ZAP – Chapter 25: Gossip – Childhood Friend

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◇At the Grandflare Empire◇

The Einherjar Palace is located at the center of the capital. 

It is the biggest man-made construction of the South Continent and the symbol of the Empire’s prosperity. 

What was at the deep inner part of the palace was the audience room with the Emperor. 

A single female knight came out from the big door before it. 

What was shining at her chest was the crest of a golden lion with two wings. 

It is proof of being the highest ranked knight in the Empire, a Heaven Knight. 

Oracle, Airi Areus Grandflare.

She reported to her father -his Imperial-Majesty- about how she had suppressed a small insurrection in the vassal territory of the Empire. 

(Father really exploits his daughter!) (Airi)

Airi sighed.

“I have no intention of letting the competent take a break, okay? You did well, Airi. I will let you get a reward later.” 

The thankful words of her father who looks a lot younger than his appearance would lead to believe. 

This is necessary for Airi who is aiming to become an Emperor. 

But anyways, it is very busy. 

(Let’s take a nice break tomorrow…) (Airi)

‘The performance of my subordinates in suppressing the insurrection was splendid. Let’s have them take plenty enough rest too’ -is what she was thinking as she advanced through the spacious corridor in the palace. 

She passed by prominent nobles and high ranked knights. 

Everyone was looking at Airi.

“Look, it is Princess Airi.” 

“She is gallant and beautiful no matter when I see her.” 

“I heard that she is going to be the next Emperor with her boyfriend, General Berthold.” 

“Despite being the 7th to the throne, her Ability is number 1 after all.”

“Yeah, the Empire will be stable if Airi-sama becomes the Emperor!” 

Those were the whispers going around.

(I can hear you all… Lower your voices more.) (Airi)

But she doesn’t point it out every time. 

There would be no end to it after all. 

(Good grief, even if it is the fate of royalty, to think I would gather attention no matter where I go…) (Airi)

She still isn’t used to it. 

As for the Emperor, he would tell her ‘Would you bother about every chirping of birds?’.

She doesn’t have such strong nerves yet.

(If he were here…) (Airi)

The one she remembered was her childhood friend. 

She feels like her heart was more peaceful when she had him by her side. 

But that’s wishing for something that she doesn’t have. 

Airi headed to the exit of the palace with hurried steps so that she doesn’t have to worry about the noise. 

At that moment, she heard something that bothered her. 

“Oi, did you hear? There’s apparently a guy who managed to get through a Discipline Beast in the Last Dungeon solo!” 

“Hoh, who is that guy? A Templar from the Sacred Union? Or a Dragon Knight of the Blue Water Federation?” 

“It is apparently a swordsman from the Empire.” 

“Wow! That’s wonderful!” 

“Then, who was the one that defeated the Discipline Beast? A famous guy?” 

“Someone from the Empire becoming an explorer is normally a nameless commoner who seeks fame, right?” 

“Well then, prepare to be amazed. It is the heir of the Santafield household.” 

“The guy that only has White Mana?” 

“Yeah yeah, the weirdo that enrolled in the Lykeion Magic Academy despite getting the highest grades in the Imperial Military School.” 

“It was rumored that if he were to polish himself as a Barriermancer or a Healer, he could have become the number one in that field on the Empire.” 

“Well, the person himself wanted to become a swordsman after all.” 

“His father is the most honored Imperial Sword, you know. Of course he would want to walk the same path.” 

“But if he has defeated a Discipline Beast, that’s quite the achievement. His father will probably be able to rest at ease with this.” 

“No doubt about it.” 

The moment Princess Airi heard about this, she approached the knights that were talking. 

“Tell me about what you said just now in detail.” (Airi)

“““Ah, Airi-sama!”””

The knights fixed their posture and saluted at the Oracle. 

◇Imperial Army: Intelligence Department◇

“I will be intruding.” 

“Well well, if it isn’t Princess Airi. What’s the matter?” 

The place Airi went to is the Intelligence Department of the Imperial Army that searches for information in the whole continent. 

It is a place she comes to often, including the time when she was suppressing the rebellion. 

“Did something happen in the Last Dungeon?” (Airi)

The question of Airi made the man in the room grin. 

He is the one in charge of the Intelligence Department. 

“So you heard the rumors. Your childhood friend-dono is doing his best in making a name for himself at the dungeon city.” 

“I want to see the footage.” (Airi)

“Go ahead, over here.” 

The Intelligence Department records the footage of the Last Dungeon sent by the Satellite System 24/7.

It is in order to scout any exemplary explorer into the Imperial Army at once.

That’s why they have dense interactions with the explorers affiliated to the Imperial Army that were dispatched to the dungeon city. 

The video was showing the 20th Floor of the Zenith Tower. 

At first, Eugene was simply running away from the 3 headed beast…the Watchdog of Hades, Cerberus. 

The sight of him carrying the girl that accompanied him and running into a cavity of a big tree was unsightly. 

After that, what was shown was Eugene standing face to face alone against Cerberus. 

That figure of his challenging Cerberus with red blade brandished was gallant. 

That’s what Airi found strange. 

“That Magic Sword…” (Airi)

Eugene should only be able to use White Mana.

But the sword Eugene is holding is shining a brilliant red. 

“It is most likely the mana of the girl called Sumire who reincarnated in the body of an Ifrit. He has also defeated the Floor Boss of the 10th Floor with the same Magic Sword.” 

The head of the Intelligence Department explained to Airi.

—An Ifrit reincarnator. 

This is the first time Airi learned about something like that existing. 

After that, he was having a difficult battle against Cerberus, but he managed to fight him off splendidly in the end. 

It was a magnificent hit. 

(Special Technique of the Twin Heavenly Resonance Style: Kirin Blade…) (Airi)

A nostalgic sword. 

They learned the sword together, but in the end, Airi didn’t manage to reach the realm of Eugene. 

It is in part because the Oracle Airi had a lot of things to learn about aside from the sword, but the swordsmanship of Eugene was on a level of its own within the students of the same year in the Imperial Military School.

It seems like his skills have not dulled even after enrolling in the Magic Academy. 

And what bothered her was…

“What was that last Magic Sword? At a glance, it looked like a simple Black Mana Magic Sword, but…” (Airi)

“It is a Magic Sword that managed to drop the head of a Beast of Gods. We are investigating after judging that there must be some sort of secret behind it. It is most likely related to King Uther at the Dungeon City though… The aforementioned king is full of secrets after all.” 

The Intelligence Department man was brushing his beard with a troubled look.

Airi made a small pensive gesture and then spoke.

“Do you have any opinions regarding the battle just now as a member of the Empire’s Intelligence Department?” (Airi)

Airi asked the head of the Intelligence Department. 

“I would comment with: amazing. However, the Discipline Beast just now was an irregular summon that wasn’t in the 100th Floor. It doesn’t really say that he has actually passed the 100th Floor, but he will definitely be getting through the 100th Floor eventually.” 

“…I see.” (Airi)

Airi’s voice was gentle.

—Eugene and the reincarnated girl were talking about something within the screen. 

“Well then, I will be cutting off the video.” 

“Wait a moment. Can you pick up what they are saying?” (Airi)

“Yeah, we can.” 

The volume of the video increases.

In the video, there’s Eugene comforting the crying girl, the Fire Half-God Ifrit. 

And then, the girl stopped crying and changed to a smile. 

— “Sumire, become my partner and let’s head to the 500th Floor together!” 

— “Okay! Let’s go together!” 

Eugene and the Ifrit girl shook hands. 

Airi was watching that. 

“You went big there with the 500th Floor declaration, Eugene-dono. If you really manage to do that, it would be a great enterprise that would shine on the Empire.” 

The chief of the Intelligence Department laughed with a ‘hohohoho’.

It seems like he doesn’t think what Eugene said was realistic. 

The people killed by Cerberus were being revived by the Resurrection Drop after that. 

And then, the reincarnated girl was surprised to an exaggerated degree at this. 

The explorers were making a whole lot of noise within the footage. 

Asking how much would the Resurrection Drops cost and about debts which is information that’s unthinkable to be useful info for the princess.

The chief was about to ask ‘should I cut off the footage?’, but stopped. 

It is because the expression of Princess Airi was way too serious. 

(She is probably relieved after having seen her childhood friend-dono after so long.) 

The chief decided to wrap it up as that. 

Airi was staring intently at the footage of the 20th Floor.

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