[TL Note: This is the revised, updated version of Chapter 167.]
[Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. This will be the start of a new legend of the holy sword as well as the title of Dragon Slayer!]
What are you going on about?
"If I kill the dragon, the Dragon Slayer title is mine. Why do you get that title?"
[That's because my blade will pierce the dragon’s heart!]
"Nope. I'm not going to use you."
The holy sword radiated and threw a tantrum.
He wanted me to use him to kill the dragon.
[Warrior, could you please just shove that thing back into the subspace?]
Seregia said, and the holy sword returned to being quiet.
The holy sword really hated entering the inventory, so whenever someone said anything about putting him inside of it, he'd immediately behave himself.
I honestly had no plans of taking out the holy sword from my inventory before I parted ways with the guide kid.
But I was concerned that if I just left the holy sword inside my inventory while I was taking care of the dragon, he would whine like there was no tomorrow.
If by chance the holy sword refused to cooperate at an important moment, it would be a huge deal, so if he behaved, I decided to attach and wear him at my waist.
[It's a strange place.] Seregia said.
Like always, her voice was calm and dry. But the more you listened to her, the better you’d get at roughly understanding how she feels.
"Yeah. The murals are also unusual."
It's been two days since I've parted ways with the kid.
I had passed through the middle floor and reached the lowest floor.
Though I didn't have a guide, I could easily tell that I had escaped the middle floor.
I walked through the middle floor's passageway and was eventually met with a stone gate that blocked the narrow passageway.
It was a thick stone gate, inscribed with a glowing magic circle.
If the holy sword's explanation was correct…
Based on the holy sword's explanation, the gate was a magic door that would open only after you spoke the proper keyword. I just smashed through the gate with pure strength and went in. After that, the dungeon's appearance changed significantly.
Contrary to the middle floor's narrow passageway that went on in the shape of a winding road, the lowest floor consisted of a single clearing.
The lowest floor looked as if it was a giant temple.
I couldn't read most of the writing and the drawings were discolored as well, but I could tell what this place was.
This place was a spot built for worship.
But rather than worshipping a god, it looked as if it were a place to worship a dragon.
That's what I thought when I saw the stone statues of a giant dragon as well as the vague draconic patterns.
I walked through the dragon's temple silently save for the sound of my footsteps and eventually reached the end.
A giant door.
I thought it might be about as high as a ten-story apartment; the giant door was the only thing blocking my advance.
The giant door was engraved with strange words and symbols.
[They're runes.] Seregia said.
"You also know runes? That's surprising."
It was prejudiced, but Seregia didn't look as though she had any expertise in anything other than swordsmanship.
[I remember learning it from the Academy's liberal arts classes.]
"Can you read it?"
[No. I only know that they are runes.]
As always, Seregia responded confidently.
She had given off this impression since a while back, but whenever Seregia believes that she can't do something, something won't work out, or she doesn't have something, and talks about something negative, she responds even more confidently than before.
Is that a characteristic of her speech, or if not, is it some sort of strange masochistic gag?
[Hoo. Hoo. It's obvious that our cute Miss Seregia wouldn't be able to read those words. You don't have to be too hard on yourself, Miss Seregia.]
The holy sword went 'hoo. hoo.' again and started talking.
[... I'm not blaming myself, but you're making me feel bad, so please refrain from calling my name.]
The holy sword ignored Seregia's request and continued.
[Those runes are written in the draconic language.]
"I see. Then can you read it?"
[No. I can also read a few runes, but reading that is impossible. It's not like draconic language is like a kid's coded message, so how could I read it? There probably aren't even ten people on this entire continent who can decipher that message.]
I briefly felt that the holy sword's statement was odd.
Was the draconic language that difficult of a language to understand?
I had heard about the distinctive characteristics of the draconic language from Idy before.
"Is it really that difficult?"
[Yes. Of course.]
"What I heard is that all of the meaning is put in the front in the draconic language; the rest is just an inefficient language that lists unnecessary words. Then, if you just decipher the beginning of those runes, shouldn't you be able to guess its meaning?"
[I don't know who you heard this from, but that someone clearly has absolutely no knowledge of runes. You cannot just thoughtlessly say something like that, Warrior. Magicians will say that you're looking down on them and attack you out of anger for your disrespect.]
Is that so?
The dungeon's path continued on beyond that giant door.
If it's possible, I would just smash through the door and walk in, but I wanted to understand some of its meaning before that.
"Can you at least read a few letters?"
[I might. Even if I know a few runes, the meaning can be completely different so there's a high possibility that I will misunderstand it.
[TL Note: He's saying that the words differ in meaning, presumably based on how they're sequenced, spelled, etc.]
I smacked my lips and I walked forward to smash apart the door.
[You don't have to blame yourself for not being able to read those runes. It's only natural, sir holy sword, Ahbooboo something or another.]
The quiet Seregia suddenly 'cast' provoke.
[... Hoo. Hoo. Hoo. It's natural, you say? ... Warrior. Could you please give me some time? If you just give me enough time, I can interpret as many of those mere scribbles as you want!]
The holy sword was caught by the provocation.
The effect was tremendous.
"No. It's not a matter of time, but you said that you couldn't read it. Let's just go."
[OH! Please, Warrior! If you give me a chance, I'll be quiet!]
That was a tempting offer.
"Fine. Then I'll give you some time, so stay quiet."
[Yes. Thank you, Warrior. I love you, Warrior. I’m definitely going to decipher that draconic language. And I'll show you that I'm worthy of being a holy sword. When I say I'll do something, I definitely follow through. And Miss Seregia, my name isn't Ahbooboo, it's Ahoubuch!]
[I know. Sir mythomania holy sword.]
I ignored the bickering between Seregia and the holy sword, and leaned on a nearby pillar.
Since I had been moving unceasingly for a few days, resting before smashing apart the door wouldn't be such a bad idea.
I have absolutely no idea what was beyond that door.
Enemies may burst out the moment I open the door, so let's move after we've gotten some rest.
It also quieted down the holy sword.
I closed my eyes and briefly passed the time by circulating the mana circuits inside my body.
* * * * * *
"Are you still not done?"
[That is... Warrior. If you give me some more time and manpower then...]
Manpower. What manpower?
I drew the holy sword from my waist.
[Warrior! Please! Please don't put me into the inventory!]
As soon as I drew the holy sword from his sheath, he had thought that I was going to put him into my inventory and quickly protested.
I crudely stuck the holy sword into the ground.
"I'll give you 10 more minutes. Finish within that time. Meanwhile, I'll be taking a look around."
After I stuck the holy sword into the ground at a position where it could see the front of the door well, I walked around the clearing as I glanced around.
I couldn't read the letters and the drawings and pieces were extremely damaged, so it was difficult to figure anything out.
But it felt like I was walking through a museum, so it wasn't bad.
In the corner, there were several comic strip-like murals divided into sections.
Likewise, they were considerably damaged, but the more you looked at them, the more you guess the story.
A great dragon fought and defeated an evil enemy.
The dragon that had defeated the enemy had either been cursed or made ill.
The dragon prepared a special ritual.
Before the ritual began, the dragon gave something to a human with a certain pattern.
At the site of the ritual that was taking place, the man waited outside of the door for the dragon.
The human became humans.
Whenever the drawings would change, the humans' faces would change slightly.
The drawing of the humans who waited outside of the door for the dragon continued for hundreds, maybe thousands of times.
The longer it went on, the more their numbers dwindled.
On the final picture on the wall, there was only one person remaining.
[It's an interesting story.]
"Yeah. I'm really curious what the dragon gave to the humans."
What could it have possibly given them that they waited generations for the sleeping dragon?
I wonder what had become of the dragon's consciousness?
Has the dragon not woken up yet, by any chance?
It would be a real disappointment if the floor’s objective was to slay a sleeping dragon.
[What do you think happened to the humans? Do you think they grew old and died?]
"Probably not. They probably just don’t come over here anymore, even if they’re still alive."
[Why do you think that way?]
"Look at that pattern that's drawn on the humans over there. Don't you think you've seen that somewhere before?"
[So it was the guides' symbol.]
It was an interesting story, in more ways than one.
I returned to the front of the stone gate and drew the holy sword.
"Were you able to decipher some of it while I was away?"
The holy sword just kept silent.
[Sir holy sword sure does keep his promise, considering how he's already silent.]
Even though Seregia’s remark was clearly sarcastic, the holy sword didn't retort as I returned him back to his sheath.
I drew the soul sword and enveloped it in aura.
And swung it at the giant stone gate.
* * * * * *
Ultimately, even with my strength, I completely failed to break apart the stone gate.
It definitely seems like it's made of stone, but its hardness surpassed that of steel.
I tried a few times, but in the end I had no choice but to give up.
Instead, using my maximally condensed aura, I was able to make a small hole in the gate that I had to narrowly crawl through.
The air was different as soon as I got out of the hole.
The mana density was extremely high.
It felt like I was swimming through water composed of mana.
And beyond the darkness, I sensed a powerful existence.
I felt that the circulation of my mana was blocked due to its magic, and my sight couldn't pierce through the deep darkness.
All I could do was assume who this existence was, based on the power that I felt.
And I was sure.
That was a dragon.
I could say without any hesitation that the only existence that could match up to that is a dragon.
Rather, it was to the point that I was surprised.
Even though it's a dragon, I expected it to be on par with the Demon King or just a little weaker.
That's because the strength that the Demon King exhibited definitely wasn't suitable for the 26th floor difficulty.
However, that was a miscalculation.
That thing exceeds the Demon King's strength.
When I had met the Great Mother, I had witnessed the nearby mana resonating with her.
That was only possible because the Great Mother had complete command over the area.
When I had encountered the Demon King on the 26th floor, I could feel something tremendous beyond the Demon King's physical appearance.
The summoned Demon King would be used as a medium connecting him to his original body's mana in the Demon World beyond.
The Demon King summoned his body's strength and I had felt that considerable power crossing over right before my very eyes.
It was a surprising experience.
And right now, I was experiencing both of those phenomena right now.
The ground underneath and the ambient mana began to shake, and was resonating with the owner of that strength.
And within that owner's body, there was a vessel that existed, containing that absurd amount of mana.
What's worse was that it pulsed every few seconds and generated new mana.
It was an absurd spectacle.
Every few seconds, it would be freshly supplied with an amount of mana similar to my entire supply of mana.
If you just looked at our mana, you wouldn't even be able to compare the two of us.
It suddenly roared, accompanied by a cloud of dust and wind surging forth.
And I could feel it.
The dragon had recognized my existence.
Those dragon eyes were looking at me.
My feet stiffened at that truth.
It wasn't fear.
It wasn't from a magical effect.
My brain had just stopped for a second.
At the face of overwhelming strength.
I couldn't find a way to take it down.
In my head, I could see myself repeatedly fail; after that, I could see my death.
That thing isn't something that should appear on the 27th floor.
There's some kind of problem.
I heard Seregia.
I instinctively drew and unsheathed the soul sword.
And I raised the holy sword in my left hand.
Although I had decided to refrain from using the holy sword for the sake of my growth, I had to use it in this kind of dangerous situation.
That's why I had continued to carry it from the very beginning.
I thought as I felt its gaze narrow on me.
I couldn't see it, nor could I sense it, but it had turned its body towards me just now.
The first thing I could think of: a magic attack.
When its long-range attack comes, how should I handle it?
Contrary to his normal speech, the holy sword spoke both curtly and sharply.
"If a long-distance intangible magic attack comes, for example a restraint, or sleep, or a magic that puts my body into an abnormal state, you can block it, right?"
[I can. So long as the God of the Sky responds, I should be able to block it using holy spells.]
[Twice. Maybe three times.]
That's too few.
"What about ordinary attack magic?"
[I cannot block it at my level. No matter what comes flying, I won’t be able to block it.]
So you're saying that I have to evade attack magics and rely on Talaria's Wings.
My preparation against the long-distance attack is too poor.
If that's the case, I have to approach first.
While the dragon is preparing its attack right now, I have to preemptively rush it and win in a short-term battle.
I used all the skills that I could and stepped forward.
At the same time, the dragon roared.
The dragon rushed towards me, accompanied by a deafening roar.
Contrary to what I had expected, it's going to fight me hand-to-hand.
Those conditions aren't bad for me.
I gripped the swords in my hands.
And I too, ran towards the approaching dragon.