ZAP – Chapter 17: Eugene talks with Sumire

◇Eugene’s POV◇

(…I can’t calm down.) (Eugene)

A distance I feel like I would be able to reach if I were to stretch out my hand. 

Sumire has covered herself with a thin blanket and is lying down. 

She is a beauty that could convince anyone to think she is a princess of some country just by her looks alone. 

Sumire looks even more alluring than usual after just taking a bath. 

It seems she didn’t bring her sleepwear, so she borrowed some from the girls of the martial arts club. 

The thin shirt is accentuating the contours of her body. 

(Oh my, oh my, are you going to put a hand on her? Even though you have me~!!) 

For some reason, the voice of Eri rang in my head. 

Damn it, that Fallen Angel! 

Showing up in the wicked thoughts of someone else.

I shook my head as if shaking away my perverted thoughts. 

“…Eugene-kun.” (Sumire)

Sumire spoke to me at that moment.

“W-What is it…?” (Eugene)

My voice cracked there.

I held my heart from beating faster as I waited for the words of Sumire. 

“Do you have siblings, Eugene-kun?” (Sumire)

It was a question about my family. 

“I don’t think I have. I am an only child.” (Eugene)

“I see~. I had a little sister. I am talking about my past life here though.” (Sumire)

“Is that so…” (Eugene)

“But I don’t remember much, you know… My mind draws a blank when it comes to the faces of my friends.” (Sumire)

Right now Sumire has no family. 

She barely has any friends either. 

The loneliness must have pressed onto her after she spoke with the girls of the martial arts club and separated from them. 

“I would like to hear about your childhood stories, Eugene-kun.” (Sumire)

“Mine? If you want to…” (Eugene)

Sumire said she doesn’t remember about herself, so she wants to hear stories from others. 

And so, I spoke about my own background. 

“ Iwas born in the East Continent.” (Eugene)

“Eh?! Really? So it wasn’t on this continent.” (Sumire)

 “But I was here by the time I had any memories, so I don’t remember anything about the East Continent.” (Eugene)

“What do you mean by that?” (Sumire)

“This will be a long story, but…” (Eugene)

I tell Sumire.

My grandfather and my pops were serving as swordsmen for generations in a certain small nation of the East Continent. 

Pops married mom when he was 18. 

But mom died as soon as she gave birth to me. 

The East Continent has had many countries in war the whole time. 

One day, the country that they were serving fell because of a big war. 

Most of my family apparently ended up being scattered including my grandfather. 

Me and my pops emigrated to the South Continent. 

My memories only are after having come to the South Continent. 

Pops went around here and there in the South Continent, searching for work in order to raise me. 

One day when he had gone out hunting, he saved the crown prince (currently His Imperial-Highness) from a dragon using a single katana. 

The crown prince had fallen in love with the swordsmanship of pops, and he hired him as his own bodyguard on the spot. 

I don’t know the exact amount, but it was apparently around 100 times more than when he was working as a mercenary on those days. 

And so, pops was now serving the court and we ended up staying at the Empire. 

As of present, he is the right-hand man of his Imperial-Highness, the Imperial Sword.

By the way, pops is still a bachelor even now. 

He hasn’t remarried. 

There have apparently been hundreds of marriage proposals, but he has rejected them all. 

Even the ones that His Imperial-Highness has introduced to him. 

When I asked ‘Why aren’t you marrying again, Pops?’, he simply answered with ‘Because I have your mother’.

Since then, I haven’t touched on that subject. 

Since Pops began serving His Imperial-Highness, I ended up attending the Imperial Military School that has dorms. 

That’s where I met my childhood friend, Airi. 

7th Princess of the Empire, Airi Areus Grandflare. 

She was quite the conceited girl the first time I met her. 

“Hey, I heard you are good with the sword! Have a match with me!” 

I was challenged by Airi who had the top grades in the school at that time. 

“I don’t mind.” 

I had been taught the way of the sword by Pops since I was 4, but this was the first time I had a match with someone of my same age. 

At that time, I completely demolished Airi. 

“W-Why…? To think I wouldn’t be able to get even one hit in…not even a scratch…” (Airi)

Seeing the princess in tears, I remember feeling as if I did something really bad there.

“Princess Airi, this is the 20th match already. How about putting an end to it already?” (Eugene)

“One more time! This will be the last one!” (Airi)

In the end, I was made to continue the mock battles until Airi couldn’t move anymore. 

Since that day, everyday…

“Eugy, fight me! I will win today for sure!” (Airi)

“Again…? I want to study tactics today though…” (Eugene)

“I will teach you that! Anyways, fight me!” (Airi)

“Kay kay.” (Eugene)

Airi was challenging me to fight almost every day. 

When I taught her the Twin Heavenly Resonance Style, the diligent Airi steadily got better. 

In exchange, I had Airi teach me theoretical stuff since she had been given advanced education since a very young age. 

At that time, I could only read and write, but I managed to keep up with the difficult classes of the Imperial Military School thanks to Airi. 

Airi and I were rivals that competed for 1st and 2nd place the whole time. 

(…Those times were fun.) (Eugene)

I ended up feeling sentimental there. 

My chest always stirs when I talk about Airi.

But it looks like I have managed to overcome it to a point where I can talk about my past with Sumire in this manner. 

And then, the Selection Exam of the Imperial Military School finally arrived. 

I couldn’t become a magic swordsman like Pops. 

After that, I studied abroad at the Lykeion Magic Academy. 

“…That’s basically it. If I graduate from the Lykeion Magic Academy, I won’t have trouble finding a job once I return to the Empire, and Pops told me that he doesn’t mind me staying at the dungeon city if I take a liking to it.” (Eugene)

I ended up talking for a while there. 

Did I manage to tell it well? 

I looked at Sumire.

“……”

Sumire was staring at me intently. 

“Is something the matter?” (Eugene)

“Unforgivable! That Airi girl, saying something like that to you when you were suffering!” (Sumire)

Looks like she is angered by Airi. 

“It can’t be helped. Airi is an Oracle. She is in a position that can’t allow her to stay with a talentless like me.” (Eugene)

“But I don’t like it!” (Sumire)

Sumire is a good girl. 

She shows her emotions on her sleeve. 

She is different from me who is always repressing my emotions. 

I found that endearing as I watched her, and Sumire looked at me as if she wanted to say something. 

“Sumire?” (Eugene)

“Hey, Eugene-kun, you said that it would be an incredible honor to reach the Record Holders of the Last Dungeon, right?” (Sumire)

“Yeah, that’s the objective of all explorers of the South Continent.” (Eugene)

“I am sure you will be able to get an incredible record, Eugene-kun. You did defeat the 10th Floor Boss alone.” (Sumire)

“Hmm, I can’t really say it was alone… It was the result of borrowing your mana after all.” (Eugene)

It is by no means my power alone. 

“But you are my guardian. If we explore together, the 50th floor or even the 100th floor wouldn’t be a dream, right?!” (Sumire)

“We could aim for somewhere around the 50th Floor. But the 100th Floor would be impossible.” (Eugene)

“Why?” (Sumire)

“The Floor Boss of the 100th Floor is special. It is in a whole other realm compared to the monsters from the 99th and below.” (Eugene)

“Hmm…is that so?” (Sumire)

Sumire made a complicated expression at my explanation. 

I will explain those parts as time goes on. 

It is true that I passed the 10th Floor. 

I have been a D rank explorer this whole time. 

That’s because I never challenged the Floor Boss. 

But when you defeat the Floor Boss, your explorer rank goes up to C rank. 

It might be fine if you are aiming for even higher up. 

Well, the 100th Floor is still far into the future though. 

“We spoke for longer than expected. Sumire, let’s go to sleep already.” (Eugene)

“…Yeah.” (Sumire)

Sumire turned silent. 

I closed my eyes. 

Silence covered the inside of the tent. 

But Sumire once again spoke. 

“Hey, Eugene-kun.” (Sumire)

“What?” (Eugene)

“Maybe I should join your club too.” (Sumire)

“The Animal Club?” (Eugene)

“Yeah.” (Sumire)

“…” 

“Are you against it?” (Sumire)

“That’s not it.” (Eugene)

I feel like Sumire (an otherworlder) should have more suitable places she could go. 

But if the person herself says she wants to join, there’s no reason to be against it. 

The one worrying point is…

(Whether I should introduce them to Sumire…) (Eugene)

The Animal Club is a small club of a total of 5 people. 

But the members are all very quirky. 

…I hope Sumire doesn’t get surprised. 

“Then, it is settled! Good night!” (Sumire)

Saying this, Sumire faced the other way and began to sleep. 

I also closed my eyes and relaxed to sleep. 

I must have been more tired than I thought, I managed to fall asleep pretty fast. 

◇◇

“Good morning~!! Wake up~~~!!!” 

I woke up in the morning and, while I was arranging my luggage, the clank clank sound of metal hitting each other rang. 

When I looked over there, there’s Leona hitting a pot with a ladle. 

“Ooi, Sumire, wake up~.” (Eugene)

“Hnn…a bit more…” (Sumire)

Sumire is half-asleep. 

It seems like she isn’t an early riser. 

I called her a number of times and had her wake up. 

It is a bit embarrassing to see the sleeping face of a girl. 

After that, we had breakfast at the tent and Leona came by. 

“Hey, Eugene-kun, are you going back today?” (Leona)

Leona asked us, and Sumire and I looked at each other’s faces. 

“I don’t mind either way.” (Eugene)

“I myself would like to talk with Leona-san.” (Sumire)

“Me too! Then, let’s go explore together!” (Leona)

We ended up exploring together with the response of Sumire. 

The martial arts club is seriously friendly.

I cleaned up the tent swiftly. 

“Now, off we go~.” (Leona)

We began moving at Leona’s call. 

Our progress was…shockingly fast. 

“An Orc showed up!” 

“““Alright!”””

“Pugyah?!” 

Even when a monster showed up, the vigorous martial arts club would defeat them in an instant. 

(Are they really from the 3rd wing…?) (Eugene)

I am impressed by the passion of the martial arts club.

“Sumire, this is how you throw a straight punch.” (Leona)

“L-Like this?” (Sumire)

“That’s right, that’s right! You are good. And a kick goes like this.” (Leona)

“I see!” (Sumire)

Sumire was learning martial arts from Leona. 

“You pick things up well, Sumire-chan. Want to try joining the martial arts club?” (Leona)

Looks like she is being recruited. 

As expected of an otherworlder. 

She is super popular. 

“B-But I plan on joining the same club as Eugene-kun…” (Sumire)

“The animal club? But you can be in more than one club, you know? Consider it!” (Leona)

“O-Okay, I will consider it.” (Sumire)

I myself think she would suit a club with more people like the martial arts club rather than a minor one like the animal club. 

But that’s something Sumire has to decide for herself. 

I don’t say anything.

“Eugene-san, an injured one!” 

“Got it. [Heal].” (Eugene)

I casted healing magic on the members that were injured from the monsters. 

There’s no one who has been heavily injured. 

They would at most have light injuries or bruises. 

“Wow, this is my first time seeing a wound be healed this fast!” 

“Eugene-san, you got skills! How about becoming an exclusive member of the martial arts club?!” 

“Don’t. Eugene-san is a favorite of the Academy Principal. He is the vice-president of the animal club.” (Leona)

“I know, Captain Leona.” 

I was being recruited by the time I noticed. 

This is my first time experiencing an exploration with these many people. 

And being relied on too. 

(It doesn’t feel bad.) (Eugene)

I am grateful towards Sumire who decided to go together with the martial arts club. 

The exploration went well. 

Not only the 11th Floor, we also cleared the 12th Floor with no issues. 

We took a midday break at the 13th Floor. 

After that, we were a bit surprised by a group of Kobolds in the 14th Floor, but we safely managed to fight them back. 

There was a higher species of Kobold mixed with them. 

That one attacked Sumire.

“Kyaaaaaahhh!!!” (Sumire)

Firestorm activated at the same time as Sumire screamed. 

The higher species of Kobold was burned to a crisp. 

You picked the wrong opponent. 

““““……””””

The members of the martial arts club, who had taken distance from Sumire after I had told them countless times to, were speechless.

Fuuh…that was close. 

I obviously blocked the fire of Sumire with a barrier. 

Leona’s face was stiff. 

There was a small problem like that, but we somehow managed to reach the 15th Floor. 

“Okay, let’s camp here for today!” (Leona)

Leona instructed everyone. 

Today’s camp meal was meat and vegetables grilled on an iron plate. 

“Yay, barbeque!” (Sumire)

Sumire was all merry. 

(Barbeekiu…?) (Eugene)

That’s a term I haven’t heard before, but is it a dish from the parallel world?

This is a dish you don’t make when solo. 

It is a simple dish, but it was really tasty. 

By the way, they didn’t ask for pay again. 

It is apparently even because of the healing. 

They didn’t even get that injured to begin with, so I feel a bit bad about it. 

“Sumire-chan, let’s go take a bath~!” 

“Let’s go, let’s go♪” 

“Your skin is so pretty, Sumire-chan.” 

“Are you doing any treatments for it or something?” 

Sumire had completely blended in with the martial arts club girls. 

Or more like, are we going to be camping with them today as well…?

Spending two days in the dungeon for your first exploration…

I really feel like Sumire will become big in the future. 

I began preparing the tent.

(Does Sumire plan on staying in my tent today as well…?) (Eugene)

It really makes me nervous thinking about it. 

A young man and woman in a cramped tent…I feel like it is not that good, but…hmm…

Someone came while I was thinking that.

“Eugene-san, good work today.” 

“Sorry about Leona making you participate for 2 days.” 

“What are you saying? Thanks to Eugene-san, we are economizing on the healing potions, so we are the ones being helped out.” (Leona)

Leona came over with a big smile.

And then, she narrowed her eyes and whispered into my ear. 

Looks like she wants to talk about something secret with me. 

“…I heard from a girl that joined us today.” (Leona)

“What?” (Eugene)

“Is it true that you defeated the 10th Floor Boss all alone?” (Leona)

“……Yeah.” (Eugene)

There’s no point in hiding it. 

Someone has seen the footage of the Satellite System anyways. 

Leona’s eyes opened wide at my answer.

“Woah! The Academy Principal’s favorite really is something else!” (Leona)

“I was simply lucky. I borrowed the mana of Sumire after all.” (Eugene)

“But that normally would be impossible! …And so, I have a request for someone like you, Eugene-san.” (Leona)

The voice of Leona turned serious. 

Looks like this is the main topic. 

“About this time’s exploration…can you please tag along with us until the end? The issue being that, there won’t be any reward payment for an official allied unit. We will simply be moving together as two units like we are doing just now…” (Leona)

She lowered her head at me slightly apologetic. 

This isn’t an official request like the time when we were aiding at the 10th Floor, but an unofficial one. 

However, we owe the martial arts club big on the exploration and meals front. 

To the point that I even felt bad about not paying them for it. 

“It is okay. I will consult with Sumire first though.” (Eugene)

“Really?! Yay!!” (Leona)

Leona raised both hands in celebration. 

Sumire is getting along well with the girls of the club, so it will most likely be fine. 

“By the way…” (Eugene)

I asked something that was bothering me.

“What floor are you aiming for?” (Eugene)

That said, I pretty much have an idea of which one it is. 

With their skills, it is most likely…

“We are aiming to defeat the Floor Boss in the 20th Floor.” (Leona)

The answer of Leona was exactly what I thought. 

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