ZAP – Chapter 114: Great Demonic Beast subjugation expedition

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“Yo, you guys! I am the commander of the 2nd party, Ralph! Nice to meet you!”

The one who greeted us members from the 2nd party of the Great Demonic Beast expedition that gathered in the harbor was a man with an eyepatch that screamed soldier.

He seems to be older than 50.

His hair has a lot of gray and there’s a lot of wrinkles on his face. But the aura that’s overflowing from his body is still youthful.

The blue light armor that this man is wearing looks familiar.

“Hey, Eugy-kun, that armor…” (Sumire)

“The same as Claude’s.” (Sara)

“So it seems.” (Eugene)

Looks like Sumire and Sara have noticed as well.

He is most likely a warrior from the Dragon Country.

“I will explain the plan this time around! That said, you must have heard about it already! It is the easy to understand job to bring the Real Doll that the Empire ripped us off for 1 million G! Listen well, it is a simple mission! Not a single one of you should die!” (Ralph)

““““““Yes sir!””””””

We give a short reply with strength.

It is a simple speech, but it boosts morale.

But those dolls were 1 million G…

I am truly glad Sumire didn’t burn them to cinders.

“Nice reply. Then, we will explain each one’s roles. The first one is…” (Ralph)

We were given an explanation of each of our roles in order.

◇◇

“I will be staying back, huh…” (Sara)

Sara looked sad.

“It can’t be helped. You are an upcoming Holy Maiden after all. It would become a diplomatic issue if something were to happen.” (Felicia)

The sage apprentice and elf, Felicia, comforted Sara.

She is also the next chief of the elf country, so she won’t be participating in the main party.

The two of them have become supports in the case we have injured people after the operation.

“Hey, Sumire-chan, you are going to be participating?” (Sara)

“It seems so. Participate with the main party when the time comes… There’s nothing written about what exactly to do.” (Sumire)

“What about you, Eugene?” (Sara)

“I am a bodyguard of all the people in the decoy battle. They said to evacuate immediately after luring the black mermaids to the human dolls.” (Eugene)

““Eh?!””

Sumire and Sara raised their voices loudly at my words.

“Isn’t that the most dangerous job?!” (Sara)

“Why is Eugy-kun the one doing that?!” (Sumire)

“Even if you tell me that, it seems like our classmates are also fulfilling the same role.” (Eugene)

I confirmed just now that the Hero Candidate Leonhart and the beastkin Soran are also part of the decoy battle.

“But…!” (Sara)

“If something were to happen…” (Sumire)

Just when I was about to say ‘it will be fine’ to the two…

“It is okay. The dragon country knights will take responsibility to have you evacuate if anything happens.”

A red haired knight with blue armor spoke to us.

“Claude, what’s your role?” (Eugene)

“My role is to observe the black mermaids from above the decoy battle. I have to save any members that are falling behind when retreating.” (Claude)

“You are not going to be participating in the decoy battle, Claude-kun?” (Sumire)

“I would like to help out if possible, but the black mermaids get cautious when there’s a wyvern and don’t get close.” (Claude)

“It can’t be helped then.” (Eugene)

That said, the intelligence of black mermaids is high.

Gotta be careful.

We chatted for a while after that and…

“Yo, Claude! I am intruding, people of the Lykeion Magic Academy!”

Someone approached us.

It is the commander of the 2nd party, Ralph-san.

He is loud.

“I greeted you before too, but I am the commander, Ralph. If I remember correctly, the 3 over there are…” (Ralph)

“Eugene Santafield.” (Eugene)

“Sara Ilia Caldia.” (Sara)

“Sashiogi Sumire.” (Sumire)

“Nice to meet you. I definitely won’t let this end like the 1st party. Especially…Sumire-dono. We managed to begin the operation before the black mermaids moved thanks to your Mana Link. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!” (Ralph)

“Eh…?! It is nothing big…” (Sumire)

Sumire hurriedly said this after seeing Ralph-san lowering his head.

“Eugene-dono, Sara-dono, you still have your positions in your homelands, and yet, you answered the call of Claude. You have my thanks. The operation will begin 2 hours from now. Please embark 30 minutes beforehand. Well then, I will go talk to the other members. Claude, you have good friends.” (Ralph)

“…Yes, Master Ralph.” (Claude)

Ralph-san smiles with his teeth showing and leaves with big strides.

He went to talk to the other members of the 2nd party just like that.

Looks like he is going around talking to everyone.

“Hey, Claude, the one you said you didn’t want dying was…” (Eugene)

“Yeah, Master Ralph was my teacher as a dragon knight. All the young warriors of the Dragon Country have been taught the basics of a dragon knight by Master.” (Claude)

“I see.” (Eugene)

Is it similar to what Pops is for me?

“But isn’t he like a hero for the Dragon Country? Why is he doing the dangerous job of an on-site commander at his age?” (Sara)

Sara asked a good question there.

It is common for the old warriors to move from the battlefield to teaching the younger generations after a certain age in the Empire.

It should be the same for the Holy Union.

“Master Ralph has a lot of acquaintances in other places aside from the Dragon Country… There were apparently a lot of his friends in the 1st party. The plan at that time was just to draw the black mermaids and measure the scale of their group, but when he heard that they were wiped out by the black mermaids that had grown aggressive because of the turf war, he volunteered to be the commander of the 2nd party.” (Claude)

“So that’s how it was.” (Sara)

“I see…” (Sumire)

The faces of Sara and Sumire clouded at the explanation of Claude.

“Then, all of the 2nd party must survive.” (Eugene)

Claude chuckled when I said this.

“Yeah, I invited everyone from the class after all. I will protect them even if it costs me my life.” (Claude)

Claude’s expression is firm.

(I hope he doesn’t get too cornered…) (Eugene)

I was worried about this as we killed time until the operation began.

—Two hours later.

“Alright! You guys finished preparations, right?! We are departing!!” (Ralph)

Two ships departed with the shout of Ralph-san.

Sumire is riding on the flagship that is well maintained and seems like it has the latest equipment.

The one I am riding is the decoy ship that has the bare minimum maintenance and is packed with cannons like an antique.

(Will the black mermaids be deceived when it is this blatant…?) (Eugene)

I am a bit worried.

“Yo, Eugene Santafield! Ain’t your hands also shivering in anticipation for this black mermaid subjugation?!”

*Pam!*

Someone smacked me on the back.

It is the beastkin Soran.

“We are just going to be sending this here this time around, right?” (Eugene)

What I looked at were the 50 doll bombs.

Looks like we are going to be using half of the 100 as bait.

They only look like humans at a glance, so having 50 of those lined up…is pretty creepy.

They are dolls, so they obviously don’t move, and they don’t breathe.

And yet, they look like they would move at any moment thanks to the mana inside the dolls and the artificial heartbeats and blinking.

“That said, the black mermaids would suspect something if they don’t resist! It was written in the plan that it would be better to resist to a certain degree, right?” (Soran)

“That’s true. We apparently will be fighting a bit.” (Eugene)

In that case, I would have fought with all 3 Great Demonic Beasts of the South Continent: the Colossal Beast Haagenti, the Dark Bird Raum, and the Black Mermaid Vepar.

(It would serve as a story to bring back to Eri, I guess.) (Eugene)

(You are awfully relaxed there, Eugene. Don’t get eaten because you lowered your guard.)

Eri answered the mutter in my mind.

(So you were listening.) (Eugene)

(You mentioned me after all. I don’t hear everything. Good grief. You should have come back already if you safely fought against Raum~~.) (Eri)

(Sorry. I will go back to the academy once this is over.) (Eugene)

(You must! MUST!! Quick!) (Eri)

That’s where the thought transmission ended.

I feel like she will say a lot of stuff to me for a while once I get back.

That said, I haven’t gone to the 7th Seal Prison in a while, so I am also feeling like there’s something missing.

“Speaking of which, Claude still hasn’t come.”

The one who is cleaning his weapon at the deck of the ship is the Hero Candidate, Leonhart.

“Didn’t he say he was going to move with a wyvern?” (Eugene) <TLN: Changed flying dragon to wyvern.>

I said this and…

“That’s only after approaching the black mermaids’ turf. He should be having his wyvern rest on the decoy ship until then, but I still don’t see the wyvern of Claude.” (Leonhart)

“That’s true. There’s a single wyvern on the flagship, but that’s not Claude’s. It is Ralph-san’s, I guess.” (Eugene)

I have taken care of Claude’s wyvern in the animal club, so I am well acquainted with its appearance.

“Claude is apparently at the place of Princess Tifania Crystal. He was saying he is being hampered in his participation of the 2nd party.” (Soran)

Soran said in a low voice.

“The 1st princess Tifania of the Gold Country? She was engaged to Claude?” (Eugene)

When I asked this, Soran and Leonhart made faces as if they found it hard to say anything.

“I don’t think you know since you are not from the Blue Waters Federation, but the selfishness of the 1st princess of the Gold Country is well known in the whole Federation…” (Leonhart)

“She is someone that wouldn’t be satisfied unless everything goes her way. My country is suffering greatly from this.” (Soran)

“That much…?” (Eugene)

At the time when I met her in the Lykeion Magic Academy, she didn’t give me that bad of an impression.

So her public appearance is different.

The ship went further and further away from land as we were having that conversation.

I waved my hand at Sara who was looking over here in worry, and the island eventually looked like a small dot.

After 20 minutes of our departure, a big wyvern landed on our decoy ship.

“Sorry, Eugene! I ran late!” (Claude)

Claude caught up.

“I heard you were caught by the princess.” (Eugene)

“…Why do you know?” (Claude)

Claude’s expression turned into a weary one.

“I heard from those two.” (Eugene)

I glanced at Soran and Leonhart.

“Princess Tifania apparently went to the Dragon Country and put pressure on them to stop me from participating in the 2nd party. I had trouble persuading her.” (Claude)

“You are loved.” (Eugene)

I teased him and Claude’s face turned bitter.

“There’s no way I could not participate…! I was the one who had our classmates join after all.” (Claude)

“Does the Gold Country have that much power?” (Eugene)

I heard the countries of the Blue Waters Federation have equal influence through the congress system.

“The countries of the Federation are borrowing money from the Gold Country whether it is a small or large amount. If you go against them carelessly, you could have your land confiscated the instant the deadline for your repayment comes. There are no few countries who have been absorbed because of this.” (Claude)

“That’s scary… Could it be that the Tomoa Kingdom is in the same situation?” (Eugene)

I remember the members of the explorers I met yesterday.

If I remember correctly, they said they couldn’t pay back their debt unless they cleared Floor 10.

“Yeah, that’s right. That country doesn’t have much resources after all.” (Claude)

Claude affirmed this.

By the way, the members of the Tomoa Kingdom will be participating in this, not as warriors, but as sailors.

Their role isn’t to fight the black mermaids.

That’s a bit of a relief.

“Hey, can you teach me about the other countries of the Blue Waters Federation while at it?” (Claude)

I requested this of Claude.

It seems like my knowledge of the Federation is not reliable.

“Fine, Eugene. Then, first is…” (Claude)

I had Claude tell me about the Blue Waters Federation on our way to the turf of the black mermaids.

◇◇

Around 3 hours of sailing.

The surroundings began to turn dark.

The weather is not bad.

There are few clouds and there’s the light of the sun coming down.

And yet, it was still dark because of the dense mist.

Claude rode his wyvern and was flying above the decoy ship and the flagship 5 minutes ago.

The air is dense.

It must be because of the miasma within the mist.

“We are here…” (Soran)

“This is…” (Leonhart)

Soran and Leonhart’s voices are pretty stiff.

I can tell the sailors and the other bodyguards are also nervous.

I look around the surface of the water from the deck.

Is there a living being here?

The Black Sea, Schwarz Mea. Also known as the Sea of Death.

I draw my white katana hanging on my waist.

I could clearly feel killing intent even without having to try.

This is not just hostility, but the eyes of a predator.

This Great Demonic Beast likes the taste of humans.

We have arrived at the turf of the Black Mermaid Vepar.

■Comment Response:

>The people of Tomoa Kingdom. That’s nostalgic.

-There was actually someone who mentioned them which helped me remember.

I am glad I managed to have them show up again.

>So the black mermaids act like ants and bees.

-It is true that fights between their schools do mirror that of bees and ants.

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