ZAP – Chapter 56: Sumire meets the princess

◇Sumire’s POV◇

<TLN: Sumire switches the way she refers to Airi a lot in this part without much reason. I will keep it as it is, but depending on how confusing it gets in the future chapters, I might settle on one.>

Beautiful blonde hair that glistened with the light of the sun. 

Deep blue eyes like sapphire. 

Pure white armor like silk and a metallic crest. 

A female knight with an atmosphere of nobility as if she came straight out of a painting. 

No, she is an Oracle-sama. In other words, she is a princess. In that case, she is a Princess Knight?

And…

(The childhood friend of Eugene-kun.) (Sumire)

From what I have heard, I was sure she must be a pretty person, but she was far more beautiful than I thought. 

Eugene enrolled in the Lykeion Magic Academy after being rejected by the Oracle Airi. 

That’s why he must not be feeling well internally -is what I thought, but…

“I see! Then, you are a graduate from the academy, Mage-san!” 

“Yeah, I would be the senpai of Eugene-kun and Sumire-kun.” 

“What’s your dungeon record?” 

“The same as you, Eugene-kun: Floor 100. It took me 5 years in my case though.” 

“5 years…” (Eugene)

“It is not something rare. There’s a lot of students who don’t manage to reach Floor 100 after all.” 

“You didn’t try aiming for Floor 101 and above?” (Eugene)

“Floor 101 and above…is a hellhole. It would be impossible for someone like me. Eugene-kun, you seriously plan on heading further above?” 

“I promised Sumire after all.” (Eugene)

“That’s great. Do your best.” 

“Thank you very much.” (Eugene)

Eugene-kun is having a lively chat with the Imperial Court Mage that’s in the same carriage as ours. 

This person is apparently the one in charge of the mages for the investigation team. 

Eugene-kun is the assistant. 

And…

Eugene-kun’s childhood friend-san -the Oracle Airi- has been stealing peeks at Eugene-kun for a while now. 

There are times when our eyes would make contact and we would look away.

(This is…kind of different from what I heard.) (Sumire)

The cold princess that lost interest in Eugene-kun after not having talent as a magic swordsman -is what I heard, but she seems as if she really wants to talk to Eugene-kun. 

Even at the time when we met at the rendezvous point, Princess Airi tried to talk to Eugene, but was stopped by her fiancee(?) by her side.

A commissioned officer and handsome guy called General Berthold. 

Well, of course he would stop his girlfriend from getting close to her ex-boyfriend.

(Wait, I am Eugene-kun’s girlfriend!) (Sumire)

I should get more jealous if my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend gets close, but…

“Is Principal Uther doing well?” 

“He is. I was beaten black and blue in our training the other day.” (Eugene)

“Ooh, getting trained by the Academy Principal personally?! I am so jealous!” 

He is not looking at his childhood friend-san at all. 

Looks like Eugene-kun has really gotten over his past. 

“Is this the first time you will be seeing a Great Demonic Beast, Eugene-kun?” 

“No, I have seen it a couple times in the time when I was in military school. I participated in the subjugation of Black Sheeps that the Great Demonic Beast created.” (Eugene)

“Aah, Black Sheep subjugations were certainly a task for the students in the military school.” 

“I was surprised the first time I saw them.” (Eugene)

“Haha, same goes for me.” 

When Eugene-kun was talking with the Imperial Court Mage-san, he suddenly turned my way. 

“This will be the first time Sumire will be seeing a Great Demonic Beast, so I think she will be surprised.” (Eugene)

“I-Is it that scary-looking?” (Sumire)

“Hmm, rather than scary, it is more like…it doesn’t look like a living being…” (Eugene)

“That sounds complicated to describe.” (Sumire)

I heard it is safe since it is sealed though.

Wonder how it is? 

Just when I was thinking I don’t want to experience something scary…

“Hihihiiin!!!” 

The horse neighed loudly. 

The carriage we were riding on made an abrupt stop. 

“Kya!” (Sumire)

“Sumire.” (Eugene)

Just when I was on the verge of pitching forward, Eugene-kun supported me. 

“T-Thanks, Eugene-kun.” (Sumire)

“Looks like we have entered the turf of the Great Demonic Beast.” (Eugene)

“So it seems. The horses are scared and won’t go any further.” 

The expression of Eugene-kun and the Imperial Court Mage-san turned a bit more serious. 

“Let’s get down. We are going by foot from here on.” (Eugene)

“O-Okay.” (Sumire)

I get down the carriage with Eugene-kun pulling my hand. 

It is a plain with a good view covered in shrubs and wildly growing grass. 

There’s a hill on the horizon. 

There’s no man-made structures, and there’s only a trail that a carriage can barely cross, heading straight towards that hill.

Eugene-kun, the Imperial Court Mage-san, and I walked through that path, and the Oracle Airi and the General-san were moving around with the knights they commanded. 

It is good weather with clouds sparsely spread out. 

The plains are a vibrant green and it is a good scenery, but…

(It is kind of eerie…) (Sumire)

I wondered why and soon noticed the reason.

I don’t feel the presence of living creatures.

The chirping of birds, the cries of insects, or the howling of beasts; none of that is present here. 

We advanced the small path silently. 

Only the footsteps rang inside this silence. 

Just when we walked for a while and I was beginning to think I am a bit tired…

“Me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!!!” 

A dark shadow suddenly jumped out from the ground.

(What’s this?!) (Sumire)

That thing called a Black Sheep was wrapped with black tentacles in its whole body. 

Its head has 4 big eyes. 

Its mouth had a long tongue hanging out and saliva was dripping down. 

The unsettling cry that has been echoing for a while now was not coming from the mouth on its head but from its one other mouth at its abdomen. 

“A Black Sheep has shown up. Deal with it.” 

“““Yes!”””

The short order of Princess Airi made the knights around take swift action. 

“Me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!!!” 

An ear-ringing voice echoed. 

(Uh…it is disgusting…) (Sumire)

The Black Sheep that is as big as an elephant was being dealt with by the Golden Knights. 

“Gi-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a!!!” 

A scream rang and the black beast collapsed flat on the ground.

The body of the Black Sheep made bubbling sounds as it melted. 

“Don’t get close, Sumire. You will get cursed and poisoned just from touching it.” (Eugene)

“Hiih!” (Sumire)

I hid behind Eugene-kun.

T-This is scary…

I grab the arm of Eugene-kun tightly.

I felt a gaze and looked around, and noticed that Princess Airi was staring this way. 

But she averted her gaze once our eyes made contact.

“Let’s advance.” (Airi)

We begin walking again with the command of Princess Airi.

Black Sheeps attacked us countless times on the way, but the knights dealt with it at each instance.

It was scary at first, but I am slowly getting used to it. 

I spoke to Eugene-kun and the Imperial Court Mage-san as we walked.

“By the way, about what we were talking about before, what’s the appearance of the Great Demonic Beast?” (Sumire)

When I asked this, Eugene-kun and the Imperial Court Mage-san looked at each other’s faces. 

Eh? I didn’t say anything weird, right? 

“Aah, sorry, Sumire. I didn’t tell you properly.” (Eugene)

“Sumire-san, Haagenti is that. It is already in sight.” 

“…………Eh?” (Sumire)

I looked in the direction where the Imperial Court Mage-san pointed at, but there was nothing. 

There’s the path that continues on in the plains and then the hill deep in…

“………Eh?” (Sumire)

And then, I noticed.

The hill is moving.

“Is that hill…” (Sumire)

“That’s Haagenti, Sumire.” (Eugene)

“I was surprised as well the first time I saw it.” 

I couldn’t find any words.

I was speechless.

“I feel like it has gotten a size bigger since the last time I saw it a long time ago.” (Eugene)

“Yeah… I felt as if it has been suddenly getting bigger lately. According to the Prime Minister, it wouldn’t be strange for the seal to be broken within half a year…” 

The conversation between Eugene-kun and the Imperial Court Mage-san did not enter my head.

Is the Great Demonic Beast that big…? 

The Divine Beast Cerberus-san we met in Floor 20 and the dragon at Floor 50 are starting to look small in comparison.

A while after walking, we arrived at a place that has fences surrounding the Great Demonic Beast. 

“Only people who can use barrier magic can enter from here on. Eugene-kun, come together with me.” 

“Understood. Sumire, can you wait here?” (Eugene)

“Okay. Be careful, Eugene-kun. Do you need my mana?” (Sumire)

Eugene-kun can’t use Mana Blade without my mana. 

That’s why I thought it would be better to give him my mana, so I held the hand of Eugene-kun.

“No, we are only going to be investigating. We shouldn’t stimulate the Great Demonic Beast, so I am okay.” (Eugene)

“But…won’t the creepy Black Sheeps from before attack you?” (Sumire)

“The Black Sheeps stop showing up when you get close to the Great Demonic Beast. The Black Sheeps are apparently a part of the Great Demonic Beast tearing away from its body. I don’t know if it is out of instinct, but they try to get away from the Great Demonic Beast. That’s why they stop showing up when we get close.” (Eugene)

“I see. But, seriously, be careful.” (Sumire)

“I know.” (Eugene)

He pets my head lightly. 

“I’m heading off.” (Eugene)

Eugene-kun entered the fenced area of the seal.

The backs of the Imperial Court Mage-san and Eugene-kun get smaller and smaller. 

I was following them with my eyes at first, but the two of them were observing the stakes(?) stabbed on the ground and were talking about something. It seems like it will be taking a good while. 

Just as Eugene-kun said, it seems like there’s no monsters showing up inside the fence. 

(Feels like it is going to take time.) (Sumire)

While I was spacing out a bit there…

“Excuse me, lady.” 

Someone spoke to me.

“Eh? Y-Yes?!” (Sumire)

The childhood friend-san of Eugene-kun -the Oracle Airi- was standing right by my side.

(Uwaa…so beautiful…) (Sumire)

Her doll-like sculpted face is even more surprising up-close.

“Your name was…Sumire, right?” (Airi)

“Yes, Sashiogi Sumire!” (Sumire)

“Nice to meet you. I am Airi Areus Grandflare. I have something to talk with you about—” (Airi)

Just when the Oracle-sama was about to say something…

“Imperial Princess Airi, the investigation has ended!” 

One of the Golden Knights stated. 

The Imperial Court Mage-san is certainly coming back.

“I see, if the investigation has ended, let’s hear the results and—hm?” (Airi)

Princess Airi tilted her head.

“Eh?” (Sumire)

I also found it strange.

(Eugene-kun is not coming back…?) (Sumire)

For some reason, Eugene-kun is walking deeper in on his own.

“Eugy…?” (Airi)

Princess Airi is making a worried face.

It seems like her wanting to talk to me is not in her brain anymore. 

Me and the Oracle-sama were watching the back of Eugene-kun. 

Eugene-kun turned around here.

He is waving at me with a smile. 

He is most likely saying not to worry. 

“………” 

The Oracle-sama got super mad?!!

(Eugene-kun, come back~!!) (Sumire)

There’s no way the scream of my heart reached him.

◇Eugene’s POV◇

“Hmm… The Magic Seal Pillars that support the barrier are a lot more tattered than I thought…” 

The Imperial Court Mage was observing the state of the barrier while sweating buckets.

By the way, I am carrying the tools. 

“Eugene-kun, we are getting pretty close to the Great Demonic Beast. Is it not too painful for you?” 

“No, I am fine. What about you? Are you okay?” (Eugene)

From what I can see, his complexion looks pretty bad. 

Should we rest for a bit? 

“Haaah… Haah… Let’s end the investigation here. 1 month ago, when someone else came to investigate, they said ‘it will last for half a year’, but from the looks of this, it is ‘going to break within 3 months’.” 

“3 months…” (Eugene)

The Imperial Court Mage looked up at the Great Demonic Beast behind us that towers us like a mountain. 

A size so ridiculous it is stupid to call it a living creature. 

But that mountain is slowly going up and down.

It is proof that it is a living creature. 

“That said, you are not sweating one bit, Eugene-kun. Could it be that you could get even closer?” 

“That’s…” (Eugene)

I decided to answer honestly after thinking about it for a bit. 

There’s a lot of high officials from the Empire that are really prideful, including the Imperial Court Mages.

But I felt like I didn’t have to worry about that with this one. 

“I think I can get closer.” (Eugene)

“Even though you are so young. That’s wonderful… In that case, you don’t have to push yourself, so can you record the Magic Seal Pillars as close to the Great Demonic Beast as you can with this video recording magic tool?” 

“Understood.” (Eugene)

I nod and receive the magic tool.

I give the Imperial Court Mage the other luggage.

He returned with unsteady steps towards the place where Sumire and the Golden Knights were waiting.

(Now then…) (Eugene)

I look up at the giant black mountain looking down at me. 

A rumbling sound that shook the ground rang at set intervals. 

I was pretty surprised when I learned that that was the breathing of the Great Demonic Beast.

I moved forward slowly. 

The mana and miasma got stronger at every step I take.

I wouldn’t have been able to breathe without the barrier magic. 

But…

(Compared to the 7th Seal Prison of the Magic Academy…) (Eugene)

This is a bit better. 

That place has: curse, poison, mental pollution, miasma, hallucination. The whole package.

This place only has mana and miasma running rampant like a storm.

I just have to endure that. 

“Even with that, it is still rough…” (Eugene)

I talk to myself. 

The big body of the Great Demonic Beast is already really close.

And so, I began to record the state of the Magic Seal Pillars. 

Maybe because they are closer to the Great Demonic Beast than the ones we saw before, they are beyond tattered and on the verge of breaking. 

I don’t think they are serving their purpose as a seal anymore. 

It is not like I know that much about seals, but this is already…

(Oh my, isn’t that the Star Demonic Beast, Haagenti-chan? It has grown quite a bit.) 

(Eri?) (Eugene)

It has been a while since I have heard the voice of Eri.

She hasn’t talked to me at all since coming to the Empire. 

I thought for sure it was because the thought transmission didn’t reach due to the distance…

(As if. I was sleeping the whole time.) (Eri)

(So you were just sleeping.) (Eugene)

(You won’t be coming to visit anyways~.) (Eri)

(Come on, I’m sorry. I will be returning after around 10 days.) (Eugene)

(Too long~. Prepare yourself once you return. I’m going to squeeze you dry♡.) (Eri)

(……)

I am a bit scared of going back.

But there’s something that bothered me more.

(Do you know a lot about the Great Demonic Beast, Eri?) (Eugene)

(Hm? The mortals call it like that? It is basically just a demonic beast that was born from the skin of mana that are the Planet Veins. A demonic beast-chan that has a bit more mana than others and has grown big.) (Eri)

(Is this on the level of ‘a bit’?) (Eugene)

I was baffled.

(Anyways, this is a pretty crude seal spell~. With this, it will just take a few days for the seal to be undone, you know?) (Eri)

(…A few days?) (Eugene)

No, that’s weird.

The Imperial Court Mage said there’s 3 months left. 

But even with my untrained eyes, I could feel that this seal is going to break sooner than that. 

This is something I noticed after getting close to the Great Demonic Beast though.

(10 days at best; 7 days at the earliest.) (Eri)

(No doubt about it?) (Eugene)

(Probably.) (Eri)

(……) (Eugene)

I can tell because we have been together for quite a while. 

The ‘probably’ of Eri is mostly certain.

It seems to be a habit from when she was serving under the Goddesses at the Divine Realm. What she says is almost always accurate. 

Well, she is a Fallen Angel, so she does ‘lie’ at times though.

But I feel like this one is not a lie. 

(This is… I have returned at quite the outrageous time.) (Eugene)

The legendary Great Demonic Beast that partially destroyed the capital 50 years ago. 

The seal is about to break with the horrible timing of 10 days. 

I headed to where Airi, Sumire, and the Imperial Court Mage-san are with heavy steps in order to report this. 

■Comment Response: 

>Hmm, it really feels like the Prime Minister ‘set him up’.

-Prime Minister-chan is suspicious, isn’t she~?

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