ZAP – Chapter 18: Eugene aims for the 20th Floor

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—Defeat the 20th Floor Boss. 

That’s what Leona said. 

That answer wasn’t surprising. 

Rather…

“Wouldn’t it be easy with these members?” (Eugene)

I gave her my honest opinion.

This is what I have noticed after having mock battles with the club members. 

They have high team coordination. 

I am sorry to say this, but the Federation explorers we met at the 10th Floor can’t even compare. 

“Well, I also think there won’t be any issues though.” (Leona)

Leona also honestly admits it. 

Moreover, from what I have heard, Leona and the 3rd wing of the martial arts club have arrived at the 19th Floor several times already.

No wonder they managed to advance so smoothly.

The exploration this time is for the sake of training. 

“That’s…true, but there’s something that worries me…” (Leona)

“…? What worries you?” (Eugene)

I asked Leona.

“Do you know, Eugene-san? There’s rumors that the strength of the Floor Bosses recently has been weird.” (Leona)

“…No, haven’t heard of it.” (Eugene)

I didn’t know that. 

Honestly speaking, I had no intentions of fighting Floor Bosses until I met Sumire. 

I had no plans on pushing my dungeon exploration forward either, so I didn’t gather information.

“There’s rumors that the difficulty adjustment of the Zenith Tower has been going crazy lately. Even the Troll that you defeated was also the case. A large size black in the 10th Floor didn’t happen before. Honestly speaking, it is said that that strength wouldn’t be strange to be found in the 20th or 30th Floor instead.” (Leona)

“…Really?” (Eugene)

This is my first time fighting a Floor Boss, so I didn’t notice. 

I have seen many battles of explorers against Floor Bosses through the Satellite System. 

When I actually fought it, I simply thought: ‘I see, this is the strength of a Floor Boss’.

And then, I noticed Leona’s worry.

“That’s why healing tools alone would leave you uneasy, so I would be of assistance as a healer?” (Eugene)

“That’s right! Also…if need be, it is okay for you to defeat it, you know?” (Leona)

Leona winked at me. 

“I wouldn’t steal the prey of the martial arts club. By the way, if I remember correctly, the 20th Floor Boss is…” (Eugene)

“The Goblin King.” (Leona)

I nodded lightly at the words of Leona.

I have seen the footage of the Satellite System with record magic. 

I remember the explorers challenging it a few days ago and failing. 

If no one has defeated it yet, the Floor Boss should be as it is still. 

Goblin King. 

A Floor Boss that’s different from the 10th Floor Troll in that it leads a pack. 

Goblins are not strong individually. 

The Floor Boss itself would be on the same level or slightly weaker compared to the one of the 10th Floor. 

What’s problematic is their numbers. 

Even so, if the martial arts club members were to challenge it in perfect state, even if it won’t be easy, I doubt it would be a dangerous enemy. 

It may serve as a good experience for Sumire too. 

“I understand the situation now. Leave the supporting to me.” (Eugene)

“Thanks, Eugene-san! You will be a great help!” (Leona)

Leona held my hand tightly. 

The people of the martial arts club really don’t skimp on skin contact. 

That was the same for the male students I bathed with. 

“Eugene-kun, your muscles are incredible.” 

“Hey, what kind of training do you do?” 

They would say stuff like that as they touch my body. 

Maybe they really do pay special attention to body building since they are from the martial arts club? 

I thought our talk had ended with this, but after letting my hand go, Leona had her eyes wander for a bit before speaking again.

“By the way…is it true that you get along well with Claude from the Legendary Hero Department, Eugene-san?” (Leona)

“Claude? Yeah, the animal club is looking after the wyvern he rides, and I have participated in hunting parties with him a number of times before.” (Eugene)

The topic suddenly changed.

“Hmm~, I see.” (Leona)

“What about him?” (Eugene)

“No, nothing!” (Leona)

“…? I see?” (Eugene)

I can’t tell what she is trying to ask me here.

“See ya. Have a good rest. We will be counting on you tomorrow too☆.” (Leona)

Leona left as she said this. 

Sumire had come back as if taking her place. 

It seems like she had taken a bath, steam was coming out from her body. 

“I heard about this when we passed by Leona-san just now, but I was told ‘I am counting on you tomorrow too’.” (Sumire)

“Yeah, Leona and the others apparently plan on breaking through the 20th Floor. She asked us to help out.” (Eugene)

“I see. Did you give your okay, Eugene-kun?” (Sumire)

“If you are okay with that.” (Eugene)

“I am fine with it! I made a whole lot of friends too.” (Sumire)

A smile leaked out from me at what she said. 

Sumire is a good, cheerful girl. 

When she first came to this world, she had a face of unease and confusion the whole time. 

But she seems to be having fun recently. 

I think it was a good thing that the martial arts club invited us. 

“Then, we have to get ready for tomorrow’s exploration!” (Sumire)

“Yeah, go to sleep quickly, okay?” (Eugene)

“You won’t be going to sleep yet, Eugene-kun?” (Sumire)

“I will be doing some sword training for a bit.” (Eugene)

Saying this, I unsheathe the sword I got from the federation explorer. 

(…It didn’t have a turn today.) (Eugene)

In that case, I should train that share. 

I comfortably take the stance of the Twin Heavenly Resonance Style. 

I have always been using a wooden sword to do my swings, but it really is more calming to hold a real sword. 

(Hm?) (Eugene)

I felt a gaze. 

Sumire was looking over here with a hand resting on her chin. 

“Is something the matter?” (Eugene)

“Can I watch?” (Sumire)

“Feel free to.” (Eugene)

I chuckled. 

Now then, with a spectator, huh…

Plain swinging would be boring. 

I look around. We are surrounded by the closely packed trees of the forest area in the 15th Floor. 

I found a single tree that’s on the verge of withering. 

It must have been chewed by something, the root had been torn out. 

The branches barely have some dead leaves sticking to it. 

(This one’s nice…) (Eugene)

I approached that tree and *pang!* hit it with the bottom of my palm.

The withered tree shook heavily and the leaves sticking to the branches were falling in droves. 

(Around 20 leaves.) (Eugene)

I catch them all in sight and ready my sword. 

What I should use here is…

—Twin Heavenly Resonance Style: Wind Form – Kamaitachi. 

A form that is like a sword dance, used when you are surrounded by many enemies. 

A form that cuts everything in a 360°.

*Swish!*

Once I finished slicing all the leaves, I looked at Sumire and said ‘how was that?’.

I thought for sure she would be impressed, but she had her eyes and mouth wide open.

“Sumire?” (Eugene)

“E-Eugene-kun…” (Sumire)

“How was it?” (Eugene)

“T-That just now…did you just slice all of the leaves before they fell onto the ground?!” (Sumire)

“Yeah, but my skills have dulled. I didn’t manage to slice a few of them. If this had been seen by Pops, I would be getting an earful.” (Eugene)

“W-Wow! That was so incredible I don’t really get it well, but Eugene-kun, that was amazing! Hey hey, what other thing can you do?!” (Sumire)

“Hmm, then, the next would be this, I guess.” (Eugene)

Feeling good, I showcased several techniques of the Twin Heavenly Resonance Style that I haven’t used in a while. 

While she was making a whole lot of excited noises, the martial arts club members began gathering wondering what was going on, and I ended up showing it to them too. 

And so, it got pretty late before we finally went to sleep.

Well, there’s days like this too.

◇The next morning◇

We departed from the 15th Floor. 

By the way, the stairs to the next floor changes locations every day in the Zenith Tower. 

Because of this, there’s not much point even if you find it the previous day. 

That said, the martial arts club has reached the 19th Floor at least once already. 

They found the stairs to the 16th Floor pretty quickly. 

We were attacked by several groups of Goblins on the 16th Floor. 

The leader was a higher species of Goblin, a Hobgoblin. 

I was thinking about joining the battle with the Ifrit mana, but they were subjugated by the martial arts club in an instant. 

“Aah, too bad, Eugene-kun.” (Sumire)

“Well, it can’t be helped.” (Eugene)

I shrugged my shoulders at the words of Sumire. 

In the 17th Floor, we encountered a group of Orcs.

We defeated them without any issues. 

At that point, we took a break close to the dungeon elevators. 

Other club members grouped up with us while bringing food. 

Sumire and I got a share of it. 

Grilled meat and vegetables, and fried fish in bread with sauce smeared in it. 

“Yay, sandwiches!” (Sumire)

Sumire was happy about it. 

Looks like she knows this dish too. 

…I also like it quite a bit myself. 

Maybe I should try to make some next time. 

After we finished our meal, we resumed the exploration. 

A Kobold unit attacked us on the 18th Floor. 

Kobold units have many that use long reach weapons like bows and spears, so there were moments when the martial arts club members were having a hard time. 

That said, there weren’t any who were heavily injured. 

I was mainly the healer in this. 

After around an hour of exploration, we arrived at the 19th Floor. 

I was standing at the back of the martial arts club members together with Sumire since I am the healer here, but…I honestly don’t have anything to do. 

“Doesn’t seem like there’s a turn for us.” (Eugene)

“Now now, Eugene-san, safety at foremost. It is because you are here that everyone can explore without any worries.” (Leona)

Leona was the one to apologize this time around. 

Must be because she was the one that asked me to accompany them. 

“Hmm, but it really is going smoothly.” (Sumire)

Sumire is making a tenseless expression.

I should point this out just in case.

“Sumire, you can only say stuff like that in the low floors. It is not just for show that humanity has never reached the top of the Zenith Tower that’s called a Last Dungeon. Before, I said the difficulty shoots up at the 100th Floor, but even at the 50th Floor the difficulty increases drastically. We cleared the 10th Floor, so we are currently C Rank explorers, and if we clear the 50th Floor, we would be B Rank. The wall between those is high.” (Eugene)

“That said, we are still at the 19th Floor though.” (Leona)

“Yeah.” (Eugene)

It is as Leona says.

In the end, we are still on the lower floors.

If we have a safety margin properly in place, the explorations are not that dangerous.

And in this way, we found the stairs leading to the 20th Floor without any big troubles happening. 

◇◇

The first thing I felt when we arrived at the 20th Floor is that something was off.

(…It is silent.) (Eugene)

Only the floor of the Floor Boss has no strong monsters aside from the boss, so it is not strange. 

However, something…is strange.

I don’t know what exactly it is. 

This is just my instinct speaking here. 

Anyways, I have a bad feeling

— “Eugene, the instinct of a swordsman is trustworthy.”

I remember the words of Pops. 

“Leona.” (Eugene)

How about we retreat? -is what I was about to say, but stop myself from. 

The expression of the martial arts club 3rd wing captain, Leona, had changed into a serious one. 

She herself has also felt some sort of anomaly here. 

“Eugene-san, what do you think of this place?” (Leona)

Leona asked.

“I don’t know, but I have a bad feeling.” (Eugene)

I answered honestly.

“Leona-san, Eugene-kun, are you not going?” (Sumire)

“What’s the matter, Captain?” 

Sumire and the members of the martial arts club are waiting for the orders of Leona. 

The exploration until now went smoothly. 

I normally explore solo, so if I don’t feel like it even a little bit, I would stop. 

But this is a team. 

Their morale is high, so a reason is needed to stop this. 

Leona seems to be troubled here as the captain. 

She took a deep breath. 

“…Everyone, be careful. Let’s proceed cautiously.” (Leona)

“““Yes!”””

Leona decided to continue the exploration. 

I didn’t stop that. 

I am an outsider. 

The right to decide in this team is solely within the martial arts club. 

We slowly moved further into the 20th Floor. 

“““…”””

Everyone was silent which is very different from how they were until the 19th Floor. 

The tension of Leona must have transmitted to everyone. 

The 20th Floor is a forest area.

There’s a lot of tall grass too, so the vision is bad. 

*Rustle Rustle*

I heard the sound of grass being stepped on, and when I directed my eyes there, a deer was looking at us. 

There were also other herbivorous animals -harmless beasts- visible here and there.

No monsters. 

“I can’t see…any Goblins.” 

One of the club members muttered.

There’s no monsters aside from the Floor Boss within their territory. 

The 20th Floor should have the pack of Goblins that the Goblin King leads. 

But we don’t see any monsters. 

We continued exploring for some time more and we found something strange. 

It was a small humanoid creature collapsed within a pool of blood.

—The corpse of a Goblin.

“Leona, let’s retreat. The state of the 20th Floor is strange right now.” (Eugene)

“Yeah, let’s go back.” (Leona)

I advised this without hesitation and Leona also agreed.

“Eh? Captain Leona, we are retreating?!” 

“Why, Eugene-kun?” (Sumire) 

“The 20th Floor is currently the turf of the Goblin King. There shouldn’t be any monsters aside from Goblins.” (Eugene)

“But a Goblin is dead. Something strange is happening here.” (Leona)

The possibility here is an alternation of Floor Bosses. 

There are rare occasions when 2 Floor Bosses spawn in the same floor, and there would be times when the Floor Bosses would fight each other. 

If you find yourself in a scenario like that, you will end up having to fight 2 Floor Bosses. We have been taught by the Lykeion Magic Academy that we should avoid that at all costs. 

“Eugene-san, what do you think is happening?” (Leona)

Leona and I were serving as the rear as we spoke while walking with hurried steps. 

“I think it is an alternation of Floor Bosses.” (Eugene)

“I think so too. The bosses that spawn often in the 20th FLoor are: the Goblin King, Kobold King, and Orc King.” (Leona)

The pack of the Goblin King and the pack of some other monsters are fighting for the territory. 

In that case, the corpse of the Goblin just now can be explained. 

But there’s a point that I am still not convinced about. 

It is way too silent.” (Eugene)

“Right. I am also bothered by that.” (Leona)

Leona nodded at what I said.

Goblins, Kobolds, Orcs; not a single one of them are a docile race. 

They would intimidate or raise loud noises when in battle. 

It should be quite noisy if it is a battle between two races of monsters. 

But the forest area is silent. 

—As if all living beings are holding their breath

We quickly and silently headed to the dungeon elevator. 

“Captain Leona, are we really going back? Even though we came all the way here…”

A member of the martial arts club said slightly dissatisfied. 

“Yeah. I might be acting too careful here though…” (Leona)

Deep in the forest, the dungeon elevators that look like thin long towers were entering our sight. 

I sighed in relief at this. 

Just when I did…

*Rumble*

The ground shook. 

A giant shadow appeared in front of us. 

It stood on four legs, and in terms of appearance alone, it looked like a big black wolf. 

But that’s not it. 

A giant body even bigger than the trees around…

It is even bigger than the Troll. 

The moment I saw it…shivers ran through my body and my hairs stood on end. 

I could tell instinctively.

This guy is bad news…! 

“T-The Goblin King is…!” 

Someone raised a scream. 

The Floor Boss we were planning on defeating. 

The 3 headed monster in four legs was carrying the corpse of the Goblin King in its mouth as it looked down at us with an air of composure. 

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