The group Julian was leading was essentially one that was in the middle while following behind the one in front.
There was also group behind him, so Julian and his teammates were protected from the front and back.
However, monsters still jumped out within this dungeon and its complicated branched paths.
There were also dangerous moments when traps appeared.
They advanced through the floors in the dungeon.
Though it's the first and second floors, they could die if they let their mind wander.
Julian broke into a cold sweat from his first dungeon and combat experience.
Next to him stood Jilk, who looked strained while protecting Julian.
The normally rude and chatty Brad had clammed up, and even Chris didn't let go of his sword's hilt due to the tension.
Greg was the only one accustomed to a dungeon, but perhaps thinking that there was no meaning to the academy preparing a venture of this level, seemed to be leisurely.
Julian paid attention to the woman behind him──Marie.
“No problems with the pace we're walking at?”
Marie smiled towards his slightly clumsy speech.
“It's fine, your Highness.”
For Julian, Marie was a girl who gave a fresh impression, the type that n.o.body in the royal palace had.
Listening to the stories of her hards.h.i.+ps stirred up his desire to protect her.
The biggest reason for that was their encounter, though.
Marie appeared when Julian was alone, since sometimes his relation with Anjelica got troubling and bothersome, and then took an impolite att.i.tude as she got angry.
He never experienced a girl of the same age getting angry at him, and was surprised when Marie got a little rough, slapped him, and scolded him like she was his mother.
That left Julian with both an impression of surprise and freshness, and he couldn't help but pay attention to Marie afterwards.
“If there's anything you'd like me to know, then feel free to speak out.”
Marie's smile relieved Julian, but Greg clicked his tongue when seeing the two like that.
“I'm more worried about his Highness the crown prince than about Marie. Those raised in the royal palace are weak against feudal lord n.o.bles, like Marie, who are more strong-willed than they seem.”
Chris tightened his gaze in response to those words.
“…You have some nerve for a wild b.u.mpkin. However, I cannot overlook you being impolite towards his Highness.”
Jilk soon intervened.
“You're too serious as well, Chris. We're students of the academy right now, so pulling attention to such things is unnecessary.”
Greg made a roaring laugh.
“Apologies. However, if you think hard enough, you'll remember that feudal lords tend to get very arrogant. My bad.”
The person he was referring to soon realized what he was saying.
A vein appeared on Brad's forehead.
“A meathead thinks about everything in terms of brute strength. Marie, you'll face trouble if you marry a man like that.”
Greg talked back while Marie made a bitter smile.
“Hey, stop lying! Marie, a woman who comes over to my place won't face any trouble. If you become that heinous Brad's wife, you'll get tired of his meticulous personality. If you come to my place, I'll let you live as you please. Aren't you getting sick of the formal life of n.o.bles as well?”
It seemed he was panicking while trying to clear up a misunderstanding with Marie.
The team of guards felt awkward listening to this conversation amongst Julian and the others.
There were groups that were defending Julian, and amongst them stood Anjelica.
They were a noisy group.
However, the mood changed completely once Greg immediately readied the spear in his hands.
“…Hey, everyone be alert. We've got giant ants.”
All members held up their weapons in a panic.
They were in a dungeon. It would especially frightening to use guns in this pa.s.sage since it could lead to friendly fire.
For that reason, one is not supposed to rely on guns.
Jilk and the girls have a handgun for self-defense, but the boys are not allowed to carry firearms.
Greg got slightly impatient.
“There's…six of them. They're going to come out from that side road.”
A slightly irritated Brad criticized the other groups.
“You groups in the front, what are you doing?!”
Chris drew his sword in silence.
Then, he took an elegant posture.
“If they're coming from the side road, they're not going to cross paths with the group in the front. At any rate, six of them is a lot. Your Highness, please step back.”
However, Julian took a momentary glance at Marie, stepped forward, and took out his sword.
(As if I'll let her see such a shameful display of myself here.)
“How nice, your Highness. You're part of the royalty, for sure.”
While being surprised by Julian taking a fighting stance, Jilk took out his handgun. Jilk was exceptional at handling small arms, so despite him being a boy, he was allowed to possess one.
Anjelica was in the back.
“What are you doing! Defend his Highness!”
There were two pairs of six people that were protecting Julian and the others. They were supposed to be the opponents of the monsters.
However, Greg shouted.
Wielding his spear that had an ornament attached which was the same color of red as his hair and eyes, Greg leaped forward, pushed aside the guarding students, and swung his weapon down to strike a target.
While a squashed giant ant was wrapped in black smoke, two more approached and tried to sandwich Greg.
When he raised his spear, one of them had already been bisected by a slash, while the other was roasted in flames.
When he looked, it turned out that Chris, wielding his sword, had entered the scene.
“Your movements are unwieldy.”
Behind him was Brad holding a staff. Brad was the one who released magic.
“You really are a meathead. I could defeat three of them at the same time if you weren't in the way.”
Immediately after were the sound of two gunshots.
Two giant ants got their heads shot through, were engulfed in a black smoke, and vanished.
White fumes came out from the muzzle of Jilk's revolver.
“You're losing focus. ──Your Highness.”
The last one that remained headed towards Julian.
“What are you doing! Hurry and protect his Highness!”
Jilk spoke to reprimand the shouting Anjelica.
“Just watch for a bit. Anjelica, his Highness is not weak.”
Unlike Anjelica, who was in a panic, Jilk was calm.
Julian started running, and raised his broad, double-edged Western sword.
With one downward swing, the giant ant's head and torso had cut open, black smoke appeared from it, and it disappeared.
When Julian wiped the sweat on his cheeks, he noticed that he was trembling. Then, he struck his sword onto the ground, causing a stone to bounce upon contact.
He didn't wear gloves, so the back of his hand was cut just a little bit.
Upon which, Marie ran up from behind and clutched Julian's hand.
“Your Highness, are you alright?”
Julian felt rea.s.sured by the warmth of her delicate hand that was holding onto him.
(What a relief. Is this affection? No, is this love? ──Hmm?)
Julian noticed Marie's hand lightly s.h.i.+ning. Then, when Marie took her hands off, he saw that the wound had disappeared.
Marie then said “Shh~” while holding her finger to her lips. Noticing that she wanted him to remain silent about it, Julian closed his mouth.
“It's good that his Highness is safe. Of course, it's a relief that all of you are safe as well.”
For Julian, Marie, who had worried about him even after the fight ended, seemed more pleasant than Anjelica, who tried to stop him when he was about to enter battle.
Anjelica then approached. At that moment, she pushed Marie aside to drive her off.
“Your Highness, I have a towel.”
However, Julian found Anjelica annoying.
“…I don't need it. Anyways, let's move on ahead.”
Saying that, he took Marie's hand and moved forward.
We entered the third floor.
Olivia and I had arrived at the destination for today's lessons.
A teacher was waiting there to make sure that no student would get carried away and keep going, so when we arrived, we ended up having to wait for the others to come.
Looking at the contents inside the luggage I'm carrying puts a smile on my face.
“As expected of the royal capital's dungeon. When we had gone on ahead of them, those rich n.o.bles thought we were going to get ourselves killed, but now we've managed to get a hold of this much metal.”
As expected of a fantasy world, the metal that popped out of the dirt had taken on the hues of iron, copper, and other various colors, as if they had already been refined. I shed tears in my grat.i.tude.
There were also pretty crystals that were called demon stones.
Olivia took a crystal into her hand and looked at it.
“It looks like a jewel. What in the world are these things used for?”
While calculating how much this stack of treasure would sell for, I explained the matter of demon stones.
“Let's see~, this and that would be worth two hundred dia, so──oh, you asked about demon stones? They're energy resources. It seems that when you're forging metal, you can toss them into the kettle and expect good results. I don't know the details, but they're pretty amazing stones. That doesn't matter though, since we'll be able to sell them at high prices.”
Once we sell the stuff we obtained, we'll get about five hundred dia.
It's good that we were able to get this much after going on ahead. This amount of treasure isn't much for the rich guys at any rate.
“Even after diving this much amongst two people, it's still…not even enough to cover a tea ceremony. Darn, I need to earn more.”
I still have the tea utensils I bought from last time, but once I start purchasing the tea leaves and sweets, the expenses will soon rise from one hundred dia to two hundred dia, and so on.
While I was feeling down, Olivia then spoke to me.
“Why did demon stones appear? I'd understand if it were metal, but there's no such thing as a mine where demon stones pop out. I've heard that they appear only in dungeons, so it's been on my mind.”
Since it seems that she's going to be this aware from now on, I didn't take her reaction seriously.
While pondering as such, I ended up speaking out loud.
“Oh~, it's that. That. When monsters are killed, their magic power is released and acc.u.mulates into the ground. That acc.u.mulation takes the form of a demon stone.”
“Is that so? This is the first time I've heard something like that, though. Err, it was written in the textbooks that there still isn't an explanation found for it yet.”
“Trust me. I'm sure that I'm not mistaken since I remember reading about it somewhere. Huh? If that's the case, then perhaps the treasure chest was also formed from the acc.u.mulation of magic power as well? Magic, or rather, magic power sure is convenient.”
For the next tea ceremony, perhaps I should get items that are more tailored to the other party?
In that case, I'd have to repurchase a tea set, but wouldn't that result in an embarra.s.sing situation where it seems that I only made the utensils elegant in an act of foolishness?
d.a.m.n it, why does tea have to be this profound?
Or perhaps it's just me wanting to have a famous tea set.
I sort of understand the feelings of a Sengoku era j.a.panese military commander stocking up on tea utensils now.
It seems that the tea ceremonies in this world also follow the Way of Tea. (TLN: The Way of Tea refers to j.a.panese conduct in the preparation/presentation of tea gatherings.)
While I was thinking deeply about it, Olivia looked into my face.
“Leon, you're pretty knowledgeable. That surprised me.”
Knowledge. That's not it.
Basically, even though this is my second life, on the entrance examination of the academy, I was ranked as being in the upper-average score of seventy points.
If it's about excelling students, then find one of the others scattered around.
However, I'm pleased that she praised me while being glad.
I'm just an insignificant human. However, I don't hate how I am.
“R, really? If there's something you don't understand, how about I help teach it to you?”
A full smile appeared on Olivia's face when I said that.
Well, there shouldn't be a problem in taking care of studies during the break periods of searching for a marriage partner.
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