Hour Empty Child
Sitting on his chair, the young azure-haired boy looked at the armor resting on top of his desk.
After they came back from the Parnir Mines, the PlusFire returned first to the Guild Hall and gave their report on the quest that they have taken to take down the Monarch. They received the reward—which was quest points and, of course, lots of Jib for taking down a powerful boss.
Though, the path to reach the next rank is a long one, since even taking down a Boss-like monster in a quest was not enough to get them to the next rank. Though, for now, their plan was not to rank up, but to gain experience and items to which they already gotten.
They returned back to the inn since it became dark when they finished. As everyone slept, Kudo was the one awake in his room.
So, currently, he decided to take a look at the damage report that happened today. The armor was in tatters—no longer fitting to wear on any Adventurer’s body. Though it was not of his own creation, Hinota was the one that carefully bought this long-lasting armor, and it has served him for many months. Fighting against the Monarch proved to be too dangerous—too dangerous for his low-level armor, and thus it is now unable to continue its job.
Seeing such a tattered mess, Kudo believed that it would have been him ending up this way, instead of the armor that protected him.
This is my fault. If I have been even more careless, I could have lost my life. Kudo thought to himself as he observes closely what could have been his body. Our armors are too weak, but there isn’t any armor store in this town that we can buy with our levels either…
Thanks to their increase in levels, they are far too strong to just take in low-level equipment. It won’t be good for their efficiency if they had to stay and train on grinding low-level monsters because the armor they would buy would be too weak.
I can only make Heavy Armor class armor, but Hinota and I are more suited for mobility. If I had picked 【Clothing】… No… no, it wouldn’t be any good for me to regret it now.
Kudo knows by now that if he disregards his 【Blacksmithing】 skill, he would lose all of his progress as of now. He cannot have more than one Crafter’s Skill, so if he learned a new one, he has to erase his 【Blacksmithing】. That’s the one thing that he cannot do.
Kudo grunted, his aggravated groan permeated the air, ruffling his hair as if he has a wild itch on his head.
“What do I do?! It’s not like I can go armorless! I’ll be torn apart! And what about Hinota?! Grr!”
After many tossing and turning on his chair, Kudo finally gave up, heaving out a frustrated sigh…
“If only I could just mix them up…mmh?”
Kudo widened his eyes in realization.
“…what if… I can mix them up?”
Finally remembering one detail he recalled, but has been put aside, Kudo quickly opened up his [Magic Bag] and frantically searched for something. He picked up a rather thick book—a few hundred pages between the hard covers—and flipped opened the cover of the book titled: ‘Blacksmithing Recipes’.
“Mmh…” Kudo rapidly read each page and flipped over the next one in a blink of an eye. Being used to reading books now, Kudo flipped many pages in a course of mere seconds, skimming through the letters at a brisk pace, until finally, he spotted what caught his attention.
“Here it is… let’s see…”
Kudo read the passage on a section of the book, which has the interesting title: “Rabacite”.
“Rabacite is a precious metal,” Kudo began to read aloud. “That is known to be magically charged with the surrounding pure mana. After rending the mana flow, when charged, it is infused with powerful mana. When the metal is charged with mana and becomes crafted into armor, it can be worn as if it was cloth. The defensive power is lackluster, but it contains a powerful stance against strong monsters than Medium-Armor could ever be. If crafted by a professional crafter, it can be stronger than even ordinary Heavy Armor.”
After reading the passage, Kudo had a smile plastered on his face. It was like seeing a new toy for a young boy.
“Rabacite… it looks rare, but if I find it, I can…!”
As he continues to read, he stumbles upon what made his childlike smile disappear and turn into a frustrated frown.
“It is claimed that the armor requires 26 ores needed to make one single ingot?!”
He was nearly going to stumble and fall on his back from how much he jerked his head up in surprise. As he looked down and calmed himself, he still felt the cruel reality of actually making the armor.
“Not only that it’s rare, it’s expensive?! Ah…”
Kudo rubbed his face, nearly dragging it down with a frustrating force. He had a long way to go…
“Kudo… did you get any sleep?”
Hinota, with a bright face and a sparkle from her sharp eyes due to her sound sleep, watched Kudo in shock, and slight disgust.
It was morning already, and Kudo appeared in front of Hinota with bags under his eyes, as well as his hair looked like he went through a tornado in his own room. His face looked like he was a walking zombie in daylight.
“No… not really,” Kudo answered with a groan and a loud yawn afterward.
“Thinking about your armor?” Hinota asked which made Kudo’s eyes barely widened.
“Y-Yeah,” Kudo answered in surprise. “How’d you know?”
“I would worry too if my armor was ripped apart,” Hinota crossed her arms as the two of them headed for the lobby to get their breakfast. “Are you planning on creating heavy armor? After all, there’s no store here that can keep up with our level.”
“Yeah. Which is why I made a plan for today…”
Kudo formed a smirk on his tired face, raising Hinota’s right brow in wonder.
Kudo then told everything that has transpired in his room to Hinota over the course of breakfast. As he explained, Hinota crosses her arms once more.
“Sounds like a pain.”
The look of Kudo’s shocked face got rid of his tired expression, as if it was magically replaced with his usual surprised look.
“Kudo, that’s too many ores to find, and for one single ingot? It’ll get in the way of our efficiency.”
Hinota spoke curtly, and it sprung a powerful understanding from Kudo as efficiency is how they drive.
“Well… it’s not like I can grind in my current state,” Kudo mentioned as he showed his attire—his old armor, with a badly stitched chest that Kudo tried to fix which turned out horribly—another reason why Kudo had no sleep.
“Uggh…” Hinota groaned at the sight of that. “And how do we even find it? It’s rare, right? How do we find such a thing in this area?”
“There’s a forest here,” Kudo said as he instantly got his map out of his [Magic Bag], and shows the marked area on a location. “It’s called Yellow Diamond. It said in the guidebook that Rabacite is mostly found in deep caverns where many trees surround it.”
“Such a specific location… any reason?”
“Supposedly, the mana from the trees that exude it is the cause of the forming of Rabacite. Though, from what kind of trees is a mystery as of now…”
“So it could be useless,” Hinota answered curtly.
“Or… it could be just what we needed!”
Kudo answered to Hinota’s otherwise cold response with a bright smirk, contradicting his earlier appearance. His eyes sparkled, as if he is waiting for that one single word that he needs to hear.
At that moment, Kudo felt like he has just won a championship for arguments.
“Thank you, Hinota!”
“Hah… why is it that you always seem so excited over the mundane things? Still, looking for ore for making armor is important…” As if she is arguing the matter with herself, Hinota places her fingers on her chin as she thought deeply.
“And… we can’t just leave you like that as I said.”
“Right?” Kudo answered with a beaming grin—enough to make Hinota subconsciously smile back.
“Then, let’s head on over there, right now!”
Kudo stood up so quickly that it surprised the others. Kudo noticed the stares coming from the other people eating at their own tables, getting him to widen his eyes and grow increasingly red from his cheeks.
“You’re way too excited…” Hinota shook her head and heaved a heavy sigh, believing that Kudo had such a long way to go.
After making their preparations, such as utensils for ore-hunting, several papers for mapping, and food supplies for a long day, they headed out of Loune and headed straight towards the northwest.
After a whole hour of walking along the beaten paths, they have reached their destination.
A densely covered area filled with vibrant trees colored yellow as all the leaves were yellow, instead of the usual green, as if it was nearly the season of autumn.
Kudo showed Hinota the map and got her to realize that the forest was called ‘Yellow Diamond’ because the entire forest, if viewed from a bird’s point of view in the sky, was shaped like a diamond.
“It’s amazing how it is shaped like this…”
Heading inside, Kudo and Hinota began to view the scenery with astounded breaths. The winds wafted, leaving the leaves to rustle and gently caress their hearing with such translucent sounds of ruffling.
“Wow… the trees are pretty,” Hinota uttered as her sharp eyes widened at the nearly falling leaves of the yellow trees.
“It feels as though summer came around, doesn’t it?”
Though they were enjoying the view, unfortunately, it didn’t last long. While Kudo was taking in the sight, he noticed a creature that passed by a few ways from him, causing him to sharpen his vision.
“Hinota,” Kudo called, putting his hand out and making Hinota sense the pressure.
“Is it a monster?”
“Yeah, let me take a closer look.”
Kudo and Hinota acted as if they were synchronized—partners who know of each other’s actions before they could even think it. Kudo hid himself near the trees, while Hinota unsheathes her katana and slowly closing in towards Kudo, readying to strike.
Kudo peers out from the tree used as a hiding spot, finally spotting what looks like a small creature resembling a goblin, but had a smaller build, black in color, and finally, it had small wings attached to its back.
“That’s… an Imp.”
Kudo muttered, saying these words to Hinota as she sharpens her already intense glare. Kudo then thought up a plan and turned to Hinota.
“Follow my lead.”
Kudo closed in further, and cast his skill.
Kudo creates a white glowing orb, and throws it towards the imp nestling on top of a tree branch. *Puh!* the bomb became stuck on it, causing the imp to quickly open its yellow eyes and bared its fangs.
The imp flapped its gross wings, tattered and shouldn’t even be fit for flying, and glided down towards the one responsible.
The imp was just about to attack Kudo with its razor-sharp claws, but Hinota stepped in, extended her hand, and launched her fireball straight at the bomb on its lower leg.
The explosion, as always, was a big bang. And since it was in the air, the ground was safe, but the force of the blast was enough to make even the trees rattle and all the other animals living peacefully ran away in fear. Kudo and Hinota watched as the imp that tried to assault them crashed onto the ground, lifeless and burned to a crisp.
“Nice job, Hinota!”
“Hehe, only victory is assured when I’m around,” Hinota admitted as her prideful look on her face returned.
Kudo responded with a half-hearted tone after seeing Hinota’s pride coming in. However, he felt kind of fond of it now, after seeing such a side for so many times now.
Kudo looted the body with ease, and continued their search for the 【Rabacite】. More imps came into play, but their PlusFire combo managed to one-shot them like usual. They weren’t playing around—they need to find the Rabacite as quick as possible.
And finally, after an hour of searching, the PlusFire party finally came across their next destination.
They found a suspicious cavern nestled between huge rocks that marked the end of the forest. It was a tight squeeze, especially for Hinota with her ample body, but they managed to get through the entrance.
What they felt was nothing like in the outside. Inside the caverns, their view widened as the cave expanded to nearly a few meters in size, shocking them at the depth of this cavern. The cavern was of a strange purple color, lighted by blue-colored stones that were in the several parts of the wall.
“Wow…” Kudo became in awe at the sight.
“You know,” Hinota began to talk. “I’m glad that you talked me into this. This is a really good view.”
Hinota thanked Kudo by showing her charming smile, which in this lighting, made Kudo even more mesmerized by it.
“I-It sure is!” Kudo wasn’t sure whether he was talking about the caverns or about Hinota, but he decided to leave it at that.
Kudo and Hinota went along the path, marking a part of their blank paper to mark their way here as to not forget their place and get lost.
Soon enough, they felt that the air became different… as if it was lukewarm.
“Kudo, this is…”
“Yeah, I think this might be mana,” Kudo answered as he recalled the information about the caverns here.
“Kudo, there’s so much of this mana,” Hinota held her chest tightly, feeling the pressure within her soul. “It feels like it’s consuming me.”
“A-Are you OK, Hinota?!”
Kudo looked back in shock, surprising Hinota from his worried response.
“I-I’m fine, don’t worry so much. It’s just a phrase.”
Hinota made sure to calm him down, getting Kudo to be relieved as he heaved a sigh.
“Geez, when you say it like that so seriously, I thought you were dying for a moment…”
“Hehehe, thanks for the worry, though.”
Hinota responded with a smile as they continued their way towards deeper into the caves. After each milestone, Kudo marked the map according to Hinota’s instructions, making sure that they don’t lose their pace.
Before long, they noticed something strange was amiss…
“Is it me, or are there absolutely no monsters here?”
Hinota asks as she places her hands on her hips in frustration, her face pouting from the devoid of action.
“I’m kinda disappointed too… but at least there’s no trouble if we find any ores.”
Hinota continued to pout, getting Kudo to think how adorable Hinota was when she pouts.
Of course, he quickly shook his head to release himself of those thoughts.
Walking in the mesmerizing caverns, going through layer after layer of grand caves as it expanded deeper into the bottom of the earth, tired panting was heard and sweat was practically cascading down their skins.
Hours passed by, and yet they have not found a single ore.
“Ah, come on! Where is it?!”
Kudo once more roughed up his hair, scratching it like a lunatic as Hinota sat on top of a rock to rest up.
“There has been no sign of any rocks that could contain the ore. There are two ways that this will go,” Hinota said as she closed her eyes. “Either they’re extremely well-hidden, or there just isn’t anything here.”
“It’s not like there are any other caves around here deep in a forest. This is the only one where we can search for it.”
Kudo sat down onto the ground, his eyes turning nearly dead as he heaved a grand sigh. He hoped that there would be some rabacite, otherwise, he has to stick with his old armor.
“Not to mention, our rations are severely running out,” Hinota said as she held a waterskin used for drinking, but as she turned it over to herself, hardly a drop has fallen. “This place is taking out too much from us. We can’t continue to stay here in this mana-condensed cavern.”
“Ah… you’re right,” Kudo heard what could be words of wisdom. “…wait. Mana?”
Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. It was not such a normal idea, but it was better than searching for it with no clue.
“What if… we search for it through the mana?”
Hearing Kudo’s solution, Hinota tilted her head, “S-Search through mana?”
“I remember that the book said the 【Rabacite】 is formed where the mana is mostly condensed thanks to the trees. So what if we search for it…?”
Kudo’s face was practically giving a question mark, but Hinota somehow understands it.
“That… would be more effective. We spend less time walking and have a shot,” Hinota gave her prognosis. “But how on earth do we do it?”
“I think I read a book about this before. Hold on…”
Kudo looked into his [Magic Bag], and took out various books that he bought in his spare time. One book, two books, three books. Before long, the books formed into a small tower, surprising Hinota.
“Y-You sure like to read, Kudo…”
“Mmh, this isn’t it either… where is it…?”
“There’s still more?!”
After a few minutes of book-scavenging, Kudo finally found a book titled: ‘The Essence of Mana’. After flipping through the pages, Kudo finally found what it is that he proposed before.
Right now, Hinota was sitting with legs crossed in the middle of a large dome-like cavern with about 2 entrances at the north and south side. Hinota had her eyes closed, her body completely relaxed, and her breathing was long but controlled.
“Hah… Kudo, will this really work?” Hinota asked as she took a small break from her concentration, opened her eyes and saw Kudo, who stood a bit farther away from Hinota.
“We should at least try. The book said that those with high [INT] have a better sense of searching things through mana. Many [Mages] with high levels can do it.”
“But I’m not a [Mage],” Hinota corrected him, thinking that he might be confused.
“You’re better than a [Mage], Hinota. You have a much higher [MP] than me, so we need to rely on you.”
Kudo’s compliment made Hinota realize it, and nodded in acknowledgment, as if it was obvious information. Knowing his trust in her, Hinota began to focus once more.
“Alright, so I need to…”
Hinota remembered the words Kudo said in his instructions. Hinota felt her body becoming relaxed, and inhaled her breath. Then, she exhaled it. As she does this, she felt a surge of energy filling her body.
In the momentary of darkness, she sees a bright fire lighting within herself. Hinota could tell that it was her own mana. Then, she turns around. She sees a strange light source—it wasn’t anything that she could think of. That must belong to Kudo.
Hinota surveyed the area and saw nothing else but darkness. But after a while, she could finally pick it up. She sensed another source of energy, farther away from where they were…
It was a light orange color, and it kept swirling around like a whirlpool. Hinota began to move towards it. And as she moved closer and closer…
Hinota felt a powerful pain on her face, knocking her back into reality and feeling a strong sense of pain on her nose.
“H-Hinota!? Are you okay?!”
Hinota managed to open her eyes and saw Kudo running towards her with a shocked look.
“What happened to me…?” Hinota answered with a bewildered tone.
“You just stood up with your eyes closed and walked towards a wall! Where were you going!?”
Kudo flailed his arms around as Hinota looked back, noticing that she did hit herself with a wall of the cavern. Then she looked at the side, noticing the north exit of the cavern.
“Kudo, I found where the Rabacite might be!” Hinota answered with a shout, showing her serious glare.
“E-Eh? Seriously? It worked?” Kudo’s face turned surprised to hear that the method actually worked.
“Yeah, I’m sure of it! There’s another source of mana besides you and me!”
“T-Then, let’s head on over there!”
Kudo gripped his fists as Hinota nodded, getting her to head towards the north exit and making Kudo follow her.
Running with a fast pace, Hinota and Kudo whipped past the other entrances, with Hinota acting as the sensor for the ore. After a few minutes of walking, they found themselves into a smaller room, where Hinota finally stopped.
“You sure, Hinota?”
“Yeah,” Hinota’s panting breath was heard as she pointed at one direction. “It’s inside that wall.”
Hinota pointed at the end point of the cave, seeing nothing but a wall like the other dome rooms before. However, Kudo trusts in her instinct, and pulled out his pickaxe from his last missions of finding ores from his [Magic Bag].
Kudo moved towards where Hinota pointed, and winded up his arms. Then, he released a shout.
Kudo pierced the wall with his pickaxe, but the loud thud only reflected the hard impact it had on his arms.
“Keep going, Kudo!”
Hearing Hinota’s cheer, Kudo winded up his arms once more, filling up his body with vigor.
After each strike, the wall started to crumble little by little. Kudo’s body was going through a sort of torturous movement as his arms felt like they were going to break, but the idea of getting rare ore is the only reason that he kept going.
After making dozens of strikes later, the wall where he was picking at finally started to shine.
Kudo and Hinota widened their eyes as they saw various stones shining with a beautiful light from deep within the wall. Kudo counted the stones that appeared, and became astounded.
“There are… 9 ores!”
Hinota’s eyes widened as she counted the stones as well. The ores shone a beautiful silver color. As Kudo took each individual ore out, she held the ore in her hand, being the size of her palm.
“So this is 【Rabacite】… it really does look rare.”
“Whoo~! We did it! We found 【Rabacite 】!”
Kudo couldn’t hold it in any longer and extended his arms out, shouting with an energize yell.
“And with this amount, not searching for any more Rabacite would be a waste. Let’s keep searching!”
With their next plan of action, Kudo and Hinota continued their adventure through the cavern of Diamond Forest.
Hinota would accurately pinpoint their next spot which would be filled with dozens of Rabacite Ore. Thanks to the constant search; she was able to pinpoint it much faster. Kudo also worked hard as he had to continuously dig out the ores. It was tough on his body, but Hinota said that it was good for training which he gladly did.
Before long, they became tired from their farming for ores, and returned to where they came from with the usage of their marked map, and when they returned, they saw that the sun was setting already.
“Aww, it’s getting dark. We spent so much time in there…” Hinota said as she covers the top part of her eyes as she saw the bright sun slowly dimming down towards the horizon.
“But at least we got something out of it!”
Kudo patted on his [Magic Bag] which was containing 136 【Rabacite Ores】. Seeing their good work, Hinota made a smirk as the PlusFire returned back to town.
It has become night by then, and Hinota was already resting soundly. Her mind was exhausted after such a workout, so she was resting soundly as she has always done.
Meanwhile, while taking certain measures, Kudo brought out his blacksmithing station to create ingots. He took out the ores from his [Magic Bag], and put one ore into the station carefully.
“Alright… now, let’s make some ingots!”
Kudo was becoming excited as he focused on the flames of the station, making sure that it becomes just right.
However, when he was done and looked at the result of the ore…
What he saw when he peered inside the station was a melted goo of silver color. It could hardly be called an ingot at this rate. The smoldering hot mass of goo looked back at Kudo, practically saying ‘You failed!’.
“N-No way… but it was just turning it into an ingot…!?”
Kudo felt as if he had a long night of worries as he decided to keep going with the smelting process, only becoming more unlucky with each step…
After each time, it comes up a failure! How frustrating~! For Kudo, I mean…
I hope you all enjoyed this! Find out what happens next~!