Hour Empty Child
Streets paved with pure-white marble, the capital city called Olinia boasts on being the ideal place for nobles.
Smoke from the high-quality cigars clung in the air as these nobles inhale it to show off to their acquaintances. You could say that this is the complete opposite to the village of Arkhem which is known for their clean and fresh air.
It is also in this capital where the queen of all Peranim resides. The queen is the most prominent being in this capital. It was at this moment where the queen decided to hold an event for all the Adventurers.
Walking through these pure-white streets, galvanized noise rang out to the residents, marched onwards to the site where the event will be held. As they walked, however, you could feel the malice literally hanging in the air along with the quality smoke.
The galvanized sounds of metal and armor irritated the nobles greatly, who were just trying to boast about their riches and activities to their fellow nobles of Olinia. Each one, who stood by the edge of the street and away from the band of Adventurers, looked at them as if they were filthy boars marching to a slaughterhouse.
“Tch… Savages,” One of the nobles spoke harshly, nothing but poisonous words for the Adventurers.
“I hear that they would kill a man for their ‘quest’. They should be hanged!”
“Don’t let them near the children!”
Of course, despite that they were ‘whispering’, the Adventurers’ keen senses could hear them loud and clear, giving them a rather sour look on their faces.
“Damn these purebreds,” One Adventurer, an adult [Warrior], spoke to his comrades. “Thinking that they’re better than us when they never even fought on the battlefield before.”
“I betcha that they can’t even lift up a golden spoon without ordering a servant to do it for them.”
The Adventurers were not so kind as to just receive insults. They were also showing a rather hostile aura towards the noblemen. The sour atmosphere between them all was causing a large gap between them, causing everyone to be affected by it—
“Wow! Look at these buildings, Hinota!”
—Well, most of them.
The one who shouted like a little boy was Kudo, and beside him was his partner, Hinota.
“This is a capital city, after all,” Hinota answered. “So they’re showing off just how expensive the buildings are.”
Kudo was talking about the buildings which were the several restaurants and jewelry stores. Each one was painted white, as if snow covered the entire town. Along with their flashy ornated jewels on them, an excited look on Kudo’s face gleamed at the sight, leaving the nobles and the other Adventurers non-responsive.
Both social classes weren’t just gazing at their expressions. They were also gazing at the beautiful plate armor they wore that hardly made a clear sound. Kudo and Hinota wore silver colored plated armor with black clothing underneath, each one showing that their wealth and experience beats out the other two social classes at once.
Even the noblemen were stunned at the beauty of said armor, and couldn’t help but look at them.
“I’m so excited for this event, Hinota! I wonder what we might do?”
Kudo clenched his hands into fists as he imagined the exciting event that will take place.
“I’m glad,” Hinota said with a smile. “I thought you might have got pissed after I spent our money without your permission.”
“Of course not! Hinota, anything you do with the money is for the party—you don’t need to worry about what I think.”
“Hehe,” Hinota formed a smile, feeling relieved that he said that. “But, it is kinda strange.”
Hinota’s mind started to analyze their situation, putting her hand on her chin which caught Kudo’s attention.
“What do you mean?”
“Kudo, you haven’t realized it since you’re so into this job, and come from a nice remote village,” Hinota showed Kudo a serious glare. “But the nobles don’t take kindly to Adventurers.”
“To them, Adventurers are savages. Always doing everything for money and glory. Our family, comprised of Adventurers who reached noble status, are often criticized for that. There are those that want to join us and share the riches, and those that believe that we shouldn’t be in the same space as them.”
“T-That’s terrible, Hinota!” Kudo exclaimed with a shocked look.
“Yeah, but in the end, they can’t hold up to us. We have so much money that if any nobles try to mess with us, we’ll use our mass wealth to ruin their business for good. They’ll be completely ruined, and forced to work for the rest of their lives.”
“As expected, that’s pretty amazing, Hinota.”
“Mmh mmh, isn’t it?”
Hinota crossed her arms and lifted her face, showing off her arrogant side as Kudo became amazed by her family’s power.
Meanwhile, the nobles and the Adventurers who managed to hear their conversation all said the same thing:
‘These kids are hardcore…’
The Adventurers got out of the city to head to the area called Hunter’s Grave.
Hunter’s Grave, in basic terms, is the most largest area which has a special atmosphere right above the lands. These atmospheres are different from each other, changing the entire climate as if it was a different part of the world.
Due to the different ‘zones’ in the Hunter’s Grave, known to have their own special climate, the Hunter’s Grave is the most beneficial area for Olinia, where Adventurers—who has to gain permission to take quests here—can partake and reap the spoils of this area.
As the Adventurers walked towards the area, they all had a chance to talk to each other, making some sorts of connection between them. In midst of these conversations, some would say that the ‘kids’ here, those who has just started being Adventurers, will never be able to cut it in this area filled with danger.
However, it was the two kids belonging to the PlusFire party that held the same view onto them.
“Their equipment are so shoddy…” Kudo spoke with such disapproving eyes. “Will they even make it? They will never survive.”
Kudo, whose eyes were trained to notice even the most minimal details in plated armor, felt that the adult Adventurers, mostly ones that were over 20 in looks, were too underprepared. He could even see that these Adventurers are too low-leveled, considering the quality of their armor and their weapons holstered by their hips.
“Don’t make such a big deal out of it, Kudo,” Hinota spoke curtly, showing no mercy in her tone of voice. “If these guys think they can handle it and expect no consequences, it’s their decision. It’s not our fault that they never prepared adequately like us.”
“I suppose you’re right… I do feel bad for them if they miss anything good because of that.”
“Rather, that means that there will be more spoils for us!” Hinota made her point with a cocky look on her face, getting Kudo to have such sparkling eyes, as if he is getting his favorite toy.
“Oh, you’re right!”
The Adventurers continue on their way, to the point of taking nearly an hour to walk. Calling a carriage in Olinia was too expensive, and there were too many of them, so they would have to form a line, so they decided to walk there. Apparently, everyone had the same idea.
After walking for an hour, their stamina dropping and exhaustion reaching its peak, the Adventurers have finally managed to reach to the center stage of the event.
Several signs popped up in the pathway towards the Hunter’s Grave area, calling the Adventurers over. By following the signs, the Adventurers have reached to an area that looked like a clearing of a forest.
Several trees encircled the clearing. The clearing was housing a giant wooden stage, with a large banner holstered by two large, wooden poles saying: ‘Olinia Adventurer’s Event’.
“Couldn’t they have picked a better name than just an ‘event’?”
“Maybe they were in a rush?”
Kudo could understand the reasoning for their poor naming, but instead, they focused on the personnel already standing on the stage. The personnel seemed to be three older men, showing that they had combat experience with their muscled toned bodies. One of them looked like he worked in the guards of the capital, seeing that he was wearing a suit of armor that had the capital city’s mark on the center of his cuirass.
Kudo’s eyes were gleaming as the armor was specially made well, causing his Crafter’s spirit to burn greatly. Hinota herself wishes to see if such a powerful looking armor could be enchanted and become even stronger.
“This looks so exciting! I wonder what kind of event it will be!” Kudo spoke out his mind as Hinota suddenly recalls something in her mind.
“Mmh, it was the Queen that was putting this event for us, right? I wonder why she would do such a thing…”
Hinota put her hand on her chin, wondering about the cause. However, in Kudo’s mind, he could only think of one thing.
“Queen, huh… I bet she can do whatever she wants, with the money she has…”
Kudo imagined that the Queen’s castle was made of pure gold, with an older woman dressed in the finest, sparkling clothes acting as the queen with several servants lined up wearing nothing but gold-colored uniforms.
Belonging to the remote, poor village, this difference was the same as earth is apart from heaven.
“I’m pretty sure that the queen doesn’t live that lavishly…” Hinota nearly caught a glimpse of Kudo’s imagination, figuring that he thinks the rich can do whatever they want. “But, I heard a rumor back in Erijo that the queen is actually a replacement for the old one that suddenly died.”
“Eh?! No way!”
Kudo widened his eyes at the mention that their original Queen is long gone.
“Though, it’s only rumors. I also heard that the Queen seems to be someone very young, but she’s already making a good start.”
“Eh… but how did you know so much about the queen?”
“Well, I met the original queen before, so hearing the news about royalty come rather easily.”
“E-Eh?! You met the original Queen before!?”
“With my family, of course. Remember, the city of Olinia and Erijo are not so far from each other. Not to mention, my family are well known to have Adventurers that worked with the royalty before.”
Kudo was stuck at awe at the might of Hinota’s family fame. However, he just couldn’t believe that the same family that left her daughter to nearly die in the forest filled with goblins was the same one worthy of such respect.
“But I don’t know anything about the new queen. I left the manor before meeting her to become an Adventurer. Still, as much as I know, the old queen was sterile, so the new queen isn’t the heir… I wonder who she is.”
As Hinota looked up as she tries to recall anyone from royalty that could take over, Kudo looked up as well, then looked at Hinota.
“Hinota, what does ‘sterile’ mean?”
“O-Oh,” Hinota was taken aback, but then she recovered herself. “It means that they cannot make offspring, as in having any children.”
“Oh! Oh… then that is weird…”
Kudo finally gets it after knowing the meaning, putting his hand on his chin showing that he was curious about it.
Before long, the rest of the Adventurers have made it to the area. The older men, one knight of the capital and two other lackeys that looked like the subordinates of the knight while wearing Medium-Class armor, were waiting for the appointed time to arrive. When it did, the main knight headed towards a small pole holding a crystal embedded at the top. It was the same crystal that was embedded at the top of the poles holding the banner.
“Welcome, Adventurers! To the Hunter’s Grave!”
The knight spoke out loud, his voice reverberating through the crystals at the top of the poles holding the banner, reaching to every ear of each Adventurer. His voice was amplified through the usage of the crystals which left Kudo to be in shock.
“S-So loud!” Kudo exclaimed as his heart quickened from the jolt.
“I’m sure that you all have various questions regarding this sudden event, but worry not! Our great queen, the queen of Olinia, made this event to express her vast gratitude for the hard-working Adventurers, who have labored through the harsh quests given to them by our citizens of Peranim! She may not be here now, due to her busy work, but please understand that she is here in spirit, and wishes to give her welcoming for all of you!”
The knight spoke rather fond of the queen, showing his desire to praise the queen on his old face. It wasn’t quite old—there were some wrinkles, but it was mostly due to his combat experience. He actually had short brown hair and a gleaming smile not belonging to any old man.
“For this event,” The knight continued on. “One Adventurer party must go and take down several bosses, known as Exotic bosses. The exotic bosses are not your average powerful boss—they’re much weaker than that, but they aren’t such pushovers either! Your job for this event is to take down as many as possible and take their loot! Once you bring them in here, you’ll be rewarded by our Queen herself!”
The knight saw the Adventurers making a loud cheer over the reward from the Queen herself. Each one roared loudly, stomping their feet like the rambunctious Adventurers that they are.
“Wow, that’s awesome! Being able to take loot from rare bosses… that sounds so great!”
“I’m more excited for the experience points we’ll gain from this.”
Both Kudo and Hinota, however, were more excited about the event itself, rather than the price.
“Now, the procedures will go like this—All of you must make a party before entering, that’s the rule. Then, when you enter, you have a week, starting today, to collect them all. Then, on the final day, you must return here to this spot. During the event, you must collect each original loot from the boss, and don’t skimp on it!”
The knight made sure to the Adventurers on this matter, making sure that they don’t bring something like a strand of fur from the bosses.
“You must collect one unique loot from them, and bring as many as you can! When you come back, we will decide the winner by the amount of loot you bring from each boss. If you win, the queen herself will reward you with 10 million Jib!”
When the knight spoke of the reward, the Adventurers all roared as if they had just found the greatest treasure. Each one shouted and began to raise up a storm, making a fuss about the amount of Jib there.
But for the PlusFire, they were feeling lackluster.
“That may not be much, but it’s still Jib!!”
“The Queen sure is feeling rather cheap with this reward. What with that? Only 10 million…”
Since the PlusFire could easily gain as much Jib by themselves, they weren’t so impressed with this amount.
“Also, one final thing! For the party, you must have at least 4 members in the party. If one party wins the event, the reward will be given to each one of the participants! Since taking down bosses is still quite a challenge, we will not accept any party that has less than 4!”
The knight managed to say this one final phrase, but Kudo and Hinota have already hit a bind.
The PlusFire has always been 2 members—Kudo and Hinota. The last time that they partied up with more people, it was more troublesome and inconvenient. They didn’t want to go through such a moment ever again.
“Before we commence,” The knight began to talk once more. “Each party must give their tickets, and sign up the member’s names under their party name to participate. During this time, please make up the party, and make it quick! We will offer you 15 minutes to decide and then sign up! If you don’t, you will be automatically booted out, so make your decisions wisely!”
The knight continued as the two lackeys behind him got down from the stage and had several papers lined up on the tables beside the stage.
The Adventurers then began to crowd around the tables, signing their names onto them to participate. Meanwhile, the PlusFire were panicking.
“W-What do we do, Hinota?! We only got 2 in our party!” Kudo was already having a breakdown.
“Calm down, Kudo!” Hinota herself is not fond of inviting more people, but being the more experienced in socialism, she needed to take charge. “We’ll just have to find more people!”
“I-I don’t think I can handle that at all…”
Kudo recalled their last time partying up, and he wishes that he could just forget already…
“We’ll just have to try,” Hinota put on a stern face. “Let’s just find someone that we can be friendly with.”
“A-Alright… Mmh? Hey, isn’t that—?”
When Kudo turned around, beginning his reluctant search for a stranger to join them, he notices somebody he never expected to see.
A young woman, whose facial features defined that of a beautiful flower. Her brightly-colored hair matched the color of her eyes, and her green-colored equipment fluttered in the midst of the messy turnabout here. And, more importantly, her most defining feature were the two pointy ears.
“T-That’s Eruda-san! Eruda-san is here!”
The two PlusFire members widened their eyes as they saw Eruda, the female elf [Ranger], looking as if she was lost in the sea of excited Adventurers. She looked around desperately, looking worried as her eyes shook and darted her head around.
“This is perfect! Kudo, let’s go after her!”
“G-Got it!” Kudo, without hesitation, rushes in and waved his arm at her. “Hey, Eruda-san!”
Kudo ran after Eruda before she could get lost in the crowd. Thankfully, her sharp senses picked up on Kudo’s shout, getting her head to turn to face him.
“Ah… Kudo-san and Hinota-san! The two of you are here as well?”
Seeing Kudo and Hinota run after her made Eruda’s face shocked with surprise. Her eyes, showing a rather distressed look, now showed a light-hearted expression as her face relaxes, making her facial features stand out even more.
“Yeah! It’s great to see you again!”
“It’s been a while, Eruda-san. Though, it wasn’t that long, was it? You look well.”
Kudo and Hinota responded, and they responded well considering how kind Eruda is.
“You two… you look so different. Your armor… you both have improved once more, haven’t you? That’s amazing…”
Eruda was in shock at the black armor that they wore. She remained in awe.
“You look good as well, Eruda-san. You changed equipment, right?”
“Ah, yes… but only some parts.”
Hinota noticed the small changes from last time on Eruda’s armor. This time, she wore a small dress behind her hip which fluttered gracefully, and she wore long cloth on her arms.
“It looks good on you, Eruda-san. So, have everything been going well since we left you?”
Hinota had to ask, as the curiosity of the PlusFire was reaching their maximum.
“Yes, it has been. For once, it’s been going well,” Eruda responded, a look of relief showing on her face.
“I-I see… does that mean that you left your old party?”
Kudo asked this time, getting Eruda to respond:
“Yes, I have. The party completely tore itself apart. The others couldn’t stand being with the leader, so they left to go on their own paths. Uren left and went on her journey as well. Though, it was only after she has given me this equipment as a good luck charm.”
Eruda felt the cloth on her arms, meaning that the cloth was the gift Urem left her.
“I see! That’s great, Eruda-san!” Kudo shouted, showing his ever-flowing positivity which even affected Eruda.
“Thank you, Kudo-san,” Eruda responded, putting on a positive smile.
“T-Then, since you’re alone—do you wanna come party with us for this event? You’re here for this as well, right?”
“E-Eh? W-Well,” Eruda became flustered and started to stutter. “I-I have been wanting to join a party, but… are you sure? Do you guys really want me to join you?”
“It will really benefit us if you could,” Hinota answered, showing an embarrassed look. “See, we have a thing about letting strangers into our party, so it would be really helpful if you can join us.”
Hinota showed her honesty, while Kudo showed his intent to let her join. Seeing the two of them being so keen on her joining, Eruda was left with a reddened face.
“T-Then, I would be proud to join you both!”
Eruda stuttered, but the look of her eyes changed to a determined look to join their party. The both of them smiled in response which actually blinded Eruda’s eyes a little by how bright they were.
“Then, welcome to our party!”
“T-Thank you for having me…”
“Now, we need at least one more…”
Kudo being the one to congratulate her, and Eruda responded with her arms neatly tucked together, Hinota surveyed the area to see if any other potential member could join.
Despite that they were in a hurry, the time they used to catch up with each other cost them a few minutes. Now, there were only 3 minutes left.
“There’s nobody else to join us? There is hardly anyone left!”
Hinota shouted as Eruda felt like she was responsible for it.
“I-I’m sorry. I must have spent too much time…”
“Don’t worry about it, Eruda-san! It’s kinda our fault for being so picky…”
Kudo could not blame her at all. The reason, after all, was so that the Kuul Caverns incident wouldn’t happen again. Though Kudo made some suggestions, Hinota brushed it off as the Adventurer looked suspicious.
“I wonder who can we pick from here… there’s hardly anyone left…”
Kudo’s ears pricked up to hear a familiar female voice in the distance. Kudo looked behind as well as the other two girls to see a surprising sight.
Kudo screams in shock as he sees the two siblings walking towards them. Lailah waved at Kudo along with her little brother Mick walking behind her.
The two hasn’t changed much, except that Lailah wore a different colored robe—now it was blue—and Mick wore Medium Armor banded to his chest and shoulders.
“I can’t believe it! It’s Kudo-san and Hinota-san! It’s been so long!” Lailah spoke carefree, showing a bright smile that seems to be brighter than the sun itself.
“It truly has been a while!” Mick answered, showing a smile to the two Adventurers.
“Lailah-san, Mick-san, I can’t believe that you’re here! …Ah, a-are they here as well?”
Kudo began to sweat as he realized that if Mick and Lailah are here, then it could be possible that the other two members are there as well.
“Don’t worry, Kudo-san. We realized now that Flash was nothing but a jerk! So we left him as soon as we finished with Kuul Caverns. So far, it’s just been us two, right, Micky?”
“Right, Nee-chan. And also, don’t call me Micky! Just Mick!”
Mick gave his comment which got Lailah to giggle to herself.
T-Thank goodness… Kudo heaved a sigh which made it glaringly obvious to the others that he was relieved.
“Kudo, at least keep cool about it…”
Kudo’s sweat dropped as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, giving an awkward laugh.
Though, I’m glad for that as well, so I don’t blame him. Hinota thought to herself as she gave a mental sigh of relief.
“Are you guys participating in this event as well? Since you’re here and all…” Lailah stepped in towards Kudo and Hinota, getting up to their face.
“Y-Yes, we are!” Kudo answered. “But we’re short one more member…”
“Then, can we join you guys?!” Lailah proposed, widening Kudo’s eyes and getting Hinota to show a glint in her sharp eyes. However, it looked like Mick didn’t expect her to say that.
“N-Nee-chan! You can’t just ask like that! Also, there’s no way that we can catch up to them… just look at their armors…”
Mick opposed of her idea, trying to be considerate of the other two Adventurers.
“It’s fine, isn’t, Micky?! I mean, we’re a powerful [Mage] and excellent [Priest] here! We’re desirable!” Lailah praised themselves, showing off their abilities which got Mick to heave a sigh.
“Nee-chan, that’s too conceited…”
“Actually, we would like you two to join us.”
Hinota answered, surprising the two siblings. Lailah’s eyes began to glimmer from Hinota’s acceptance.
“Flamver-san! Thank you very much~!” Lailah clasps her hands together to show her gratitude. “We promise to work extra hard!”
“A-Are you sure that’s OK? If we’re bothering you, then—”
“Shut up, Micky!” Lailah pulled him closer, enough to whisper into his ear. “Don’t mess up your chance to apologize to him!”
“I-I know… but there’s no way that…”
“Just listen to your older sister, and do as I say!”
Lailah gave her final word, making Mick realize that she has a point. Lailah lets him go, getting him to face Kudo and Hinota.
“T-Thank you for having us…” Giving a quick bow, Mick gave a genuine smile to them.
“Well, you know us, but you haven’t met the other member. This is Eruda-san, a [Ranger]. Eruda-san, these two are Lailah-san and Mick-san. These two are the ones we met a long while ago.”
Hinota introduced Eruda, getting her to widen her eyes in surprise, and quickly bow to the siblings.
“H-Hello. I look forward to partying with you.”
When Eruda’s head turned up, her upturned eyes which reflected the sunlight, showing off a wonderful color of her eyes, gave Mick a shocked expression, getting slightly red in his cheeks. Lailah herself widened her eyes.
“W-Wow, an elf! Ah—I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound so surprised…” Lailah felt that she messed up, blatantly shouting that Eruda was an elf.
“D-Don’t worry. I don’t mind,” Showing that it doesn’t bother her, Eruda gave a genuine smile.
“Ah, you’re so nice! I look forward to partying with you as well! Mick, introduce yourself!”
“R-Right!” Mick nearly jolted from his sister’s sudden shout, getting him to straighten up his body. “I-I-I look forward to partying with you too!”
“Alright, now we got five members! We can participate!
Despite that there were more people other than Hinota, Kudo shouted with vigor as he gets to participate in the event with no problems. Kudo unconsciously extended his fist into the air, getting the other four to look on with a smile.
“Let’s go to the desk and sign up then.”
Hinota said as she led the party towards the desk, where the three new members; Eruda, Lailah, and Mick, signed under the PlusFire party name.
The PlusFire has gained new members! What will happen during this Royal Event!?