Chapter 34:

Ball and Dancing

Hour Empty Child

Night has fallen on the grand capital of Olinia. Outside of their inn, a cheaper alternative for an inn compared to the other resting locations in this highly expensive society, Kudo stood outside, redness filling his cheeks and his heart beating fast enough to be heard from outside his body.Bookmark here

One of the reasons was his garb. He wore a tuxedo, a ‘uniform’ for high society balls as told by the vendor. Wearing a black jacket over his white and silky inner shirt, he felt uncomfortable. Long, obsidian pants and shoes to match with it, along with his anxiety. Bookmark here

What’s worse for him is that he’s wearing what he believes to be an embarrassing blue-colored bow tied around his neck.Bookmark here

The tuxedo on him shows off his trained body, enough to show his broad shoulders and slim torso that was trained vigorously by his partner.Bookmark here

However, despite his anxiety, it hardly amounted to the anticipation of what his partner could be wearing.Bookmark here

Despite the cold wind passing through him, his heated head disregarded it. As he was about to heave a sigh to relieve his heated head, the door opens its hinges, causing a jolt to his system.Bookmark here

Kudo turned on his heel and faced the one coming out of the inn.Bookmark here

No matter how much preparation he was giving himself in his mind, all of it were just blown away like dust in the wind.Bookmark here

Hinota appeared coming out of the inn, wearing her evening dress for the ball. A strikingly red peacock dress, showing her slender shoulders and skin as white as snow, proving to be quite an attack on Kudo’s adolescent mind. Her dress extended to her legs which covered up to her ankles, topping off wearing black high-heels suited for a noble woman.Bookmark here

Wearing on top of her breasts was a sparkling red gem shaped as if it was fire itself, held with a small golden chain as a necklace.Bookmark here

“Uhh…”Bookmark here

Kudo was left gaping as Hinota came out, not wearing her usual hairband. Her long, fiery red hair was loose, reaching up to her back as her bangs nestled on her forehead. It made her sharp eyes look fiercer, but to Kudo, it was incredibly charming.Bookmark here

“…Well?” After a moment of staring at her, Hinota figured that she should tell him. “When a girl dresses herself up, the man should compliment her, no matter how bad it might look.”Bookmark here

“W-What!?” Kudo never heard of this, and felt his cheeks flushed. “Y-You’re not bad-looking at all! Y-You look so beautiful!”Bookmark here

Once those words rang out, Kudo’s cheeks burned redder than Hinota’s dress. Hinota formed a sly smile, and closed in towards Kudo as he immediately stiffened up with a red face.Bookmark here

“Thank you,” Hinota spoke up, staring right at Kudo’s eyes. “You look quite dashing yourself.”Bookmark here

“N-No way,” Kudo rubbed his head, as it is his usual response. “I look ridiculous compared to you. I feel like I’ll ruin your image.”Bookmark here

Kudo had to admit. As a simple farmer boy, he never even saw a beautiful woman, let alone talking to one. When he saw Hinota’s form in a noble dress, he was reminded of their social statuses, lowering himself to the point of sounding pessimistic.Bookmark here

“Get used to it,” Hinota curtly responded. “No matter how we were raised, men will always feel inferior to women. That’s because women try harder at dressing up than men do.”Bookmark here

“E-Eh…?”Bookmark here

Taken by surprise, Kudo’s thoughts about their social statuses before they partied together were blown away easily by Hinota’s words. Feeling that whatever he felt before was now meaningless, Kudo didn’t hold back his words:Bookmark here

“…Hinota, I didn’t think you would look so different. You look really pretty!”Bookmark here

Hinota chuckled, “Thanks. Though, just like you, I feel ridiculous in this dress. It hardly makes any bonuses to my attack, and leaves me completely open to attacks.”Bookmark here

“You’re right,” Kudo sighed. “These stupid clothes are so unfulfilling…”Bookmark here

Kudo tugged at his collar, feeling the tightness nearly clogging up his airspace. Knowing that he has to tighten it like that, he’s surprised that nobles haven’t been choked by these. From his thought about his collar, Kudo notices the gem worn on her like a necklace.Bookmark here

“Hinota, what’s that necklace? I don’t think I have ever seen you with it before…”Bookmark here

“Ah, it belonged to my family. It’s an heirloom, so to speak.”Bookmark here

“So to speak…?” Kudo tilts his head, motioning Hinota to continue.Bookmark here

“It proves that I’m a part of the Flamvers. This red gem signifies our fiery spirit. The red dress is also because of them.”Bookmark here

“I-Is that so…?” Kudo trailed off as he sees Hinota speaking about her family with a low tone, looking downwards at the ground.Bookmark here

“A-Are you OK?” Kudo asked in concern.Bookmark here

“…I’m sure you’re thinking how foolish it is to wear what the Flamver would wear when they have treated me so terribly.”Bookmark here

“Of course not! But… if it’s not enjoyable, why do you wear it?”Bookmark here

“Well,” Hinota smiled. “It looks good on me.”Bookmark here

“That’s obvious,” Kudo put his hands on his hip, not fazed at all by what he said. After a chuckle from Hinota, Kudo asked: “The second?”Bookmark here

“…” Hinota took a moment, then responded: “I like to think that it’s part of my pride. They made me who I am, after all.”Bookmark here

Putting her hand on her gem, her tone started to sound as if she longed for her family. Kudo noticed that as he felt that there’s only one thing to say.Bookmark here

“Then, I like it. I like who you are.”Bookmark here

Kudo offered a smile upon which Hinota took it to heart. She chuckled as she thought up of something to say:Bookmark here

“Those are nice words. Are you perhaps trying to woo me?”Bookmark here

Hearing such remark, Kudo’s face responded with a brightly red color.Bookmark here

“T-That’s…! I’m just being honest!” Kudo shouted as Hinota chuckles at how Kudo’s cheeks have been dyed redBookmark here

“I’m joking!” Hinota laughs, her giggles making Kudo somewhat more confident in himself. Bookmark here

“Though, since we got some time before the carriage arrives, you can keep staring at me for as long as you like.”Bookmark here

As if to see if he could go redder, Kudo jolted showing his absolutely red face, nearly blowing off steam from his ears in Hinota’s eyes. Though she spoke like this with a confident tone, she couldn’t escape her own cheeks going red from saying those words.Bookmark here

Thankfully, before Kudo could respond, the clattering noises of wheels traversing were heard close to them, leaving him to shut up.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Underneath the night sky, the two PlusFire members hitched a ride with the incredibly flashy carriage that headed straight towards the Olinia castle.Bookmark here

Of course, setting aside Kudo’s fascination of the castle practically glowing with the exuberant lights, they have finally reached within the walls of the castle, where many noble folks were beginning their own festivities.Bookmark here

They reached to the outer grounds of the ball, where the lawn that had freshly cut grass and tables set up for other people to enjoy. They enjoyed the night view, but most of the nobles were inside the lavish tower, where the inside was the party all of the nobles have been waiting for.Bookmark here

Once the carriage stopped, the nobles took a look at who could have come out. As Kudo and Hinota stepped out, the nobles’ sight were taken in stride, most of them viewing at Hinota coming out of the carriage with grace and style.Bookmark here

“It was obvious that you would take the breath of everyone here,” Kudo teased, knowing that everyone here was feeling the exact feeling he felt when he first saw her.Bookmark here

“Oh, stop it. It’s not easy being this fabulous.”Bookmark here

Kudo chuckled as the both of them headed inside the tower, where the light giving off resembled that of entering the way into the Upperworld.Bookmark here

When they entered into the entrance, after having gained entrance from the guards, they were met with the aroma of succulent foods scattered across the tables in the hall.Bookmark here

They saw the large, white-colored round-shaped room with various tables filled with such delicacies. The noblemen and women were already underway of enjoying the festivities as they were swallowed up by their conversations about certain things which Kudo will never understand.Bookmark here

Music was already playing in the background, but it wasn’t festive music. It was the kind where you can enjoy it in the background where you can be able to talk with ease.Bookmark here

Seeing such festivities, Kudo’s insides felt as if they were being churned by an unnatural force, and suddenly, his own body turned around and headed straight towards the exit.Bookmark here

“Where do you think you’re going?” Hinota suddenly grabs Kudo’s arm, forcing him to stay.
“I-I got to go to the bathroom… back at the inn.”Bookmark here

“You’re staying here, and you’re going to enjoy socializing!”Bookmark here

Hinota’s tone of voice showed that she was resolute on having Kudo stay. Kudo, at this moment, felt as if Hinota has betrayed him as he was dragged in towards the ball, putting up no strength against Hinota’s massive [STR] stat.Bookmark here

“Hinota,” Kudo pleaded. “I’ll just embarrass myself, and especially you! I’m just a farmer—I can’t handle being in this kind of high-class atmosphere!”Bookmark here

“Whatever you think might happen, it won’t happen. Besides, if you’re worried about looking bad, it’s already done. Just look.”Bookmark here

Motioning him to look around, Kudo does so, only to be met with an excruciating atmosphere.Bookmark here

Though back when they arrived, they were astounded by Hinota’s beauty. But these nobles knew them from the event, and none of them showed any kind of friendliness when looking at them. Each one looked at them as if they were crashing the party.Bookmark here

Feeling their cold stares permeating his body, Kudo felt isolated, and felt his stomach churning more than before.Bookmark here

“Gah, I really do feel sick now…” Kudo back then was just joking, but now he says it while he holds his stomach.Bookmark here

“Kudo, look at me.”Bookmark here

Without any warning, Hinota dragged Kudo’s face with her hands, and put it near her face. Her face suddenly so close to his, Kudo’s cheeks burned brighter than before.Bookmark here

“Don’t give a damn about what the nobles think of you. None of what they think matters to us,” Hinota spoke, as if she was hypnotizing Kudo to think her way. “However, if you think you can’t handle the atmosphere, just look at me. Focus on me, and drown out everything else.”Bookmark here

Hearing those words like a rock to his face. Kudo’s face slowly cools, and his churning in his stomach stopped. Now, he felt his body becoming relaxed, thanks to Hinota’s support.Bookmark here

“…You’re right. Thanks, Hinota,” Kudo formed a smile on his lips. “I really needed that.”Bookmark here

“Hehe, don’t worry about it. You know I’m always here to save your ass.”Bookmark here

“How prideful can you get?”Bookmark here

Putting on a stoic face, the both of them couldn’t help but chuckle and laugh at themselves, making some of the nobles cock their heads in confusion from their sudden laughter.Bookmark here

Before long, just like Hinota said, Kudo has only been focusing on Hinota, and somehow, the ball suddenly lightens up and became a thrilling experience.Bookmark here

“I think I’m getting the hang of this!” Kudo said as he takes a small morsel of food from the table. “So all we just do is talk and dance in these kinds of places?”Bookmark here

“Pretty much,” Hinota responded, showering Kudo with her wisdom on these matters. “These balls are mostly used to acquaint oneself with someone of noticeable power to up your own. Other times, it’s just used to make appearances to others, showing that everything is going well for your family.”Bookmark here

“Wow, that’s a lot of usages…”Bookmark here

As always, Kudo was astounded by the rules of high-society.Bookmark here

“Being a Flamver, the nobles would always focus on my family. It wasn’t even a ball at that point—everyone was just trying to impress us and try to converse with us to make business deals.”Bookmark here

“That… sounds stiffening,” Kudo softens his expression. “Have you ever had fun in balls?”Bookmark here

“…Before, it was a pain to go. I would always have to go through so many deceptions from many nobles, showing that they were interested in me, but truly, they only wanted my family’s power.”Bookmark here

Hearing Hinota talk like that made Kudo’s heart sting. It felt depressing to hear that his partner was going through such a terrible time.Bookmark here

“…But now, I’m really looking forward to this ball. After all, you and everyone else are here now with me, and I’m no longer a noble. I’m an Adventurer.”Bookmark here

Hinota grasped the bone of a chicken leg at the buffet, and ripped it from the chicken’s body clean right off with her hand.Bookmark here

Without hesitation, Hinota grabs a mouthful of the chicken leg, shattering whatever graceful image the nobles had on her when she first came in. Bookmark here

However, to Kudo, Hinota appeared to look magnificent, even when she was eating a large chicken wing with a furious bite.Bookmark here

“As an Adventurer, I can do whatever I want now!”Bookmark here

“Hehe, that’s great, Hinota!” Following her example, Kudo took another chicken leg, and took a furious bite as well, despite the huge size.Bookmark here

Seeing that, Hinota and Kudo enjoyed stuffing themselves with the food from the buffet, and before long…Bookmark here

“Hey~! You two~!”Bookmark here

“Oh! It’s Lailah! They’re here!”Bookmark here

Kudo turned, swallowing the meat in his mouth to shout as he sees the other members of their party.Bookmark here

Lailah, Eruda, and Mick came in with their new looks. Lailah wore a yellow dress with a flower pattern on her shoulder straps, with her bronze colored hair tied up in a bun.Bookmark here

Mick wore a suit with a blue jacket and pants and his hair parted to give off a formal look.Bookmark here

Eruda wore a green dress similar to her Light Armor, showing off her slender arms and shoulders.Bookmark here

Though they looked noble from appearance, they were all huddled together and had cramped expressions.Bookmark here

“Kudo! Hinota! We’re so glad to see you guys~!” Lailah shouted, her eyes nearly brimming with tears.Bookmark here

“A-Are you guys OK?” Kudo shouted after seeing Lailah’s tears. “What happened?”Bookmark here

“These nobles keep looking at us so badly… it was hard to breathe,” Mick explained, showing his restless worry at the hostility the nobles showed them.Bookmark here

“Not to mention, they kept staring at Eruda, like she’s some kind of show! It really frustrated me!” Lailah shouted, her discomfort and frustration showing on her face.Bookmark here

“It’s fine… Normally, Elves aren’t part of these events, especially mixed-blood Elves like me.”Bookmark here

“That doesn’t mean it’s right for them to be rude and stare at you like some art exhibit! It’s weird and perverted!”Bookmark here

Lailah became angry in Eruda’s stead, and everyone agreed to that notion.Bookmark here

“She’s right, Eruda,” Hinota added in, her sharp eyes showing an equal amount of anger. “You have the right to be here just as much as these shameless nobles.”Bookmark here

“Hinota…” Eruda felt reassured, feeling the weight under their stares being lifted. “Thank you.”Bookmark here

“Did you guys at least had a nice ride here?” Hinota asked, curious about their adventure.
“Yeah! Though, you should have seen the look on Micky’s face when he saw Eruda with her dress. He was left gaping!”Bookmark here

“N-Nee-chan! T-T-That didn’t happen at all!”Bookmark here

Lailah’s words made Mick reddened his cheeks which did the same for Eruda who heard it.
Lailah turned back to Mick with a goofy smile, and secretly let out her tongue which aggravated Mick even more.Bookmark here

“Then, what do you think of her dress?”Bookmark here

“Eh?! Ah,” Mick nearly lost his mind for a moment. “Umm… uhh… sh-she’s really pretty!”Bookmark here

Though he tried to deny it before, his compliment showed that he enjoyed it which left Eruda to look down with a nearly red colored face.Bookmark here

“T-Thank you very much, Mick…”Bookmark here

Eruda responded back. Mick saw her reddened expression with her upturned eyes, leaving his heart to beat so fast that it could be heard from miles away.Bookmark here

“Nice job, Lailah.”Bookmark here

Hinota raised her thumb at Lailah, getting her to secretly give a thumbs up back.Bookmark here

His eyes widening from seeing this action, Kudo whispered to Hinota.Bookmark here

“D-Did you guys planned this?”Bookmark here

“Of course. I like Eruda, and I like Mick. Mick looks good with Eruda, and Lailah feels the same. So we’re all going to help out on them being together.”Bookmark here

“W-Wow…”Bookmark here

It was at this moment, Kudo learned how powerful girls can be when they work together to pair two people together.Bookmark here

Before long, the blaring noise of trumpets rang out in the ball, catching all of the attention of the nobles and the PlusFire members.Bookmark here

They all looked upwards to where the trumpets rang out and saw, at the top of the ball, a large balcony, where two guards were blaring out the trumpets.Bookmark here

Before long, a figure appeared from the drapes where one enters to the balcony, revealing the Queen of Peranim in her dress that reflected the lights of the ball, as if she was a bright light herself. Her hair was tied up with flashy accessories, but it was still long enough to cascade down to her back.Bookmark here

After being given a small, rounded wood with a stone embedded on top of it by her knight, Ramil closed in towards the balcony’s railing, and addressed to her citizens.Bookmark here

“Welcome, everyone! I’m very pleased that you all could be here at this wonderful ball!”Bookmark here

Ramil spoke with a loud voice, reverberating throughout the ball like the beginning of the Olinia Event.Bookmark here

“This ball was created to make a celebration for the event that has transpired today. Though we could not see them battle, they all have fought wonderfully, and have made our lives easier to live in. We must thank these Adventurers for all of their hard work!”Bookmark here

The PlusFire could hear the sincerity in her tone, proving that she look up to the Adventurers. However, snickers entered their hearing as some of them turned to see the nobles beginning to snide remarks at the Adventurers. It was clear that the PlusFire were being the butt of their jokes.Bookmark here

“W-What’s with this atmosphere…?” Lailah expressed her distress, Mick putting his hand on his sister’s shoulder to help her relax.Bookmark here

“Nobles are the same, no matter where you go…” Hinota cursed under her breath, her sharp eyes furrowing further to show her discomfort.Bookmark here

“I’m sure you all know,” Ramil continued. “The Adventurers that won the event by exterminating the most Exotic Bosses in Hunter’s Grave, are all right here celebrating with us.”Bookmark here

The nobles then turned their sight towards the party. Each one showed a discomforting look, as if they were staring at people that shouldn’t be here. The party huddled together, as if doing so will protect them from any incoming assault.Bookmark here

“Do not be so frightened!” Ramil shouted. “These Adventurers have fought and worked hard to help you all! If it hasn't been for their cunning tactics and strategies, all of you could have been in danger of these horrifying monsters. These Adventurers have saved our lives, only thinking about our safety!”Bookmark here

“We did?”Bookmark here

“Be quiet, Kudo.”Bookmark here

Kudo asked, leaving Hinota to shush him as to not get into any trouble.Bookmark here

“They showed us their relentlessness, and they have spared us from danger. But if you all have an issue with them being here…”Bookmark here

Ramil crossed her arms, and suddenly, her bright and graceful smile suddenly turned into a frightening smirk.Bookmark here

“Then, I’ll be happy to confront you all personally over this matter.”Bookmark here

The PlusFire could sense the strong hostility coming from the Queen’s aura as she said those words.Bookmark here

They had created strong senses in the course of their battles, so facing a monster or two would not faze them, unlike the ordinary citizens or even nobles that would become frightened easily.Bookmark here

Yet, what the queen put off made these veteran Adventurers quiver with fright. That’s how strong her aura was.Bookmark here

W-What’s with this pressure…?! Kudo asked himself, feeling the intensity of her words.Bookmark here

This Queen… is not joking around…! Even Hinota could feel such a strong presence Ramil was giving off.Bookmark here

Though the nobles somewhat picked up her rather strong threat, breaking out a sweat, the Adventurers felt an incredibly large amount of intimidation.Bookmark here

“…Now then, let’s begin the festivities!”Bookmark here

Suddenly, a bright, regal face swapped with the furious expression Ramil had, and with a gesture of her hand, the band that stopped the music for her announcement quickly played again, showering the ball with their pleasant music.Bookmark here

The music, however, was different than before. Once the music started, suddenly, the atmosphere began to bright up. The nobles that were too stunned to move before were now suddenly energetic, often moving around and had smiles radiating from their faces.Bookmark here

“W-What’s with this sudden energy?!” Lailah shouted, her eyes widening from the sudden mood change that occurred.Bookmark here

“It’s like something made them change so quickly… was it the Queen’s influence?”Bookmark here

As Kudo began to be amazed at the Queen’s powerful charisma, Hinota spot out, in the corner of her eye, the [Bards] playing the music. For a moment, she could sense a wave of energy being produced by their instruments.Bookmark here

“…I see!” Hinota shouted as something clicked in her mind. “The musicians are all [Bards]! They’re using the skills with music to change the atmosphere of the people listening to it.”Bookmark here

“Oh… I get it! Bards are increasing their [VIT] and [STR]! For ordinary folks, it’s like a boost to your energy!” Kudo finally realized as he recalls the information in his guidebook.Bookmark here

“Whoo! I knew being a [Bard] is amazing! Hah, now I really wish I could play an instrument…”
Lailah heaved a sigh as Kudo turned to her with a surprised look.Bookmark here

“I-I didn’t think that Lailah wanted to be a [Bard]…” Kudo trailed off, his sweat dropping in surprise. “But, I didn’t think that the [Bards] could be used this way…”Bookmark here

“Kudo!”Bookmark here

Before Kudo could go into his thinking stance, Hinota grabbed Kudo’s hand when it was about to touch his chin, stopping him in his tracks.Bookmark here

“Stop thinking and join in the fun!”Bookmark here

Hearing such words from Hinota, Kudo figured if Hinota was also affected by the music.
And apparently, the others were affected as well.Bookmark here

“Alright~! Let’s dance! I’m gonna get myself a pretty noble boy to dance with. Laters~!”Bookmark here

Being the girl of action, Lailah spotted a single boy nearing her age in the distance. Her eyes sparkled and she instantly headed over there.Bookmark here

“N-Nee-chan! Geez, didn’t you feel an ounce of hostility before? How could you think about going after a noble man…”Bookmark here

Mick heaved a sigh as he felt that he needed to reign in his older sister before she causes too much trouble.Bookmark here

“I believe the music is changing their moods,” Eruda answered to Mick. “Perhaps she might have some fun with one of them.”Bookmark here

“O-Oh, I guess so…” Mick saw that it was Eruda that answered, getting his cheeks to be tinted red.Bookmark here

Seeing these two together, with Mick looking down and Eruda looking at the dancing nobles, something sparked within Kudo’s mind. His eyes gleaming, Kudo knows what to do.Bookmark here

“H-Hey! Mick, why don’t you dance with Eruda?”Bookmark here

Cursing himself for stuttering once again, Hinota and Eruda looked back in surprise, and Mick turned to Kudo with an unbelievably reddened expression.Bookmark here

“T-T-There’s no way that I can do that! I-I mean… I don’t know how to dance!”Bookmark here

His hands flailing, Mick gave off an excuse as his face was slowly reddening to look like an apple. However, his body suddenly stops moving as soon as Eruda placed her on Mick’s hand.Bookmark here

“I-It’s OK… I can teach you,” Eruda offered, her cheeks slowly glowing red from asking.Bookmark here

“E-Eh?”Bookmark here

“When I lived in my country, I was often forced to help at events such as this. During so, I watched many of my people dance in ballrooms, so I believe I can follow the steps…”Bookmark here

Eruda began to explain how she learned, making Mick slightly happy that she would offer.Bookmark here

“Of course, if you don’t want to—”Bookmark here

“I do!” Mick could not answer fast enough. “I want to learn! I want to dance!”Bookmark here

Mick became close by impulse, his eyes showing a determined look to learn from Eruda only. Eruda hanged her head back in surprise, widening her eyes as Mick realized what he just did.Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry… I mean, I would love to learn how to dance from you.” Returning to his usual calm demeanor, Mick rubbed the back of his head sheepishly like Kudo does.Bookmark here

“…Ok then!” Eruda responded, smiling from how Mick wanted to learn from her.Bookmark here

She offered her hand to Mick, reddening his face as he took it. The two of them then headed towards the center of the ballroom where many dancers were already crowding there.Bookmark here

But before he could go, he turned his head to Kudo, not getting Eruda to notice. Kudo saw Mick’s mouthing words, saying ‘Thank you~!’ with a silly grin.Bookmark here

“Umu, nice job, Kudo.”Bookmark here

Seeing such a satisfying face, Hinota congratulated Kudo for doing his work for his fellow man.Bookmark here

“F-For a moment there, I thought I messed everything up. This ‘romance’ business is confusing…”Bookmark here

Kudo felt as if a heavy weight put on him when he asked his question suddenly lifted off. However, it got him mentally exhausted.Bookmark here

“Now then, why don’t we follow along?”Bookmark here

“…Eh?”Bookmark here

Kudo turned to Hinota, his eyes widening as he sees Hinota showing a wide smirk with a glint in her sharp eyes.Bookmark here

“Now come on, Kudo! Let’s dance!”Bookmark here

Before he could give out one final ‘Eh?!’, Hinota grabbed Kudo’s hand and dragged him towards the center, ignoring his wails of an introvert as Kudo felt that his soul was breaking the moment he was being dragged.Bookmark here

At the center of the ballroom, where many nobles around them playfully glided across the floor with each other, Kudo and Hinota faced each other.Bookmark here

In that instant, Kudo could see that Hinota stood at nearly the same height.Bookmark here

“Hinota, I’ll look like a fool,” Kudo negotiated with her. “And I’ll make you look like a fool too. There’s still a chance to stop this. Take it now!”Bookmark here

“Relax,” Hinota chuckled, not taking his words of negotiation seriously.Bookmark here

“Geez, Hinota…” Kudo wanted to leave, but the look on Hinota’s face was like a powerful force—he couldn’t run away, even if he wanted to.Bookmark here

At this moment, he could feel the stares from other nobles looking at him and Hinota. Feeling the heavy gazes on him, he felt that he was incomparable to Hinota, and shouldn’t belong there.Bookmark here

He wanted to run. He wanted to get away from their judgmental gazes. He believed that he doesn’t have what it takes to stand on the same ground where Hinota thrives in.Bookmark here

“Kudo.”Bookmark here

Her words rang in his mind, causing him to look only at her.Bookmark here

“Don’t think about what these people think. Pretend that they don’t exist. For now, just pay attention to me, and to me alone.”Bookmark here

Hinota showed a fearless smirk, leaving Kudo to widen his eyes, and then slowly nodded.Bookmark here

“Good, now,” Hinota extended her hand upwards. “Take my hand, and grab me by my waist.”
“W-Waist!?”Bookmark here

Everything he just thought of right now was completely blown away. Now, all he was thinking about was touching Hinota’s slender waist.Bookmark here

“Don’t be nervous,” Hinota knew that he was panicking, and she’s enjoying it as she showed her smile. “Make sure you grab it tightly, and bring me closer to you.”Bookmark here

“R-R-Right!”Bookmark here

Kudo’s face reddened up like a teapot as he slowly wraps Hinota’s waist with his hand, his heart beating so fast that it could be heard. His hand finally touched Hinota’s smooth and soft waist and back, making Hinota grab onto Kudo’s shoulder and held his hand tightly above it.Bookmark here

Of course, their bodies became closer together, making Kudo nearly explode with steam coming out of his ears.Bookmark here

“I-Is this OK, Hinota?”Bookmark here

“Yes~” Hinota answered playfully. “Now follow my lead.”Bookmark here

Kudo could have sworn that Hinota looked like she was having fun, but before he could dwell in it, the music played and their bodies moved accordingly.Bookmark here

First step, second step, third step… each step was taken gently and slowly, allowing Kudo to fully memorize the way they moved.Bookmark here

Though, when they started dancing, as Hinota was moving gracefully as she had experience in this, Kudo’s movements were archaic and robotic, not like any human being at all.Bookmark here

Being the newbie in dancing, Kudo looked down at his feet, making sure that he goes along with Hinota’s feet as to not accidently step on them with his own.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you look like you’re staring at my breasts.”Bookmark here

The sudden mention of ‘breasts’ made Kudo unconsciously looked above her feet, and looked at the mentioned breasts for a mere second.Bookmark here

Kudo quickly whipped his head upwards to face Hinota.Bookmark here

“I-I-I wasn’t trying to! I was… but I did… and…”Bookmark here

Not finding any words except the truth, Kudo trailed off as his face was nearly overheating from the blush.Bookmark here

“Hahaha~ Just look at me, just like that, and follow along.”Bookmark here

“T-That’s easier said than done, Hinota,” Kudo started to question her. “How can I move without knowing where to step?”Bookmark here

Just as soon as he said that, just as he feared, his foot managed to step on Hinota’s right foot, causing her face to cringe a little.Bookmark here

“Ah! I’m sorry! Hinota, are you Ok?!”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry,” Hinota remained unfazed as she put on a gentle face. “It’s part of learning. Make sure to follow my movements well, Ok?”Bookmark here

“O-Okay…”Bookmark here

Seeing Hinota quickly absorb the pain and act like nothing happened, making sure that the experience was fun for him, Kudo felt more anguished, and steeled his will to learn.Bookmark here

Making sure he doesn’t repeat the mistake, Kudo glared deeply into Hinota’s eyes and followed her movements.Bookmark here

All those months together, learning every movement in battle to make the best efficient battling, Kudo forced his body to remember the rhythm Hinota exuded, and followed along the music with it.Bookmark here

Each step, Kudo began to get better and better, and before long, the mood around them was absorbed by them, and they began to raise the tempo of their steps.Bookmark here

Each step became more exhilarating, his body pumping itself up from the music and the spirit of dancing. Hinota did not have to teach him anything, and yet Kudo was absorbing all of Hinota’s dance movements as if it was nearly being given to him.Bookmark here

A smile rose from both their lips, and their eyes started to gleam. Sweat streamed from their temples as their bodies were taken to the limit, but unlike their vicious training, their hearts were pumping out of excitement and adrenaline.Bookmark here

“Kudo, you’re getting better! I never had a dance like this before!” Hinota offered her words, impressed at how quickly Kudo was learning.Bookmark here

“I-I don’t know how, but I’m doing it! How did you teach me without even saying anything?”Bookmark here

“Dancing is not something you learn, it’s what you feel. You don’t remember the steps—you remember the rhythm in your body, and the way you want to move.”Bookmark here

Hinota spoke, and to Kudo, it was like learning from a master.Bookmark here

“I never thought dancing could be so much fun!”Bookmark here

“Hehe~ that’s why everyone loves to dance!”Bookmark here

While Kudo and Hinota danced, on the side, Mick was enjoying his time together with Eruda as the two were already dancing together.Bookmark here

Surprisingly, Lailah has already picked up a nobleman—a handsome man with defining features such as blond hair, clear eyes and a gallant smile.Bookmark here

“W-Whoa, she already got one…” Kudo remained amazed at how fast Lailah worked.Bookmark here

“Goes to show how much skills she has,” Hinota was deeply impressed as her eyes widened.Bookmark here

As the music began to increase in volume, Kudo and Hinota didn’t realize that the other nobles were looking at them in awe and amazement. The way the two were practically gliding across the ballroom with their bright smiles, their atmosphere around them rousing the other nobles to become more joyful.Bookmark here

“The red-haired maiden looked so divine, yet so cold, but now she just looks so dazzling!”Bookmark here

“The azure-haired gentleman beside her just takes my breath away! Ah, how handsome…”Bookmark here

The nobles have completely forgotten the malice they showed to the Adventurers. They were now looking at the two in awe, and enjoying the atmosphere the others were putting off.Bookmark here

In the meanwhile, up above the balcony, Ramil looked down at her subjects dancing along merrily in her ball. Holding a wine glass in her hand, filled with her favorite red-colored wine, she had a sly smile across her gallant face.Bookmark here

“Truly, those two reminds me of the ones back home… I wonder how my guild is doing right now?”Bookmark here

Ramil spoke as her memories took her mind to a journey as she watched Kudo and Hinota danced without a care in the world.Bookmark here

The entire ball was filled with a festive cheer. As they finished dancing with each other, Hinota danced with Mick this time, and Kudo danced with Eruda.Bookmark here

While Mick became nervous as he looked at Hinota’s sharp eyes, he couldn’t help but have fun with her as he danced with the dancing expert Hinota.Bookmark here

Kudo, on the other hand, now being more experienced, nearly took Lailah and Eruda by storm with his dancing, nearly blowing their minds away from the dance.Bookmark here

Lailah was left with an explosive energy, nearly clashing together with Kudo’s energy, and with Eruda, she followed along with it smoothly, an energetic smile pasted on her face as she moved.Bookmark here

Finally, their stamina left them exhausted, and the only way for an Adventurer to regain their stamina was to eat their fill.Bookmark here

The party headed towards the buffet and ate everything in sight, often leaving the other nobles shocked at their behavior, but rather than hating them, they began to laugh at them, and even spurned them on to eating more of their fill.Bookmark here

Of course, the nobles were more shocked at how quickly Hinota ate the meals before the servants could go in a panic to bring in more.Bookmark here

As the buffet was practically empty, they began to dance again. Amazingly, Lailah snagged herself another nobleman, as no one could escape from her maiden jaws.Bookmark here

Mick danced with Eruda again, a silly smile spread across his face as Eruda nearly blushed as she could tell how excited Mick was to dance with her.Bookmark here

Kudo and Hinota danced with each other once more, refilling the entire ballroom with their dancing and merriment.Bookmark here

Truly, it was a night to remember for the nobles and the PlusFire members.Bookmark here

Never thought that the two could be experts in bringing down the funk? Well, that’s the PlusFire for you! Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.