Hour Empty Child
Every Adventurer knows by now that they are not immortal. Even if they are powerful [Mages], mightiest [Warriors], or even heroes of ages time… as far as everyone knows, they are still subjected to untimely deaths.
This was natural. After all, expectations are always broken in the heat of battle. One must be accustomed to the changes, and give it their all to survive the surprises.
This is but one of the main core rules in the Adventurers’ Guidebook.
As of now, Kudo sees that unexpected surprise. In front of him was Roark, a fellow Adventurer with a… destructive personality. Just a few seconds ago, he was alive and very much kicking. But now, he was split in half. The blood making a trail from its cut up body left a horrifying image to burn in Kudo’s mind.
Screams enough to send chills down his spine resounded. They belonged to Lailah, the [Mage] who has also seen her first death as an Adventurer. Mick, by his side, gaped with a blank expression. It looked like he was still in the process of absorbing what just happened in his mind.
Hinota, on the other hand, remained still. Her sharp eyes have not lost their light, yet her widened expression shows that she was still dealing with what just happened. Her mass [INT] stat might have helped her calmed down, but perhaps only a little.
Kudo looked up to see the massive heap of death in front of him—the sole cause of Roark’s untimely demise. In shape, it looked like a giant man, but rather than skin, it was made up of what looked like glued dead body parts. He could tell that they were dead as the skin on them was rotting, showing several gashes that showed the reddish insides of their parts. It left a terrifying look on the young ones’ faces.
However, what’s making this worse was the fact that Kudo was looking at its aura. It wasn’t just the big size or the terrifying looks. No, it was the swirling dark mist that he could see on its torso. It doesn’t even look real, yet it made Kudo’s body shiver. The more he looked, the more that the mist continues to swirl around the giant creature, it nearly took his breath away, as if continuing to look at it will make him lose his mind.
His 【Sixth Sense】 suddenly blares—it made his entire body ached with irritation. He felt like his body was about to turn on him!
“E-Everybody, run! Retreat!”
Kudo shouted, his voice grating and filled with fear. Lailah stopped screaming, Mick stopped contemplating, and finally, Hinota sharpened her glare.
There was no opposes. Everyone ran just as he said, getting Kudo to follow them last along with Hinota.
And for the most part, it helped them relaxed a little. But the shakings and rumblings of the earth underneath them only put them further down in despair.
Kudo looked back to see the giant zombie, the current name for this murderous mass of undead, following after them by walking towards them, but each step was in such a big stride that it nearly caught up with them.
“I-It’s chasing us!” Lailah’s eyes began to tear up. She looked completely frightened, but Kudo understood the need to. Even he wanted to cry.
“Keep backing away!” Kudo wanted to scream out as well, but he needed to act as the party leader. “If we can get some distance, we can make a plan!”
Though he said that with a brave expression, his next expression broke that. What he saw beside him made his eyes widened to the point of looking dumbfounded. The other members of his party saw this and saw what he was seeing.
Two Adventurers, looking roughed up as if they were just casually beaten, ran after the giant zombie with a greedy look on their faces. It was the same [Hunter] and [Mage] from before.
“No…” Kudo uttered, his voice nearly shook from what he was seeing. “What are you doing?! Run, you idiots!”
Kudo’s voice became aggravated, surprising Mick and Lailah. Hinota herself became surprised, but she understood his feeling as she showed a frightening expression of anger at them.
The two head fearlessly towards the giant zombie, bringing out their weapons of choice.
“Hehe, it finally appeared!” The [Hunter] shouted as the two Adventurers stood in front of the giant zombie with a smirk on their faces.
“Looks like Roark was totally useless. He died on the first strike!”
The [Mage] spoke cruelly to the recent deceased, yet his eyes only showed greed to the giant zombie.
“Now, there will be more for us!”
“Put a trap in there already!” The [Mage] ordered. “I’m gonna prepare a spell to kill it.”
The [Mage] spoke as if it was hardly a match. The [Hunter] did as he told and walked so close to the giant zombie, he was already at its feet.
“W-What are they doing?! Getting so close to that thing!?”
“C-Could it be that they still think the 【Reach to Hell Bags】 are still disabling it?”
As Lailah and Mick spoke in disbelief, Kudo turned on his heel and moved forward.
“Stop! You’ll get killed! Get away from there!”
His words repeated, his body drawing closer to them. He wanted to save them, even if they were lost cause as Humans.
However, his shoulder was forcibly dragged back. It was Hinota, pulling him behind.
“Don’t go, Kudo!” Hinota shouted, her voice aggravated and concerned.
“Hinota! Let me go! Those guys are—”
“Mick, Lailah, stop him!”
As Kudo struggled Hinota called for help which made the two act with haste. The two grabbed Kudo by his torso, disallowing him to even move.
“Tch, that asshole is annoying. This guy’s ours!”
“Alright, I set the trap! Hit him and kill him alre—”
The [Hunter] said as he finished making the feeble trap beside the feet of the giant zombie. However, as he was talking, he turned his head, feeling some sort of draft in the wind beside him.
He couldn’t be able to even pronounce an ‘Eh?’ as his body was the target of the giant cleaver sword swung by the giant zombie. The [Mage] widened his eyes, as well as the PlusFire, as they see the [Hunter] cut-up body fly several meters away from the impact, landing on the side of the building aside of the big plaza. The wall to the building was crushed, and the body of the [Hunter] remained lifeless there.
It only took a second for the [Mage] to figure out what just happened, and a crude, strong scream was let out. He dropped his grimoire and falls to his rump as his body shook. The giant zombie glares at the [Mage], its red eyes shimmering and glinting from amidst of darkness, showing an intent to kill.
“Ah! Ahh! Help me! Help!”
The [Mage] could not even fight back. He turned around, and crawled on the floor as his legs gave up on him. Tried as he might, he extended his arms upwards and dragged his body across the floor, trying to get away from the menace.
However, it did nothing as the giant zombie easily winds up its giant cleaver sword, and swung it down.
The screaming [Mage] fell silent. The ground underneath shook as blood sprayed up into the sky, and splattered all over the ground.
Mick and Lailah couldn’t even watch anymore as they looked away. Only Kudo and Hinota saw the entire scene happen in front of their eyes.
Kudo saw with blank eyes the giant zombie looking over to them. It swings its sword over to it shoulder, and glared right at the only living Adventurers.
“… Everyone! Stand your ground!”
Kudo gritted his teeth, furrowed his brow as he shouted his order, surprising Mick and Lailah.
“A-Are you crazy?! That thing killed off the high-level Adventurers! We’ll be killed!”
Lailah shouted, her fear taking hold of her mind. But it was an understandable fear. Mick shared the same expression as well.
“W-We gotta run! We can get out of this zone, away from that thing!”
Hinota answered Mick’s plea to run with their lives intact. Mick turned to Hinota, showing an intense glare to the ‘exotic’ boss.
“The way it moved that sword was too fast for his size. Even if we run, we’ll end up the same as the other two losers,” Hinota expended no mercy towards the ones who lost foolishly lost their lives, showing a glare that showed that she can’t be wrong to the others.
“T-That’s…” Lailah looked like she was about to cry. Her low whimpers, as Lailah lost her composure, made Mick bit his lip as he shared her feelings.
“Don’t lose hope!” Kudo shouted, jolting both Mick and Lailah as they shot their eyes open. “Remember, we can beat anything as long as we use strategy!”
Kudo had to remind himself of his position. The leader must instill hope to his members, no matter how close they are to death.
“He’s right,” Kudo’s partner, Hinota, backed up his words. “It may be fast, but we’re faster! If we run, that thing will only catch up to us, but if we maneuver it, it won’t even touch us!”
Hinota clenched her fist, her words inputting a sense of courage to the siblings.
“Hinota, that’s true, isn’t it?” Kudo made sure as he asked the calculative Hinota.
“I’m sure! I can tell! We beat it when it comes to easy maneuvering!”
Hinota would not lie in this situation. She glared at Kudo with her sharp, tapered eyes, instilling him with the same courage like she did with Mick and Lailah.
Then, something vibrated in Kudo’s chest. Then, a flash of light showed, revealing the Growth Crystal belonging to Kudo, getting him to widen his eyes.
He remembers that this was someone calling him, and pressed the middle of his floating Growth Crystal.
[I’m… I’m here!]
The staggering soft voice from the crystal turned out to be Eruda.
“Eruda!” Kudo’s voice showed gratitude as he spoke again. “Are you OK?”
[Yes… I’m fine, Kudo. Something in the air changed, so my body is recovering nicely. I can see that ugly thing from here. I’m going over there!]
Eruda’s ardent emotion could be felt from the crystal, leaving Lailah and especially Mick with a shock. Eruda was able to see the merciless deaths of the others, yet, she still wants to fight…
Lailah looked down with a guilty expression, and Mick gritted his teeth as he clenched his fists.
“L-Let’s do it!” Lailah was the first to shout, her look of guilt now changed to a frightened, but determined look.
“Yeah… I want to do it too! I want to fight!”
Hearing the two passionate shouts, Kudo nodded his head.
“Then, let’s do this!”
Drilled into their minds like nails, the low-level members positioned themselves according to their leader’s orders. This time, however, they were staking their lives on it.
Since they weren’t able to plan ahead, Kudo put up his Growth Crystal to issue orders to everyone else. The giant zombie stood restlessly as it walked forward, going near Kudo and Hinota’s side.
“It’s coming towards us,” Hinota spoke, reporting the scene.
“Alright, Hinota, go for it!”
“With pleasure! ——《Enchant: Attack》!——《Enchant: Speed》! ——《Burning Soul》!”
With a grand roar, as if bellowing her will to live, Hinota cast her skills which powered her up to an extent, causing her gallant figure become encased in a fiery pillar of flames. Once the fire dispersed, what came out was a brilliant image of Hinota’s powerful form, her hair shimmering in a fiery blaze, her eyes reddened and burning like flames, and her body glowing with several auras of green and yellow combined.
“I…can never see enough of that,” Lailah uttered out as Mick shared the same sentiments. The image of Hinota’s powerful image was burned into their minds for recollection of his beautiful image in the future.
“I’m going in!”
Hinota’s eyes sharpened to the point of cutting something out. She rushes towards the giant zombie, her fast figure nearly disappearing in front of their eyes.
Before long, Hinota reappeared in front of the giant zombie, near the right leg. Hinota then casts another skill:
Hinota’s katana became clad in flames, and slices the rotten leg of the giant zombie.
However, despite cutting and burning the leg, it hardly did anything.
“Kkh!” Hinota gritted her teeth. “It’s so tough! My powered up katana couldn’t even cut it!”
[Hinota, remember to back off!]
Hearing her trusty partner’s voice over the floating Growth Crystal by her side, she immediately backed off. She jumped back so quickly, and it was right before the giant zombie attacked the same location she was just in with its giant cleaver, causing the ground below to crumble and break apart.
I could hardly even sense the attack… this is where Kudo’s constant worry really comes in handy.
Hinota nearly gulped as she could have been in that spot if Kudo had not reminded her.
Despite jumping back, the giant zombie merely lifted its foot a few centimeters off the ground, and in the next, stomped with all that it had. The resulting shockwave from that stomp affected Hinota causing her to stumble as she landed.
“Damn!” Hinota cursed, trying to regain her footing, and by the time that she did, she noticed something coming towards her at a quick pace.
She looked up to see the cleaver heading straight towards her. As she was about to widen her eyes, she felt a strange, cool breeze on her legs. That sudden updraft made her body suddenly feel a lot lighter.
Hinota was a little overwhelmed, but she overcame her surprise and acted on it. She turned on her heel and made a quick dash away. In that instant, her body disappeared.
The cleaver smashes the ground where Hinota was once before. The ground breaks apart, and the giant zombie tilted its giant, rotten head as if it was confused about what just happened.
Kudo saw this whole spectacle, and made a large, beaming face.
“Eruda, I can’t thank you enough!”
“Don’t be. I’m glad to do it!”
Eruda shouted as she ran towards the plaza battlefield, getting him to look back and saw that Eruda had another person.
Besides her was the summoned spirit that helped Hinota became faster. Her spirit was a translucent female; her eyes showed nothing but emerald green and had no mouth, wearing long ears as if she was an elf herself. She wore a long white dress, and her blue hair with purple streaks flowed gently as her body floated near Eruda’s side.
“My summoned spirit, Sylphy, can control the air and even get rid of air resistance of other Adventurers. With it, Hinota has become even faster than before!” Eruda quickly explains her useful companion as Kudo made a face that resembled a little boy with a new toy.
“So great! Your skill is great!”
Kudo looked back with glee to the boss’s side, changing his gleeful expression to a serious one.
Kudo extended his hand and casts his debuff skill. Several black rings were released from his hand and were launched towards the giant zombie. When the rings passed through the body, the giant zombie’s rotting face suddenly contorted to an uncomfortable expression, its body twisted around, as if it was having some sort of attack.
Hinota fearlessly smirked and charged towards the boss with the speed granted to her by her buffs and Sylphy’s. She moved so fast, the other members’ eyes could hardly keep up as Hinota nears the giant zombie, and slashes once.
The legs, which she targeted, formed a gash, but hardly any blood spurted out. However, Hinota put on a gleeful expression herself.
“It’s a Defense Down debuff!”
Hinota showed immense satisfaction as Kudo’s massive luck got them the debuff they needed. As soon as it was cut, however, the giant zombie raised its cleaver and swung it at Hinota.
Thanks to her heightened speed, she managed to sidestep the attack. The cleaver sword slams into the ground, breaking the plaza floor in pieces which once more desolates the entire plaza.
So far, it only does physical attacks. Is it a combat expert zombie like the Knight Zombie?
Kudo made his assumption, observing the enemy with his keen eyes. Hinota managed to get away with some distance, but she began to breathe heavily as her stamina was slowly reducing.
“Hinota, step back!” Kudo orders, then extended his hand upwards.
Following the 【Minus Pulse】, several white rings floated upwards, then cascaded down to each of the PlusFire members.
“Ooh…!” Lailah became in awe as the buff made her brimming with power.
“Lailah, go ahead!”
Responding nervously, Lailah lifted her staff and poured her mana into it. The staff glowed brightly as she casts her spell:
Shouting her skill, a small, burning fire appeared out of the top end of the staff. The fire was directed by Lailah’s flowing movements, gently placing the fire on top of the ground from which the giant zombie stood.
The fire covers the ground with a wide, round radius that surrounds the giant zombie, causing it burn up, the flames becoming fiercer after each second.
【Blazing Canvas】 is an Area of Effect skill which covers an entire area in battle with flames. The flames become hotter, making anyone that stood in the circle to burn and take fire damage. And since the undead are not compatible with fire, the damage done to the giant zombie should increase.
“D-Did I get it?!”
Lailah hoped as she clutched onto her staff as she watched the giant zombie fumble a bit from the fire.
“Yes! This should work! With the buffs and Hinota’s attacks, along with Lailah’s damage, we can get it!”
Kudo clenches his fist as he pumped himself up from his words alone, showing a smirk.
However, the giant zombie began to lower itself, as if it was putting on a stance. Then—
The zombie groaned loudly, sending large shockwaves towards the party members. The PlusFire covered their ears and felt the powerful wave as the giant zombie became unaffected by the fire and the damage.
Kudo shouted, and what’s more, his 【Sixth Sense】 skill activated once more. It filled him with a sense a dread all over his body as his eyes widened.
Then, the unthinkable happened. The giant zombie moved, despite the big gash left on its leg by Hinota, and moved quickly. It hardly left any time for Kudo to think.
Each step made the earth rumble as they nearly crush the ground beneath them. The giant zombie rotated its arm, swinging the cleaver upwards so that it’ll have enough momentum when it swings down.
Where it swung down to happens to be where Lailah and Eruda were.
Though Kudo shouted, despite his best efforts, the girls didn’t move. It was as if the mass of undead made them stay right there out of fear.
And the look on their faces when facing this giant creature made Kudo’s fears come to pass.
They wouldn’t move—their feet were stuck to the ground, no matter how much they wanted to. The fear overwhelmed them as they had never seen anything so frightening come to them before.
The giant came near, and was about to swing its cleaver towards them.
“Eruda, Lailah!” Hinota shouted, and tried to move towards them. However, her legs cramped up and moved slowly.
Shit! The buff had to disappear now?! Hinota cursed her own bad luck as her speed became lower than it was before.
Hinota and Kudo watched as the giant zombie was about to slay the two just like it did to the fumbling buffoons.
But the two girls were suddenly pushed to the side by a singular person. The two of them looked behind to see Mick extending both hands towards them.
Lailah’s scream was unheard as Mick’s back was cut the giant zombie. His back sprayed blood so much that it was unbelievable to watch. Mick’s eyes whitened up as his body fell forward, face planting right onto the ground.
Lailah and Eruda’s faces contorted into panic.
Lailah’s piercing scream rang out, her tears flowing from her eyes. Lailah quickly heads over to Mick, where the giant zombie was about to attack with its cleaver.
The giant’s back exploded with a powerful attack. The giant zombie turned around and saw Kudo standing behind it, gritting his teeth and showed a fierce look in his eyes.
“Get me! Come on!”
Kudo had no choice. In order to let his party members recover, being the one with most health and with a higher level, Kudo decided to be the decoy to let the others recover. Kudo ran at the opposite side of the boss, heading out of the plaza.
The giant zombie took the bait and moved towards to where Kudo was, eventually getting out of the plaza.
“K-Kudo is…” Eruda stuttered, her voice breaking as she looked back at Mick, who was being cradled in Lailah’s arms.
“Why?! Why did you do this… you know you can’t even protect yourself!”
Lailah’s voice cracked as her tears fall over to Mick, whose corner of the mouth was streaming down blood as his eyes showed a misty glass view.
“Micky! Micky!!” Lailah shouted, hoping her voice will still hold his soul. “Eruda! A potion! Please, give me a potion!”
“I-I’m trying to! I can’t find anything!”
Eruda panicked—she began looking into her [Magic Bag] as soon as Mick was hurt, however, she didn’t find anything and even frustratingly threw her [Magic Bag] to the ground.
“Micky! Hang in there…!”
Mick’s voice began to slowly dissipate as Lailah clenches onto Mick’s clothing as she screamed louder to bring him back.
Before long, Hinota came into view. Eruda and Lailah looked up towards her, putting on a hopeful expression as Hinota knelt down towards Mick.
“Mick, what you did…I will never forget it.”
Spoke with a proud tone, she opened up her bag and brought out several Crimson Potions. Lailah’s eyes extended with joy as Hinota took Mick into her arms and poured the contents into his mouth.
Though Mick was weak, he forced himself to drink the bitter Potion. It was absolutely bitter, but compared to what he is feeling, the bitterness tasted sweet.
Mick’s body began to glow a strong, bluish light. Hinota continued to pour potions into his mouth, making his body go into a rapid state of healing. The big, gushing wound that continued to drench the ground beneath him with blood was now beginning to close up, and the intense pain that Mick was going through was now beginning to cease.
“Micky…” Lailah spoke softly, her tears leaving her eyes and streaming down her cheeks. “Are you there…?”
Mick’s eyes began to show color and light, and turned his head slowly to his sister.
“…Nee-chan… I’m here,” Mick spoke softly, getting Lailah to have a beaming face.
“Micky! You dumbass! You stupid little brother! How could you think you can just leave your sister like that?!”
Though she insulted him, the crying, joyous look on her face had the other girls smiled warmly. Mick himself smiled gently at his older sister’s actions.
“I’m sorry… Nee-chan… but… I’m also… not sorry…”
Mick said, hoping that what he said sounded cool, which to Eruda and Lailah, it really was.
“Mick…” Eruda spoke softly, then her expression changed to a serious one as she realized the situation. “Hinota, what about Kudo?”
“I’ll be heading in to save him. Eruda, take care of Lailah and Mick, and be their vanguard.”
Hinota lifted Mick up to his rump, getting Lailah to hold him gently. She then stood up and showed a fierce look.
“We’ll be giving that thing its corporal punishment!”
Hinota showed an intense glare that it made the girls slightly terrified as she ran towards the scene where Kudo ran towards.
Running past the mesmerizing buildings within the city, Kudo ran with haste, a cold sweat ran down his back as well as his forehead as he ran.
He raised his [VIT] stat thanks to Hinota’s training, but it was too much at this rate. He needed to take a break. But the rumbling from behind him urged him to move on.
As of now, the giant zombie was closing in—its giant footsteps nearly making the ground split apart from the sheer size.
I need to find a place to hide… or at least where I have an advantage!
Kudo thought as he ran faster, his thought process shortening to a few milliseconds.
He ran until he notices a pathway to the right. It was a large one, the one which he believes will give him that advantage. He steered right, following his known senses.
A dead end?!
Kudo cursed himself as a giant building which impedes his way. It appears to be built diagonally with the other buildings, making an empty valley.
How could he be so unlucky if his [LUK] stat was at its highest?! Kudo wanted to hit the guy that designed the city this way, but his thoughts stopped as the ground shook again. He looked behind slowly to see the giant zombie closing in on him.
Kudo cursed once more as he brandishes his bastard blade, gripping it tightly as his heart pounds quickly.
Not even Hinota’s strikes are powerful enough to cut its body completely. Its defense is too high, and its magic defense was higher as it overcame Lailah’s 【Burning Canvas】.
It was an enemy a Support-type Class like Kudo’s stood no match against.
However, he felt something from his 【Sixth Sense】. Once more, his skin felt an irritation coming from all around him, but it doesn’t specify exactly what it is.
“Aww, now what?!”
Right when Kudo was getting frustrated, suddenly, something whipped past his eyesight.
That ‘something’ fell on top of the giant zombie’s head, and in an instant, the zombie was crashed to the ground
The crash was enough to nearly level the entire city. The earth shook like an earthquake, shaking Kudo and making him stumble, eventually falling to his rump from the sudden imbalance. His 【Sixth Sense】 blared like trumpets all over his body as if his mind was cracking apart.
W-What’s going on!?
Kudo began to panic. First, he was going to fight a death battle against the zombie, now some kind of disaster fell on it! When he looked forward, he saw something unbelievable…
The giant zombie that was proving to be too much for them was dead. Its head was crushed completely underneath the being that fell on it. Its red eyes that glowed crimson red like blood disappeared. The rest of its body looked as if it was crushed by its own head, leaving nothing but giant rotten limbs and body parts in front of Kudo. But that’s not what made Kudo shake.
What he saw was, once more, a dark energy swirling around the being that took the giant zombie down. He saw what looks like a slim knight.
The knight dressed in complete black—silver lines on the edge and some as strange insignias to make it stand out even more. Kudo watched in awe as he can’t even tell what armor he was wearing. It was such an out of place armor that Kudo has no idea what it is.
Kudo believed that it must be an extraordinarily strong Adventurer with a [Warrior] Class. However, the dark, swirling mass of dark mist surrounded the knight, causing Kudo to shrink back as he tried to get up to his feet, picking up his sword that fell from the crash.
He faces the knight as the knight faces back to him. The knight said nothing for a moment, and then he lifted his hand towards Kudo.
He spoke grimly and roughly, as if he was possessed. Then, in an instant, the knight disappeared in a blink of an eye.
It was so fast that Kudo’s eyes couldn’t pick up his speed. His eyes were left wandering, trying to find the knight that could have gone anywhere, yet he hasn’t appeared at all in his vision.
Kudo was left too stunned to even move…
Hinota shouted as Kudo could see her figure running towards Kudo. Then, she saw the mess that is used to be known as the giant zombie.
“W-What happened here?!” Hinota asks, her voice nearly shrieking as she saw the giant zombie that made such trouble to them before.
“I-I have no idea…”
Kudo could only muster, Hinota turning to him with a surprised look as they saw once more the giant mass of rotten body parts in front of them.
Who…was that guy…?
The black knight suddenly saves Kudo, and disappears without a second thought. Who was that strange man, with the same darkness that the giant zombie exuded?!