Chapter 10:

Kuul Caverns and Lizardmen

Hour Empty Child

As the early afternoon rolled in, a party of Adventurers was traveling around the forest path across the rocky graveled ground. They were nearing a location where they have to find a cavern that held their target.Bookmark here

The group consisted of the party 'Hunt the World'—Flash the [Hunter] as the leader, John the [Monk], Lailah the [Priest] and finally Lailah the [Mage].Bookmark here

The other consisted of the popular and famous duo of the Adventurers’ Guild in Klein; Hinota Flamver the [Hell Knight] and Kudo Braven, the [Unknown].Bookmark here

Though the party line up was nice in general, when Kudo put himself in the midst of it, it just sounds too unnatural…Bookmark here

■ ■ ■Bookmark here

Back at the guild hall an hour ago…Bookmark here

“We’ll accept.”Bookmark here

Hinota’s answer shook the party members of ‘Hunt the World’, each one having a satisfied look on their faces, with Flash making it look as if it was anticipated.Bookmark here

But for Kudo, his face was naught of happiness—only despair was shown on his face.
Hinota closed in on Kudo, who was silently despairing about partying up with a group—which were celebrating—that completely hated him for some reason, dragged him closer to her to begin their private conversation.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you OK?”Bookmark here

“Ah… yeah… though… Hinota… did you really had to invite me?”Bookmark here

Kudo spoke in intervals about the current situation. Hinota doesn’t need to have a high [INT] to see that Kudo is panicking in his own way.Bookmark here

“Kudo, I’m sorry that I had to make a decision without your say. I can tell already that you don’t like it.”Bookmark here

“Ah! Well… that’s…”Bookmark here

Kudo made a vow that he will become more social. However, dealing with people that don't like him is completely new territory. A territory where Kudo doesn’t wish to enter at all.Bookmark here

“But it’ll be good, Kudo. You said that with our strength, we can’t take that quest that allows us to take the Crafter’s Test. Facing that boss on our own could be dangerous, so we need a nearly full party. The ‘Hunt the World’ should be just what we needed.”Bookmark here

Hearing Hinota’s calm analysis, Kudo widened his eyes. To think that they could be used to further push them forward to become better Adventurers! Though, he thought that sounded exatly how the ‘Hunt the World’ claimed Kudo was doing to Hinota.Bookmark here

“Hinota, that’s genius! But… I don’t think they’ll enjoy partying with me.”Bookmark here

“Kudo, sometimes we have to get our hands dirty. Meaning that we have to go through a lot of their crap to get what we want. As an Adventurer, you need to increase your resistance to other Adventurers’ scorn. From these two months, I know that you have a problem when dealing with new people.”Bookmark here

“Gah—! W-was it that obvious?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“Ah…”Bookmark here

Kudo’s confidence was instantly drained by Hinota’s quick answer. He thought he was making progress on transforming his character, especially when he began to tease and joke with Hinota openly and without restraint like close friends. Though now, he recalls the times when he had to talk to other people, and would instantly shrink back like he did now.Bookmark here

“S-still, we could still beat it on our own. If we just trained a little longer and get our skills polished, and—”Bookmark here

“Too long!” Hinota frustratingly answered. “Didn’t you say that you want to be stronger as soon as possible?”Bookmark here

“Ah… I guess…”Bookmark here

“Come on, Kudo. This will greatly benefit us. Please?”Bookmark here

The moment Hinota pleaded Kudo with upturned soft and glittery tapered eyes, Kudo’s face reddens as he believed in the bottom of his heart that he just couldn’t refuse Hinota’s plan.Bookmark here

“Hah… Alright.”Bookmark here

■ ■ ■Bookmark here

Back at the rocky side, the party was looking for the cave where their next quest issued them to— the Crafter Qualification quest.Bookmark here

This quest was made only for [Rank C] Adventurers. Though it was not such a difficult quest, it involved taking down a Boss monster, a powerful version of a monster whose aura was made with very powerful corrupted mana.Bookmark here

There are two reasons as to why the Adventurers’ Guild made the quest quite difficult is because once they kill the Boss, known as Yrekir—the Lizard God, they can loot the tail known as 【Yrekir’s Tail】 which has powerful alchemical components that are perfect for creating powerful concoctions.Bookmark here

The second is that it is to test the [Rank C] Adventurers and give them the right to own a powerful skill known as a Crafting Skill. The Adventurers’ Guild can place the right to own a Crafting Skill onto their Growth Crystals, allowing them to make crafted tools and consumables to aid them in their battles, provide relief for their bodies, or sell them and make tons of money.Bookmark here

In order to get a Crafting Skill, they must pass the Qualification Quest, which is to bring back 【Yrekir’s Tail】, and then gain the right to take on the Crafter’s Test. If they pass the test, they can gain the right to learn a Crafting Skill.Bookmark here

This is what Kudo needed. Any Adventurer who takes the time to learn a Crafting Skill and raise it can make incredible items. And of course, he might have a chance to sell them and gain more Jib.Bookmark here

Though Kudo enjoys his life as an Adventurer, his ‘Cheap Farmer’s Mind’, as he has stated to Hinota at one point, often mentions that if there’s a way to gain Jib, then do it. Not to mention, he has his own reasoning for taking up the Crafting Skill…Bookmark here

However, he thought to himself if it is actually worth it to get a Crafting Skill if he had to bear through the awkward silence in the party.Bookmark here

As they try to find the cave that is known to accommodate the Lizard God, the awkward silence between the party members became the bane in Kudo’s heart. Bookmark here

Throughout their adventures, Kudo and Hinota would instantly jump into a conversation, which was Kudo’s proud skill that he picked up after spending two months with her, but now, Kudo felt that if he spoke up now, he would gain the wrath of the ‘Hunt the World’ once more like before.Bookmark here

“Hinota-san, I’m so happy that you have agreed to come with us. With the five of us, we can take on just about anything this quest throws at us!”Bookmark here

Thankfully, Flash was the one that spoke up after a long silence. However, Kudo wished that he miscounted—because there were six of them in the party.Bookmark here

“You mean you’re glad that me and Kudo have come with you all. With the ‘six’ of us, we can accomplish anything.”Bookmark here

“Yes… I see that Kudo likes to stay around with you… like a parasite.”Bookmark here

It seemed that Flash trailed off, but Kudo felt that he heard those last words out of his mouth. Kudo felt like his body has shrunk even more, leaving Hinota to close in.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Kudo. Just bear with it.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah…”Bookmark here

Hinota whispered to Kudo as she gave words of support. Those supporting words uplifted Kudo, making him thank the gods in the Upperworld that Hinota was with him. Between their whispers, the red-headed [Monk] snarled, displaying his canine teeth at the sight of the duo Adventurers being so close to each other.Bookmark here

“Ah, geez~! When are we gonna find this dang cave!”Bookmark here

“Calm down, Nee-chan. We’ll find it soon. Don’t lose your composure.”Bookmark here

It seemed that the [Priest] Mick and the [Mage] Lailah were close siblings. Hearing Mick speak up to Lailah like a little brother got Kudo to become surprised.Bookmark here

So they are brother and sister?They look so different, though, Kudo thought, but then he notices from his keen eyesight some of the similarities, such as the seemingly similar face structure.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Lailah-chan! Because with my incredible eyes, I can already see the entrance!”
As if his solemn duty is to show off his abilities, Flash pointed in front of him, with his supposedly keen eyes, the entrance. The party members spotted the entrance themselves, showing a murky, gloomy hole in the dark caverns connected to a towering mountain which gave off a creepy feel to their skins.Bookmark here

“Now, let us be off!”Bookmark here

Ignoring the feeling, Flash led the party members as he was the acting party leader. Though Kudo and Hinota were acting as co-leaders in their own party, each having their own opinion and hearing each other out, in this party, Flash was the obvious leader, so Kudo felt pressured when he would think about making his own opinion.Bookmark here

Upon entering the caves, the party follows the path laid out in front of them. The cavern’s name was called the Kuul Caverns, and in the caverns lies the monsters known as Lizardmen.Bookmark here

Lizardmen were creatures that had the appearance of a lizard fused with a human body. Their tough scales are enough to send weak swords to their early graves, and their claws and jaws are enough to crush the bones of careless Adventurers.Bookmark here

They stayed in here due to the wet moisture in the air as the caverns held many water veins, making the air moist. It was perfect for Lizardmen who are advantageous in water. Bookmark here

When they entered the cave, they instantly felt the wet moisture in the air. The clammy air affected their lungs, making them feel as if they were in water themselves. If they brought in a candle, it would be put out in a second. So, upon entering, Lailah cast a small fire with her 【Fire Orb】 skill, making a small flame. Since the flame was created by magic, it couldn’t be put out so easily as nature intended it.Bookmark here

“Kah! Hah…”Bookmark here

Suddenly, Mick’s throat dried and became tangy, causing him to cough.Bookmark here

“Micky! Are you OK?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, I just felt a little dry. Also, don’t call me ‘Micky’!”Bookmark here

“Eh~ Don’t be like that… Your sister is sad~”Bookmark here

“Come on, Nee-chan…”Bookmark here

“Hey, focus!”Bookmark here

As the siblings were beginning their light-hearted conversation, Flash stepped in and announced them to stop.Bookmark here

Kudo was beginning to like their interactions, despite the situation of their quest. He can understand that they needed to be serious in a quest, but the most fun part is talking with other Adventurers and have fun in it. The way Flash did made Kudo feel that the party doesn’t enjoy many conversations as it left the siblings to immediately respond and straightened up their backs.Bookmark here

It feels so restricted here…Bookmark here

Minutes passed after they entered into the caves. Soon enough, they were met with more murky atmospheres as they go through level after level into the caves, getting deeper into it.
And at last…Bookmark here

——*Clang!* *Clang!*Bookmark here

Kudo pricked up his ears and turned his head around to view the source of the large clattering of metals, making his eyes widen as he sees the very creature inhabiting these caverns.Bookmark here

Human-like lizards, with yellow eyes and green scales which shimmered thanks to the small fire’s light. In this stuffy and moist atmosphere, the Lizardman’s movements felt right at home—a terrifying combination for the party.Bookmark here

“It’s a Lizardman! Stay on your guard!”Bookmark here

Flash orders as his voice resounded inside the dank caverns. The lizardman began to bang his sword with its buckler.Bookmark here

Kudo could see that it wore armor, despite having such tough skin. Perhaps it was taken from Adventurers who were unlucky enough to cross its path. As he observes, he starts to recall the information regarding Lizardmen from his guidebook.Bookmark here

“Hinota, thanks to the shield and armor, its defense is high. We need to confuse it to lower its guard and take it down!”Bookmark here

“Got it.”Bookmark here

Though Kudo was a part of Flash’s party, without thinking he gave his advice to Hinota which she took it gladly.Bookmark here

“Heh, it’s only one monster! John, take it down!”Bookmark here

However, Flash could only see the giant advantage they had over the single lizardman, and only ordered John as he readily nodded and did as he said so.Bookmark here

“W-Wait!”Bookmark here

Kudo widened his eyes at the orders that were barked at John, especially when confronting a tough Lizardman.Bookmark here

“Take this! “——《Fury Kick》!”Bookmark here

Without thinking about strategy, John quickly ran up to the lizardman, fully armored and all, and proceeded to launch a kick that glowed in a red aura.Bookmark here

[Monks] are close-combat fighters that attacked with their bare hands and feet. Though they wore tough gauntlets and boots, what makes them more ferocious is that they deliver a powerful blow using the vital points in monsters’ bodies. The 【Fury Kick】 is a simple skill mostly learned by all [Monks] that can deliver a powerful blow to the body.Bookmark here

But that’s only if the opponent is mindlessly open.Bookmark here

——*Pang!*Bookmark here

Shivers and pain coursed through John’s leg as his full-powered kick was blocked by the lizardman’s sturdy shield. The lizardman pushed him back, making his body fly off from the sudden force and hits the nearby rocks of the cave.Bookmark here

“John-san!”Bookmark here

“I’ll heal you, John-san!”Bookmark here

The siblings Lailah and Mick shouted in worry as Mick ran in, ready to heal him. However, the lizardman’s eyes widened as he sees Mick, and charged in quickly.Bookmark here

“Stop! Mick-san, don’t rush in!”Bookmark here

Kudo knew of the rules of being a [Priest]. Monsters of corrupted mana can tell when one’s mana has been restored. They know of battle more than anything else, and when they see someone healing, they go right after the Adventurer.Bookmark here

As Mick began to heal up John’s damaged leg, the lizardman was already behind him, ready to strike at him.Bookmark here

“Micky!”Bookmark here

“Eh…? Aah!”Bookmark here

——*Ting!*Bookmark here

When Mick showed a terrified expression along with John, the lizardman’s powerful strike was blocked by the long, curved blade.Bookmark here

“Ghh, quite tough, aren’t you!” Hinota came at the precise time when the lizardman was about to strike, blocking its strike with her katana.Bookmark here

“That’s it, Hinota! Tire it out, and strike it when it’s least expecting it!”Bookmark here

With a large shout, Hinota did as he told and began to battle it out with the lizardman. Hinota’s graceful moves as she danced around the battlefield, carefully using her small movements to avoid all of the Lizardman’s powerful strikes. Both John and Mick became in awe along with Lailah, who stood there in a daze. Flash, however, was not pleased.Bookmark here

Whats with her?! Why is she following that guy’s orders? “I’ll take it down with my skill! “——《Design Trap: Bear Trap》!”Bookmark here

Flash contorted his face for a short moment, but then returned to his gallant look as he called out his skill. Using his skill, a mote of greenish light appeared near the lizardman on the ground. The mote of light then transformed its shaped, shaping into a giant, jaw-like trap with spiked teeth, ready to snap onto an unfortunate foe that’s unlucky enough to be caught in it.Bookmark here

The [Hunter] Class are Adventurers who prefer to put monsters into their own traps. Using their mana to construct specialized traps, they are favored when quests require a captured monster for research.Bookmark here

The 【Design Trap】 skill is one of the many useful skills the [Hunter] Class can have, and when trapped, they can shoot it down with either shortbows or daggers, their specialized weapons.Bookmark here

As Hinota pushed it back after making it tire itself out, the lizardman backed into the trap, making Flash’s face widen as he was waiting for his chance to capture it.Bookmark here

When the lizardman finally stepped onto it, the bear trap activated, and closed its spiked jaws onto the right leg of the lizardman.Bookmark here

——*Craah!*Bookmark here

To Flash’s shock, the trap broke into pieces, transforming into small motes of light before it dissipated into the air.Bookmark here

“W-What?!”Bookmark here

“The skill was too weak to pierce its defenses! Hinota!”Bookmark here

“Got it!”Bookmark here

Kudo watched the scene and ordered Hinota to act. Hinota ignored what happened and used the chance to attack the lizardman as it looked down to see what just happened.
Apparently, the trap hardly even scratched the lizardman, but because its attention was taken away, Hinota used this chance to activate her skill.Bookmark here

“——《Flaming Strike》!Bookmark here

With her katana clad in flames, Hinota strikes the lizardman’s chest, cutting it apart as blood began to spray out.Bookmark here

“Yes! She damaged it! Lailah-san! Hit it with your skill as well! Its magical defense should be very low!”Bookmark here

“R-Right!”Bookmark here

Though Lailah was Flash’s lackey, she immediately followed Kudo’s order and activated her skill.Bookmark here

“——《Flame Orb》!”Bookmark here

With one hand, while the other hand held a small flame to illuminate their surroundings, Lailah cast her skill and created a small orb of fire out of her right palm. The orb gradually became bigger, and finally, it became a size that was large as an arm in diameter.Bookmark here

She launches the large fire orb and hits the lizardman, causing it to explode upon impact. The explosion was small, and the caverns were large enough to make space for all the party members, so the explosion didn’t affect them as much.Bookmark here

The lizardman, in the aftermath, falls to the ground with its scaly skin burnt to a crisp as it lay motionless.Bookmark here

“Yes! We did it!”Bookmark here

Kudo, without regard to his earlier atmosphere, shouted and extended its arms in excitement while the other party members of ‘Hunt the World’ were in awe.Bookmark here

“Hinota, you did great! I was worried that if he was full of energy, it might have withstood the 【Flame Orb】 skill.”Bookmark here

“Well, that guy was pretty weak, so it might have been taken down regardless whether I did anything.”Bookmark here

“Haha, as expected, it’s easy for you, Hinota.”Bookmark here

“Of course,” Hinota plumed herself with pride with her response.Bookmark here

“Then, let’s get its loot!”Bookmark here

As they conversed, for once, they saw Kudo’s excited look and beaming face as he happily closes in on the burnt lizardman, taking his trusty knife out.Bookmark here

And of course, the process of his looting made the ‘Hunt the World’ blue in their faces.Bookmark here

“W-What is he doing?!”Bookmark here

“O-Ooggh!”Bookmark here

Lailah and Mick showed their displeasure as John slowly backed away from the awful dissecting, and Flash’s face contorting into that of disgust.Bookmark here

“W-What do you think you’re doing, you crazy—!”Bookmark here

“Hinota, look! I found its 【Shiny Scale】! This item is supposed to be rare from Lizardmen!”
“Ooh, that’s lucky! See if there’s anything else.”Bookmark here

“T-This guys is brutal…” “I thought he was a softie…!” Mick and Lailah now realized exactly who Kudo was—a brutal Adventurer. As Kudo begins to dissect the lizardman, Flash stepped forward and dragged John close to him.Bookmark here

“Did you see that? That guy thinks he can take charge? In my party?!”Bookmark here

Flash fully expressed his disappointment and frustration to his trusty friend, who remained silent until Flash finished.Bookmark here

“W-Well, it just happened… Not like we wanted to, but he just said it and—well, we needed to beat it, right?”Bookmark here

John, who was healed by Mick, showed his reasoning for his party member’s sudden compliance with Kudo, however, Flash’s face showed that it didn’t matter.Bookmark here

“I don’t care! You nor anybody else will listen to him! Understand?!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes…”Bookmark here

“And you better follow my plan exactly as I plan it, got it?!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes, Flash-sama… but… what if he gets hurt, or might even—”Bookmark here

“That will be his problem!”Bookmark here

Flash ended off with a cruel statement, and his face later returned to that of gallantry as he closes in on the group, where Kudo has finished excavating the monster’s corpse.Bookmark here

“3 【Shiny Scales】 and 30 jib from its bag! We got really lucky with the spoils! The 【Shiny Scales】 are worth a lot in the market! Now, how do we distribute these…?”Bookmark here

Kudo stood up and held the loot in his hands. To the ‘Hunt the World’, however, they can still recall the awful dissection, seeing the blood on the shimmering scales that Kudo held.Bookmark here

“J-Just keep it…”Bookmark here

“A-Are you sure? You all took a part in all this.”Bookmark here

Kudo was surprised at how Flash would refuse from what is practically free jib.Bookmark here

“D-Don’t worry about it… we’re fine.”Bookmark here

Flash answered as he just wanted to end this conversation. Kudo became concerned as his face showed a worried look as he actually wanted to help the ‘Hunt the World’.Bookmark here

“Well, more for us, right?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I still feel bad, though. It’s jib, after all.”Bookmark here

Hinota took the scales from Kudo’s hands and put them into her [Magic Bag], getting them all surprised that Hinota was fine with it, but then realized that she has been hanging with Kudo for a long time.Bookmark here

As they traversed into the caves, Kudo’s pace was suddenly affecting everyone.Bookmark here

Now that his Adventurers’ soul was fired up, Kudo would constantly start the conversations, with Hinota easily aiding him by providing information for the ‘Hunt the World’.Bookmark here

“If we keep going through here, we might find some jewels.”Bookmark here

“J-Jewels?!”Bookmark here

“Really…? Are you sure?”Bookmark here

When Kudo spoke up about jewels, Lailah and Mick were the first to respond. However, Flash and John remained silent.Bookmark here

“I’m not so sure yet, but in the guidebook, it said that lizardmen often finds canals which lead to many shining gems encrusted and made deep within their caverns. The lizardmen would take the gems and carry it with them, not really knowing what they are for.”Bookmark here

“T-Then why do they take them?”Bookmark here

“Perhaps they were taken in by the shine. I know I would surely take it if I find something shining. It might even be a rare item!”Bookmark here

“It might as well be, considering your luck.”Bookmark here

“Hahaha, maybe so, Hinota!”Bookmark here

Kudo and Hinota’s atmosphere affected the party, often leading Mick and Lailah to make an unconscious smile, but then they felt a cold chill coming from their leader Flash and stayed quiet.Bookmark here

Before long, they faced against more Lizardmen that came in droves. It was only 3 lizardmen, but the last battle made them more cautious than ever before.Bookmark here

“Alright, I’m coming in!”Bookmark here

When Kudo was about to approach a lizardman who was fighting Hinota, Kudo felt something tugging at his feet, getting him to lose his balance and falls to the ground.Bookmark here

“A-Aggh!”Bookmark here

Kudo felt the tough ground scraping his skin as he completely fell body first to the ground.
“Go get them!”Bookmark here

What could have tugged him? Kudo thought of this as he recovered quickly and stood up, facing against the weaken lizardman that Hinota fought.Bookmark here

After the battle was over, Hinota faced Kudo with a look of concern.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you OK?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m fine. I guess I must have tripped.”Bookmark here

Kudo believed that he just simply tripped, but the fact that the ground was solid and didn’t have any bumps or any kind of uneven ground was biting him in the back of his mind.Bookmark here

“Come on, Kudo. You’re supposed to be more careful. If you keep making mistakes like that, you’ll just be a burden to the party. Jus try to keep up, you got that?”Bookmark here

Flash stepped in, giving his insight on Kudo. Though, he really felt that it was true. In a party, he can’t dare to mess up like that, especially in battle with his party where his members’ lives are at stake.Bookmark here

“Weakling… don’t mess up and jab us with big sword…”Bookmark here

“Pathetic…”Bookmark here

The two siblings spoke negatively to Kudo, all while facing downwards, not facing him in the eyes. Kudo tilted his head when he noticed that and Hinota’s tapered eyes narrowed at the sight.Bookmark here

As time passed by, about an hour from now, Kudo has shown incredible skill fighting against the tough lizardmen. Enough to put even the 3 party members of the ‘Hunt the World’ in shame. His fighting style was crude, but it carried experience. It was hard to believe that he only had 2 months of experience after becoming an Adventurer.Bookmark here

But then came the accidents.Bookmark here

After each battle, Kudo would often ‘trip’ in battle, falling to the ground senselessly. With each passing trip, Kudo could tell exactly what was it that was tripping him.Bookmark here

It was a person’s foot.Bookmark here

A foot, the rod of the staff, and even throwing a rock underneath the foot to make it uneven and cause him an imbalance.Bookmark here

After many trips, Kudo realized this and kept quiet. That’s because he doesn’t know why they might be tripping him.Bookmark here

Could it be because he was too forward? His earlier attitude after they came in changed and he was now mostly the one talking. Perhaps they became frustrated at him and wanted to get back at him. His inner feelings were starting to surface, leading him to shrink in presence as time passes on.Bookmark here

Before long, in another battle with a group of lizardmen, Mick stayed back according to Kudo’s orders. Despite his shrinking presence, he still delivered helpful advice to aid their battles.Bookmark here

And when Mick and Kudo were at the same spot as Kudo was about to charge into the lizardman facing the front runners, Hinota and John, Mick peered at Kudo from the corner of his eyes, and adjusted his staff’s bottom towards Kudo’s ankle.Bookmark here

And the result:Bookmark here

“Gah!”Bookmark here

Kudo fell face first onto the ground, a loud thud replacing his anguished cry of pain.Bookmark here

Despite that he was the cause, Mick couldn’t help but grimace at the sight of the painful fall. However, something else took his attention away.Bookmark here

A lizardman noticed his fall and ran after him. And unfortunately, it was getting very close. Kudo looked up quickly and looked in terror, knowing that the lizardman was just about to stab him with his sword.Bookmark here

“Ah!”Bookmark here

“Kudo!”Bookmark here

After taking down her opponent lizardman, Hinota shouted as she noticed her partner that was about to get stabbed. Along with her worry, Mick widened his eyes to the point of nearly being bloodshot as he sees what he has caused to Kudo.Bookmark here

“——《Design Trap: Bear Trap》!”Bookmark here

Right before the lizardman could deliver the finishing blow, in an instant, a mana-constructed bear trap caught the lizardman’s leg, piercing the tough scales this time as Flash knew where exactly the soft parts were.Bookmark here

“It won’t be like last time! Hyaah!”Bookmark here

Flash rushed past in, ignoring the downed Kudo and stabbed the attacking lizardman right at the heart, where he knew exactly where the scales wouldn’t get in the way. In an instant, the lizardman was taken down, with Flash flashing a smile for his victory.Bookmark here

“Kudo! Are you Ok?!”Bookmark here

Hinota rushed towards Kudo for aid. Of course, Mick believed that he should at least help Kudo up as he briskly helped him up along with Hinota.Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry… I messed up.”Bookmark here

“You would have been killed. Did you know that?”Bookmark here

Flash’s voice stepped in, and to Kudo and Mick, it was a voice filled with contempt.Bookmark here

“You disappoint me, Kudo. I thought you were a good one since Hinota-san was so benevolent with you, but you can’t even keep your balance.”Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry…”Bookmark here

“If you’re sorry, then do yourself a favor. Quit being an Adventurer—it’s just not for you.”Bookmark here

Though Flash’s words could be considered wise, in this case, it’s nothing more than an insult to Kudo. Mick knew of this, but he continued to remain quiet. Lailah and John observed this situation, both showing a feeling of complicated expressions.Bookmark here

“Hey! That’s going too far!”Bookmark here

Hinota was the only one that rebutted Flash’s opinion, as everyone else continues to be silent.Bookmark here

“Hinota-san, Adventurers should respond with careful movements and sharp instincts in battle. He has neither. Someone like him is not worthy to be your partner.”Bookmark here

At that moment, Kudo knew that this was how he felt in the first place. Kudo wished that it was more of a complicated issue as to why Flash was hostile towards Kudo.Bookmark here

But the simple answer was that Flash just doesn’t like him.Bookmark here

As Flash decided to leave it at that, leaving Kudo to gaze downwards at the ground he just hit his face with. Hinota responded quickly afterward.Bookmark here

“Don’t think about what he said, Kudo. You’re doing your best.”Bookmark here

Kudo didn’t know whether Hinota knew what was going on. However, he decided to leave it as he just didn’t want to make more trouble.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah…”Bookmark here

Kudo got up and followed Hinota with Flash who John followed quickly. Left behind, the siblings started going after them, but not before beginning their own conversation.Bookmark here

“Mick… are you OK?”Bookmark here

“…No… I’m not. Nee-chan… I just…”Bookmark here

The siblings shared a cold atmosphere with each other as they both knew what could have happened if Flash hasn’t stepped in to help Kudo. Bookmark here

As time passed by, the atmosphere around them has become worse than when they came before going in the caverns. Kudo, of course, was left nearly alone as the ‘Hunt the World’ began to lead into the deepest parts of the caverns. As Kudo looked around, he noticed the caverns slowly changing colors. First, it was the basic brown dirt, but now the cavern rocks now changed to a silvery color.Bookmark here

“We should be close.”Bookmark here

Flash said as Kudo became quiet. He wanted to say that the monsters here are higher level than what they fought before due to the change of air in the atmosphere, but he grew fearful that the members would just be annoyed by that, so he remained quiet.Bookmark here

He just wanted to end this quest as soon as possible. He doesn’t want to continue bothering other people.Bookmark here

Before long, a pack of lizardman came closing in on them. The lizardman, this time, had sturdier armor and versatile equipment. At this battle, Kudo was certain to not trip up once more. This time, he was careful on looking at his surroundings, not letting anything trip him up.Bookmark here

But after about 2 minutes in a battle, Kudo’s collar was pulled.Bookmark here

Something behind him was pulling at his collar, and his body was forcefully taken away. Kudo wanted to shout, but when he looked behind to see the perpetrator, he remained quiet.Bookmark here

Seconds after the kidnapping, Hinota, who’s head was trickling sweat from the hardened battles and moist atmosphere, noticed that her partner was not around.Bookmark here

“Kudo?!”Bookmark here

“Ah, John’s missing too!”Bookmark here

Lailah was the one that shouted as John the [Monk] disappeared as well. As the Adventurers grouped up to face against the pack of Lizardman, Flash spoke:Bookmark here

“John must be fighting his own battles. As for Kudo… perhaps he ran away.”Bookmark here

“Kudo would never run away and leave us here. He’s not a coward.”Bookmark here

“Heh, but perhaps he just couldn’t handle his failures and just ran to escape from them.”
“…”Bookmark here

Hinota remained quiet from Flash’s counter. Her eyes narrowed as she instead focused on the battle in front of her, hoping that Kudo would be alright.Bookmark here

Farther away, Kudo was thrown aside by the kidnapper, which when Kudo looked up, he sees the thin appearance of John with a scowl on his expression.Bookmark here

“John? What’s going on?!”Bookmark here

“You’re an eyesore!”Bookmark here

Without any warning, John slandered Kudo as he widens his eyes.Bookmark here

“I’m leaving you with one choice—leave the caverns and never get close to Flamver-sama again!”Bookmark here

A forced decision for Kudo? Will Kudo do as he says? Find out next time!Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.