Since what weapon I chose seemed to matter, I wanted to take my time. Thanks to True Hero’s weapon proficiency boosts, I had a general understanding of most weapons. I was like a well-established musician who understood music and the chords intimately. They could pick up any instrument and be able to play it to a certain extent, certainly better than someone with no musical training. It’s different from Hero and Swordsman’s sword proficiencies, which allowed very specific knowledge about swordplay.
Since Hero had given me sword proficiency, I had always leaned on that. It was the weapon I was skilled at using. Just because I could pick up other weapons and generally understand how to use them didn’t mean they’d be as smooth as the weapon I was experienced with. I would require a lot of practice to get acclimated to another weapon. However, this seemed like a perfect time to make that jump.
My girls had all left Chalm to go out in the world and learn to become self-sufficient. They didn’t want to depend on my harem and party boosting skills to be able to protect me. They wanted to become powerful in their own rights. This dedication inspired me to do the same. I wanted to become strong enough to protect my girls without relying on their strength. Not all of the women around me were powerful fighters either. Faeyna and Eliana wouldn’t be able to fight this battle. I’m the one who had to do it.
So, I wanted to settle on the weapon I would be using for the future. That would… honestly be a sword. I already had used a sword up until now, and it didn’t make sense switching to anything else. However, just looking at the sword section, I saw swords coming in hundreds of shapes and sizes. If this was the sword that I wanted to use from now on, then it had to be one that I was most comfortable with.
First, I felt that I needed a two-handed blade. I wasn’t nearly elegant enough to manage a single hand. However, those came in many sizes too. There were claymores, longswords, sabers, and even swords in shapes I couldn’t even guess. Some swords had no sharp edge at all, only depending on a pointed tip, while other swords were one-sided. Some could slash, and some could stab. Some were curved, and some looked more like a chainsaw of blades.
As hurried as I felt, I took my time walking past each weapon. A few I picked up and considered, but they never quite felt right. Some felt too small and delicate. Others felt too weak and uncomfortable. That was when my eyes landed on a sword. As soon as I looked at it, I couldn’t look away. It was a large sword. I supposed they called it a greatsword. It was double-edged and pointy, with a large hilt. It was nearly six-feet tall, almost as tall as me.
Generally, I would have considered using a blade that long to be ridiculous. However, the blade seemed to be pulling at me. It was like we belonged together. I reached out to grab the sword, but I was still a foot away when the sword itself leaped off the rack and into my hand. At this point, the little girl was standing at the entrance, waiting for me to finish.
As the blade reached my hand, I heard a whisper near my ear. “Deek?”
It was a voice I was very familiar with. I looked around the room, but I didn’t see her anywhere close.
“What is that?” The little girl asked.
“N-nothing!” I spoke out loud to the little girl.
For some reason, I had an intense feeling like I didn’t want her to know about Alysia’s presence. I couldn’t say what it was, but I didn’t think Alysia was supposed to be here. The guide seemed to accept that and went back to tapping her foot.
“Okay, where are you? Why can’t I see you?” I whispered.
“I… don’t know. It’s dark. I just… I felt it when you were close, so I jumped toward you. I can feel your hand. The warmth… it’s nice.”
I looked down at my hand, and in that hand was the sword. What was going on in this dungeon?
“Is that the sword you’ll be taking?” my dungeon guide asked.
“Yes!” I coughed, quickly pulling the sword to me like I was afraid she’d take it.
“Ah… D-d-don’t touch me there!” Alysia gasped.
My hand was on the side of the blade. I pulled it away.
“S-sorry…” As the little girl approached me, I straighten up. “Sorry I took so long!”
“You’ve picked a splendid blade. It was this dungeon’s newest addition. It was just forged.” She explained and then frowned. “Hmm? There was another blade here too. They came together. It was a companion to this blade.”
“It’s fine!” I forced a smile. “I only need the one. We probably should continue with the trial.”
“Very well. We shall. Please leave through the exit. I won’t be able to follow, but I will see you on the other side for the first trial.”
“Thanks, I will!”
I realized I was coming off a bit too excited, but the girl didn’t seem to notice my change. What she had just said left me extremely alarmed. If my guess was right, then anyone who died by that blade had their soul sucked into the dungeon. Then, they were turned into a blade. Alysia and my soul were sucked into this dungeon and become these weapons.
This didn’t seem that unbelievable. Souls could be turned into miasmic monsters, so why not weapons? However, she mentioned two souls, which meant that my soul had been in this room too. We must have done something strange. People who died on the blade became weapons for the trial, while people who grabbed the hilt and met the requirements were given the chance to perform a trial. She died on the blade, but my soul went with her. Then, when I initiated the challenge, my soul was transported to the point to start the challenge.
At least, I turned back into a human, and it didn’t seem like this guide even realized it had happened. It was probably something automatically done that sat outside of the curse’s awareness, like safe rooms. This gave me some hope. Not only did I now understand why I had my soul back, but if I could turn back into a human, so could Alysia!
The pair of us left through the door the little girl had indicated, holding Alysia tightly in my hand. As soon as I walked through the door, I realized why she couldn’t follow. This was a safe room. It also contained a stairway. This dungeon was built a bit differently than the ones I had seen before. It looked like the safe room sat between the 1st and 2nd level, rather than being hidden somewhere in the level for us to find.
“Okay, we’re safe here.” I sighed, after closing the doors and locking myself in the safe room.
This wasn’t a physical place, but a soul realm, so it stood to reason that this similarly wasn’t a real place. It didn’t contain the dungeon transport system. There was no returning. You could only move forward. I supposed since the dungeon had no physical location, it didn’t need to have a connection with a clearly defined way out, or perhaps it was better to say that I wouldn’t know the way out. I wished Miki was here. She might have been able to figure this out.
“Where is here?” Alysia cried out. “I don’t see anything. It’s dark. Please… don’t let me go.”
I looked down at the sword in my hand, not sure how to explain things to her. “We need to talk.”
“How long have you been like this?”
The reason I felt I needed to ask this question was that I needed to understand if the time was off in this world. In the Twilight Dungeon, I had gained quite a bit of time. Weeks out here translated to months in there. If this dungeon was the same, then I would have a good amount of time to finish. If it was the opposite, I would probably panic.
“I don’t… I don’t know… I remember… I remember dying. Then, everything went black. I thought I was dead. I was just trapped with my own thoughts, not knowing anything. It wasn’t until I started to feel you coming toward me that I started to become aware of things. I can hear and feel, but I can’t see anything.”
“I see… to me, it’s only been maybe thirty minutes since you died.”
“Only thirty minutes?” She gasped. “It’s felt… like an eternity. What has… what has happened to me?”
“That ancient sword was a dungeon. The dungeon destroys your body and uses your soul. They call it a soul dungeon. Anyone who dies becomes a weapon. If you activate the trial, they give you one of the weapons. That’s all I know.”
“That’s… so, you’re saying I’ve become a sword?”
“I’m holding you in my hands right now.”
There was a brief moment of silence. It would probably take a while for someone to come to terms with being turned into a sword. Actually, I had read many different isekai in Earth, and often people would reincarnate as objects. I still couldn’t imagine it. I came to Earth as myself.
“To what end?” Alysia finally asked, her voice croaking slightly.
“I don’t know.” I shook my head as I glanced around the room, finally noticing a mural on the wall. “Ah, we’re in a safe room and they have a dungeon mural. It might shed some light on things. Hmmm…”
“Well? I can’t see anything, describe it!”
“Oh… right. The mural depicts the story of a man and his daughter. He appeared to be a soldier or adventurer of some kind. From what I can see, the daughter went out one day to pick fruit. However, she never came home. Then, reports of a dungeon forming in the area struck. The man desperately went out to find his daughter. After untold challenges, he discovered that she had died in the dungeon, never to be resurrected.
“I think… I think the woman who is guiding me through this might be his daughter.”
“Are you sure?”
“No… I’ve only ever made guesses. The drawings on the murals aren’t exactly picture perfect.”
“This is useless! Just destroy the dungeon and let’s get out of here.” Her voice sounded aggravated.
“Understanding the dungeon will help us succeed in conquering it. You’ll just have to trust me on that, okay?”
“However, you’re right. Demon Lord Aberis has Eliana, and he’s likely planning to go to war with Aberis too. We need to get out of here as quickly as possible. Our one advantage is that everyone likely believes we’re dead. Fortunately, this dungeon doesn’t destroy souls. That’s probably why it hasn’t grown past ten levels despite all of this time. It can’t be absorbing very much mana or the church nearly on its doorstep would have noticed and blocked it. Once we destroy the dungeon, your soul will be free and I will be able to resurrect you.”
“We’ll both make it out of this.”
“Yes.” I agreed, and then slapped the flat end of the blade against the wall.
“Ow!” She cried out. “What was that for?”
“That was for killing yourself! I’m still angry about that!”
“Th-there was no other choice! You were dying! It worked, didn’t it? It separated our souls?”
“You mean too much to me for you to do something so foolish again. Promise me, if we ever get in a desperate situation, whatever we do, we do it together.”
“Promise me! We fight together!”
With that taken care of, I relaxed a bit. It was time to take on the next part of the trial.