Chapter 24:

Hunting and Dusk

Hour Empty Child


Time has passed since the event has begun. It has hardly been more than a few minutes, but the Adventurers have scattered about once the event has started.

Some have gone the most farthest of ways, trying to get the first exotic beast on that area. Some have scattered to the nearest zones for easy pickings.

Of course, the large variety of Adventurers went to the nearest zones.

The nearest one for all Adventurers was the grassy pasture, a vast field filled with nothing but the green grass which swayed from the breeze of the clear blue sky, reaching to the horizon that showed a bright, yellow sun. To decorate the pasture, beautiful flowers were planted onto the grassy ground which makes the perfect picture for calming the senses.

Though the view itself was amazing, the Adventurers that invaded this beautiful land, a four-man party, care not for such pleasantries.

“Hey! You found any yet?!”

“How can you find anything in this place? There’s nothing but frilly flowers here!”

The galvanized sounds intervened with the quiet, serene scenery, and the flowers that swayed innocently on the ground were squashed like bugs underneath their armored boots. They were four male Adventurers, dressed up as a [Warrior], a [Monk], a [Hunter], and an [Archer]. An all-physical party.

Out of frustration, these Adventurers kept crushing these innocent flowers with their boots. Not a single flower was safe in their sight.

This recently-made party was venting their frustration as they had continued searching for these rare exotic bosses. However, this team has only found several smaller enemies—small Sprites and Poison Butterflies.

“Whoo~” The [Ranger] muttered.” I can’t wait to win this and get that prize! Hehe…” The [Ranger]’s face then changed to that of a sleazy expression. “Maybe I can change my prize for getting one night with the queen herself! I hear that she’s quite eye-catching.”

“Oh, I’m gonna ask the same thing! Man, that would be great! I wanna take out all of my desires onto that royal body of hers!”

The [Monk] responded in a more inappropriate way himself, showing a nearly-satisfied look, and even getting the corner of his mouth to slightly drool.

“Hah, if the weakling mobs were this easy, then the Mid-boss will be a piece of cake! If we can just find a couple and beat them, we’ll win this 10 million Jib prize with ease!”

These Adventurers, who believed that they have already won, were quite at a high level. The highest one of them was the [Warrior] that has reached [Rank C]. The [Warrior] spoke so confidently, it left the others to feel a slight irritation inside, but at the same time, they agreed to what he said.

Of course, that is because all they have killed so far were low-level monsters that even children could even take down if they have taken preparations. What came lurking near the rambunctious all-male party surveyed the area with its sharp eyes, readying to pounce at a single chance…

“H-Help me!”

A single scream from the bragging [Warrior] which sounded like a frightened child resounded. What made this ‘hardcore’ Adventurer scream like a baby was the Mid-Boss slowly circling the target in its sight.

It resembled a giant tiger—red stripes dressed the raven-black fur on its quadrupedal body. The red color on top of the black fur made the [Warrior] envision death itself, coated in blood. Its crimson eyes showered the [Warrior] with an intense aura, baring its fangs as drool leaked from its mouth.

The Exotic Boss they were facing was called Blackblood. At first, Blackblood appeared pouncing at the [Ranger] who was continuing to slander the Queen of Olinia. The [Ranger] received a blow that caused him to instantly black out. After one was taken out, the [Monk] came in, boasting his incredible defense. But the Blackblood easily took him out with one swipe of its claws.

Only the [Hunter] and the [Warrior] was left. The [Hunter] began to make traps, trying to catch the leg of the creature so the [Warrior] could do damage, but Blackblood was much more cunning than it looks. When the [Hunter] tried to put up a trap, Blackblood indirectly pushes the [Hunter], getting him caught in his own trap and took immense damage.

Only the [Warrior] was left. He fell down, crushing more of the flowers that swayed beautifully in the pasture. Blackblood widens its crimson eyes, and opened its mouth.

Raaaaarrr!

The roar was enough to make the poor man release what he was holding in. Other than the intense fear of being mauled to death, the nose-curling scent of piss pierced his sense of smell, realizing that he urinated in his greaves. The uncomfortable scent of piss in his plated armor was burned into his memories of this event as he began to recall the events of his life.

——*Shhk!*

As he panicked, the [Warrior] didn’t realize that Blackblood’s head was pierced with a single, curved blade. The blade was so fast and sharp that not even Blackblood could even sense it. A moment later, Blackblood’s body fell, blood seeping out of its head as it drenched the green pasture with red liquid.

“Nice job, Hinota!”

“Took it down with one strike—it was really weak, Kudo.”

The voices permeated his hearing, turning the [Warrior]’s head to see several younger Adventurers catching up to the two who spoke. Kudo observed Blackblood with his keen eyesight as Hinota flicked her katana with such force that the blood instantly flew off of her blade, dressing the pasture with more blood stains.

“Ah! There was somebody here!” Kudo noticed the [Warrior]; blatantly staring at the 2 teenagers who easily took down the boss that nearly wiped them out. Seeing the area which was filled with struggles, Kudo widened his eyes.

“We’re so sorry! We didn’t mean to take your kill!”

Kudo believed that they have stolen the other party’s kill, but he didn’t notice that the party was about to be wiped out.

“Kudo, there’s no need for apologies. It’s a competition—everyone’s out to get kills, so it’s not our problem if another party was too slow to kill it.”

Hinota shared her wisdom as she observed the situation. She already knew that the all-male party stood no chance to beat Blackblood.

“I-I suppose…” Though Kudo still didn’t get it, he reluctantly agreed to what she said. “Then, let’s loot it and leave. Excuse us.”

Kudo made a quick bow to the [Warrior], as he figured that he should be polite. Then, he quickly took his [Magic Bag] out, and began to carve out a piece of Blackblood to get their first item of the event.

The other members of PlusFire, Eruda, Mick and Lailah, stayed behind Hinota as they watched the scene between Kudo and the downed Blackblood. They were surprised to see the scene when they came in, but nothing compared to what they were seeing now.

The terrifying dissection of the poor Blackblood left the three the Adventurers other than Hinota blue in the face. The [Warrior] began to wretch; the siblings were starting to turn green in color as a need to vomit nearly reached their peak. Eruda was the only one that didn’t felt like vomiting, but her forehead was tinted with a light blue in disgust.

“Mmh… nothing much here,” Kudo uttered out disappointingly. “But we got the 【Blackblood’s Claw】!”

“Well, I didn’t really expect anything out of this weakling. Least we got our first item. Now, let’s move on!”

Hinota clenched her fist energetically which got Kudo to sprang up with vigor, holding the blood claw in his bloody hand. The other three responded meekly, slowly raising their fists up to go along with the mood.

Once the PlusFire left the scene after mere minutes from whence they came in, the [Warrior] was left alone with his other party members, who were beginning to wake up and shake their bloody heads from the daze.

“I…we… wha—”

The [Warrior] was left with a dumbfounded expression, filled with small tears streaming down from his eyes while the other party members tilted their heads at their leader’s expression.

Since this event started, the PlusFire have already killed more than 4 Exotic Bosses. After their first kill, they continued down their road and mowed through the entire zone of Exotic Bosses.

They were now on the journey to go to the next zone and noticed the change in scenery.
When they were passing through the green pasture, they noticed that the next zone was literally there. After the green grass, it was as if a part was cut off, and now a forested area replaced the next side.

“Wow, this place really is amazing!” Kudo looked up at the trees, the leaves covering the sunlight shining down on his face as several shadowy shades appeared on the ground. “It was completely clear before, and now there’s a forest!”

“I heard of this place before, but it really did change the climate. I can even feel the air change in the atmosphere.”

Though it sounded unbelievable, thanks to Hinota’s high [INT] stat, she was able to conceive such feelings easily, making it rather astounding for the others.

“Well, we got four already. It won’t take long to get ourselves 100 exotic bosses!”

“A-A hundred, you say?!”

Eruda was the first to shout from Kudo’s idea.

“She’s right, Kudo. That’s bad thinking,” Hinota responded to Kudo’s claim, getting Eruda and the siblings to heave a sigh of relief.

“We should try 200 for good measure.”

The other three nearly fell from hearing Hinota’s more daunting plan, but it made Kudo hit his palm with his fist from realizing it.

“Oh, that’s a great idea, Hinota! Then, 200 is our goal! Maybe just a little more as well?”

“Now that sounds better.”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Lailah intervened before one of them decides to go up more. “D-Don’t you think that 200 is a bit too much?!”

“Going for 200...” Mick came in after Lailah. “You two might be able to do it, but there’s no way that we can go up that much…”

Mick’s face already looked so tired just from imagining going after 200 exotic bosses. The last three fights—other than the one-strike kill from Hinota to Blackblood—left Eruda and the siblings nearly reach their exhaustion point. Thanks to the party they created, the experience is shared and each of them leveled up several times. But the entire experience left them completely drained.

“I know it’s a bit much,” Kudo spoke gently, his eyes softening. “But we don’t know how many the other parties are racking up. We need to collect as much as we can now before they’re all gone!”

“He’s right,” Hinota answered back. “We need to hurry. I don’t want to miss that prize.”

“S-So… we’re really going for 200 exotic monsters?”

“400.”

“It doubled?!”

Internal crying could be heard within the three recent members’ minds.

“I’m just joking~” Kudo chuckled which made Hinota giggle as well. “Don’t worry—we’ll handle anything bad. We know that you guys are low-leveled, so it’ll be really helpful if you guys can back us up. At the least, Hinota can take mostly anything down!”

“That’s right. Just leave everything to me!”

Hinota punched the middle of her chest, showing off her proud smile which actually helped relieved the other three’s anxieties, but it still left a doubt if whether they will actually be in one piece.

“You guys are so… incredible…” Eruda uttered out as her eyes watched the duo with respect in her eyes, or it could also be fear.

The PlusFire continued their venture into the zones, taking down each Exotic boss as they come. Here’s the breakdown:

Inside the forest, they met an Exotic boss that looked like a giant mammoth. The mammoth was incredibly tough; its leather hide was able to deflect even Hinota’s katana. However, instead of using physical attacks, Kudo decided to bombard it with magical attacks, so Hinota, Lailah, and Kudo did a magical onslaught on the poor creature, and thanks to its weak magical defense, it was quickly beaten.

It was nearly the same for the other exotic bosses.

In the next zone, the entire climate changed and was now a frozen wasteland. Cold, sharp winds hit against their skin, leaving some of the PlusFire to shiver. They faced a frost giant, though it was nearly 3 meters, and was taken down easily due to its weakness to fire which was Hinota’s specialty.

The next location this time was inside a cave. They didn’t get out of the frozen wasteland zone, but they had to duck in the cave to get away from the freezing winds. When they were taking their break, they were met with another boss.

Two, in fact. They were Twin Vipers, a two-headed viper that specializes in mobility in tight spaces.

It was quite small, smaller than the height of the teenage Adventurers which made it increasingly difficult to catch it. But Eruda was able to keenly look out the dark cave with her eyes, and easily caught the twin-viper with her arrows, and once it was caught, it was bombarded with attacks that have taken its life.

Once the freezing winds ended, even for a little bit, the PlusFire hightailed it out of there quicker than the snake itself, for they do not want to go through such cold air again.
They kept going through different zones, until they reached a number of 10 Bosses under their belt.

“Oh, it’s getting dark…”

Lailah noticed as the PlusFire party retraced their steps out of the frozen zone and back into the forest zone.

“That’s why we’re packing up for the night. Unless you think it’s better to hunt now?”

Hinota spoke with a teasing tone, but Lailah’s body shivered at the thought of such a notion.

“D-Don’t joke like that! That’s too dangerous!” Lailah shouted back, denying that kind of thought with all her energy.

“Hehe, I’m just joking. We’re not gonna let you all go through such a thing,” Hinota laughed at how easy it was to rattle the lower leveled Adventurers. Looking back, she could see Lailah shaking, and Mick and Eruda beginning to sweat from that joke.

“What happens at night, anyways?” Eruda started to ask. “I heard that it’s dangerous, but it was too vague to understand.”

Kudo figured that he should step in for this.

“There are lots of reasons as to why hunting at night is dangerous. One thing is that the monsters that come out at night are supposedly double their level.”

“D-Double their level?! Then—”

“That would mean that in an area where monsters are usually level 50 in the day time, at night, the monsters there are level 100,” Hinota interrupted, getting the three low-level members to be taken aback.

“There’s also that since it’s night, our eyes can’t get adjusted to it in time, so we’re fighting in the dark where the monsters can take advantage of that,” Kudo continued on, not realizing that he is making the low-level members become more frightened.

“T-Then how on earth can we get any sleep?! The royalty in charge of this never got us a place to stay. We’ll be sleeping targets for the monsters!” Lailah made her point, though her shrieking left the others in a state of terror.

However, Hinota gently grabbed onto Lailah’s shoulder, stopping in the progress as Hinota answered her straight in the eyes.

“Don’t worry,” Hinota spoke gently. “We’re going to a clearing that has easy visibility, and where no monsters are around. We’ll put up a camp for the night and make some food. We’re going to relax there. While we rest, Kudo and I will keep guard, and one of us will take turns when we’re sleeping.”

“I-Is that OK? I don’t want you guys to feel so burdened…”

Though Lailah says that, she secretly thought that she does not want to be the one watching over the camp while everyone sleeps. The constant fear of being the first to be attacked by a monster by herself would be too much strain on her fragile heart.

“If anything, I should handle night duty,” Eruda came in. “With my eyes, I can be able to see well in the night.”

“You’re too tired, Eruda-san. You need your rest.”

Kudo spoke outward which surprised even himself, getting Eruda to take in his words.
“T-That’s… true, I guess,” She awkwardly admitted, showing a slight tint of red on her face as she looked away.

“You guys did so much today; you all need your rest for tomorrow as well. Don’t worry about us—we’ll handle everything, so you can sleep soundly.”

Kudo spoke softly which, to the low-level Adventurers, felt like it was the words of a saint. Though each of them felt bad for giving their higher-leveled party members more work, they also felt happy and safe.

“I feel ashamed…” Eruda admitted.

“I feel so weak compared to them…” Mick complained.

“Ah… we suck.”

Lailah finished, but it left each one of them to feel even worse than before.

“D-Don’t worry about it so much! I told you, it's fine! Right, Hinota?”

“That’s right. Don’t put yourselves down. You guys did more work than each of the Adventurers participating here, and you’re all low-level to boot. You should be proud of that.”

Hinota clenched her fist to show off her pride which got Kudo to feel relieved as he sees the other members practically gleaming at the prideful Hinota.

“A-Alright!” Lailah answered as Eruda moved forward ahead of them.

“I’ll look for a place to rest in,” Eruda smiled as she got herself to work. “That’s the least I can do.”

“Ah! I’ll go too, Eruda-san! Come on, Mick, let’s go!”

“A-Ah, alright!”

The low-level members went off to search for a good place to rest. As Kudo and Hinota were left by themselves, Kudo heaved a heavy sigh.

“I never thought that we would be in this kind of position,” Kudo felt another kind of exhaustion in his mind.

“You mean being leaders?”

“Yeah… I always thought, when I first became an Adventurer, that I would be the one pulling the party back.”

“I agree,” Hinota nodded. “I felt the same way. But we worked hard, and now we’re in the position to lead others. I think that’s a great thing.”

“I guess…” Kudo rubbed the back of his head, and then he looked at the direction where the other members were. “I never thought, in all my life, that I would lead others. It’s kinda strange…”

“Not to me. I think you make a good leader,” Hinota winked at Kudo with a charming smile. “Of course, with me by your side.”

“Haha, you’re right! You always back me up and saving me. I can’t thank you enough, Hinota.”

“No need to thank me,” Hinota crossed her arms. “Saving you became second nature to me. It happened way too many times.”

“Yeah, why don’t you kick me a little harder while I’m on the ground?”

“Hahaha!”

Kudo responded sarcastically, feeling as if Hinota is hitting him too much below the belt. Hinota chuckled loudly which took Kudo by surprise.

To think he made a joke that was actually funny—it was his greatest moment.

“Don’t feel so butthurt! Come on, let’s go look for a place ourselves,” Hinota hits Kudo’s back hard enough to make a large sound, but it didn’t really affect Kudo as much because of his training.

Hinota led the way as Kudo followed up to her to find a good place.

Some time later, Eruda spoke through her Growth Crystal to the leaders, telling them that they have found a place to put up camp. It was near a nice place where near this location, water cascaded from the top of a large cliff, so it was perfect to get water and even a bath.
And so, tonight starts the first night for the PlusFire in the Hunter’s Grave.

*********************************************************
They defeated several bosses and Kudo made Hinota laugh. It’s a good day for all of them. Find out what happens during the first night for the PlusFire in the next chapter!


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