Chapter 9:

Buff and Hunt the World

Hour Empty Child


2 months have passed since they have acquired their [Magic Bags] which turned out to be incredibly useful for them in their adventures. Kudo would constantly use its many spaces to carry dozens of the same loot inside, without fearing of its expiration.

Though there were limits to the current [Magic Bags]. First, there are only about 60 spaces inside, so they can only fit about 60 different items and loot, which includes arrows and Potions.

However, since the two Adventurers were unified, they would share each other’s spaces, leaving one to carry the loot while the other carried the necessities, such as rations, emergency clothing, Potions, arrows for Hinota’s bow, and much more.

During these 2 months, Kudo and Hinota have gone through many quests, which for the Adventurers’ Guild, it was enough to rank them up in the Guild Ranks.

After taking their time passing a simple test of survival provided by the GuildMaster of the Adventurers’ Guild, Kudo Braven and Hinota Flamver have increased their position to [Rank C]. So they were now able to take on [Rack C] quests which were more difficult compared to the easier [Rank D] quests.

Despite raising their rank, they still frequently visit the large Forest of Dek for their daily skill training and stat training. Instead of just raising their skills, they raised their awareness of the monsters’ movements. Other than the goblins, the forest also provided much more difficult monsters, but the two Adventurers would always have their fallback combo attack if things were to go awry.

Sitting cross-legged in a clearing in the Forest of Dek, Kudo observes more closely the Stat menus he put up himself along with Hinota’s.

—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Kudo Braven

Class: ?????

Level: 29

HP: 1120, MP: 1610

Attack: 126, Defense: 35

Magic Attack: 376, Magic Defense: 20

STR: 18 INT: 35

VIT: 9 WIS: 31

DEX: 10 LUK: 163

Available Points: 0

—————————————————————————————————————

—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Hinota Flamver

Class: Hell Knight

Level: 32

HP: 1780, MP: 2530

Attack: 216, Defense: 75

Magic Attack: 402, Magic Defense: 5

STR: 34 INT: 175

VIT: 27 WIS: 18

DEX: 32 LUK: 8

Available Points: 0

—————————————————————————————————————

An ordinary Adventurer that would look at these stats would say that these are the highest level that they have seen in a while since most teenagers who become 15 years old could only strive and dream of reaching this high in level and stats.

However, Kudo Braven looked at this stat with different thoughts. How could he think that these stats would be high? With his current strength, it’s not possible to take down any strong bosses without the use of a full party.

“Kudo, I’m finished!”

Kudo Braven turned around, shifting the grassy ground beneath his rump, to see Hinota who waved at him while dragging the decomposing bodies behind her with her ridiculous strength with splatters of blood all over her armor.

“Oh, you look absolutely stunning, Hinota!” Kudo spoke like a noble who exists for fashion. “The blood of your enemies is a really nice color on you~!”

“Why, thank you, kind sir. You’ll be glad to know that I went through dozens of Lesser Avians to get this color.”

“Oh, avians—very daring.”

Kudo went in awe as they started their own show for fashion, starting with Hinota posing in glamorous poses which often led Kudo to clap in fascination. Of course, they quickly looted the avians—Bird monsters that looked like eagles with sharp talons, but with weak strength.
Once they were finished with their looting, Kudo started to converse with Hinota about their stats.

“Hinota, your [INT] stat is already in the hundreds’ now. Your power has increased a lot!”
Hinota chuckled with a cocky grin. “Well, of course! Not to mention, I gained lots of [STR] stats as well—at this rate, it will be time to switch weapons. My blade is nearly getting dull.”

Hinota unsheathes her favored katana, the weapon that she uses constantly despite having a higher [INT] stat. As she said, nicks and dulled sharpness were apparent on her blade which caused Kudo to feel uneasy.

“Mmh, we should really consider that as well…” Kudo takes a moment as he checks out the blade with his keen eyes. “Repairing a katana like that would most likely increase in costs since it’s such a specially crafted sword.”

“Right,” Hinota nodded as she felt the heavy price for her favored sword.

“Hinota, have you also increased your skills?”

“Oh, yeah! I even gained a new skill,” Hinota was brought back to reality as that got Kudo to widen his eyes.

“Really? Show me!”

Kudo’s tone of voice became higher as Hinota quickly opened up her skill menu to show Kudo.

—————————————————————————————————————
【Fireball】 Lv. 9 (Proficiency: 67%)

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 passionate fire!
MP Cost: 54, Range: 8m
—————————————————————————————————————
【Flaming Strike】 Lv. 11 (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: 103

Must have a weapon in order to use this skill.
—————————————————————————————————————
【Burning Soul】 Lv. 1 (Proficiency: 0%)

Call our your inner passion and the flames of your heart will envelop you! Enforcing you by giving you strength and increase to fire skills with a fiery blaze!!

MP Cost: 150, Duration: 5 minutes
—————————————————————————————————————
“Uoo! This skill is a buff, Hinota!”

“A buff…? It did say that it had a duration of 5 minutes, but is that what it’s called?”

“Right!” Kudo explained the details. “A buff is a skill that increases your stats. I think this increases your overall attack power and making your fire skills more powerful!”

“That’s amazing! So I’m going to become more stronger than before?”

“Right!” Kudo agreed which brought a smile to Hinota’s lips as they packed up their things, their loot, and headed back to the city.

Thoughout it all, they conversed about their skills.

“What about you, Kudo? Did you gained anything?”

“Oh, I did.”

“Really?” Hinota became in shock as she glared intensely at Kudo. “Then show me too!”

“R-Right, but in the end, it’s still the same as my old one…”

“Screw that and just show me already!”

Hinota hurried Kudo as he gave a faint smile while opening up his Skill menu, which he then showed it to Hinota.

—————————————————————————————————————
【Plus Bomb】 Lv. 10 (Proficiency: 67%)

ZP&Mn)p:dp&:6Eo’+n!nFuq>L<ms8E?’p&:oUr;QKjq>^’nD<=D6<.(rWiE’et)[+qu6s7ZfqoWVXk6t/\Vs%*AZGJNZ0D&[hkHeBQa+aQ<.L:>l)js8EYTe,K.Ap\+B7mIpmIpMXQuq=jmKLT9qEp\sjXE/95Eo^hV”4N[nc/V”mJj!Bs7?9’s*;sVnZf<C1OcBC.\f^rVs
—————————————————————————————————————
【Plus Pulse】 Lv. 1 (Proficiency: 0%)

EI&Mn)p:dp&:6Eo’+n!nFuq>L<yr8W?’p&:oJr;QKjq>^’nD<=D6<.(rWiE’et)[+qu6s7ZfqoWVXk6t/\Vs%*PORJNZ0D&[hkHeBQa+aQ<.L:>l)js8ITR,K.Ap\+B7mIpmIpMXQuq=jmKLT9qEp\sjXE/95Eo^hV”4N[nc/V”mJj!Bs7?9’s*;sVnZf<C1OcBC.\f^rVs
—————————————————————————————————————
“Oh, it’s a new skill! 【Plus Pulse】, huh…? Sounds mystifying. And why is it that you’re gaining a new skill after having raised so many levels?”

“Sometimes, Adventurers can have a long interval when gaining a skill. It usually means that the next skill would be powerful.”

“Wow! That’s awesome!”

Hinota spoke in awe as Kudo was still uncomfortable over the garbled text that is shown to him.

“But it still doesn’t explain any more than the last one. Just the name.”

“Even so, this is good news! Now we just need to find a place to test it out!”

“Yeah, but let’s do that later. I’m too tired from spending hours here in the morning…”

Kudo extended his mouth as he began to yawn from mentioning how they woke up early to start grinding as soon as possible.

“You’re not much of an early riser, huh?”

“I think getting up this early should be a crime…”

“Hahaha!”

Hinota began to laugh as Kudo was taken in by Hinota’s charming laughter. Though he was still terrible at giving out jokes, it sounds like Hinota enjoys it at some point, giving Kudo a good confidence boost.

After taking some time, passing through the gates of Klein, showing their different colored Growth Crystals, which represented light green for [Rank C], they entered into the city and headed straight for the Adventurers’ Guild for their next quest, but not before having something to eat, as it was nearly noon.

The two Adventurers enters into the guild hall, only to be met with the strong stares of the Adventurers who were in the main hall.

The Adventurers knew of Kudo’s presence when he first came in, due to another Adventurer that first talked to him on his first day. However, at the time, they never expected much from a weak-looking man like Kudo. But after just two months, Kudo—along with Hinota—has already passed the [Rank C] exam, which for some of the Adventurers, passing that exam would be difficult for them as it required an extensive amount of knowledge of Adventuring.

Each one of the Adventurers watched Kudo with a glaring pursuit of either envy, frustration, or perhaps a little of both. But the ones who truly watched with envy to the point of being nearly green were the male Adventurers.

After all, taking the complete attention of the most powerful, beautiful Hinota Flamver, and ending up being in the same party as her, would make enemies out of every male in the hall.

Though some men did not falter despite the obvious pairing. Some desperately went after Hinota, like lions going after their prey. But each one ended up in failure from Hinota’s strong rejection, which also added insult to injury when she would say that she prefers to be with Kudo instead of them.

After two solid months of them working together, most men have given up on attaining the fiery flower that is Hinota. In the end, it is what she decided, after all.

“Gah, what’s so special about that guy?!”

Some of the men, though, could not accept these obvious pairing so easily.

One male teen whose skinny body resembles a skeleton with a youthful appearance but had a frustrated look on his face, shouted to his party member on the other side of the table, a bigger, rounder male teen who nodded in agreement.

“Though, I heard that he has a strange Special Class. His mark on his hand didn’t look like any other Class we saw. It was like a really strange marking.”

“Bah! That guy can go to hell! What’s so great about him?!”

“I’d like to know that myself.”

The two males nearly spit as they heard a voice that they recall hearing some time ago. They turned around, only to see a tall, dark skinned male, with glossy blond hair who also had other people standing behind him.

“Y-You! Aren’t you—?!”

“My name is Flash. I’m sure you know who I am, and my party behind me. We are ‘Hunt the World’!”

Flash shouted as if he was clearly flaunting their title of their party. The two male teens widen their eyes as they have heard this name somewhere else before.

“H-Hey, aren’t they the party that raised their ranks to [Rank C] in just 3 weeks?”

The rounder male whispered to his skinny friend, getting him to widen his eyes even more as he finally recalls their name.

“A-Ah! So it is you! W-what is it that you like to ask?”

“I like to ask about Hinota Flamver.”

“Eh? Flamver-sama?”

The two male Adventurers became in shock as Flash’s eye glinted at the mention of her name.

During this time, the famous duo Adventurers enjoyed their meals, each one having a differently massive gap between the sizes of their portions.

Hinota had stacks of meat ribs that were so succulent it left most men drooling, a plate of different vegetables for variety and a large tank of fruit juice, filled with protein to give her that extra energy.

As for Kudo, as always, he had a small meal of rice and curry, in a small plate, along with milk for the extra vitamins.

Though Hinota was blazing through her several meals, each one proudly bought with her own jib, she noticed Kudo taking his time eating his small meal that could make a grown man cry at the sight of it, reading his guidebook at the side as he pleasantly enjoyed his meal.

“It’s amazing that you can read that thick book so many times already. You must have remembered it to the very last letter. Why keep reading it?” Hinota couldn’t hold in her curiosity and asked.

“Well, I guess it’s kinda weird. I like to review what I learned all this time. Besides, compared to before, I’ve been reading this guidebook less than usual.”

“Eh… Don’t you wanna read other books? With our money, I’m sure that you can gain some more books to read.”

“I-I would, but books are expensive…”

“How so? They’re hardly worth more than 2,000 Jib.”

“S-Seriously?” Kudo’s eyes widened at the prices of books now. Then he recalled the time when his parents bought it for him. “Ah, now that I think about it, this book cost like 8,000 jib before, and back then I always believed that 8,000 jib was too much. I see…”

Kudo realized something that he should have realized ever since he first became an Adventurer. Now that he has enough spending money, he can buy several books which he has been looking forward to reading when he was a young child.

“Haha, how can you not realize that now?”

“Hehehe…”

As Hinota giggled, Kudo chuckled as the both of them enjoyed the mood that they had right now. However, as always, that mood was ruined when Kudo felt a presence slowly coming up behind him.

“Eh…?”

Hinota noticed it as she was seeing the presence in front of her while Kudo turned around and saw the tall Adventurer whose facial features seemed to be glowing underneath the torches around the guild hall.

“A-Ah!”

Kudo sharply yelped as he stood up in shock. However, the tall Adventurer named Flash bypassed him, ignoring him as he walked near Hinota.

“Hinota Flamver… it’s been a while.”

Flash spoke as if he was seeing a longtime friend. Kudo widened his eyes as Hinota remained silent.

“E-Eh? You know Hinota?”

“…”

The tall Adventurer then glanced at Kudo, giving him a sharp look from his eyes—though it doesn’t compare to Hinota’s glare—as Kudo became silent and shrunk from his intensity he was emitting.

“Who said that you can use her name so casually?”

Flash spoke in a low voice which sounded threatening to Kudo, getting him to feel that sudden hostility and backed away.

Then, from the group that stood behind Flash—which was unseen by Kudo—suddenly jumped and grabbed Kudo’s collar.

“You shithead! Hinota Flamver-sama is a well-known noble daughter of the Flamver Clan in Erijo! Just speaking her first name with any kind of suffix is enough to give you a death sentence!”

“Eh?!”

The one assaulting Kudo at this moment had the appearance of a martial artist. He wore Medium class armor, just like Kudo and Flash, only that it was in beige color. What stood out from his appearance was his red bushy hair. Other than his armor, what seemed menacing was his gauntlets worn on his hands, and had spikes that were stitched onto the knuckles of his hand grabbing his collar which were nearing Kudo’s skin, causing him to feel the cold steel that could pierce his face.

“Stop it, John. It’s not worth it.”

Flash lifted his hand to stop John, the [Monk] Adventurer. John clicked his tongue at Kudo as he mercilessly lets go of Kudo’s collar, causing him to back up in one step while feeling his red-colored neck.

“…Anyways, Hinota-san, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

As if it was too troublesome to continue, Flash acted as if nothing else happened just now, and directed his full-time attention to Hinota, who still remained silent.

“I have been wanting to see you for so long…”

As Flash was beginning to sound like a love-struck man who has finally met his lover, Kudo turned his sight towards the two’s eventful meeting.

They were long-time friends. This thought flashed through in his mind. Then he remembered that Hinota came from Erijo, a faraway city. Perhaps Flash came from the same city as well.

“After you left the city, I got worried since you left so quickly without even a goodbye! Then I heard that you never became part of anyone’s party for a long time. Now, I hear rumors that you partied up with a stranger? Do you have any idea how worried I was?!”

Flash spoke loudly, which to Kudo, it seemed like he was flaunting his concerns to the world. But perhaps he was just jealous that Flash could show off so much without feeling so nervous or even embarrassed. In the end, Kudo could only think of how much Flash cared for Hinota’s well-being.

“You became an Adventurer too soon! If you have just waited, I could have become an Adventurer alongside with you! Your family has never told me where you went, so I went to the next city to become one, so I can be with you! When I heard rumors about your exploits in this city, I came immediately with my party to meet you!”

Some of the Adventurers in the hall were entranced by Flash’s nurturing words, making some of the women become wooed by this. Though, Kudo couldn’t help but think:

I can’t handle that at all…

Kudo has never been able to even act that way, much less become it. It’s taking all of his power to just act normal—sociable even. However, Kudo could sense that Flash was the kind that dominates sociability, mastered it to the point of putting everything into his own pacing. That kind of power is not something one can gain as a skill, even as an Adventurer.

“Hinota, with my party, who all have achieved [Rank C], we can accomplish many feats! Let’s continue this conversation with our party, of course, over in lunch…”

Despite that Hinota was already having lunch, Flash asked her out to meet with his party and offered her food. He just said it even though Kudo was right there. Can someone who has a lot of experience talking with other people can just take someone away from someone else when they were talking? As Kudo thought about the frightening power of a popular man, Hinota finally responded:

“I’m sorry… Who are you?”

Flash’s face paled in color. Along with his party members, John the [Monk], a boy who wore a robe like a [Priest], and a girl who dressed like a [Mage]. Kudo nearly dropped to the ground, along with everyone else who were listening in.

“H-Hinota! Don’t you remember him at all?”

“Y-You—!”

“S-Stop it…”

Kudo, who shouted to Hinota, believing that she was being rude, went closer to her as John became ferocious and tried to go after him again, only to be stopped by the pale Flash, who nearly falls over and got caught by the other two in his party.

The boy who looked like a [Priest] had short, blond hair and wore a long white jacket with blue lines, along with a small staff for his healing skills. The other one, a girl, which looked like a [Mage], holding alongside him and has long, bronze hair tied into a short ponytail, wearing a black, short dress with long gloves, along with a long staff, suited for issuing magic, strapped behind her back.

“I can’t really remember this guy. I don’t think I have ever seen him.”

“Hinota-san! We knew each other back in our birth town, Erijo! We played together when we were kids!”

When Flash mentioned their old memories, Kudo became surprised at how long they knew each other. He turned his sight to Hinota, who looked like she tried to remember him, but soon, she exhaled sharply and shook her head.

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t remember. Did we even know each other before?”

Hinota spoke so coldly, it left Flash’s soul to slowly come out of his body. His face grew pale as his eyes nearly became white. It looked like he just couldn’t accept the fact that he was forgotten.

“Hinota, are you sure that you don’t remember? He acted like you guys were best friends…”
“To be honest, I never had a best friend back in my hometown. I don’t even think I had any close friends, only my family’s acquaintances.”

Hinota answered genuinely, leaving Kudo shocked that she didn’t even have friends like Kudo did.

Hinota’s [INT] stat is quite high, so her cognitive abilities, including her memories, should have improved drastically. If she can’t even recall Flash at all, it means either Flash is lying, or he didn’t have any presence at all in her mind…

Such a terrible feeling…

Kudo felt sorry, and incredibly embarrassed for Flash, who went out all his way to meet her and tried to invite her, only to know that he was forgotten completely.

“T-that doesn’t matter! What matters is that I can invite you to my party to be together!”
Kudo thought that Flash was quite determined as he ignored completely about Hinota forgetting about him and still tried to invite her to his party.

“I’m sorry that I don’t remember you, but I’m already in a party.”

Hinota clearly answered, which to Kudo, he felt happy that Hinota wouldn’t just forget about him. Flash’s expression changed to a somber one and heaved a sigh.

“Please listen, Hinota-san. You need to know that there are people who want to take advantage of your status and fame.”

Flash turned to Kudo, showing a glare that carried such a hostile aura.

“This boy is an example!”

“E-Eh?!”

After pointing his index finger to Kudo, he received a deep shock and tried to recall if he actually ever tried to take advantage of her.

“He only wants to be around Flamver-sama because he can use her powerful abilities to get him to nearly skip all the quests to Rank up!”

John added fuel to the fire as Kudo widened his eyes from being persecuted for being such an unforgivable scumbag.

“He’s a terrible person!” “He doesn’t care about her at all!” The cries of the other two members shouted, leaving everyone in the hall to sneer at Kudo, starting their own whispered conversations about the misgivings of Kudo’s supposed terrible personality.

Eh, Eh…?!

“That’s why, Hinota-san, come join our party! That way, this guy won’t use you as a stepping tool for his own ambitions!”

“I refuse.”

Another direct refusal from Hinota left Flash to nearly fall to the ground. Kudo thought it was amazing how many times he has been refused and became paler as a result.

“Hinota-san! This boy doesn’t even have a proper Class! I mean—look!”

Without Kudo’s permission, his right wrist was grabbed forcefully, making Kudo feel the gripping strength of his hand as he showed Hinota the Class sign on Kudo’s hand.

“It’s just senseless doodle! What kind of skills does he possibly have that makes you be so inclined to be with him?”

“H-Hey…!”

A sharp pain coursed through his arm from Flash’s strong grip. He doesn’t believe that Flash knew how much Kudo was hurting him. What’s worse, Kudo’s hand was in front of everyone around him, getting the other Adventurers to stare right at Kudo.

The massive staring, the forceful grip, and being insulted and ridiculed… his mind can’t take much more than this!

“LET GO!”

Kudo forcefully took away his wrist from Flash’s grip, shouted furiously as Flash and Hinota widened their eyes. As Kudo panted, rubbing his wrist to soothe the pain, he felt the awful glares from everyone around him as they took notice of his shouting. At that moment, he felt that he was shrinking in size—he just wanted to disappear from this place right now.

“…Then, how about this? For just one quest, we’ll party up. Both you and… this boy, come join our party! That way, you can see if being in our party is the best choice!”

Flash’s face returned to his usual, smiling expression, leaving Hinota to widen her tapered eyes a little. Kudo gazed at Hinota, seeing her interesting look.

He couldn’t’ say a word. Right now, he just wanted to return back to his days of adventuring with Hinota again. However, this party doesn’t seem to be interested in anything else other than taking Hinota away for their party. But the idea of being in the same party with this group that openly bashed Kudo’s reputation in front of everybody made Kudo shiver.

As everyone in their group waited for Hinota’s reply, she stood up from her seat, leaving behind an already finished plate and faced the ‘Hunt the World’ with a serious glare.

****************************************************************************
A sudden group tries to get Hinota for themselves! What will be Hinota’s answer?!


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