ZAP – Chapter 36: Sumire meets a senpai

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◇Sumire’s POV◇

“By the way, Eugene-chan, who is the cute girl there?” 

A man smiling frivolously. 

His long unkempt blonde hair didn’t let me see his eyes well.

He is tall and has the body of a model, but his bent back is spoiling that. 

He would definitely look cool if he were more proper.

That’s the kind of impression I got from him.

“Carlo-senpai, this girl is Sashiogi Sumire-san. She reincarnated in this world from a parallel world. Don’t you know her? She is the newcomer that was planning to join the animal club.” (Eugene)

“I see~, an otherworlder, huh~. This is my first time seeing one.” (Carlo)

“N-Nice to meet you, my name is Sashiogi Sumire.” (Sumire)

“Nice to meet you~. By the way, what can you do?” (Carlo)

He suddenly asked me this.

“What can I do…? Uhm, my specialty is fire magic! Also, I am aiming for barehanded combat.” (Sumire)

“Can’t you do something like tame interesting monsters or summon rare mysterious creatures?” (Carlo)

“I-I can’t…” (Sumire)

“I see, that’s a shame.” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai-san drooped his shoulders. 

I was a bit surprised. 

Because the people I have met until now have all been interested in me as an otherworlder. 

But this Carlo-senpai person is not showing any interest at all.

“See ya, my juniors. I will return to my lab. I don’t think I can make my thesis in time by the next presentation, you see.” (Carlo)

He waved his hand and faced away. 

‘Hmm, he is a bit of a weird person’ -is what I thought as I watched his back go.

“Excuse me, Carlo-senpai! I have a request!” (Eugene)

But Eugene-kun was the one who stopped him.

—Zenith Tower, Babel, Floor 52.

“Man, it has been a while since I have done a dungeon exploration~! Hnn, this stagnated air and muddy mana! No matter how many times I come, the Last Dungeon is so moody~!” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai seemed really excited despite what he was saying.

Is it really okay to raise your voice that much when monsters might come?

“Uhm…Eugene-kun, why did we come to the Last Dungeon…? Weren’t we supposed to be training for a while until Sara-chan returns?” (Sumire)

I asked my partner Eugene-kun.

“I thought it would be better for you to see the fighting style of Carlo-senpai. It will be educational -for me, too.” (Eugene)

“Really…?” (Sumire)

I tilted my head.

Carlo-senpai is wearing an attire that in my previous world would be considered a lab coat, and doesn’t have any weapons in hand.

I can’t see him as an explorer at all.

When I asked him ‘don’t you have comrades?’, he answered with ‘I am solo’.

I was taught in the academy that dungeon exploration is mainly done in parties though…

It was at that moment…

*Pushu!*

“Kya!” (Sumire)

Something misty was blown onto us.

Cold! 

What’s this?!

“Carlo-senpai, if you are going to splash monster repelling holy water, please tell us beforehand. Sumire got startled there.” (Eugene)

“Aaah~, sorry, sorry.” (Carlo)

He apologized without sounding that apologetic. 

Muuh…

He doesn’t think he is in the bad here?! 

A lizardman suddenly showed up with a weapon in hand, most likely because it heard our ruckus. 

It was observing us all over with sharp eyes as if scouring.

(This close?!) (Sumire)

Is the monster repellent even working?!

I hurriedly take a battle stance, but Eugene-kun doesn’t seem to be flustered. 

“Carlo-senpai, should I buy time?” (Eugene)

“It is okay~, I have already called them.” (Carlo)

Even though a monster is approaching this close, they are having a carefree talk. 

Eugene-kun stood between the monster and us as if protecting us without taking out his sword, but he immediately moved to the side. 

The lizardman seems to have set his sights on senpai who doesn’t have a weapon.

Slowly closing the distance.

Carlo-senpai said in a gentle tone.

Come.” (Carlo)

I didn’t know at first who he said that to.

But I learned about it soon after.

*Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt, Bzzzt…*

 “…Eh?” (Sumire)

A distracting buzzing sound.

It is a sound I hear from time to time in my previous world.

—A swarm of bees.

Moreover, the size is abnormal. 

Bees the size of a fist that are like hornets were surrounding us. 

“Hiiiih!!” (Sumire)

I screamed and was about to fall on my butt.

Someone pulled me by the shoulder and covered my mouth.

“Sumire, you will provoke the Killer Bees that senpai called if you are too noisy, so just watch silently.” (Eugene)

Eugene-kun’s voice is serious.

Far more than when fighting monsters. 

“How rude. My cute bees wouldn’t attack you~. Also, I have properly sprinkled monster repellant.” (Carlo)

“S-So the holy water of just before was…” (Sumire)

Not for the dungeon monsters, but to avoid the monsters that Carlo-senpai controls?! 

I gulped and observe my surroundings again.

The massive swarm of thousands of bees.

They are forming beautiful files and flying elegantly. 

They are certainly on a different level from the dungeon monsters I have met until now.

“Gyaaaaaaaaa!! …Aaah…Ah…” 

A scream was raised.

But it slowly got lower. 

Uwaaah…

Now that I look, the Lizardman of just now has been stung in its whole body, spitting out blood and collapsing. 

There’s many bees swarming the remains of the lizard.

*Kachi Kachi Kachi*

A sound different from that of teeth is being made.

I don’t want to imagine what that sound is.

“The children that defeated the lizard-chan can eat it, but don’t leave anything behind, okay~?” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai said in a refreshing manner.

*Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi*

The bees all made that noise with their mouths at the same time.

They are happy…I think?

“…”

I can’t even speak anymore.

Monsters are eating monsters…

I moved my gaze away reflexively. 

“Sumire, I think you already get it now, but Carlo-senpai is a monster user, a Tamer. His specialty is insects.” (Eugene)

“Yeah…I got it, but why did you want to show this to me?” (Sumire)

“I will explain that to you later.” (Eugene)

Uuuh, I am no good with insects though.

I heard from Eugene-kun that there were a lot of tamers in the animal club.

But I was imagining a different type of monster being controlled.

I would have preferred more cute monsters.

“Eugene-chan, is it okay for me to clear this floor?” (Carlo)

“Yeah, it is okay… Or more like, you can’t do such minute adjustments, right?” (Eugene)

“Ahaha! Now that you mention it, that’s true~.” (Carlo)

“By the way…you must not destroy the dungeon, okay?” (Eugene)

“I know, I know.” (Carlo)

I had a few questions about the conversation between Eugene-kun and Carlo-senpai.

“Hey, Eugene-kun, what’s this about destroying the dungeon?” (Sumire)

“Aah…this is a story of before I enrolled in the academy, but at the plains area of the Zenith Tower…when clearing Floor 2-10, Carlo-senpai tamed Oni Grasshoppers and devoured the grass fields and the trees, destroying the ecology as he went through. It turned into a big problem at that time because of this…” (Eugene)

“G-Grasshopper…?” (Sumire)

“By the way, this is an Oni Grasshopper-chan.” (Carlo)

“E—Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” (Sumire)

Carlo-senpai has something on his right hand.

What was on top of that hand was a grasshopper the size of a baby.

I got goosebumps just now.

S-Scary! This is nasty!!! 

“Carlo-senpai…” (Eugene)

“Aah, sorry sorry.” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai apologized to me who screamed, as he put that grasshopper into the pocket of his white robe. 

Eh…?

No matter how you think about it, that’s not a size that can go in there.

“E-Eugene-kun?! That…!” (Sumire)

“There’s storage magic cast on the robe’s pocket, and he apparently carries around dozens of types of insect monsters inside his pocket.” (Eugene)

“I-Is that so…” (Sumire)

I slowly distance myself from Carlo-senpai.

He has dozens of insect monsters hiding in his pocket the whole time?

Isn’t he a walking natural disaster?

“Now then, my cute bees~, counting on you to explore~.” (Carlo)

When Carlo-senpai gave the order, the big swarm of bees slowly disappeared into the 52nd Floor —the sea of trees.

Hm?

Is it okay for us to be here?

Then, Carlo-senpai took out what looked like round balls from inside his pocket and began lining them up.

(Those are…eggs?) (Sumire)

It looks like orange-color eggs covered in a thin film. 

I am sure what’s going to be popping out from there are insects though…

“Is there anything I can help out with?” (Eugene)

“Hmm, then, can you please infuse mana onto the eggs together with me? It will accelerate the incubation.” (Carlo)

“Got it.” (Eugene)

Saying this, Eugene-kun placed a hand on the big egg and began to put in mana together with Carlo-senpai.

If it is just that, even I might be able to do it…

“Excuse me, I will help out too!” (Sumire)

“Hm? Really? Thanks~.” (Carlo)

I nervously put a hand on the orange egg. 

It is soft, squishy, and lukewarm.

(A-About this much, I guess…?) (Sumire)

I do what I was taught in the magic lessons: pass mana just like when accumulating mana on your staff.

A while after, I heard a *dokun!* and felt a strong pulse.

“Eh?” (Sumire)

The egg that was orange until now has become burning red.

Have I succeeded here? 

“Oh? The mana of my juniors is peculiar~.” (Carlo)

“Mine became white.” (Eugene)

When I looked, the egg with the mana of Eugene-kun had changed into a white one. 

*Zushaaaaaa!!*

Something suddenly jumped out from the egg in front of me. 

“Eh? …Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!” (Sumire)

Who knows how many times I have screamed today.

It is an ant. 

A giant red ant that could be the size of a human if it were to stand vertically. 

“Ooh! This is a variant. Wow! Is it because it is the mana of an otherworlder?” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai is observing with interest.

When I looked around, there were giant ants hatching one after the other. 

Their color is black.

There’s one white big ant mixed with them, but it seems like that was the one Eugene-kun incubated with his mana. 

“…Eh?” (Sumire)

I was looking around, so I didn’t notice, but by the time I did, the big ant that hatched from my mana had gotten on me. 

“Gyaaaaaaaah!” (Sumire)

I raised a scream that didn’t lose to the time with the Lizardman.

“Sumire!!” (Eugene)

The vexed voice of Eugene-kun.

“Ahaha! The little Army Ants are intelligent, so it seems they can tell who is the one that gave them mana. It is attached to you, Sumire-chan.” (Carlo)

The cheerful voice of Carlo-senpai was the last thing I heard.

(…Ah…this is bad. My consciousness…) (Sumire)

Everything in front of me is getting pitch-black.

—I lost consciousness.

◇Eugene’s POV◇

“Sumire!” (Eugene)

I take the Army Ant away from Sumire. 

I hear rhythmic breathing.

It seems like she simply lost consciousness.

“Aah…I did something bad there. Is she okay?” (Carlo)

“It seems like the shock was too big. I am thinking of carrying her for a while. Anyways, this is quite the spectacle.” (Eugene)

I observe the Army Ants that have hatched.

Aren’t there more than 100 in total?

Every single one of them is terribly strong.

And Carlo-senpai is controlling them without any issues.

I think he is a tamer with fearsome ability. 

“They are the children I am proud of after all.” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai answered proudly.

“Now then, let’s depart.” (Carlo)

*Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi Kachi …*

The Army Ants let out sounds from their mouths at the same time.

This is a bit scary. 

It seems like the Killer Bees have already scouted the area, so Carlo-senpai was moving through the dark sea of trees without getting lost. 

The Army Ants are protecting our surroundings.

We were attacked by monsters on the way, but they were all easily defeated by the insect monsters that Carlo-senpai controls -even the flying monsters like griffins. 

The Killer Bees would sting the wings, and the Army Ants would devour it in an instant.

The power of Carlo-senpai’s monsters is technically: the power of numbers.

No matter how many are defeated on our side, the next monster will come at the enemy and slaughter it. 

And Carlo-senpai is replenishing the monsters that decrease.

Also, the nastiest part about this is…

*Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch…*

*Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch…*

*Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch Crunch…*

The defeated monsters are eaten then and there.

The Army Ants that ate the monsters have their strength absorbed and make it their own.

“Oh, evolved again. The number of captain ants have increased.” (Carlo)

I heard a happy voice.

This is how the insect army of Carlo-senpai got steadily stronger, and trampled Floor 52.

By the way, Sumire woke up once, saw the Army Ants eating monsters, and fainted again.

I should leave the talk for later.

(…Hm?) (Eugene)

The monsters were being dealt with by Carlo-senpai’s monsters, so I had nothing to do.

While I was observing the surroundings, I found something shining on the ground.

(This is…) (Eugene)

I picked that up.

I think it is something that an explorer dropped, but it is not an exploration item.

Why is something like this here…?

“Eugene-chan, let’s go~.” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai was moving ahead even while I was wondering about this. 

I forget about what I picked up for now and asked Carlo-senpai about the main topic.

“What floor do these Killer Bees and Army Ants show up on?” (Eugene)

“Hmm, around Floor 61, I guess? But they don’t come in big numbers at first.” (Carlo)

“Right…” (Eugene)

These guys that are destroying Floor 52 show up normally as monsters after 9 floors more.

Moreover, as you go higher, their numbers increase to become swarms. 

What’s most troublesome about this is that they evolve.

The evolution of Army Ants is intense.

Soldier Ant → Captain Ant → Squad Long Ant → Division Long Ant → General Ant.

They get steadily stronger in that fashion. 

I have heard that General Ants can even fight on equal grounds against a Dragon.

Or more like, I have seen the General Ant of Carlo-senpai defeating a Dragon.

Gotta think of a countermeasure for these guys.

Carlo-senpai spoke to me while I was racking my brain.

“Eugene-chan, I think you already know, but tell me why insect monsters are feared.” (Carlo)

“Because of the massive appetite of insect monsters, right?” (Eugene)

“Correct! These children will eat the defeated prey immediately, or bring them back to their nest, so you can’t use the Resurrection Drop.” (Carlo)

If it is until Floor 100, you can use the Resurrection Drop that resurrects the dead. 

But that doesn’t work against the insect monsters.

Thanks to this, insect monsters are the monsters that trouble the explorers the most in floors below the 100th.

Floor 52 was easily cleared with the help of Carlo-senpai (or more like, it was mostly his work).

◇◇

“I will wander around the dungeon for a bit more. It seems like these children are hungry after all.” (Carlo)

“Thanks for today.” (Eugene)

“No problem~.” (Carlo)

Carlo-senpai was pulling an army of insects as he advanced to Floor 53.

At this rate, the monsters will be trampled down for a while.

I hope the other explorers won’t get surprised.

Or more like, most would drop to the ground right then and there.

My condolences.

I carried Sumire and headed to the Dungeon Elevator.

 

“…Eh? Those insect monsters will be appearing from Floor 61 and on?” 

On the way back to the Dungeon Elevator, I told this reality to Sumire, and she grew pale. 

Of course, I also tell her what’s feared about the insect monsters.

It would be dangerous if she thinks anything can be resurrected after all.

“……”

Sumire was listening in silence with a pale face.

That said, I myself reconfirmed its fearsomeness.

“Eugene-kun…see ya…” (Sumire)

I brought the unsteady Sumire all the way to the female dorms.

Will she be okay…?

Let’s have her take a good break for today.

Also, I feel like there really is the need to think about what to do for the future floors.

I take out a silver accessory from my pocket. 

This is what I picked up from Floor 52.

There’s a number of things I want to ask, so I decided to head to where she is.

◇7th Cage of the Animal Club – Underground Seal Prison◇

“Zzz…Zzz…” 

When I got to the cage of the Demon Lord, the Fallen Angel with jet black wings was showing a peaceful sleeping face.

(That’s rare…) (Eugene)

Whenever I come, she would always go ‘You are late~!’ and criticize me.

I opened the cage and entered it.

Eri didn’t wake up.

“Eri, wa—” (Eugene)

“…Hn? Arya?!” (Eri)

The moment I shook her shoulder to try and wake her up, her eyes opened wide.

“…Eugene, what’s the matter?” (Eri)

Eri rubbed her eyes.

“Sorry about that, waking you up when you are sleeping.” (Eugene)

“You could have just assaulted me right then and there.” (Eri)

I avert my gaze from her seductive sidelong glance.

I take the silver accessory I picked up from the dungeon out of my pocket.

“Please take a look at this.” (Eugene)

A silver accessory of a snake wrapped around an apple.

This is my first time seeing it, but I know its meaning.

Snakes are the symbol of the Evil God that the demons worship.

In other words, this snake motif is the proof of the religion of demons, the Demon Lord religion.

That it was dropped there must mean that there were Demon Lord worshippers on the Floor 52 we were just recently at.

—Also known as: the Snake Church.

“Oh? This is…” (Eri)

It seems like the Demon Lord has taken an interest.

“Eri…you know about it, right?” (Eugene)

I asked Eri who is a target of worship in the Demon Lord religion.

“Obviously. I am the one who designed this church mark.” (Eri)

“…Wa?” (Eugene)

A response that went beyond what I expected came back to me.

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