“Wh-what are you doing? What is this? This is all wrong!” The little girl who had been antagonizing us flew into a tantrum as she watched Alysia kiss me.
The pair of us parted after a few blissful moments, Alysia turning to look at the girl. “You don’t understand anything.”
“You… what is wrong with you? You died and your soul was trapped in here and corrupted with my miasma. This man… he wielded you like an object, forcing you to kill yourself over and over again. You can see his frustration and hate as he cut you down.”
“Deek never felt such things.”
“I-impossible! This doesn’t make sense! This is not how it’s supposed to go! You turn on him, as I turned on my Master! Why aren’t you turning?”
“I don’t want to.”
“You… wait… souls came into this dungeon bound together. I had to peel them apart and then one of them suddenly disappeared! You cheated! You cheated me!” The little girl began to rage.
“So, what if our souls are connected? What if we spoke to each other? That’s the difference between us and you. We communicated!” I looked over at Alysia. “I just wish… I had communicated more.”
“Deek, I understand why you didn’t want to show your pain. You want to be strong.” Alysia touched my cheek again. “That… has been my mistake all along. I’ve always thought I had to endure. I had always thought I had to accomplish everything on my own. I killed myself not because I didn’t think we could escape that situation, but because I felt I had to atone for my sins on my own. After traveling down this dungeon, I realized that I no longer want to walk this path alone.”
“Alysia… you can rely on me.” I tightened my fist.
“Deek… I will.”
“Stop looking all lovey-dovey!” The girl shrieked. “This isn’t how it is supposed to go! You should hate each other! Despise each other! Resent! Kill! This is the only way this will turn out. No one would be happy belonging to another!”
As she raged, her arm grew into a large sword. I activated Phase Shift and then stepped out from my chains, causing them to fall harmlessly to the ground.
“Y-you could have escaped at any time.” Alysia gasped. “Then… you just, when I came at you…”
I laughed. “Actually, I forget all the skills I have sometimes, especially when I’m panicked. It’s not as easy as it looks.”
It’s not like I have a complete list of all my skills in front of my eyes, where I can calmly pick them out to take the best course of action in any situation. I’ve only had these skills for a few months, and I’ve rapidly acquired so many of them. I’m not some skilled ronin who had spent a decade refining his craft. Although I was speaking the truth, Alysia gave me a dubious look. She seemed to think that I deliberately let her attack me. It wasn’t worth correcting, especially since the little girl was growing more and more furious.
“Since she won’t do as she’s told, I will do the task for her! I will kill you and turn you into a sword, as you deserve! Everyone deserves it!” She screamed.
“Alysia, will you be my blade again?” I asked.
“Deek,” She turned to me and smiled. “I never stopped being yours.”
I took her hand, and in a flash of light, her body turned back into the blade I remembered. It still had the sigil on it that we had forged in the previous level. I lifted the blade on my shoulder and faced the little girl.
“We’re leaving this dungeon.”
“Leave?” She sneered. “You’ll never leave this place. Do you really thing you have the strength? In my prime, I was a sword that bathed in the blood of thousands of people. Your little weak sword will crack under my strength. I’m more powerful than you.”
There was a truth to her words. Although she might look like a little girl, she was backed by the entire dungeon. I had faced many dungeon masters in my time, but most of the time I had won by pure luck. I had never defeated one without the assistance of all of my girls. This was the first time I was going against a Dungeon Master in a direct one-on-one battle. It was an ancient soul sword against Alysia and me.
I equipped the relevant jobs. I had been getting better at job swapping on the fly and could manage it in just a few seconds. In the middle of a battle, a few seconds was a lifetime, but as long as I could get some distance, I could usually manage such things. True Hero, the only position that gave me a second job without the benefit of my blessings, remained locked as my first job, but I had been swapping my other jobs from White Magic, Blue Mage, Magic Swordsman, and so-on to keep up.
At the moment, I depended on Magic Swordsman as I went out and fought the girl. She leaped at me, and her speed couldn’t be underestimated. She jumped around, slashing at my blade over and over again. I immediately began to notice an issue between Alysia and me. This wasn’t an issue when I was fighting the clones, because ultimately, their fighting style matched Alysia’s, so my strength added to her strength was enough to overwhelm them.
However, Alysia was a direct fighter, depending on pure aggression to knock down an enemy. She didn’t have the elegance of Lydia, nor the stoicism of Carmine. I had faced her many times and felt the aggression of her attacks. They relied on power. The problem came in my own fighting style. Since I wasn’t always weaker, I depended on speed. Simply put, she would try to create powerful attacks, while I tried to do rapid attacks, and the results were that we weren’t quite in sync as we originally thought.
As for the little girl, she was the blade and the person in one, moving with a fluidity that couldn’t be stopped. I was cut and then cut again. It wasn’t long before I wasn’t in much better shape than I had been when I had fought the five clones on the previous level. Alysia also grew more enraged the more often I got hit, and she responded by further fighting me.
The girl let out a laugh. “Do you see it now? Your souls may have been connected for some reason, but that doesn’t mean you can fight as one. You are nothing!”
She jumped and slashed down. As she did so, her entire body glowed. I raised Alysia to block the blade, and as her sword arm struck Alysia, there was a crack. Alysia let out a scream and as a piece of her broke. I flew back, hitting a wall and collapsing to my knees. Looking down, I could see a crack running along Alysia’s blade.
“Do you understand the difference between us now?” she said. “A blade forged by trust and love will never be as powerful as a blade forged in pain and fear. You might as well get rid of that trash and accept your fate.”
“I’m sorry…” Alysia’s voice came through, slightly shaky. “I’ve messed up again.”
Her voice was filled with defeat. Just as she thought she had found a new purpose; she had been beaten down by the dungeon master. It’d be like deciding you wanted to try out for a sport, only for another person to come along and defeat you thoroughly. It would surely cause someone’s resolve to waiver. The guide stopped her attack. Apparently, she was happy gloating over her victory.
I stood back up slowly. Blood was dripping down, but I had lost blood before. After the other pains, this dungeon had forced me to face, this level of hurt was practically nothing. I was getting better and better at ignoring such pain, especially when there was a fight to win.
“What are you saying? We’re not done yet,” I said as I finally managed to get to my feet, although I was leaning against the wall to keep from tipping over.
“I-I’m broken… if you continue to use me, you’ll fail. You need to use something else to fight her. We have to depend on one of your tricks.”
“We’re in this together, or don’t you remember?”
“I… I can’t…”
“Do you want to quit now?” I asked, accessing White Mage as I spoke. “Frankly, I want to keep going.”
First, I used heal on myself, recovering the damage from my injuries. Technically, this body wasn’t real, but skills seemed to work the same way despite I was just a soul. Since that was the case…”
At level 48, I had unlocked Moderate Repair, the next level from Light Repair. It allowed me to fix damaged armor. It wasn’t at the level a blacksmith could repair stuff, but it was good enough on the fly. I rarely needed to depend on the thing, since most of my items were destroyed completely when they received any damage, but it was still a useful trait. The crack in the blade disappeared.
“Y-you healed me?” Alysia said in disbelief.
The little girl had been waiting for us. Perhaps, it was a show of her confidence. However, when she saw the blade heal, her eyes went wide.
“Y-you… you have far too many tricks up your sleeve! It doesn’t matter, you won’t be able to change the outcome of this fight. You will become a sword like everyone else!”
“I-I’m not sure I can do this.”
“Didn’t you agree to rely on me?”
“Then, we’re going to win this together. She thinks she’s more powerful, she thinks that a sword forged by love is a weak sword. I don’t believe any of that.”
“L-love!” Alysia cried out, and I was pretty sure she’d be blushing if I could see her.
“Alysia, I’m trusting my life with you. Will you fail me?”
“I won’t! I won’t ever fail you!”
“Then, you have to be strong enough to protect me.”
“Strong enough to cut through anything.”
“Then, trust in me, and I will trust in you.”
Just as I was about to attack again, Alysia began to glow. Her blade became a bright light, and for a moment it felt almost like the night when we had sex. It felt like her soul was wrapped around mine. I could almost read her mind and her mood. I could feel the bond. I could feel Alysia.
“What are you doing?” The little girl took a step back. “Th-that’s not possible!”
I held the glowing sword toward her. “Let’s see who is truly stronger.”