Proof of a Hero
Maal let out a sound when we were transferred to the next floor, since it reminded her of her hometown’s forest.
But if you looked closely, the density of the undergrowth, trees, and ivy that filled the open spaces were all very high.
The ninth floor was a jungle.
“But it’s pretty strange.”
Serge muttered. Of the six, Ria and Carlos were raised in a city. Though with her previous life’s knowledge, Ria also knew about woods and forests.
“There aren’t any insects. I can’t hear any birds or beasts either.”
Compared to the image of a jungle in Ria’s head, this was different. Above all, it wasn’t hot.
“We’re in the labyrinth for sure.”
Maal’s eyes could see the movement of magical power, in other words she could see the movements of demons. They wouldn’t be surprised by an attack from poor visibility.
There were small and normal vipers, still enough to be hazardous.
Detoxification magic would take an active role and Maal’s knife would also prove useful.
“This place is a little odd.”
Carlos spoke this time. Other than when they first invaded the floor, they hadn’t seen any walls.
Leaves grew thickly overhead, blocking out the source of light. Since he was a man that had lived in a city resembling a labyrinth since birth, he felt something wrong.
“Wait a bit then, I’ll check it out with magic.”
Serge focused, configuring a magic he hadn’t used thus far. It wasn’t a magic meant to be used in a labyrinth, but it would probably be effective on this floor.
It was a magic meant to understand an area centered on himself. Each time it touched an obstacle it grew a little more ambiguous after that, but it didn’t seem to hit a wall.
After spending more than ten minutes of searching, Serge found it was a huge circular room.
“The center is open. There may be a swamp there.”
There were various places with water other than the center of the floor. Along with the demons that relied on surprise attacks, there were many monitor lizards and amphibians that lived on the waterside.
Honestly though, the strength of the demons on the eighth floor were higher.
“Is the Hydra in the center…?”
Ria lead the way with Gig, making an open path with her machete. She passed Gig a matching machete.
“Since the Hydra is a disaster class creature, there’s been a detailed investigation done on it.”
Lulu described the characteristics of the Hydra; it was the same as Ria guessed with the knowledge of her previous life.
A serpent with eight heads. Both its blood and breath were toxic.
It had tremendous regenerative ability, able to quickly regrow within several several minutes even if it lost a head.
Though their lengths varied, it was large enough to be able to fully swallow a horse.
“Then I can’t use this katana to sever its heads…”
The blade on Ria’s katana was around seventy centimeters. Though it was just the right length to suddenly attack with it from her waist, it was difficult to use it on a large opponent.
Thinking that, she took out another katana she’d gotten from the Ogre King from her magic bag.
It was a katana ogres used with both hands—called a nodachi in her previous world, the blade’s length was as tall as Ria. Though it wasn’t hard to use with her physical strength, since her body weight was so light it had been stored away till now. [TN: Nodachi Size] But now, it was finally going to see the light of day.
Tonight, Nagasone Kotetsu shall drink blood!”
Leaving behind the dangerous mutter, the group advanced towards the swamp in the center.
The jungle opened up and the large swamp came into view.
The soil here is solid, I’d say it’s fitting for a battle. But there isn’t much distance from the swamp huh?
“There’s a suitable spot over there.”
Going to a spot a little to the left, we reached an open grassy area. It’s like this was meant for fighting… no, this place might actually be meant to fight in.
As you’d expect, there was no way to beat the Hydra in water. Even Ria thought that would be reckless. It was difficult to cut something with a katana underwater.
The moving group watched the swamp, but the Hydra didn’t come out even after waiting.
“… Maybe we should look for the mirror for now?”
Serge clapped his hands together and asked, but they didn’t know where that crucial mirror was. It might be in the middle of the swamp, but since the plants growing in the water were tall, their view was blocked.
“I don’t want to get wet…”
Though Lulu said so really reluctantly, they didn’t have a choice without a path.
“Let’s check it out. It’d be good if there was a path to the mirror.”
Serge examined the area with Spacial Grasp again. It consumed a lot of magical power compared to normal magic and was difficult to use.
Just about at the opposite side of the open area, there was a narrow path that continued towards a small island in the middle of the swamp. The mirror might be there.
“But don’t attack the Hydra, it’s dangerous to approach it.”
They had no choice but to attack it in the end. In that case, how do they lure it?
“We could kill a demon, it might be lured out by the blood.”
Killing a giant crocodile in the water, they ate it for the time being. The crocodile’s meat was delicious.
“Alright, leave the rest to me now. Come and get me, Hydra!”
She left half of the crocodile’s body to bleed out into the swamp.
The blood spread out. It seemed that other demons didn’t live in the swamp, as nothing came along for the leftovers.
Before long, a shadow manifested under the water’s surface.
Making a sizzling sound, the head of a gigantic serpent appeared.
Continually making that sizzling sound, more serpent heads appeared.
Carlos groaned involuntarily. It wasn’t an exaggeration saying that it could swallow a horse whole.
This disaster class creature could destroy an entire waterfront town. Its overwhelming strength could take out the entire military strength of something at the level of a small country.
Ria’s magic exploded towards the Hydra. Without showing any damage at all, its heads appeared from within the smoke.
“Follow the plan!”
Ria shouted, wielding the nodachi. Shouts responded to her call.
The extended battle began.
Gig changed weapons from the warhammer he specialized in to a battleaxe. As the warhammer was a blunt type weapon, even if he’d damaged the Hydra with it, it wouldn’t have been able to sever the all-important heads.
Though he was a little unaccustomed with it, he was able to skillfully try to sever the heads. Carlos intercepted the heads heading to them to bite with his shield. Maal occasionally shot arrows towards the Hydra’s eyes.
It took the three people to attack a head one at a time.
Ria clad her longsword in flames and went to work. If she burned the wounds, the Hydra knew it would take longer to heal itself. So even though she tried to behead it, other heads would attack, not giving her any opportunities.
She cut and burned, sliced and burned. Nevertheless, since it recovered little by little, even though she’d attacked it many times, she wasn’t able to land a decisive blow.
Still, it was the right choice for her to switch weapons. With the katana’s length, it would have done less damage to it.
Lulu and Serge were properly using recovery and fire magic. The wounds Gig and Carlos inflicted on it were scorched by the fire magic. Though fire didn’t seem effective when it was used directly on its scales, as expected, its wounds didn’t have any defensive strength.
Little by little, tiny amounts at a time, the Hydra’s movements dulled. Though up to this point, they’d also received many attacks. Drinking magic restoration potions, Lulu and Serge both used healing and detoxification magic.
However, that balance was smashed in an instant.
Ria’s attack just about cut off a head. Pushed her katana further into it as the fire dove into the wound, she lopped off its head completely.
Though the number of heads only decreased by one, the balance tilted towards Ria’s group instantly.
Though he hadn’t amassed enough magical power, Serge’s magic was still able to partially sever a head. Ria followed up his attack, severing the second head.
Lulu fired off flames. Though it just barely hit Ria’s hair, due to her Heat Resistance there wasn’t even any charring.
From then on Ria’s attacks increasingly used magic.
Though she could obviously wield her katana and swing it, in order for Serge to use Excalibur, she exploded fireballs in its wounds.
At any rate, when talking about who had the most magical power in the party, it was her. So to save magic recovery potions, it was best for Ria to be responsible for cauterizing the wounds.
Maal drew its attention and both Carlos and Gig exhausted the heads, while Serge cut them off. Ria would then sear the wounds. Lulu focused on healing.
Somewhere along the way, they grew into a steady workflow-like pace.
Before long, there was only one huge head remaining.
Though there was a theory of this last neck being invulnerable in her previous life, according to the subjugation records it wasn’t like that.
Continuing to earnestly wear it down, they injured and burned it.
By chaining their attacks, the Hydra’s blood flowed, certainly weakening.
Carlos stopped a fang attack in the end and Serge’s magic decided it. The head was amputated.
Everyone’s breathing was rough.
To say nothing of the warriors that had been moving around, the magicians had also been pushed to their limits, moreover repeatedly healing to the limit.
“This meat is poisonous. It’s a shame, but we can’t eat it…”
After taking a bite of meat that she had roasted just right, she spat it out. Though she had Poison Resistance, that didn’t mean she liked eating poisoned food.
Even though she’d ran around the outer part of the battlefield, Maal still had most of her endurance left over, so she distributed endurance recovery potions to the warriors.
Cutting up the Hydra’s gigantic body with an axe, Ria took out the magic crystal.
The huge crystal was practically the size of a person’s head.
(Just how much money is that worth? At least more expensive than me.)
“Nee-chan, cut off the tail. The tip’s bone should be able to be processed into a sword.”
“Along with that, you should be able to gather a deadly poison from its liver. Since it’s dangerous for us, please do it.”
Because its blood was toxic, Maal couldn’t skin it.
“After that, it’d be nice to turn its hide into armor.”
Taking almost the same amount of time they’d spent on fighting, Ria harvested the Hydra’s materials.
“Well then, though we’ve reached our temporary goal…”
In the open area that’d become a battlefield, Ria spoke. Probably because they were wary of the Hydra’s poison, monsters didn’t approach.
“After coming this far, how could we not take a look at the tenth floor?”
Serge was eager. Everyone else as well, there was no one who wanted to return.
“We still have about half of our recovery potions remaining. Depending on the type of enemies on the tenth floor, we might be able to defeat the tenth floor?”
Even Lulu, who had the least combat desire among the group, decided they could.
“Same with me, I really want to see the tenth floor.”
Even the weakest, Maal, expressed her opinion.
The thing that had no records, the final floor.
There hasn’t been anyone to beat it, or at least if they have they’ve kept their mouths shut about it. For at least these two hundred years, there has been no record of it being beaten.
“Alright then, let’s go.”
Without being worked up, Ria declared.
The group of explorers stepped foot into–
–the completely unknown floor.