Chapter 4:

Goblins and Intelligence

Hour Empty Child


It was unbelievable for Kudo. His eyes were seeing a view that he couldn’t believe.

The popular, powerful girl, who every Adventurer wanted to invite to their party, was forced into a corner by the weakest bunch of the monster category.

“Kuh!”

Hinota scoffed in a panic. From Kudo’s view, it looked like she was harmed in the last second.

Her shoulder, covered by her silver shoulder pad, seemed to be bleeding as blood was running down her arm. Blood was also trickling down from her temple, which slightly blinded her right eye as well, making her ferocious look even more fiercer.

Hinota held onto her katana, a long blade that slightly curved upwards with a circular shaped guard. The handle was colored with red and gold, as if it was meant for decoration.

The situation she’s facing is very strange to Kudo. What has she done that caught the attention of 5 goblins at once? As Kudo observed the situation, he sees the goblins were ready to attack.

GRAAHH!

The goblin that roared was the first to dash towards her. The other goblins took it as a signal to go as well, following after their supposed leader.

Hinota widened her eyes, as if it was prey that was getting pounced, and put herself into a stance.

The first goblin held a rusty dagger, and when compared to the last dagger that Kudo faced against before, it was rather rusty and nicked. However, to Hinota, it was a dangerous weapon aiming to kill her. Hinota quickly dodges, expending lots of movement by wastefully moving her entire body.

“What the…?”

Kudo uttered as Hinota practically throws herself to the ground to avoid a simple dagger. When she was on the ground and recovered her vision, she widened her eyes as she saw the same goblin going after her.

“A-Aaahh!”

Hinota shrieked, hastily swinging her katana upwards, managing to cut up the goblin’s arm entirely. Kudo now realizes exactly how sharp a katana was.

But Hinota, who was the one that attacked, widened her eyes as she saw the now disembodied arm falling to the ground.

RAAAAGHGH!!

The pained screams of the goblin reached her ears, getting her to whimper and gasp as she quickly got up to get away from it.

When she got up, she notices the other goblins heading straight for her. In a panic, Hinota lifted her hand:

“——《Fireball》!”
Hinota cast her skill, motes of embers gathered around Hinota’s lifted palm. The embers formed together into a blazing sphere of fire. Hinota launches the fireball, heading straight towards the ground where the goblins were about to step on.

——*BOOM!*

The ground exploded, blowing away some of the goblins. But the fireball was weak—it hardly made a burnt mark on the ground. It made a small dust cloud, but out of that cloud, all the goblins dashed out of it, heading straight for Hinota.

“S-Stop!!”

Hinota shouted as she quickly darted from her spot, missing one of the goblins’ attacks. Each of them was carrying different weapons, so for a beginner, it was hard to tell which one was more dangerous.

As Kudo watched in horror, he realizes something. Hinota is using too much energy. For a small weapon like a dagger, Hinota moved so widely that it made her tired out. Thankfully, she seems to be full of energy, but her breath was shaking and started to pant harder. With each strike from different goblins, Hinota was trying her hardest to dodge every single one.

At this rate, she’s gonna get hurt!

The goblins’ supposed levels were around 3 or 4. For a popular and powerful girl like Hinota, facing 3 or 4 goblins shouldn’t be a problem. Yet, here she is, fighting for her life against those exact numbers.

Hinota was doing her best to attack back, but when she does, it’s as if she was afraid of what might happen next. Her slashes carried no power, and even if it cuts one of them, because she was holding back due to fear, the goblin that was cut immediately counter attacked.

In terms of length, Hinota has the upper hand, as her blade was long enough to cover some distance. But the goblins were crafty. When one of them was cut by Hinota’s long blade, the goblin falls to the ground on purpose, and then forcefully clenches the dirt into his hand.

RAAGH!

The goblin did a dirty tactic and threw the dirt and gravel from the ground to Hinota’s face. The dirt formed a cloud, and because she focused so much on her sight when dodging their attacks, the dirt took a direct hit to the eyes.

“Aagh!”

Her eyes sting in pain as the dirt hits her eyeballs. Trying to take control of the new predicament, Hinota cleverly backs away from the other goblins. With her eyes in pain, she tries to dig the dirt out of her eyes by rubbing her left forearm on them, while still holding the katana in her other hand.

“Stupid! Don’t do that now!”

Kudo saw the action and immediately stood up. Taking the time to make your eyes normal again is a bad action to do when you’re still dealing with other monsters.

What Hinota doesn’t realize is that when she tried to open her eyes again, because her temple was still bleeding, she rubbed the blood all over her eyes, making it harder to see.

“Ahh!!”

Hinota shrieked as the goblins took the chance to go after her while she was blinded. Kudo widened his eyes and quickly charged right towards them.

——*KRRISH!!* RRAGGHH!!

Kudo managed to slice vertically one goblin’s torso, stopping its attack. Kudo took the chance and got in front of Hinota, putting himself into a stance with his bastard sword against the now 3 goblins.

“Come at me!”

Huh? Who’s there!

As her eyes were still trying to adjust to the view, she heard a male’s voice which surprised her. During so, Kudo observes his situation…

“Alright, 2 goblins are down for now, and now 3 goblins are still up… this doesn’t look good.”
The goblins growled, clenching onto their weapons which made Kudo shake with his sword. However, Kudo clenched his bastard sword tightly.

He doesn’t have enough experience to take down 3 at a time. Plus, he has to protect the blinded Adventurer behind him. What a pinch…

“Raaaa!!”

Despite the harsh situation, Kudo bellowed and roared out. In his guidebook, sometimes, during a roar to an enemy would make it stagger. Kudo thought he should try it out to see if it worked.

And it worked halfway.

One goblin took a step back, but the other two stood their ground. Instead, they came and charged towards him.

With their weapons in hand, they tried to attack Kudo. Kudo positioned his bastard sword at a sideways angle, and swung his sword widely.

The goblins believed that they can take Kudo down together if they attack it head on, but they never expected the sword managing to cut through their offense. The giant blade slashes the two of them, and with its size, it slashed both of them cleanly. Blood began to spray out and painted the already bloodied grass redder than usual. The goblins fell, but remained alive as they squirmed in pain.

But the last goblin, who took a step back, seemed like it fooled Kudo. It backed away so that he could instantly charge right in right after Kudo made his big swing.

“Aagh!!”

The anguished cry of the boy made Hinota panic and tried to recover her eyesight. Soon, light appeared in the darkness of her sight, and the scene in front of her became clearer.
She managed to wipe away the blood and dusted off the dirt out of her eyes, but her expression remained a panicked state. She saw Kudo’s side of his abdomen punctured from the goblin’s dirty dagger. It was a bad day for Kudo, since it was the same place where the last goblin cut him up.

Isn’t he… the one from the Hall?

Hinota watched in awe as the new Adventurer that she just saw enter today was the one fighting. Kudo grimaced as he gritted his teeth from the stinging pain coming from his left side of his waist.

To make matters worse, when Kudo was bleeding and in pain, he peeked from the corner of his eye and believed that he was hallucinating from the pain, because he saw the goblin that cut him making a sneering smirk.

“Y-You little—!”

Despite that he might have thought that it was just a hallucination, the very fact that a goblin was mocking him aggravated him. His adrenaline kicked in, as well as his rage, and he ignored the wound on his waist as he pointed his bastard sword at his head without the goblin taking the time to react.

——*KRRISH!*

The goblin’s head was pierced thoroughly, his head nearly split as blood spilled from his half-cut head. The goblin fell backward, becoming motionless.

Hinota’s eyes widened at the goblin’s carcass who was killed so easily.

T-That was fast. How did he…?

“Grr… Agghh!”

The stinging sensation coming from his wounded waist coursed through his abdomen. Kudo grimaced as he felt the wound, noticing the wide gap into his skin which left Hinota to respond.

“Hey! Are you alright?”

“I-I’m fine! More importantly, they’re coming!”

Kudo had no time to worry about his injury as the goblins who were downed before got up, having a similar slash across their abdomens.

These things just can’t stay down! Damn, I better try this out!

Believing that there is no other choice, Kudo focused the internal power inside of himself.
According to the guide, it seems that activating the skill by voice input, such as Hinota did, is the way to go, but there was more than that. You need to fully take control of your mana. Kudo furrowed his eyes and focused the invisible mana inside of him to be directed to the palm of his right hand. As he sees the goblins running towards him, Kudo inhaled deeply:

“——《Plus Bomb》!”

Kudo shouted with vigor and strength, using the power of his voice to manifest the mana coursing through his right arm. The mana was then derived out of his hand, creating a single mote of light. The mote of light began to form bigger, forming into a sphere of shining light.

“Raaaahh!!”

Kudo threw the bomb, ignoring the pain coursing through as he throws it, making it land on the goblins.

However, the bomb only became stuck to one goblin. It remained on its right shoulder, leaving the goblins to stop mid-way to see it strangely while tilting their heads.

THE BOMB WAS USELESS!!

Kudo truly felt like he wanted to die. Not only did he chose to take on a Class that was unknown, but the only skill available to him had no effect whatsoever. Even Flamver, who believed that Kudo was releasing some kind of new power, was left disappointed.

“D-Does it do anything?”

“I-It supposed to…”

Kudo wanted to cry when Hinota asked the very question that Kudo was asking himself.

The goblins took notice that it doesn’t do anything, and directed their furious gaze at the two Adventurers. Kudo noticed their charge, and reacted without thinking:

“D-Damn! Flamver-san, let’s go!”

“E-Eh?”

Kudo grabbed onto Flamver’s hand, not noticing what he is doing, and ran away with her to the forested area, getting the goblins to take chase. Hinota widened her tapered eyes as she responded with a scowl.

“W-What do you think you’re doing? As part of the Flamver Clan, I cannot run away!”

“Flamver-san, we need to run now!”

Kudo hoped that he could reason with her as the goblins chased after them, but Hinota was resilient and instead easily escapes Kudo’s grip with a forceful slap of her other hand.

“Ow!”

“I can’t run! Otherwise, I can’t face my family!”

“Flamver-san!”

Kudo’s voice raised in aggravation. Doesn’t this girl care about her life? She remained standing in the middle of the forest and held her katana out with a scowl. The goblins nearly closed in on them, getting Hinota to grit her teeth, and Kudo having no other choice but to rely on his supposedly big luck to get out of this mess and put in a stance with his sword.

But then Kudo noticed something. He saw the bomb that was previously stuck to the goblin starting to glow brightly. It glows, and then it dulled. Glowed and dulled. Glowed and dulled…

“...Ah! Flamver-san! Take cover!!”

“E-Eh?”

Kudo realized something and immediately panicked. Without thinking once more, Kudo pushed Hinota down to the ground, shocking her from his sudden weight being thrown at her as the goblins stopped midway to notice that the bomb was glowing brighter…

——*BOOOM!!*

The bomb blew up, making a powerful explosion which caught the two goblins up in the fiery blaze. Hinota and Kudo watched on the safety of the ground, being affected by the large radius of heated wind produced by the blast. As the explosion died down, Kudo and Hinota noticed the scorched grass and ground, the burnt trees and destroyed bushes, and of course, the two burnt carcasses of the two goblins.

“W-Wow…”

“W-What was that…?”

“T-That was probably my skill; 【Plus Bomb】.”

“【Plus Bomb】, huh? That is a seriously powerful blast… Anyways… can you get off me?”

“Eh?”

Kudo now realized, now that his adrenaline was drained, that his body was on top of Hinota’s. Kudo’s face blushed intensely, like a kettle being overheated, and got up so quickly that he felt a head rush from the way up.

“I-I-I’m sorry!!”

Kudo apologized, bowing down his waist completely, but then noticed the stinging pain coursing through his abdomen. Kudo grimaced as he gritted his teeth, feeling the wound that was still on his waist.

“You’re… still injured.”

Hinota notices the wide gap of flesh cut off from Kudo’s waist, showing a remorseful scowl.

“Hey, you.”

“Y-Yes!”

Kudo, in the process of adjusting to the pain, heard Hinota’s curt call and immediately responded, his voice shaking as well as his body.

“Listen, I appreciate that you helped me out. I will not deny that. But I could have handled that on my own!”

Hinota’s tone of voice was filled with scorn. Kudo felt the aggravation in her tone, but recalling his past memory, Kudo responded with a tilted head.

“W-Well, it didn’t look like it.”

He didn’t realize it until a second later after he said it, but he quickly knew that what he said sounded extremely rude.

“What did you say?”

The high and angry tone of voice from Hinota frightened him, leaving him to quiver from her ferocity that was pouring out of her vicious aura.

“In what part that it didn’t look like I got it covered?!”

“Flamver-san…” Kudo uttered out before heaving a sigh. “I came here because I heard someone screaming. When I came here, I saw you fighting those goblins. You were injured, and you were having trouble fighting them.”

“Y-You saw all of that? Y-You even heard my…”

The ferocity from before seemed to crumble as Hinota flustered from Kudo’s words. Kudo became surprised to see Hinota suddenly change, her scowl on her face changed into that of embarrassment.

“Did I look… that bad?”

Hinota muttered, looking away as if she doesn’t want to face him directly. Kudo felt slightly guilty from her words as he responded:

“I-It didn’t look bad! W-Wait, it looked really bad, but I-I meant the situation! You were facing 5 goblins at once! I got really worried!”

Though Kudo said that, it was still goblins. Though the huge numbers were a problem, when battled properly, the goblins shouldn’t be a match for the powerful girl like Hinota.

Then, Kudo had a thought. Though she was powerful according to the rumors, Kudo couldn’t believe it after seeing that fight. Believing that it might be rude, Kudo asked:

“Flamver-san, if I may, can I ask what your level is?”

“… I’m level 6.”

Kudo was surprised, but he figured that it was the case. Facing 5 goblins at level 6 was going over the limit.

“I see… how long you were level 6?”

“For about a month since I started.”

“A month?!”

Without a warning, Kudo’s voice was raised to its limit, shocking Hinota which gave her a slight jolt from Kudo’s sudden shout.

“In a month, you should have been level 20 by now! How come you’re still only level 6?!"

“T-That’s… because whenever I would hunt monsters, I would end up failing.”

“F-Failing?”

Kudo noticed the anguish formed on Hinota’s expression. Her tapered, furious looking eyes gaze downwards while clenching her fists.

“Every time I hunt, I go up and face the goblins. But no matter what, I couldn’t get past their defenses. They keep forming around me, causing me trouble to no end. I couldn’t keep up, and my stamina would always be drained. I… when that happens, I just run away…”

“R-Run away? But didn’t you say that your clan never runs away or something?”

“That’s because… I didn’t want anyone to see me run away like a coward, and shame my family if someone spread rumors about my shameful retreats.”

“Flamver-san…”

Kudo saw the anguish on her face as she clenches her arm with her hand as she continued.

“Everyone keeps telling me that I’m strong and powerful, because of my Special Class that my family held. But truthfully, I can’t even hunt goblins. The goblins almost kill me, and I would dread the next time I hunt. I’m still only [Rank D] because I can’t go on quests if it means having to face even stronger monsters.”

Hinota’s face contorted into that of panic and fear. A whole month of hunting monsters, only to fail and nearly be killed by them. Kudo imagined that scenario and cringed at the thought.

“Umm, Flamver-san, if I may ask?”

“What is it?”

“How exactly do you start fighting?”

Kudo figured that he needed some answers, seeing how Hinota fought before when Kudo came in after her scream. Hinota raised her brow from such a question, but then she answered.

“First, I find the goblins, making as much noise as possible. My teachers taught me that I shouldn’t hide as a Flamver, and should always be direct. When I find groups of them, I go in and charge, expending as many skills as possible. They also taught me that moving a lot while dodging a simple attack is a great way to confuse the monsters…”

Kudo couldn’t find the words to explain this…

“…Flamver-san.”

“Yes?”

“Are you an idiot?!”

Kudo screamed so loudly, the birds that rested near the trees flew up in a panic. Hinota jolted back from such a scream once more but then realized what he just said.

“W-What?!”

“When you’re fighting alone, you are only supposed to fight one at a time! Also, you can’t make as much noise as possible, otherwise you’ll call more monsters near you! You can’t just charge into a group of monsters, and expend all of your skills! You’ll suffer from Mana Deprivation! And moving a lot while dodging even a small dagger is too wasteful! Too wasteful!”

Kudo repeated his last words, speaking ever so angrily at Hinota, who remained in silence. Kudo was laying out all the mistakes that she has made and tried to correct them according to his guidebook.

“B-but… my family was the one that taught me those techniques! The Flamver always finishes fights in one strike! They’ve been doing so for the past 200 years!”

“Is that so… And your family uses the same tactics that they taught you?”

“O-Of course they do!”

Hinota rebutted, but her tone was slowly changing into that of doubt.

“And, how many are left now after 200 years…?”

“W-Well, we used to have a lot of family members… but now it’s only my two cousins and my grandfather.”

Kudo’s face contorted into a doubtful look.

“So, let me get this straight. Your family uses the same tactics for dozens of years, and now, your family is only about 4 people, including yourself.”

“T-That’s right…”

“And you tried to use these same tactics they taught you, even when you’re low leveled?”

“R-Right…”

“…Flamver-san, did you ever wondered why there are only a few left in your family?”

“…”

Hinota didn’t even bother trying to rebut Kudo’s words. As she looked away, being seemingly awkward, Kudo answered:

“Flamver-san, it’s because your family continues to use such suicidal tactics!”

“H-How dare you!”

Despite that his words contain some truth, Hinota fought back to recover what little is left of her family’s honor.

“Your family is too proud to consider more careful strategies! I can’t even imagine anyone in your family surviving all those years when they do what you did! They’d all be dead by then!”

“Gah!”

Hinota felt the final blow piercing her heart, her knees shook until they gave way and fell to the ground. The truth was so much for her that Hinota’s face turned blue, her furious eyes now showing regret.

Seeing such a poor reaction got Kudo to realized what exactly he has been saying. His eyes widened as he recalled the hurtful words he has just released out of his mouth.

“Ah… Flamver-san… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make fun of your family. I just…”

The years of studying his guidebook led him to believe that it was common knowledge to be careful in battle. When he heard Hinota’s usual way of fighting, he brought out all of his knowledge that he believed that everyone knew. But to his shock, he sees that Hinota didn’t know.

“Flamver-san…”

“… My family’s ways are my life. How can I just change my way of fighting, when my family took their time to teach me this?”

Hinota responded, her voice completely meek and reserved. Kudo felt the sincerity from her voice and realized that she was facing this problem since a while ago.

Kudo knelt down to her level, and lifted his hand towards her to offer it.

“Flamver-san, right now, nothing’s more important than your survival. I’ll teach you all that I know, so that you can keep on living and enjoy being an Adventurer.”

Kudo tossed a smile to her which made Hinota widen her eyes from such a bright smile that came with the sun’s shining light behind his head. Seeing such a reaffirming smile, Hinota offered up her own.

“Alright.”

Hinota took on Kudo’s hand with her own, gripping on it as Kudo helped her stand up from the ground.

“Then, I’ll do whatever I can to help you on improving how you fight,” Kudo said as Hinota nodded silently. “First, let me see your information.”

“W-What?!”

A pinkish tint of red dyed Hinota’s cheeks, her eyes widened as she took a step back. Kudo also widened his eyes from this sudden reaction.

“W-W-Wha… how can you ask such a thing? I-Isn’t that just harassment?!"

“Mmh? How is it harassment?”

Kudo tilted his head as he tried to wrap his mind about the flustered reaction of Hinota. As he asked, Hinota was left gaping, and then gazed downwards as her cheeks became more pinker.

“D-Do you really need to know?”

“Of course it is! How can I help you if I don’t know how your Class works?”

Kudo made his rebuttal, making Hinota’s lips quiver as she gazed downwards again, her cheeks becoming more pinker if that was possible.

“A-A-Alright! Alright. Here!”

She curtly responded as she opened up her screen of light, showing the same color as Kudo’s Stat Menu. She swiped the status, making the screen float towards Kudo.

Adventurers are able to show their Status screens to others as the screen of light is controllable to adjust. Knowing this, Kudo looked at the screen and observed all the information she has put to display.

“Let’s see… Name is Hinota Flamver. 15 years of age. Your hair color is red, your eye color is purple. Height is 165cm (5'5"). The three sizes are B88-W56-H85 (35F-22-34)…W-Wait!”

Kudo felt something wrong after learning about her secret sizes. Kudo looked up to see Hinota’s face that was practically crimson red when he finished reading her ‘information’.

“T-This is your private information!”

“I-Isn’t that what you wanted to know?!”

“No! I meant your stats! The modifiers and the skills! That’s what I wanted to know!”

“Then you should have said that beforehand, you stupid pervert!”

“E-Eh…? Isn’t that obvious!”

Their heated discussion left them panting from their shouting. Hinota’s crimson face has still not paled in color as she corrects the information on her screen of light.

“Freaking perv… here!”

“I’m not a perv…”

Wanting to leave that final piece of rebuttal out there, Kudo checked on the true statistics of Hinota’s body. Still, 88, huh… was roaming in the deepest parts of his mind as he read.
———————————————————————————————————————
Name: Hinota Flamver
Class: Hell Knight
Level: 6
HP: 560, MP: 370
Attack: 75, Defense: 45
Magic Attack: 48, Magic Defense: 5
STR: 28 INT: 10
VIT: 22 WIS: 12
DEX: 26 LUK: 8
Available Points: 25
———————————————————————————————————————
Kudo was left gaping at the amazing statistics of the seeming novice Adventurer. Kudo looked up to see Hinota, who was still blushing and looking away with a scowl, with amazement.

T-These stats are amazing! I can’t believe how strong she is… Wait a minute, most of these stats are way too much, even for her level!

“Flamver-san, do you train regularly?”

“Mmh…? Yes, I did. Before I became an Adventurer, my family would always put me to train my body for any kinds of situations. Since then, I’ve been training since I was a child.”

“A-Amazing… Because you trained your body, all that work increased your physical statistics immensely.”

“How so?”

Hinota’s blush was gone, and what remained was a look of curiosity as she closed in on Kudo who was making his diagnosis.

“When you’re training your body, it gathers hidden points. Did you know?”

“N-No… I didn’t.”

Her face showed a perplexed expression as Kudo began to explain.

“You see, when you train your body, with strength training or endurance training, you gain hidden points, like how you gain new stat points when you level up. Those are hidden, hence called hidden points, but when you level up, all those accumulated hidden points develop into actual points, and increases the stat that the Adventurer trained on. For Strength training, they’ll go into the [STR] stat, and for endurance, the [VIT] stat.”

“I-I see, I didn’t know that.”

Hinota’s eyes widened as she learned new and helpful information. Kudo continued to observe the screen, until he found something unsettling.

“Flamver-san! You still haven’t increased your stat points!”

Kudo pointed the excess stat points accumulated at the bottom of the screen, showing them to Hinota.

“Ah… with all the trouble, I guess I must have forgotten.”

“Don’t forget that! It’s OK when you’re higher leveled, but for beginning Adventurers, each new stat point is important!”

“G-Got it!”

Hinota flustered from Kudo’s sudden shout again, but this time, she took it to heart as she nodded vigorously.

“Then, please let me see your skills.”

“A-Alright…”

Hinota became caught in Kudo’s pace, quickly bringing up another light and showed him the skill list.

—————————————————————————————————————
【Fireball】 Lv. 3 (Proficiency: 38%)
The skill that shoots out your direct, flaming, passionate fire! Formed into a small sphere, it directly impacts your enemies, and blows them up in a passionate fire!
MP Cost: 80, Range: 5m
—————————————————————————————————————
【Flaming Strike】 Lv. 5 (Proficiency: 59%)
You are able to strike enemies down with your weapon clad in your passionate flames! Let them be burned by your hot passion, leaving them burnt to a crisp by your spirit!
MP Cost: 135
Must have a weapon in order to use this skill.
—————————————————————————————————————

“Wow… these skills are so passionate.”

“Please, don’t say that out loud…”

Kudo spoke in amazement as he felt oddly motivated from reading the skill descriptions, but Hinota once again reddens her cheeks from remembering the embarrassing passionate writing.

“Still, these skills are amazing! You have a ranged attack, and a close-range attack, so you can cover both grounds!”

“But they cost a lot of mana. If I keep using them in succession, I would feel extremely fatigued.”

“That’s true… It looks like you have the capabilities of being a [Warrior] and a [Mage].”

“[Warrior] and [Mage]?”

“Yeah. So, in order to get stronger, you need to raise your [INT] stat.”

“But, why the [INT] stat?”

“Because your 【Fireball】 is a mana-based attack. Increasing your [INT] will raise the attack power of it, and it also increases your mana pool.”

“But… wouldn’t 【Flaming Strike】 take a fall in damage?”

“I don’t think so. With these expensive [MP] costs, I think they’re both mana-based attacks.”
“H-How can you be so sure?”

Hinota felt like she has millions of doubts the more she asks Kudo, but Kudo seemed willing to answer everything.

“You need both the [STR] stat for using powerful weapons, like your katana, and you need the [INT] stat to increase your skills’ power. In this case, you need to favor your skills’ damage more than your weapon’s.”

“Ah…”

“And the good news is that you already have a high [STR] stat from your training. So now—”

“I can equip better weapons while raising only my [INT] stat to increase my damage further.”

“O-Oh! Exactly! You got what I was saying right!”

Kudo flashed a smile despite being interrupted, showing a sincere smile that said that he was glad that Hinota learned it. Seeing such a sincere smile left Hinota to blush a little from that response.

“I figured you were smart, Flamver-san!”

“Stop that… actually, keep going.”

In the midst of the conversation, Hinota, for a moment, showed an air of cockiness.

“Then, I should increase my [INT] stat?”

“Yes. If it doesn’t work, then I’ll take responsibility and quit being an Adventurer.”

“Y-You sure are confident in that area… didn’t you just became an Adventurer today?”

“I did, and it’s been my lifelong dream.”

Kudo’s answer was so serious, it left Hinota astonished. Seeing his determined expression on his face, Hinota furrowed her eyes and brought the screen to herself. She switched to her Stat menu and applied the points by touching the arrow marker near the [INT] stat.

“Then, here I go. Apply points… now!”

Hinota pressed the [Apply] option, and then her body began to glow a crimson-colored aura. It was only a small glow, but then it became stronger.

“Uoo… Ahhh!”

Hinota let out a shout as she felt the sudden change in her body’s internal power. She felt as if the world was spinning around her, and her body, especially her head, became tied into a strong knot. Her eyes spin around as her body became delirious. In the midst of her confusion, her feet stumbled and her body started to fall.

“Flamver-san!”

Kudo noticed the fall and quickly stepped in, catching Hinota’s slender body with his arms. Kudo saw Hinota’s state on her face as her tapered eyes’ irises were shrunk for a moment, but then returned to their original size.

“A-Aggh…”

“Flamver-san, are you OK?”

“Y-Yeah… Just got a little light headed… more like I was completely warped. What a rush.”

Hinota’s vision returned to normal and noticed Kudo’s face being extremely close to hers.

“D-Did you catch me?”

“A-Ahh!! S-Sorry!!”

Kudo, at the time, did felt like a pervert, as he helped Hinota get back on her feet and backed away a few steps, putting his hands behind his back.

“S-Sorry for touching you… again…”

“It’s fine. Rather, I should thank you.”

Hinota gave her thanks, and then inspected her own body by feeling the clenching of her hands.

“How do you feel, Flamver-san? I heard applying stat points to your body is literally modifying your body more faster than natural growth. I should have warned you beforehand that doing so all at once would be too much for someone to take!”

Kudo shared a concerned tone in his voice, feeling guilty of not telling her. Hinota picked up on that tone and responded.

“Don’t worry; nothing but a short rest won’t cure. And how I feel…” Hinota trailed off, looking at her hands as she clenches them time and again. Kudo then asked as his curiosity took the best of him.

“Do you feel smarter? Like, are you thinking faster?”

“It’s… kinda hard to say. I guess if I have to say it in numbers, it would be that I’m thinking 2% faster than normal.”

“How do you even compare how fast you think…?” Kudo thought as Hinota flashed a smile on her supple lips.

“Though, I do feel… more stronger than before!”

Hinota responded happily, leaving Kudo to smile back to her.

“Then, let’s test it out!”

“T-Test it out? You mean…”

“Yeah! There should be some goblins left alive back in the clearing. One injured and the other without a limb That should be a good test to see if you really improved!”

“But… in the end, won’t I still fail? I mean, even when I leveled up, I still have difficulty…”

“Hehe, don’t worry about that. I’ll teach you some techniques that're sure to get you some kills!”

Kudo flashed a wide grin, leaving Hinota to widen her eyes from his innocent, backed by a powerful intent to kill the goblins…

****************************************************************************
Now that Hinota has gotten stronger, Kudo’s got a plan to deal with those goblins! What’s gonna happen next!?


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