.
He once again grasped onto the breast, as if to feel what he was feeling was real, and the response was a cute yelp from Hinota.
Kudo completely whitened up.
Kudo jumped up from Hinota and landed right into a sitting position. Hinota also quickly rose up from the floor and turned around, their backs facing each other. Both of their faces were completely red in shame as Hinota covered her chest with her arm as if the chest armor wasn’t enough anymore.
The party looked on this scene with different expressions on each one—Raika held her mouth in shock, Kuki puckered his lips in surprise, Tsuchi sneered with a rising smile, and Mizuri had a gaping mouth from either satisfaction or shock—perhaps a mixture of both.
“…Your mind is perverse, Kudo,” Saka said, her cheeks blushing as she turned away from this scene.
“B-But that was…” Kudo stuttered, trying to argue back.
“Looks like Kudo-chii’s luck is more awesome than we thought!” Tsuchi said in amazement as Kuki nodded in agreement.
“It’s nothing like that!”
Kudo shouted, his face already nearing to explode while Hinota craned her head down, covering up more of her chest than before.
Once the leaders… reorganized themselves, they defeated the mountain of slimes already approaching them to try to ‘attack’ them, only to be completely eradicated by Hinota’s flames. All the while, Hinota’s eyes seem to spark a much frightening glare than usual at them.
Once their dastardly enemy became non-existent, the party went ahead and gone through the door to the next floor.
Throughout the way, the party continued to snicker and whisper among each other, despite that the leaders were listening to all of them either way. Kudo continued to lead alongside Hinota, but they couldn’t face each other after all that happened. His face was still burning red as if the accident was continuously playing a replay in his mind this entire time. However, he couldn’t just stay quiet either.
“I’m sorry, Hinota…” Kudo apologized after a while, making every member stay silent as he talked. It was as if the tension was being created by them alone, which was something he didn’t want to happen at all.
“There’s no need to apologize,” Hinota said, her face as composed and cool as usual. “I and everyone else knew that it was just an accident. I’m not going to hurt or slap you for something out of your control like some arrogant girl.”
Her wording got both Raika and Mizuri to cringe in silence. If they were touched by their own best friends, they would have hit or slapped them without mercy. This got them to feel guilty over their own arrogance.
“I’m really grateful for that…” Kudo didn’t know how to respond other than his appreciation on not letting that happen.
Knowing that he was forgiven, he looked to where Saka was as she trailed behind him. In the end, Saka remained silent as her eyes were furrowed right at him.
“Be quiet, pervert.”
Her instant reaction shot him down without any chance of recovery. His soul was practically shot through and left for dead as he craned his neck down in silence.
Watching all this unfold, Hinota revealed a small smile as she looked back to Saka.
“Hey, Saka. What would you do if you were the one that Kudo fell on?”
This question got the others to respond with a ‘huh?’ while Kudo turned to Hinota with a shocked gaping mouth, then he turned back to Saka.
Saka couldn’t respond as her cheeks blushed in a single moment with a tinge of red, then it covered up to her entire face as she responded.
“I-I-I would have ended his life with Nightingale! Without mercy! Without restraint!”
Saka was just about to grab onto her scythe strapped on her back and aimed it right at Kudo, getting him to raise his hands up to guard himself if that could ever work.
Kudo shouted, trying to calm down the mad beast ready to slaughter him already. The other members chuckled in response, getting Saka to blush even further as she lets go of her scythe and huddled to herself.
After surviving her almost onslaught, Kudo realized something. The tension in the air was mostly gone now. There was no sense of anything that could trigger a fight or anything like that. The air was light, the same way before they left for their journey. Even if Saka was embarrassed, she herself doesn’t look so angry as before.
Kudo turned to Hinota as he whispered. Hinota looked back, and without saying a word, she winked instead.
Kudo blushed as he looked forward. He understood now that Hinota should not be messed with when it comes to social interactions.
(Did she plan this from the start…?) Kudo wondered, forever at awe at her thinking prowess.
However, inside of Hinota’s mind…
(Oh, my gods, that was so embarrassing… I’m glad that I thought of something for the situation, but I never would have thought that would happen! Oh gods, I can’t even look at him anymore…)
Hinota said, her face as cool as ever, but her mind was still racing from the incident much like Kudo was.