Chapter 22:

Mana Affinity and Rabacite Gear

Hour Empty Child


After they have collected a fair amount of ores to create ingots, Kudo heated his station, creating as many ingots as he possibly could to make his visionary armor.


Kudo calculated that he would make at least one armor after his last failure, and continued to work to create the ingots.


He was wrong.


It took a while, but he finally managed to create enough ingots to create at least one armor. However, the item he was working on, called the 【Rabacite Ingot】, exuded powerful mana that shifts in waves, disabling him on making proper control over his station which requires extreme concentration.


Needless to say, it caused him quite a bit of grief—


“Why can’t I get this right?!”


—well, a lot of grief.


Just an hour ago, he was dead set on creating a set of powerful Rabacite armor to replace his old one, and was looking forward to creating Hinota’s set of armor as well.


However, what he was seeing in front of him was the pile of scrap, not worthy of putting on someone’s person. It was to the point where if you wear it, you would most likely be hurt by it instead of being protected by it.


Kudo gritted his teeth, and clenched his hands into tight fists—enough to make a sharp cut on his palm and let a small trail of blood come down from it.


Making such equipment… no, making such mistakes aggravated him. Perhaps it was Crafter’s pride? Kudo would never accept that, after all the armor he was creating so far, he can’t even make armor of the next level.


After a while, Kudo has finally calmed himself down. The reason why he was so frustrated was the day he had to waste finding all the ores that turned into the mess he sees right now. What would he say to Hinota when morning comes?


He certainly won’t show this mess to her. Kudo put them all into the station, and burned them all with a glorious flame coming from the high-temperature station.


“Nobody will know of these failures…”


Kudo’s eyes glinted as a devilish small smirk arose from his lips. His disastrous work of his first time crafting Rabacite will never be known to the world…



The morning sun arises.


Hinota began to wake up in her bed.


She has always been a morning girl, so she gets up just fine, unlike Kudo.


Beginning her procedure, she made a quick stretch that woke up her ample, toned body, and adorned her armor onto her person. Her long, flowing red hair was tied up with a special hairband, very personal to Hinota, which remains hidden between the hair.


Once she took a good look at the mirror, making sure that there was nothing wrong—which there wasn’t, of course—she stepped outside her room and headed towards Kudo’s room.


Once she stood next to the door, Hinota slightly knocked, “Kudo, you’re in there?”


She called out. Then, the door slowly opens, revealing the person behind the door which made Hinota nearly jolt out of her skin.


“K-Kudo! You look terrible!”


Hinota almost yelped as she saw the hideous creature standing in front of her. Kudo’s eyes were baggy and bloodshot—resembling a terrifying ghost that came back from the grave to haunt people. His cheeks looked like they were sunk in, and his hair was roughed up countless times.


“…Hinota…”


Though Kudo would like to complain, his Crafter’s pride not allowing him to open his mouth.
“…Hah,” Hinota could tell what happened and sighed. “Let me guess—from the look of your face, something happened to the ores.”


“…”


Though Kudo was reluctant, he began to explain about what happened last night. Nobody in the world should know about his failures, but Hinota is the first person he would tell it to.
Once he was done—


“—Well, we better get more then.”


Kudo widened his sleepy eyes, his glint from his eyes began to sparkle from Hinota’s suggestion.


“R-Really? You would help me again?”


“Of course I would. Why wouldn’t I?”


“B-But…” Kudo’s face returned to normal after having woken up by Hinota’s kindness, but he gazed downwards with a depressed atmosphere around him. “I kept failing… and you even said that there’s no point if there’s nothing to gain here.”


“But of course there is something to gain. Don’t you remember what I said?” Hinota extended her index finger towards Kudo.


“I said that if we didn’t find anything at all, it’s a bust and we should move along. But we found 136 incredibly rare ores. It’s a waste not to use that chance to create some great armor!”


Hinota’s lips curled into a smile, her sharp eyes glinting at the exciting armor Kudo could make. Seeing such an expression, it completely rejuvenated Kudo’s body, as if it has boosted his morale.


“Alright! Got it!”


“Then, it doesn’t matter whether you failed once or a thousand times. You’re gonna create that armor!”


“H-Hey! Don’t jinx me like that!”



The PlusFire returned back to the Yellow Diamond Forest, defeating several annoying imps in their way as they blitzed through the forest and headed straight to the cavern.
They could spare no time wasting on useless monsters.


Heading inside, with their rations fully packed and several other essentials, such as extra pickaxes and a few herbs that they bought from the Alchemy store to recover their fatigue—however bitter they may be.


At this moment, Kudo and Hinota were hell-bent on achieving their goal which is to get as many 【Rabacite Ores】 as possible.


Thanks to their maps that they made, they were quickly able to search through the cavern.
They headed back to the dome-like area where they first searched for the 【Rabacite Ore】. As usual, Hinota sat back down in the middle, crossed her legs to put herself into a good stance, and closed her eyes.


In the next moment, she was transported to an area that was nothing but the shadowy darkness. However, suddenly, a few lights began to bright up around Hinota. Her eyes followed these lights, forming a trail of surging energy around her, making a pathway in the darkness. She could tell that it was the energy—the mana that she has been searching for.


“Kudo, I found some!” Hinota opened her eyes and shouted. “They’re over at the northwest!”


“Alright!” Kudo clenched his fist. “Bring me to them, Hinota! I’ll dig them all out!”


Once Hinota stood up, the PlusFire headed directly towards the area where Hinota could sense the mana-charged ores. During the way, Kudo began to talk:


“That’s amazing, Hinota,” Kudo praised her. “You were able to pick up the ore’s trail much faster now!”


“If you keep doing an action, you’ll get better at it. Isn’t that the same way as raising the skill?”
“Hehe, you’re right!”


Kudo smiled as he followed Hinota’s lead towards the next 【Rabacite Node】. After running for several minutes, they reached towards the next location—a narrow cave that leads towards another dome-like area. However, this narrow cave had many kinds of lightings, stones that brightened up the pathway like a starry pathway.


Hinota pointed at the nearest wall close to the edge of the dome area, getting Kudo to make quick work of it.


—*Bam! Bam! Bam!*


Kudo’s pickaxe worked continuously at picking out the wall, getting every spot to uncover the node.


And after several strikes, Kudo found the node, seeing about 5 bright ores sticking out.
“It’s low,” Hinota answered curtly and disappointedly.


“Finding this much is incredible, Hinota!” Kudo countered by bringing the bright side.


“Be quiet, Kudo!” Hinota silenced him. “This is pathetic! Find more than 15 ores!”


“R-Right! …Hey! That’s impossible!”


Kudo was just about to work harder until he finally realized that finding 15 ores in a node was next to impossible.



After few hours has passed, the PlusFire worked tirelessly to find the 【Rabacite Ore】. Hinota would spend several minutes into searching the nodes, and Kudo would pick the ores out with his entire body. Though Kudo complained in his mind, he doesn’t mind doing it, as long as he gets what they needed.


Finally, the PlusFire took a small break, getting into their rations to fill up their current empty stomachs. During this break time, Hinota checked her skill list out of pure curiosity, and widened her eyes.


“Hey, Kudo,” Hinota called him out, motioning her hand to get him close to her. “Come here.”


“Mmh? What’s up?” Kudo was just eating a small sandwich in his hand as he closed in towards Hinota.


“Look at my skill.”


“What’s up?”


Kudo checked the skill list she had up opened in front of her.


—————————————————————————————————————
【Mana Affinity】 Lv. 3 (Proficiency: 5%)


This skill will continuously be active as long as you are conscious. You can sense the mana around you more accurately, and the regeneration of your mana is increased for every level this skill gains.
—————————————————————————————————————
For a moment, Kudo was left dumbfounded. His eyes widened and his mouth gaped, letting out few short gasps of air.


“K-Kudo?” Hinota uttered, fearing what Kudo might say as she quickly waved her hand in front of him, hoping that he was still conscious.


“T-This is incredible! Too incredible!”


The sudden shout nearly made Hinota taken aback by his sudden shout.


“S-So, is this skill really that good?”


“Good!? It’s amazing!” Kudo shouted, his face widening like a small child. “You gained an incredibly powerful Support Skill!”


Hearing that, Hinota remembered a certain section in the guidebook which told about Support Skills.


“Support Skill... the kind of skills that can be learned if taken the time to train it? But then, how come I never noticed it?”


“Maybe it popped up when you had your eyes closed? You did have them closed many times, and the notice does go away if left unattended.”


Kudo figured the solution, getting Hinota to realize that that could have happened.


“I see… then this skill, 【Mana Affinity】, raises the regeneration of my mana?”


“Right! Such a powerful skill… and it’s always active! That means that you don’t have to activate it and spend any mana! It’s a powerful Support Skill only certain [Mages] could learn!”


Hearing Kudo’s excessive praises, it filled Hinota with a sense of pride. But then, her hands were suddenly grabbed, and her body was swept along by Kudo. Becoming bewildered, she didn’t realize that Kudo was dancing along with her, jumping around like a fool while holding Hinota’s hands.


“This is amazing! Too amazing! Congratulations, Hinota!”


“Ah… Hahaha!”


Though Hinota was surprised, she didn’t dislike it. She was swept along with Kudo’s pace, and jumped around with him, showing a rather silly image of two Adventurers jumping and skipping like small children.


Before long, their celebration ended as they returned to their search for the 【Rabacite Ore】.


“To gain a Support Skill like that… I didn’t think it was possible for me,” Hinota said her thoughts as Kudo responded:


“It is really surprising. I didn’t think a magical close-fighter like you could gain such a good skill for [Mages].”


“Perhaps because of my [INT]?”


“It could be. Though, you can gain any Support Skill if it goes along with your Class. Since you were focusing on sensing mana, you gained a skill out of it.”


“I see… so, how do I level it up?” Hinota got excited as she decided to ask as always.


“It’ll be difficult. Since it’s always active, you can’t just activate it and gain levels from it. You have to keep doing the action in the same way that you gained it.”


“Then… I gotta keep sensing more mana in order to increase the levels.”


Hinota’s eyes sharpen as if she is looking forward to grinding that powerful skill of hers.


“Yeah! Maybe I’ll get the same thing if I try too!”


Kudo pumped himself up as the PlusFire continued their venture of collecting 【Rabacite Ore】.


Once again, hours have passed, the PlusFire finally left the cave. Though Kudo’s body was tired from the constant usage of the pickaxe, Hinota still forced him to do Spartan training to raise his physical stats further.


After the training was done, Kudo started to work on his equipment. He brought his station outside the city to try to make it once more.


“Alright… one more try!”


Kudo shouted as he started to work. He could finally create the ingots without wasting so many ores, and thought that he could be able to create better Rabacite armor.


He was wrong.


“T-This is just pitiful.”


Kudo tried to create sabatons, but they were so deformed that it would most likely damage one’s feet. It wasn’t even worth mentioning the horrible stats that it had.


“…Least I can still deconstruct it…”


In the next morning, Kudo told the bad news to Hinota, and thought that she might show a disappointed look. He was surprised to see that she didn’t look so disappointed as he thought she would, however, Kudo knew that he has to work harder so that he can give good news to his partner.


Afterwords, Kudo and Hinota continued their venture into the caverns in Yellow Diamond Forest for many days. Throughout the venture, Kudo figured that he should try to learn the skill as well, putting himself in the same position as Hinota and tried to sense the mana around him.


However, even after wasting hours on it, no such skill popped up within his skill list.


“Must be because you don’t have a high [INT] stat like mine.”


“Aww…” Kudo whined. “I really wanted that Support Skill!”


It wasn’t easy for Kudo’s self-esteem, knowing that he can’t get the armor right and he couldn’t get a good skill out of it. However, the lack of a new skill didn’t knock him down as much, and continued to make armor for himself and Hinota.


Before long, 2 weeks have passed…


Inside one of the ‘Heaven’s Wings’ room, Hinota woke up from her bed as usual. Once she did her morning routine as she always done to wake herself up, she dressed up in her armor and faced the 2-meter long mirror which reflected her entire body.


I wonder if Kudo has any progress on that armor… Hinota lost herself in her thoughts. Though I feel bad whenever he failed, he looks so funny whenever he put such a sulky look on his face~


She curled the corners of her mouth, realizing that in front of the mirror, she sees herself smiling. She didn’t even realize it, yet a smile easily rose from her lips.


…Every day since then, I’m always smiling much more than before…


Hinota could remember the time she would smile, but only as a form of greeting. Her family has always put strict rules onto her, especially on how she should behave. It was constricting, and it was hard to breathe.


Right now, she’s working so hard with Kudo to get rare ores, but she can’t help but enjoy every minute of it. Why is that? They were failing on getting more armor, but Hinota could not hate any moment of it. Rather, she thought that it was fine that it would continue like this.


Seeing her smirk once more, Hinota went out of her room to meet up with Kudo. She knocked on Kudo’s door as always, but this time, he didn’t respond back.


“Kudo?” Hinota asked, but there was no reply.


Seeing that he’s not here, she thought that he could be in the lobby, so she quickly went down the stairs of the inn and headed towards the lobby.


Seeing the large room with many other residents here, there was no azure-haired boy here.
Hinota walked towards the receptionist sitting behind her desk in the lobby and asked: “Excuse me. Did you see the blue-haired boy around here? The one that’s always with me.”


The receptionist, which resembled a young woman wearing a green dress with an apron with many pockets for her to use, wore a bright smile as she answered:


“Oh, your boyfriend?” The receptionist’s smile then turned into a frown. “I’m sorry, I haven’t seen him at all this morning.”


Hinota widened her eyes as the receptionist’s words hit her deep, causing her face to slowly redden.


“H-He’s not my—”


“Oh, found him!”


When Hinota was just about to correct her with a blushing face, the receptionist suddenly shouted, pointing at the entrance which Hinota turned to see. Hinota saw Kudo, practically dragging himself to the inside of the inn, carrying his body with such lifeless eyes.


“Kudo!”


Hinota headed towards Kudo, putting a rather coy smile on the receptionist’s face as she said to herself ‘Such a caring girlfriend~’. Though Hinota heard that, she chose to ignore it as she closed in towards Kudo.


“Kudo! Don’t tell me you stayed up all night…” Hinota knew that asking that would be useless from seeing Kudo’s tired face.


“Y-Yeah… I did…” Kudo answered with such a tired tone, it looked like he was a zombie that rose from the dead.


“You don’t have to torture yourself to get the armor! We can just take our time!”


“…We don’t have to… I finally made it…”


Kudo answered slowly, enough to make Hinota second-guess.


“…Eh?”


“I…finally made it!”


Kudo, as if he was possessed for a moment, punched the air with his fist, putting a look of shock on Hinota’s face.


“Eh?! You did it?!”


“Yeah! Ah…”


Kudo nearly wobbled and tilted to the left, causing Hinota to catch him with her arms. Hinota dragged him over to one of the couches of the lobby and sat down on it.


“Kudo, don’t force yourself,” Hinota warned as she asked again: “Did you really create it?”


“Yeah… it’s my greatest creation!”


Kudo’s smile resembled that of an artist that has finally created a masterpiece. Inside Hinota was a bubbling feeling that made her become giddy, and asked quickly:


“Then, hurry up and show me!”


“Hehe, don’t be so shocked when you see such majesty, Hinota~”


Kudo put up a condescending tone, but it only made Hinota more excited as Kudo got his [Magic Bag] out and opened the bag. He took out several pieces of armor from his bag, and showed it to Hinota.


At that moment, Hinota notices that Kudo’s hands were wrapped up in bandages as he takes them out.


“Kudo! Your hands!”


“Ah…” Kudo stopped for a moment. “Yeah, it turns out that the Rabacite armor needed to be at a precise temperature, so I continued to practice with the heat. I ended up burning my hands a few times. But don’t worry! I used a Restorative to clear any burning.”


Kudo smiled at Hinota as he showed the last armor he made to Hinota.


“Kudo…” Hinota looked down at the armor, knowing that this was the armor that Kudo worked so hard to create and inspected it.


—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Silver-Blazed Cuirass of Heart
【Unique】


A cuirass made with a powerful ore called Rabacite. Acting as Heavy Armor class, the armor itself is actually easy to move in as if it was cloth. This cuirass increases the strength of your attacks, as well as increasing the overall speed.


Defense: 216


M. Defense: 157


Durability: 180/180


Requirements: [Level-50] [STR-30]


【Traits】 {Medium Power} {Medium Feather}
—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Silver-Blazed Greaves of Pride
【Unique】


Greaves made with a powerful ore called Rabacite. Acting as Heavy Armor class, the armor itself is actually easy to move in as if it was cloth. These greaves increase the defense, as well as the overall speed.


Defense: 208


M. Defense: 146


Durability: 180/180


Requirements: [Level-50] [STR-30]


【Traits】 {Medium Wall} {Medium Feather}
—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Silver-Blazed Sabatons of Glory
【Unique】


Sabatons made with a powerful ore called Rabacite. Acting as Heavy Armor class, the armor itself is actually easy to move in as if it was cloth. These sabatons increase the strength of your attacks, as well as increasing the overall speed.


Defense: 202


M. Defense: 135


Durability: 180/180


Requirements: [Level-50] [STR-30]


【Traits】 {Medium Power} {Medium Feather}
—————————————————————————————————————
Name: Silver-Blazed Gloves of Might
【Unique】


Gloves made with a powerful ore called Rabacite. Acting as Heavy Armor class, the armor itself is actually easy to move in as if it was cloth. These gloves increase the strength of your attacks, as well as increasing the overall speed.


Defense: 205


M. Defense: 139


Durability: 180/180


Requirements: [Level-50] [STR-30]


【Traits】 {Medium Power} {Medium Feather}
—————————————————————————————————————


“—Puh! Hahaha! These names are amazing, Kudo!”


Kudo widened his eyes as Hinota chuckled loudly, putting up the armor upwards.


The armor was heavy-plated, but it could be bended easily without much resistance. It was colored silver, with a black color at the rims of the plates.


“Seriously, were you delusional when you created these armors?”


“I-I can’t help it! I gotta give it a name, and it was the closest thing I could name it with!”


“Hahaha!” Hinota’s laughter bellowed throughout the lobby which got the attention of the other occupants, getting Kudo to nearly become red in the face.


“A-Alright, already! I’ll change it if you don’t like it.”


“Don’t need to! This is perfect!”


Hinota gave the armor to Kudo, handing over the armor as well as the rest of the equipment to him.


“Now, you’ll become even stronger!”


“You’ll be stronger too, Hinota,” Kudo said as he put the armor aside, and took something else out which made Hinota tilt her head. He pulled out the similar looking armor, only that it was fitted to be worn by a woman.


“W-Whoa! Is that for me!?”


“Of course! If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to create it anyways! Besides, I have always planned on upgrading your armor as well, so it was part of the plan.”


“Kudo…”


Kudo handed over the female equipment to Hinota, getting her eyes to show a small glint from Kudo’s compassion. When she saw the purely crafted armor, she unconsciously made a smile on her face.


“Now that that’s done, Yaaahh… I think I’m gonna hit the bed.”


Kudo yawned loudly as his exhaustion was reaching its peak. His eyes fluttered open and close as he got up, only to nearly wobble in his standing.


“Ah, I’ll take you there.”


“T-Thanks, Hinota…”


After taking a while to get Kudo to his bed, she saw Kudo’s face completely at peace as he slept on his soft bed. Hinota formed a smile once more as she saw this view.


Mmh… I should get some breakfast, and figure out something else to do in the meantime…
Hinota left the room without a sound, leaving Kudo at peace as she headed down the lobby, hoping to get breakfast that’ll be enough to fill her nearly endless stomach.


“Attention! Attention!”


Suddenly, she heard a loud cry, enough to wake everyone up which aggravated Hinota as she just put Kudo to sleep.


Rather than going to get her meal, she wondered what the situation was about and stepped outside the inn.


She saw several people already lining up along the edge of the street as several carriages rode into the street.


A man in front, shouting so loudly that it could wake the gods from the Upperworld, was dressed in such a fashion that was deemed to be part of the nobles.


“In three days’ time, for all of the Adventurers in Loune, there will be an event in the grand city of Olinia, kingdom of Peranim, issued by our queen herself! Adventurers, head towards the capital city of Peranim, and dive straight into the large area beside it, the Hunter’s Grave, to participate!”


Some of the Adventurers who were called by this man all seemed to have riled up looks on their faces, as if they were wolves being told to hunt for their food. Hinota herself showed an intense glare after hearing such a wondrous occasion.


“The tickets needed to participate will be sold by me! The price will stand at 50,000 Jib, no less! Once you get yourselves a ticket, you are eligible to participate in the event! Gather up!”
The man waved around a series of small, long rectangle-shaped papers, all of them having an emerald green color and various markings. Of course, the Adventurers headed in to get these tickets.


Hinota herself bared her teeth as she charged in towards the shouter to get the tickets.


***********************************************************************
Ooh… an event! But it’s all the way in the capital! What’s gonna happen next!?