ZAP – Chapter 30: Eugene is bewildered

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“Hey, look at that! Look!” (Sumire)

“Hmm, that’s Claude and Leona, huh.” (Eugene)

Sumire and I were hiding in the shadow of a tree in the courtyard of the academy. 

We got through the 36th Floor of the Zenith Tower just a few moments ago. 

And I am currently getting context for what Sumire said before. 

“Claude-kun is two-timing Leona-chan and Teresia-san!!!!” 

The words in question.

And so, we are currently in the courtyard of the academy. 

I say courtyard, but it is astoundingly huge. 

An artificial pond on a scale that could even be called a lake was at the very center of it. 

At its surroundings, there’s a lush and maintained grassy plain that’s like a natural park.

There’s a lot of benches around the pond, and there’s mostly couples sitting there. 

And at the place Sumire is pointing at, there’s a familiar man and woman sitting at the bench in a good mood. 

Claude and Leona.

Did Claude tell a joke?

Leona was laughing with her shoulders shaking heavily. 

She seems to be having a lot of fun.

There’s none of that stormy mood of the other day. 

It at the very least seems like they have fixed their relationship.

“Ah!” (Sumire)

Sumire raised her voice.

Leona is kissing Claude.

It is a deep kiss between a couple, their arms wrapped around their necks.

…Looks like it is more than fixed.

“It certainly does seem like they are back to being a couple.” (Eugene)

“…Yeah. Uwaah. Leona-chan is so bold.” (Sumire)

Sumire seemed like she was embarrassed about this, but was watching intently. 

“Come on, let’s leave.” (Eugene)

I patted the head of Sumire and told her we should stop peeking at them anymore.

◇The next day◇ 

“Hey, Eugene-kun, is this the building where the mages gather?” (Sumire)

“Yeah, the tallest building in the dungeon city. Of course, excluding the Zenith Tower.” (Eugene)

Sumire and I had come to a place called the Sorcery Tower. 

By the way, we cleared the 37th Floor today. 

We came here after that because of a little business. 

There’s a man-made elevator in this building. 

Sumire and I head to the highest floor with the elevator. 

After going up for a while, we arrived at our destination.

The door of the elevator opens. 

“Welcome~.” 

The open terrace of the top floor is a restaurant. 

An employee with a cute outfit welcomed us. 

“Any tables for 2?” (Eugene)

“Yes. Guiding 2 customers~.” 

We didn’t make reservations, but we were guided to an inconspicuous table at the corner.

“Uwaah, what a nice view. You can see the whole dungeon city!” (Sumire)

“The roof here was originally an empty space. Principal Uther then said to use this place for something, and so this restaurant came to be. The food here is being provided by the cooking club. Of course, at a price, that is.” (Eugene)

“Eh?! This place is being managed by students?” (Sumire)

“This Sorcery Tower is a building of the academy after all. More importantly, what are you going to order?” (Eugene)

“Hmm…what should I order? Everything looks tasty.” (Sumire)

Sumire was glaring at the menu. 

I watched this heartwarming sight.

“Hey, Eugene-kun, which one will you get?” (Sumire)

“I am getting the clubhouse sandwich.” (Eugene)

It is apparently a dish that was spread by an otherworlder in the past. 

I remember a waitress here recommended this to me and it was delicious. 

“…I see.” (Sumire)

Sumire glared at me. 

That’s when I noticed my own mistake. 

“No, I will also check the menu and decide—” (Eugene)

“Did you come here with Sara-san before?” (Sumire)

“……Yeah.” (Eugene)

I gave up on slipping out of it. 

It is true that I have come here a number of times with Sara when we were a party. 

Sumire and Sara don’t get along, so it is not good that she noticed this. 

“By the way, what did Sara-san order?” (Sumire)

“…Uhm, Sara would always order this honey and cream cake, I think.” (Eugene)

Sara likes sweet stuff. 

It doesn’t matter if it is dinner or whatever, she would always order sweet stuff.

“Uwaah…that looks super sweet.” (Sumire)

Sumire frowned after seeing the picture of the dish. 

Looks like she doesn’t like sweet stuff. 

“As for me, it would be this, I guess. Excuse me~.” (Sumire)

Sumire called a waiter and gave her order.

The tables that were empty when we arrived were slowly being occupied. 

The food didn’t take long to arrive. 

In front of me, there’s a sandwich with meat, vegetables, and egg.

And for Sumire…a bright red color noodle dish. 

“Waah, looks tasty~♪.” (Sumire)

Sumire slurped it without hesitation.

It looks tasty, yeah.

But the color is astounding. 

I can’t imagine the taste. 

“What’s the matter, Eugene-kun?” (Sumire)

“What does that taste like?” (Eugene)

“Want to try?” (Sumire)

“Only one bite.” (Eugene)

I scooped the red noodle with a different fork from Sumire’s and brought it into my mouth. 

“—-?!” (Eugene)

I was hit with a shock as if the inside of my mouth was stabbed, and then a searing sensation as if my throat was burning. 

Spicy!!!!

“E-Eugene-kun?! Are you okay?” (Sumire)

“…I-I am okiee.” (Eugene)

My voice cracked there. 

This is unbelievable spiciness. 

“Do you…not find it…spicy, Sumire?” (Eugene)

“No, it is tasty.” (Sumire)

I was watching in fear as she slurped down those bright red noodles with a normal face. 

So this is the taste buds of an Ifrit…

(I don’t think this has anything to do with being an Ifrit.) (Eri)

Eri retorted.

At that moment.

“I am the one who reserved a table. Name’s Claude.” 

I heard a familiar voice.

Sumire and I reacted to this. 

We prepared hats and glasses beforehand to disguise ourselves, so he shouldn’t notice us. 

…As long as our tables aren’t nearby, that is.

Fortunately, he sat somewhere far away from us.

The one that came with him was Teresia Cuttysark from the student council’s general affairs.

She usually always acts cool, but she was laughing as if having fun as she talked with Claude. 

Seeing her blush, I could tell that she is at the very least on good terms with him.

“……”

Sumire is making a vexed look.

Well, of course she would. 

Leona is Sumire’s best friend.

And she apparently became friends with Teresia at the same magic class. 

Two of her friends are being two-timed. 

(That Claude…) (Eugene)

I don’t really go around getting involved with the romance of others, but…I should get a word in next time I meet him.

I silently thought about this.

◇Next day◇

“Yo, Eugene, Sumire-chan. Let’s do our best on the 38th Floor.” (Claude)

Claude gave a refreshing smile.

“Counting on you today, Sumire-chan, Eugene-san.” (Leona)

The one by his side is Leona.

Sumire and I are going to clear the 38th Floor today. 

Claude and Leona had joined our exploration party. 

“Leona-chan, no need to go to the martial arts club?” (Sumire)

“No, that happened before, right? The martial arts club team is refraining from exploration for a while.” (Leona)

“I-I see.” (Sumire)

It seems Sumire remembered what Leona said.

The 3rd wing of the martial arts club led by Leona encountered Cerberus and was wiped out.

Fortunately, it was a low floor, so they were revived by the dungeon staff with the Resurrection Drop. 

It seems like that’s a bitter memory for the leader of the exploration party, Leona.

That said, when I go train together with the members of the 3rd wing, they would say ‘let’s explore together again, Eugene-kun!’.

It doesn’t seem like they are that bothered about their encounter with the Divine Beast. 

“Well then, let’s go.” (Sumire)

I spoke to the 3.

Claude is higher ranked than me having already cleared the 100th Floor, but I am currently the leader of the exploration party. 

—Zenith Tower: 38th Floor.

The 30th Floor and up is a swamp area. 

We avoided the places with bad footing and searched for the stairs leading up. 

The monsters showing up are things like lizardmen who inhabit wetlands.

They are monsters that take advantage of the terrain more than before, so there’s the need to be careful, but…

Claude and Leona were defeating them without much trouble.

“So you have come to the 38th Floor already.” (Eugene)

I did think that there’s no way she hasn’t cleared the 20th Floor with her skills. 

“You could say that. I have gone all the way to the 50th Floor, but I was technically following my seniors of the club, so this is my first time exploring with a small group like this, you know?” (Leona)

“Right? Or like, you and Sumire-chan came all the way here with just the two of you, didn’t you? The dungeon staff hasn’t tried to stop you?” (Claude)

Claude said this as if baffled, but he is probably saying this because he is worried about us.

It would be one thing if we were around the 10th Floor, but we are soon going to be hitting the 40th Floor and we are still only 2. That’s normally impossible. 

“That’s my fault… My magic goes out of control all of a sudden and it causes trouble for my surroundings.” (Sumire)

Sumire mutters. 

“Well, we will do something about it once we hit a wall.” (Eugene)

I said carefreely. 

We are exploring together with Claude and Leona today because of a reason, but I think we can clear this floor with just the 2 of us. 

And the reality is that we are managing. 

“But I have been getting used to using my magic recently! I have also made a friend in the magic class.” (Sumire)

“Hoh, is that so! That’s great, Sumire-chan.” (Leona)

“Yeah, you really can grow fast when studying together -just like when Leona-chan is teaching me physical combat.” (Sumire)

I hear the conversation of Sumire and Leona.

…Hm? 

I feel like that conversation is a bit bad.

“By the way, who is that mage friend of yours? Someone I know?” (Leona)

“…”

The casual question of Leona makes Sumire stop cold. 

Of course you wouldn’t be able to say the name.

“I feel the presence of a monster. Everyone, be careful.” (Eugene)

“Alright, Eugene-kun!” (Sumire)

“Thanks, Eugene-san.” (Leona)

I assist Sumire in changing the topic. 

Monsters are actually going to take a bit more before getting here, but I purposely said this early. 

“Hey, Eugene, isn’t the presence of monsters still far away?” (Claude)

Claude asked me.

…This guy. Just who do you think is giving us this much pain?

{Claude, the one teaching magic to Sumire is Teresia.} (Eugene)

{?! …I-I see.} (Claude)

I whispered to Claude in a way only he picks it up. 

Looks like he caught up with what I am trying to say with this. 

We managed to get through the 38th Floor without any issues. 

◇The next day◇

We are planning on exploring the 39th Floor today.

“Sumire-san, I will be counting on you today.” 

Sumire and I headed towards the Zenith Tower, and Teresia was waiting for us for some reason with Claude. 

“T-Teresia-san! You are going to explore together with us today?” (Sumire)

“Yeah, you are going together with Claude-kun, right? Then, I guess I will also help out.” (Teresia)

“……”

Claude was making a terribly awkward face at the side of Teresia. 

Teresia was looking like her usual cool self. No, I feel like she is smiling more than her usual self. 

{Oi, Claude, what’s happening here?} (Eugene)

{Teresia-chan saw our exploration yesterday.} (Claude)

Oi oi…

{Hey, what do Leona and Teresia think of each other?} (Eugene)

I asked in wonder. 

{…The two-timing might be discovered soon.} (Claude)

{It still hasn’t?!} (Eugene)

I am impressed he thought of exploring together like that. 

{I thought it might work out somehow.} (Claude)

Claude is way too optimistic. 

{…Fix it already.} (Eugene)

{I would like to go out with the two if possible.} (Claude)

{You…are going to be stabbed one day, you know?} (Eugene)

I got worried at the optimism of Claude. 

{But do you think you would be able to choose one of the two when the two like you, Eugene?} (Claude)

{No, choose dude.} (Eugene)

{You are so stiff, Eugene. Accepting the love of women is the duty of a man.} (Claude)

{I think you should stop two-timing though.} (Eugene)

It seems like my view of love is very different from that of Claude. 

I wasn’t too insistent about it. 

Having the help of the Hero Claude and the Sage Apprentice Teresia, we managed to safely get through the 39th Floor.

◇The next day◇

“…Wa?” 

“…Eh?” 

At the entrance of the Zenith Tower. 

Claude wasn’t there, and there was no Leona or Teresia either. 

The one standing there instead was…a sparkling silver hair and blue jewel-like eyes beauty. 

At the chest of her academy uniform, there’s the crest of ‘student council president’ shining.

She is fixing her hair while looking at a mirror.

It is Sara. 

Sumire, who is at my side, had a gloom look. 

“Eugene!” (Sara)

The moment Sara saw me, she tried to hug me with a big smile. 

“Why are you here, Sara-san?” (Sumire)

But Sumire stood in her way. 

Sara’s face stiffened for a second there, but she soon returned to a calm look. 

“Oh my, Sumire-san. Nice to see you.” (Sara)

“Hello, Sara-san. So you are not ignoring me today, huh.” (Sumire)

“Of course. We are party members after all.” (Sara)

“……Party members?” (Sumire)

Sumire and I tilted our heads at that. 

“What happened to Claude?” (Eugene)

I originally asked for the assistance of Claude because of the 40th Floor Boss today.

But I was scared of fighting the boss with a fresh member, so we explored the floors below that first. 

Today is finally that decisive day though…

“Claude-kun can’t come.” (Sara)

“Did something happen?” (Eugene)

Claude may be a frivolous man, but he keeps his promises. 

If he couldn’t come the very day he was needed, then it must have been something big…

“His two-timing got discovered.” (Sara)

““Aaah.”” 

Sumire and I understood it at the same time when Sara said this. 

Today of all days…

“I will say this just in case for the sake of Claude-kun’s dignity. He tried to prioritize his promise with you, Eugene-kun. But I stopped him and offered myself as a replacement.” (Sara)

“Eeh, then, Claude-kun should have come.” (Sumire)

Sumire said without reservation.

Sara went ‘Kuh!’ for an instant and glared at Sumire. 

Sumire also glared back. 

…Stop the childish acts, you two. 

“Teresia-san is a friend of mine… She may look gentle, but she has a strong heart, or like, she has an unexpectedly strong personality, you see…” (Sara)

“Leona-chan also has a strong personality, and I doubt she will withdraw…” (Sumire)

Sumire continued the words of Sara. 

I hesitantly ask.

“…What’s happening right now?” (Eugene)

“It is currently a ticking bomb with Teresia-san and Leona-san. I judged that only Claude-kun can defuse this.” (Sara)

“…”

I held my head and sighed. 

I even feel as if I have a headache. 

(…That guy.) (Eugene)

I am going to complain once he comes back. 

But I should prioritize our plans for today. 

“Then, it will be us 3 today. I will be counting on you.” (Eugene)

“Yes, leave it to me, Eugene. Stand back so that it will be fine even if Sumire-san’s magic goes out of control, okay?” (Sara)

“I am the only one who can Enchant the sword of Eugene-kun. It would be better for you to stand back so that you don’t get burned by my magic once it goes out of control, Sara-san.” (Sumire)

“Fufufu…thanks for the worry, thieving cat Sumire-san.” (Sara)

“Ahaha…aren’t we comrades~☆former partner, Sara-san?” (Sumire)

Even though the two are smiling, their eyes are not. 

There’s already a big crack in our exploration party. 

Now I have an actual headache. 

Can we fight the 40th Floor Boss with these members? 

That said, Sumire and I have made preparations for that, and Sara is a student from the Legendary Hero Department who has already cleared the 40th Floor.

In terms of skills, we should be okay…probably. 

I pushed the 40th Floor button on the dungeon elevator. 

◇Lykeion Magic Academy: Sealed Underground Prison (Forbidden Seal)◇

“…Eugene, are you alright?” 

“…I am not.” (Eugene)

We safely defeated the 40th Floor Boss and went to do my turn in the animal club just like that. 

I whipped my pained body and came all the way here, but I ran out of strength at the last cage where Eri is. 

I collapsed on the bed of Eri. 

My consciousness was on the verge of being swallowed by the soft bed. 

“Oi, Eugene, are you going to sleep~?” (Eri)

Eri, who always assaults me the instant I arrive, petted my head as if worried about me. 

“…No, I will wake up. I still have work left.” (Eugene)

“Come on, just sleep for a bit. Good work defeating the Floor Boss.” (Eri)

Eri’s tone was kind. 

This might be the first time she has been this kind to me. 

“You are kind today.” (Eugene)

“How rude. I am always kind.” (Eri)

Eri smiled while brushing my hair. 

The battle against the 40th Floor Boss of before replayed in my head. 

The Floor Boss was a Minotauros. 

With the Magic Sword enchanted by the Ifrit mana of Sumire, and the Holy Sword magic of the Paladin Sara, we somehow managed to defeat it. 

That said, it is still the 40th Floor. 

It is already beginning to get rough with only 2-3 explorers.

But we have only had assistance from Claude and Sara, and we haven’t really increased the numbers of our party. 

I feel like we are close to hitting a wall. 

Eri spoke as if reading my worries. 

“…Isn’t it about time you would need my power? I will train you once you wake up.” (Eri)

Looks like my mind has been seen through completely. 

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