Hour Empty Child
This is during the time of the week, where Kudo, Hinota, Lailah, Mick, and Eruda spend their days traveling to the different zones and defeating the event monsters for the ultimate prize at the end of the week.
On the 3rd day…
A loud yell rang out in the deep forest, belonging to the running Lailah who closes in on Kudo, whose right knee were on the ground as he was scraping off the body parts of the recent boss they killed. It was a large, monkey-like creature who had a venomous tail that could stun the adventurer and later attack it with its giant, thick arms. Kudo was currently cutting off the paralyzing tail.
“Oh, Lailah. What’s up?”
Kudo asked as Lailah ran up to him, letting her arms squirm as if she was waiting for a small reveal while holding something behind her back.
“Lookie here! I got it! The 【Black-Tinted Fang】!”
“Uooh! Nice job, Lailah! That item is something that’s very rare and hard to pull out! And you did it all by yourself?”
Kudo’s face expressed joy with widened eyes as he explained the rarity of the 【Black-Licked Fang】. After he asked that, Lailah’s excited look on her face changes into a submissive look, forming a bead of sweat trickling down her left temple.
“Ah, well, actually, I had Mick help hold the head so that the Boss’s top jaw wouldn’t bite my arm. But! I pulled the sharp fang all by myself!”
“Oh, I see! I’m so proud of you, Lailah! You’ll be a great adventurer with lots of Jib with your brother!”
“Hehe~ Praise me some more!”
Lailah squirms as an expectant look formed on her face, shaking her buttocks as if she wanted something from Kudo.
“Ok, Ok, here~”
Kudo petted the prideful Lailah on her head, making sure that he doesn’t mess up her hairstyle. Lailah put on a satisfied face as if Kudo was getting all the right spots.
“Now, go ahead and show it to Hinota!’
Like a small child, Lailah skips towards Hinota, who was working on getting more parts from the other monsters that tried to ambush them before.
“Hinota, look! I got a rare item! And I pulled it myself! With a little help from Mick.”
Making sure she would add Mick, Lailah proudly showed off the black-colored fang towards Hinota, who got up from her work to see it herself.
“Ou, that’s a good item.”
“Isn’t it? And it looks really pretty!”
“But, do you think that’s enough to be praised for? There’s still a lot of work to do, you know…”
Hinota places her hands on her slender hips as Lailah drew her eyes away from the sheen, black fang reflecting off the sunlight with a look of guilt.
“I-I know that…”
“Then you shouldn’t take some time off to show off when you still have work to do. Leaving the others to do your work is quite distasteful.”
“Ah… I-I’m sorry…”
Lailah showed a remorseful expression, her eyes drooping as she was chided from Hinota.
“If you’re sorry, then go back to work! After that, then you can relax!”
Lailah saluted as if she was a soldier, and immediately ran towards Mick and Eruda, who watched the scene with a look that resembled children seeing their own friend getting scolded by her mother.
Kudo saw the scene as well and heads towards Hinota.
“Oi, come on, Hinota. Let her be excited! It’s a great thing to find a rare item!”
“You always do this, Kudo! You’re always so lenient with them. At this rate, they’ll bother others with their carelessness!”
Hinota expressed her anger, though compared to Lailah, which was just chiding, she clearly expressed her frustration towards Kudo with a sharp glare.
“It’s fine, isn’t it? She worked so hard.”
Kudo tried to help Hinota relax as he showed an easygoing gesture by shrugging.
“No way! They’ll become insolent and arrogant if you continue to praise them for everything.”
“Now that’s just being mean, Hinota! It’s OK to say that they’ve done a good job every now and then!”
“I’m not being mean! You’re spoiling them too much!”
Suddenly, the two trusted leaders were bickering on taking care of their party members. Of course, the other low-leveled party members continue to work hard while enjoying the close friendship between the two party leaders.
“Keep going, guys! And be careful!”
Kudo shouted with vigor to his party members as they faced another high-level boss. This time, it was a fish-like boss that swam in the large lake in a forest zone. Thanks to Eruda’s quick shooting, she was able to drag out the aquarian boss out of the water, and everyone makes their attacks while it was on muddy land.
During the battle, everyone was fighting hard, especially Mick who was running ragged to keep up with his party members. His breath could be seen from so much panting, and all the while trying to put strength into his legs which felt like jelly.
However, as he was focusing on putting more strength, he didn’t realize that the mud he was traversing in was too slippery, and too much strength got him to slip in the mud.
Mick grunted as he fell onto his back. All while the boss was heading right towards him.
Mick saw the huge fish wriggling towards him, opening its huge jaws with sharp teeth that were ready to eat Mick. Mick felt that this would be his final day and covered himself with his arms to avoid seeing such a terrible fate.
However, instead of being gobbled up and eaten, Mick heard a sound of flesh being cut, and opened his eyes to see Hinota slashing the fish’s eyes with her sharp katana. Her sword ran right through the fish’s head, getting it to fall to the ground motionless.
Hinota exhaled her breath as she pulled out her katana quickly, leaving Mick to heave a relieving sigh as he got up to his waist.
“T-Thank you, Hinota.”
“Don’t thank me! What do you think you’re doing?!”
Mick was expecting something along the lines of ‘Don’t mention it’, but instead, Hinota chided him, glaring at him with a sharp look.
“Don’t say you’re sorry! Think of your position! If a [Priest] dies, what will happen to the rest of the party? What will happen to your sister if you died?! You need to be more careful!”
Her cold words resounded in his mind as Mick could hardly say a word. Saying what she needed to say, Hinota turned around.
“Make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Hinota curtly said and began to loot from the corpse of the fish boss.
As everyone started looting the boss for the event and for sell, Mick was left sitting aside, feeling the heavy words that Hinota said piercing his heart.
“Hey, are you OK?”
Mick heard Kudo’s voice gently speaking to him as he turned around, seeing Kudo walking up to him. He then knelt down to Mick’s level to help him up from the ground.
“I-I made Hinota angry… She’s really disappointed in me.”
Mick said as he believed that that was the case, holding onto Kudo’s hand as he picks him up from the muddy ground, revealing that his newly-acquired armor became dirty with mud.
“That’s not right. Hinota said those words only because she was worried about you.”
Mick’s face lightened up as he hears Kudo’s conviction and reasoning behind Hinota’s actions.
“She might be scary and strict, but she does it because she really cares. When she saw you were about to get hurt, she got so worried, and screamed at you to be more careful. She wanted you to be more cautious, so that you won’t get hurt.”
“I-Is that really true?”
“Of course! That’s because Hinota really cares about everyone’s safety! She’s not able to stop worrying about all of us, so she’s trying to make sure that we can get the job done. That’s why you need to make sure that she can rely on you as a [Priest], OK?”
Seeing Kudo’s brightened up face, Mick now realizes Hinota’s intention. Inside, he felt a burst of energy, and warmth coming from Hinota’s caring words. Mick grips his fists and showed a fiery, blazing aura.
“O-OK! I will! I won’t mess up, and work really hard!”
Mick shouted with gusto as he quickly heads toward the dead boss and quickly looted the corpse.
After that, throughout the day, Mick worked hard to make sure that he wouldn’t slow down everyone, and worked harder than everyone else.
During the nighttime of the 4th day, the party members were taking their time relaxing after a full day of adventuring. After having slain many monsters so far, each of them was taken in by the merry atmosphere.
Although, when it came to dinner time, there was a girl who started squirming her arms as everyone tried to figure out today’s important topic:
“So, who’s gonna cook?”
Mick asked as everyone tilted their heads. Kudo already took the first day’s job, then afterward, it was Mick and Lailah, and then Eruda. As they were racking their brains and figured that they should start over again, Hinota raised her hand.
“K-Kudo… can I try cooking?”
Mick, Lailah, Eruda, and especially Kudo have widened their eyes as Hinota spoke so softly with one hand lifted up.
“H-Hinota, you wanna cook?”
“Y-Yeah. You see, I always wanted to try cooking. I never was able to cook for myself back when I lived in my family’s household. I… I was always fascinated by how good food was made! So, can I…?”
Hinota’s face was reddened by her blush, looking at Kudo directly in the eyes with her own puppy-like sharp eyes. To Kudo, they were too much to handle as his cheeks started to become crimson red.
“O-Of course! If you want to try it, go ahead! Is that OK, guys?”
“Y-Yeah! I always wanted to know what Hinota’s cooking is like!”
“I bet since she eats tons of food, she should know how good food tastes!”
“Mmh, I look forward to it.”
Lailah, Mick, and Eruda all had high expectations as Hinota made a bright smile.
“Then, Hinota, I’ll teach you how to make a simple stew, since I’m guessing you never tried cooking before.”
“Knowing you, you can learn how to do it in seconds!”
Kudo flashed a smile as he led her to their cooking utensils, and started teaching her on how to make the stew. So far, everything was going well to the point that Hinota has learned all that she needed to do.
“Kudo, go ahead and take a break. I can handle this!”
“Ou, got it. Hinota, you already got the hang of it! I can’t wait!”
“Umu. Leave it to me!”
After she spoke confidently, Kudo left her to her own devices.
Before long, before anyone knew it, Hinota saw the steaming stew in front of her and flashed a grand smile
“It’s done! Everyone, come over and take a portion!”
Hinota shouted with vigor as she took the chance to get the bowls, and poured the hot stew into it and gave it to each one of her party members. When Hinota handed Kudo’s portion, Kudo gazes at the stew with widened eyes.
The stew had a delicious scent that made his mouth water. The meat and cut up vegetables looked succulent, and the soup that came with it looked enriching and tasty. Seeing such a beautiful combination, Kudo’s mouth started to drool.
“W-Whoa, Hinota, this looks great!”
“Y-You think so?”
“Yeah! Hinota, this looks delicious~!”
“Wow, so this Hinota Flamver’s cooking… I’m a little nervous!”
“This looks really good…”
Lailah, Mick, and Eruda all had a look of impatience as each one of them started to drool as well.
“Hehe, you all flatter me too much. Now, dig in! This will be the best meal yet!”
“Yosh… then, thank you for the food~!”
“ “ “Thank you for the food~!” ” ”
Saying their grace, Kudo and the other members each took a bite of the stew, and expected a wave of delicious juices to overcome their taste buds and give them eternal joy in their mouths…
*10 seconds later…*
“Hey… doesn’t it taste weird…?”
Lailah was the first to say, speaking hesitatingly while looking at her bowl with half-finished stew.
“Y-Yeah… it’s like there’s no taste.”
Mick was the second, with Eruda and Kudo also having the same doubtful expression.
“Micky? What’s wrong?”
Mick felt something inside of him sting, but it went away. Lailah noticed his changed reaction, getting him to respond.
“Ah, it’s nothing… I thought I felt somethi—”
“M-Mick! Your mouth!”
Before Mick could respond fully, Kudo noticed something amiss as he sees blood trickling down from the left corner of Mick’s mouth.
*15 seconds later…*
“Aaagghh!! Kudo!! It’s Mick! He’s losing a lot of blood!”
Lailah screamed, her tone full of panic and fear which got Kudo to run towards to Mick, who was being held by his older sister as his chin and his top part of his armor was covered in his blood.
“Mick! Mick!! Hang in there! Stay strong!!”
“Nee-chan… Lailah… please tell Mom and Dad… that I’m sorry.”
“No! Noo! MICKY!!!”
Lailah’s eyes teared up as her tears ran down her cheeks. Kudo could only watch as his comrade was taken away unfairly.
“Kudo! It’s Eruda! She’s…!”
Before Kudo could grieve, Hinota shouted as she held on to the fallen Eruda, whose blood was trickling down from the corners of her mouth.
*10 seconds later…*
Lailah began to vomit, however, the barf was colored red, as if it was blood itself. Lailah then falls to the other side, her eyes being completely white without irises.
“So… this is how I die… *Kah!* Hehe… I always believed that I would die honorably in battle.”
“Eruda! Don’t say that! DON’T SAY THAT!! ERUDA!!!”
Kudo screamed as he sees one final cough from Eruda before her eyes closed, as a powerful and beautiful image of Eruda’s death was shown before him.
“Kudo! Kudo! Lailah! She’s… she’s gone!!!”
Hinota went over to Lailah’s side as soon as she fallen, who lay alongside her dead brother together as Hinota’s eyes began to tear up.
Hinota’s tone of voice was full of anguish, and before long…
Hinota looked behind her, only to see Kudo coughing up blood as well…
*20 seconds later…*
As hard as he tried, Kudo lost too much blood. He laid in the arms of his partner, Hinota, seeing her face which was shedding down her cheeks. Kudo saw this image, and felt an incredible pain in his heart, and especially in his stomach.
His stomach didn’t felt the pain at first, but when it came, it felt like his stomach was being tied into a powerful knot. The pain was similar to having thousands of blades piercing his stomach, throat, and mouth. His eyes began to tear up as blood was pouring from the corners of his mouth.
“Hinota… it was just… one meal. And it took us all out… in less than a minute.”
Kudo spoke to Hinota, expressing a look that said ‘It’s not your fault’. He truly did not blame Hinota for what happened. That was clearly showed in his expression.
“I… should have expected this.”
Rather than her, Kudo blamed himself. He heard from his books that those who have a knack for tasting good food were often terrible cooks. He should have expected this, but he figured that Hinota was a genius when it comes to this.
But he was dead wrong.
“Kudo… stay with me!!”
Hinota spoke one last time, but it was unheeded as Kudo gave one last smile to Hinota before closing his eyes, showing a peaceful expression before his death.
“No… it can’t be… it just can’t be…”
Hinota struggled as she started to stutter and shake. With Kudo’s dead body held by her arms, Hinota let out her internal struggle…
“The food can’t be that bad! Come on, guys!!”
Following their untimely deaths yesterday, the party managed to awaken and miraculously continue on their boss expeditions.
However, during these eradications, one member was having quite an unfortunate stride in battling.
One certain [Ranger] messed up by shooting at a wrong target. This made the other mobs that were around the target’s vicinity come after her which left everyone to fight these mobs quickly before the boss runs away.
At another point of the day, she trips on the muddy ground in a swamp zone, which got her to be caught in a plant trap set by the boss, getting everyone working hard to release her.
Finally, the [Ranger] had an unlucky break when she stepped on a mushroom in the forested area around her party. The mushroom let out a dangerous cloud of spore which affected the party, causing them a debuff in speed which got them into a spot of trouble against a boss with speed as its quirk.
While everyone else knew that these were just unlucky happenings and nothing else, to Eruda, her mind was troubled to no end.
Thankfully, this troublesome day has gotten to its end. The sun sets and the moon rises over the sky, illuminating the forested area that they frequently camp in.
While the rest of the party members were busy relaxing in the campsite, making sure that the horrible tragedy from the fourth day doesn’t repeat itself, at the lakeside near the translucent lake reflecting the beautiful moonlight underneath the starry sky, Eruda remained seated, her arms hugging her knees desperately as depression took over her expression on her face.
Eruda recalled those mistakes she has made dozens of times, which brought her self-confidence to an all-time low. The guilt of leaving her party members to clean up her mistakes was unbearable, and she felt that they were getting tired of her.
As she continued to put down herself with these thoughts, she heard faint footsteps coming near her, slowly becoming louder. She turned her head to see Hinota walking to her.
Hinota spoke softly, her eyes unusually giving a softer glance.
“Do you mind if I sit here?”
“…I don’t mind.”
Eruda doesn’t want to have Hinota feel unwanted, despite her feelings that were in disarray. Hinota gave a faint smile as she sat near Eruda’s side, her warmth from her body being transferred over to Eruda’s left side, warming up her body to brace the coldness of the night.
“You… were having a bad day.”
Hinota spoke bluntly. And that made Eruda feel even worse.
“Yeah… I keep messing up, and I keep letting you guys down.”
Eruda gazes at the lake, trying to cheer herself up by looking at the wonderful scene in front of her, but her mind remained unsettled.
“I shouldn’t have accepted to join this party… I’m gonna mess up our chance of winning this event.”
“That’s not true. We need you, Eruda.”
Hinota made Eruda look in her eyes. When Eruda saw her tapered eyes, they proved that she was not lying.
“But... I keep messing up!”
“Everyone messes up on their bad day. It might be possible that you will continue to mess up in the future. But you have to keep trying your best, otherwise, you’ll only going to make yourself weaker.”
“Of course. If an Adventurer becomes scared of what she might do, then her power diminishes. That’s why you have to be confident in yourself. You might think that nobody will trust you after these mishaps, but that’s not true. I count on you.”
Despite that she was rather strict with them, Eruda saw Hinota’s soft side. Her voice of wisdom made Eruda become more and more confident.
“But… what happens if I mess up again?”
“Then work harder to make up for it. Knowing you, you can do it.”
Eruda felt herself being pumped up, and lifted herself up from her seat.
“…Right! Thank you, Hinota.”
Hinota stood up with her, and placed her hand on her shoulder.
“Alright, then let’s go back to the campsite. Who knows, you might find out that it’s not only you that’s having a bad day.”
“Hinota… thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. I’m your leader, after all.”
Eruda smiled genuinely, leaving Hinota to flash a bright smile herself, only to be illuminated beautifully like a glowing flower in the vast dark forest.
Eruda and Hinota, while if both were seen from a distance, they would look like two beautiful nymphs of the night, went back to the campsite and enjoyed their fifth night.
And then, comes the 6th day…
Pretty short chapter, and not exactly continuing the storyline, but hey, at least now you know what happened during the week!