Chapter 25:

Campfire and Talk

Hour Empty Child

Under the starry sky, where the stars shimmered, as though painted by a world-renown artist, laid out in the sky for all the Adventurers who looked up to see it.Bookmark here

Lying in the forest were the members of the party who has taken the lives of most of the exotic bosses so far. Before going in the forest, they have done reconnaissance to ensure that the forest was safe from any monster attacks.Bookmark here

Once they were done, the members reported this to their leaders in the clearing.Bookmark here

“This place is safe now. There’s no need to worry.”Bookmark here

Kudo was the one who spoke, and after speaking, the other low-level members heaved a sigh of relief.Bookmark here

“Good,” Mick spoke up. “I just can’t sleep well if we might be attacked by a monster at any time…”Bookmark here

Eruda nodded in agreement with Mick which led to Lailah clapping her hands together.Bookmark here

“Then, let’s go and take a bath! I’m drenched in sticky sweat!” Lailah shouted, her feelings of disgust over her sweat easily shown in her voice.Bookmark here

“Nee-chan, that’s too crude! You are a young lady—you need to talk with more grace.”Bookmark here

“Eh~” Lailah responded with an annoyed tone. “It’s fine like this!”Bookmark here

“I would like a bath as well…” Eruda responded sheepishly as her cheeks had the tint of rosy pink.Bookmark here

“Then, Kudo, go and start a fire. Also, set up the tents if you can. I’ll lead the girls to the waterfall.”Bookmark here

“Got it,” Kudo agreed as he nodded to the notion.Bookmark here

As Kudo and Mick stayed behind while the girls prepared their venture to the waterfall, Lailah turned her head and shouted:Bookmark here

“Hey! If any of you boys tries to peep on us, I’ll give you both a present! My 【Flame Orb】!”
Lailah shouted which left Kudo, who was starting to set up the fire, suddenly blush strongly at the idea of peeping. Mick responded with an annoyed expression.Bookmark here

“Like hell, I’m going to look at you, Nee-chan!”Bookmark here

“Ah! That’s rude!”Bookmark here

Lailah felt as if her womanly pride was trampled, but Mick held no regrets. Kudo couldn’t help but chuckle a bit from the sibling’s playful banter. Bookmark here

This is what is like to have siblings? Always messing with each other? Bookmark here

Kudo thought as he felt that having siblings must be fun, at least for the company.Bookmark here

As the girls finally left the clearing under the guidance of Hinota, Kudo spoke up:Bookmark here

“Mick, can you help me put up the poles for the tents?”Bookmark here

“A-Ah, yeah…”Bookmark here

Mick suddenly flustered, stuttering from Kudo’s response as he quickly gathered the wooden poles used to support the tents. Bookmark here

D-Did I say something bad?Bookmark here

Kudo felt that his surprised and reaction felt a little off. As Mick helped, the boys steadily made their progress on making a good campsite for them to relax in. Bookmark here

It took some work, but Kudo set up the campfire, using several wood planks gathered together and lighting them up with the usage of the sparks from the stones he picked up.
The sparks light up the wood in a glorious fire, burning brightly which also lightened up the campsite with a dimly lit light.Bookmark here

After making the campfire, Kudo helped Mick who was slightly having trouble setting up the wooden poles.Bookmark here

“Here, let me help!”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, thanks…”Bookmark here

Once more, Kudo noticed the strange reaction. Mick was acting as if he was Kudo who was near new people—so he knew that Mick felt nervous for some reason…Bookmark here

Mick held the poles as a blanket was covering the top of the poles to make a cover for their heads. Kudo hammered the stakes that he made down to the ground with the use of a hammer.Bookmark here

During this process, Mick finally spoke after a long silence between them.Bookmark here

“Kudo-san…”Bookmark here

Mick responded, but Kudo felt that after the time spent together, he wanted to correct him:Bookmark here

“Just call me Kudo,” Kudo made a smile as he looked at Mick. “It’s kinda weird being called with a suffix to me.”Bookmark here

The cause of this was spending so much time with Hinota, calling each other without any suffixes. Bookmark here

A look of surprise showed on Mick’s face.Bookmark here

“I… T-That’s… Umm…” Mick stuttered slowly. “T-There’s something that I want to say.”Bookmark here

Mick spoke as Kudo studied his face after hammering down the stake to the ground. Bookmark here

He notices that Mick showed an uncomfortable expression: his brow narrowed and he pressed his lips together hard in frustration. It looked like he was about to admit something personal.Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry, Kudo-san!”Bookmark here

Mick finally responded, leaving Kudo to respond: “E-Eh?!”Bookmark here

Hearing his surprised response, Mick lets go of the pole since it was now being supported by the stake, and quickly bowed to Kudo, completely bending his body at a 90-degree angle. Kudo lifted himself up from the ground as his eyes widened from the surprising apology.
“I’m so sorry, Kudo-san… for what I did back at the Kuul Caverns!”Bookmark here

“Kuul Caverns…”Bookmark here

Kudo remembered the unwanted memories spent in the Kuul Caverns. The memories of being ostracized by the strangers invited to the party, only wanting Hinota and not him. He also remembered the harsh treatment they gave him, including purposely tripping him up and even trying to kick him out and abandon Hinota.Bookmark here

“We did awful things to you. We tripped you, hurt you, and even got you nearly killed. Throughout the quest, we’ve done nothing but make you go through such hell. I’m truly, truly sorry, Kudo-san!”Bookmark here

Mick’s tone of voice showed that he felt extremely guilty, continuing to bow his head towards Kudo as he said these words. Kudo then spoke up:Bookmark here

“I-It’s fine, Mi—”Bookmark here

“No, it’s not!” As if he knew what Kudo would say, Mick interrupted. “I’m… I’m supposed to be a [Priest]! A class that heals and supports other Adventurers. Yet, I did all those petty and awful things! I-I can’t be forgiven that easily!”Bookmark here

Mick showed so much grief over the actions that he did to Kudo. Continuously tripping him up with his staff, Kudo now knows just how bad Mick felt during those times. He also felt the internal struggle Mick was feeling as he was supposed to heal others and support, yet he did all those nasty actions.Bookmark here

“Mick…” Kudo now felt his feelings all this time. “I don’t blame you at all.”Bookmark here

“But…” Mick responded as if he couldn’t believe it. “I deserve to be hated by you. You deserve to hit me until I’m completely knocked out!”Bookmark here

“I won’t do it. Please, raise your head.”Bookmark here

Kudo’s tone sounded infuriated because of those words. Mick raised his head and saw Kudo’s smiling expression.Bookmark here

“Mick, you didn’t want to do it, right? It was the leader that told you to do those things, isn’t it?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes…” Mick had to agree. “But, even so—”Bookmark here

“Then, it’s fine. All of this was his fault, not yours.”Bookmark here

“B-But…”Bookmark here

Kudo felt slightly frustrated for Mick’s stubbornness for punishment. Feeling that he will continue this unless Kudo does something, Kudo pondered for a moment, then had an idea.Bookmark here

“Listen, if you really feel that bad, how about this? When we get back, you pay for my drink? That way, your debt will be repaid.”Bookmark here

“A-A drink? That’s it?” Mick couldn’t believe it, but Kudo responded with a smile.Bookmark here

“That’s right. A drink as an apology.”Bookmark here

“But… Don't you want anything else? Jib, or items… just a drink?”Bookmark here

After spending time with Kudo, Mick knew that Kudo loved to get items and Jib, but Kudo raised his hand to speak:Bookmark here

“Adventurers deal everything with a drink,” Kudo remembered the many quotes from his guidebook. “When an Adventurer helps his comrade, the comrade offers a drink. Then, as an apology, I would like a drink. I always wanted to do that ever since I became an Adventurer. There’s a certain ‘romance’ when doing that, isn’t there?”Bookmark here

Kudo grinned widely, and the dimly lighted atmosphere around them only made it seem that much brighter in Mick’s eyes.Bookmark here

“A-Alright then… I’ll buy you the most expensive drink there is, Kudo!”Bookmark here

Mick responded with a big grin himself, but Kudo was left with a sweat streaming down his temple.Bookmark here

I can’t tell him that I can’t handle the hard liquor… but then I’ll look like a meek guy… Ah…
Kudo heaved mentally as the look of Mick’s face of adoration put him in a corner.Bookmark here

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Away from the campsite, the sounds of water cascading down towards a large pond from the cliff above resounded, relaxing the tension in the girls’ bodies. Bookmark here

They took a while, and now they were finished with their cleansing. They were currently at the edge of the pond, putting on their garments for sleeping.Bookmark here

“I knew that Flamver-san is amazing, but she also had such an amazing body~!”Bookmark here

Lailah responded with an expression resembling that of an old man. Even Eruda nodded to that statement.Bookmark here

“Umu. Hinota-san is very amazing; both in battle and in beauty.”Bookmark here

“Stop it already,” Hinota wanted to change topics immediately. “It’s weird being the only one complimented. You two were quite charming yourselves.”Bookmark here

Hinota quickly put on her garment over her ample, toned body, often leading the other girls to stand there astounded while they were in the middle of putting on their clothes.Bookmark here

“Well, the boys didn’t try anything funny, but if they tried, I would have totally burned them alive!”Bookmark here

Lailah finished putting on her clothes—wearing a white tank-top and short pants—as she clenched her fist in the air to ascertain her actions.Bookmark here

“That’s alright, Lailah,” Hinota spoke up. “Kudo isn’t the kind to do such a thing.”Bookmark here

“Ho~ could this be the lover’s faith?” Both Lailah and Eruda looked at Hinota with squinting eyes, showing a suspicious expression to Hinota as Lailah smiled deviously.Bookmark here

“S-Shut up!” Suddenly hearing the word ‘lover’, Hinota snapped back. “He won’t do anything because he’s a close friend of mine!”Bookmark here

Despite that it was the truth; Hinota’s face was tinted red from the teasing. It was such a surprising reaction that it led Lailah to chuckle loudly, but a wide-eyed Eruda remained.
“Hinota-san, are you really not together with Kudo-san?”Bookmark here

“What makes you think like that?!”Bookmark here

Eruda answered to Hinota’s otherwise shocked question.Bookmark here

“Well, it just seems like you have such a close relationship to each other.”Bookmark here

“I-It is true that we’re close, but it’s nothing like lovers!”Bookmark here

“Is that so…”Bookmark here

Despite being told the truth, Eruda still showed a dubious look to Hinota.Bookmark here

“Eh, and I was so sure that Kudo-san would have wanted to peep on her, and in return, Flamver-san would have let him do it.”Bookmark here

“Oi!” Hinota quickly shouted, her eyes furrowed at the thought of that. “Don’t go around saying such things. I wouldn’t want that, even if we were l-lovers…” Hinota slightly stuttered at the end, but it got Lailah to quickly respond.Bookmark here

“Ah, of course… we were also naked, so he would also spot us as well.”Bookmark here

“Ah, of course…”Bookmark here

Both Lailah and Eruda realized this as Eruda put on her clothes—a purple shirt with short pants as well—leaving Hinota to heave a heavy sigh.Bookmark here

“Well, that too, but you’re missing the point,” Hinota decided not to dwell on it any further and changed the topic again. “Also, Lailah-san, Eruda-san, can you not call me by my last name and with a suffix?”Bookmark here

A look of surprised overwhelmed the girls’ faces after hearing Hinota’s favor. Hinota then continued:Bookmark here

“I don’t like being called Flamver… it’s something personal. We have our differences. ‘Hinota’ is the only name I have that is unique to me. So, I want to be called Hinota. For the suffix, it’s weird that in a party, we call each other formally. I want to be close to you guys, so call me just ‘Hinota’.”Bookmark here

Hearing Hinota’s explanation, looks of worry was put on their faces.Bookmark here

“A-Are you sure?” Eruda stuttered from this favor.Bookmark here

“Yeah. I’m sure,” Hinota nodded. “I also like to call you guys without any suffixes. Is that OK, Eruda, Lailah?”Bookmark here

Already calling them without suffixes, Hinota let off an atmosphere which did not let Lailah nor Eruda refuse her favor. Rather, they were into it.Bookmark here

“A-Alright, Hinota…” Eruda responded meekly.Bookmark here

“I-I understand, Fla—I mean, Hinota…” Lailah corrected herself, getting Hinota to respond with another smile.Bookmark here

“Then, Lailah, is there something you want to say to me?” Hinota shifted her view to Lailah, putting special attention to her.Bookmark here

“E-Eh?”Bookmark here

“You kept looking at me with a worried expression,” Hinota explained her reason. “You looked like you wanted to say something, or you were worried for Mick since you kept giving glances to him. Is there something wrong?”Bookmark here

Lailah was taken aback from this. She knew all of this with just a glance. Feeling astounded by Hinota’s keen sense of observation, Lailah had to answer:Bookmark here

“I-It’s just…” Lailah pressed her lips together as her eyes quivered. “I wanted to ask you how I can apologize to Kudo-san…”Bookmark here

“Apologize… ah, for that incident?” Hinota remembered the time in Kuul Caverns which left Eruda to tilt her head in confusion.Bookmark here

“What happened… ah, I-If I’m being a bother—”Bookmark here

“No! Don’t worry, Eruda,” Lailah interrupted Eruda, getting rid of the suffix and making sure that she stayed. “I don’t mind telling you. You see, in the past, Kudo-san and Hinota joined our former party to complete a quest… Our leader back then was a total scumbag, and he wanted Hinota to join us, but he didn’t want Kudo-san. So he made us sabotage Kudo-san and make him look bad to her, so she would leave him. We...”Bookmark here

Lailah trailed off, showing a pained look on her face as she continues: “We almost hurt him, and he could have gotten killed from it.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s terrible… your leader really told you to do such a thing?” A look of shock ridden Eruda’s face. Lailah nodded to agree, leaving Eruda wide-eyed.Bookmark here

“But that’s the thing,” Hinota continued in Lailah’s stead. “They were told to by their scumbag leader. He was such a disgrace that you and Mick left because of that, isn’t that right?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes! Exactly!” Lailah agreed wholeheartedly, but a look of worry was still on her face. “But…”Bookmark here

“Then, it’s fine. Kudo isn’t the kind to hold a grudge to anyone for stuff like that. I’m pretty sure that he must have forgotten it by now.”Bookmark here

“But… Mick feels really bad for that. I also do as well. I told him that we should join your party so Mick could have a chance to apologize for him. I wanted to do that too, but… even though I told him to do it; even I don’t know how to approach him like that.”Bookmark here

Hinota could sense that Lailah was sincerely worried. Not for herself, but for her brother who felt such grief. Hinota felt that a simple answer will suffice.Bookmark here

“Lailah, if you feel that bad, then just apologize to him,” Hinota curtly.Bookmark here

“But… wouldn’t he—”Bookmark here

“Get mad?” Hinota interrupted her. “Probably. But if you want to keep feeling like this, then go ahead and do nothing.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s—!” Lailah wanted to deny that statement, but she stiffened up instead.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry. Kudo has always been a rational guy. If you really feel bad, then go apologize. I’m sure that he’ll forgive you.”Bookmark here

“…Is that true?” Lailah wanted to confirm Hinota’s faith.Bookmark here

“We… may not have established it,” Hinota looked away, her face tinted with a slight red. “But Kudo is my best friend. I know that he’ll forgive you.”Bookmark here

Hinota reaffirmed Lailah’s suspicions as she sees both Lailah and Eruda responded happily to that thought. Hinota saw that they were already well-dressed and moved forward towards the campsite.Bookmark here

“Let’s return to camp now. I’m sure the boys might get worried if we stay out too late.”Bookmark here

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Now back to the campsite, Kudo and Mick were preparing dinner for the PlusFire members. Kudo created seats from the wooden logs he cut up for everyone and is currently using one while he prepares the stew steaming in the metal pot.Bookmark here

From the section of the guidebook that tells about camping, Kudo bought in advance a special tripod to hold the metal pot over the fire. Bookmark here

Seeing that Kudo was preparing the stew, Mick prepared the utensils to eat it with. He was amazed that Kudo brought extra spoons for all the party members, but he figured that that was how Kudo usually prepares. Bookmark here

With the extra time, Kudo even prepared another pot of stew which was right now cooling from the intense heat.Bookmark here

During this time, Mick showed a look of worry on his face. Deciding on it, Mick asked Kudo with a nervous expression.Bookmark here

“Hey, Kudo…” Mick asked sheepishly.Bookmark here

“Mmh? What’s up?”Bookmark here

Kudo looked up since the stew will take a while to boil. He then saw the look on Mick’s face.
“What’s wrong?” Kudo asked again.Bookmark here

“Umm… how long… were you friends with Eruda-san?”Bookmark here

Mick took a while, but stated his question. Kudo tilted his head in response, but figured that he should answer.Bookmark here

“Mm… I guess it’s been a while. It wasn’t very long ago. We helped her out one time and that’s how we met.”Bookmark here

“I see…” Mick said with a low tone of voice. “So you don’t know if she’s… you know…”Bookmark here

Kudo saw the way Mick looked away while saying those words. Mick’s face blushed, but thanks to the dim lighting, Kudo couldn’t notice it.Bookmark here

“W-What I’m trying to say is… whether Eruda-san… likes somebody.”Bookmark here

“Likes somebody…?”Bookmark here

Kudo tilted his head again. He raised his right brow to figure out what he meant by that. Then, as if a large pan hit over his face, he realized it.Bookmark here

“O-Oh! You mean, like… a guy she likes?”Bookmark here

Kudo’s face reddened up as well as this related to romantic feelings. This was the kind of stuff that his guidebook never taught him about.Bookmark here

“Y-Yes…”Bookmark here

Kudo could see now that Mick looked extremely embarrassed as he looked away, pushing his index fingers together timidly.Bookmark here

“S-So that means… that you’re interested in her?”
Mick did not answer, and instead, he continued to push his fingers together. Despite the silence, Kudo realized what he means now.Bookmark here

“A-Ah, got it… Umm…”Bookmark here

Kudo thought what he should answer. He knows that for people, talking about romance is an entirely new world from adventuring. He has to be careful on not to step on anything personal when answering any personal questions.Bookmark here

“I don’t really know if she likes somebody…” Kudo tried his best to answer. “But, she did leave her party recently and she was by herself before we invited her, so I don’t think she has anyone she likes…”Bookmark here

Kudo trailed off. How could he know if Eruda likes somebody? Surely, there wasn’t anybody in her hometown since she was treated like a slave, but perhaps she does like somebody, and perhaps he was saying something he shouldn’t have.Bookmark here

But the look of Mick’s face got Kudo to think that it’s too late to turn back now.Bookmark here

“So she’s single?!” Mick answered so sharply and loudly that it left Kudo surprised. His face was beaming brightly despite the dimly lit atmosphere, then he looked away, continuously repeating ‘I see, I see’ to himself.Bookmark here

“A-Ah, yeah, probably...” Kudo trailed off again.Bookmark here

So this is guy’s talk? When we talk about girls? I never thought I would have this kind of talk with anyone… so he’s into Eruda-san, huh? She is pretty cute, but Hinota’s more prettier compared to her.Bookmark here

Kudo didn’t mean to be rude. He personally believes that Hinota was more cuter than Eruda. Eruda has her points, but Hinota practically takes his breath away whenever he would see her.Bookmark here

Oh! I can use that! This is guy’s talk, so I can mention something like that, right?Bookmark here

Being the one who usually doesn’t talk to other guys, Kudo became a little excited.Bookmark here

“Hey, Mick,” Kudo spoke out loud, getting Mick out of his self-mantra.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah?”Bookmark here

“Eruda-san is cute, that’s for sure,” Kudo wanted to put that first. “But what do you think of Hinota? In my opinion, I think Hinota’s a little cuter.”Bookmark here

Kudo couldn’t help but become red when he admitted about Hinota being cute. But since it was a guy’s talk, he figured he should be more open.Bookmark here

“O-Oh, well, Hinota is cuter, but she’s completely out of my league…”Bookmark here

Mick flustered, but he admitted openly. Kudo tilted his head in response.Bookmark here

“O-Out of your league…?”Bookmark here

“W-Well, Eruda-san is… really pretty,” Mick admitted sheepishly, his shoulders squirming from admitting it. “But Flamver-san is in a whole new level. I would court her. She’s… kinda scares me, you know?”Bookmark here

“She scares you?”Bookmark here

This was completely new to Kudo.Bookmark here

“I-I don’t mean to insult her! It’s just…” Mick tried to find the words to say. “I just can’t handle her fierce eyes. She’s really pretty, but her slanted eyes kinda terrify me. I can’t handle it like you can.”Bookmark here

Mick answered honestly, but it left Kudo with a giant question mark on his face.Bookmark here

“But… her eyes are the best part!”Bookmark here

Kudo remembered the time when he first met Hinota. Sure, her looks surely left a powerful image on him, but what captivated him the most was the slanted, sharp eyes, and the ferocity exuded from them.Bookmark here

That certainly made Kudo weak in the knees. It was enough to stop his mental process for a while before continuing to normal. He believed that it was her fierce eyes that captivated mostly everyone.Bookmark here

Though, apparently, Mick widened his eyes after hearing that.Bookmark here

“W-Wow, so you think her eyes are the best part? I guess that’s what it means to be in love with her.”Bookmark here

Hearing that, Kudo could hear something screeching inside of his mind, widening his eyes.Bookmark here

“E-Eh?! N-No! I-I-I’m not in love with her! Not at all! We’re just… really close friends! Best friends, even!” Kudo got up from his seat and flailed his hands around like a madman.Bookmark here

Kudo’s face brightened up more than the campfire itself as he strongly denies Mick’s statement. However, despite the constant denial, it only fanned Mick’s suspicions as he squinted his eyes, showing a dubious look.Bookmark here

“…Right…” Mick prolonged his answer. “But, you two are best friends?”Bookmark here

Mick looked like that was the most shocking thing he said. Kudo realized what he said himself, his cheeks reddened as he felt as if he said something he shouldn’t.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah… well… we haven’t established that yet, and I’m not so sure that she even thinks like that about me…”Bookmark here

Kudo felt as if he shouldn’t say it, but somewhere deep inside of him, he wanted to admit it very much.Bookmark here

“…But I like to think that she’s my best friend.”Bookmark here

“Eh…” Mick could hear Kudo’s resolve when he said that. “That’s great. I’m sure that she does, considering that you two are practically inseparable.”Bookmark here

“Hehe~” Kudo let off a chuckle as he felt proud of his friend from Mick’s words. But then, he realized that he was the only one talking about a girl.Bookmark here

“But forget about that!” Kudo felt embarrassed, and wanted Mick to share as well. “What got you to think that Eruda-san was pretty?”Bookmark here

“Eh?!” Mick was caught by surprise, reddening his face. “A-Ah, I don’t really know…”Bookmark here

“Come on, just tell me!” Kudo pressured on. “I told you what I like about Hinota, so tell me what you like about her!”Bookmark here

“D-Did you plan for this?!” Mick widened his eyes, thinking that he was fooled.Bookmark here

“Actually, I think I got lucky~”Bookmark here

Kudo smiled, thinking that his massive [LUK] stat got him the situation he needed the most. Kudo took this chance and got Mick into a corner.Bookmark here

With a reddened face, he responded: “W-What can I say… She’s… so pretty, so elegant. Her hair shimmers like grass covered in dew. Her eyes showed a dignified presence, and… she’s really, really cool! You know?”Bookmark here

Mick continued on which surprised even Kudo at how much Mick was complimenting Eruda’s looks. And it looks like he’s still continuing.Bookmark here

“I mean, she’s really—”Bookmark here

“—Yahoo~! We’re back!”Bookmark here

“Geh!”Bookmark here

Mick’s face cringed as if he had a cramp, his heart nearly stopped beating from shock as Lailah’s voice rang out in the campsite, causing Kudo and the shocked Mick to turn to see the girls walking.Bookmark here

The girls looked refreshed, wearing their comfort clothes for sleeping. Their towels rested softly in their arms with their armor, fully washed and clean of sweat, in the baskets that they were carrying.Bookmark here

“Oh, this looks suspicious~ What were you guys talking about?” Lailah saw the two boys facing each other, figuring that they were having a serious talk.Bookmark here

“N-N-Nothing! It was nothing, Nee-chan!”Bookmark here

Mick flustered to the point of sounding insane. Lailah sensed this and showed a dubious look.Bookmark here

“Oh! That’s even more suspicious! What were you guys REALLY talking about?!”Bookmark here

“L-L-Like I said, it’s nothing!” Mick ascertains his words, but the panicked look on his face was failing him. “K-Kudo…”Bookmark here

Mick looked at Kudo, showing a panicked and worried look on his face. Seeing this expression, Kudo has caught what Mick was speaking to him mentally.Bookmark here

Oh! He’s probably telling me to not tell anything about this to Eruda-san! Alright… I’ll only tell this to Hinota alone!Bookmark here

Unfortunately for Mick, Kudo didn’t quite understand completely understand the look on his face.Bookmark here

“Kudo, is everything ready?” Hinota came in, wiping her temple with her tower on her shoulder while wearing her usual garment for sleeping which was the same as Lailah’s and Eruda, except that it was black colored. Bookmark here

“Yeah! Got the stew ready for all of us.”Bookmark here

“Alright… and, Kudo…”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Hinota. I got another pot ready and cooled just for you!”Bookmark here

Kudo understood what Hinota was about to say, leaving her face to beam brightly.Bookmark here

“Great! You knew just what I needed, Kudo!”Bookmark here

The girls tilted their heads from seeing this, but it made Mick lands his fist on top of his palm as he realized something.Bookmark here

“Ah! So that’s why you made a separate stew!”Bookmark here

“Hehe, surprised?”Bookmark here

Kudo chuckled as Hinota was given the separate stew pot and began to gorge on it, mercilessly eating the stew at a rapid pace. Hardly a minute was spent and Hinota was already gorging on it as if she hasn’t eaten for days.Bookmark here

“T-To think that Hinota would eat so much…” Lailah’s sweat dropped as she saw Hinota’s amazing appetite. “Now that I think about it, if Hinota went with us at that time, our food budget would go straight to the roof…”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah… Kudo is more amazing than I thought; being able to feed Hinota like that.”Bookmark here

The siblings thought that Hinota was a well-oiled machine, but her maintenance was too high-cost. Kudo, being able to maintain that powerful machine, looked more respectful to the siblings now.Bookmark here

“Mmh, it’s good, Kudo!” Hinota was nearly half done, finishing her mouthful as she gave her compliments.Bookmark here

“I don’t have the 【Cooking】 Skill, but I can at least make it delicious to eat. Now, come on, everyone. Let’s go eat!”Bookmark here

Kudo shouted, leaving Mick to go ahead and pick up a plate to get his serving. Meanwhile, Hinota turned her head to face Lailah with her mouth full, nodding to her and giving her the signal. Lailah saw this and put on a determined look.Bookmark here

Lailah walked forward, faced Kudo which got his attention and bowed to him.Bookmark here

“Kudo-san… I’m sorry for everything that happened!”Bookmark here

As she shouted sincerely, Kudo widened his eyes. Just like with Mick, Lailah also felt bad about the past and apologized. Now knowing what to do, Kudo returned Lailah’s peek at him with a smile.Bookmark here

“It’s fine, Lailah. Your brother already apologized too. I’m completely fine with it.”Bookmark here

Lailah widened her eyes and responded: “Eh? Micky already apologized?

“Yeah, Nee-chan,” Mick showed a sincere smile. “And all I need to do is buy him a drink!”Bookmark here

Lailah tilted her head when he said that, but then she turned to Kudo.Bookmark here

“T-Then, you really don’t mind about what we did…?”Bookmark here

Wanting to ascertain that, she asked once more.Bookmark here

“To be honest, I completely forgot about it until you guys reminded me. Really, it’s fine.”Bookmark here

Kudo showed his smile which, from the fire’s dim atmosphere, showed a pleasant smile to look at. Lailah felt mesmerized by his smile, and even began to laugh out loud.Bookmark here

“Hahaha! Y-You really are an awesome guy! It’s no wonder why Hinota wants to be with you more than our idiot leader~!”Bookmark here

“H-Hey!” Hinota interrupted, her face reddening up. “You make it sound like it had a different meaning!”Bookmark here

“Hahaha~! I-I’m sorry,” Lailah began to calm herself. Whoo~ And I was so worried about how it’ll turn out. You really are an awesome guy, Kudo-san!”Bookmark here

Kudo felt embarrassed from how many times Lailah was praising him, getting him to scratch his cheek with his finger awkwardly.Bookmark here

“You can call me just ‘Kudo’ as well. Eruda-san, you can too,” Not wanting Eruda to feel left out, he mentioned out to her, catching her by surprise.Bookmark here

“A-Alright then, Kudo…” Eruda smiled as she said that.Bookmark here

“Alright! I hope you can take care of me, Kudo!”Bookmark here

Offering her greeting, Lailah and Eruda sat down at the logs Mick set up, getting Kudo to spread the bowls to Mick to give to the girls.Bookmark here

“Let’s go ahead and eat. Our stew might be getting cold soon.”Bookmark here

“I already finished, though.”Bookmark here

“T-That was fast, Hinota!”Bookmark here

The entire PlusFire crew became shocked as Hinota has already finished an entire pot of stew while the others were just barely beginning. Afterward, each of them began to laugh as they ate their meals in peace.Bookmark here

The group bonds together over the campfire, leading to closer bonds and a happy atmosphere! See what happens next in the next chapter! Bookmark here

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