Chapter 107: Abyss

I’m at Level 24 after the battle with the Hydra.

Since my level was 12 right after the fight with Gozu in Ishka, it means it doubled in just a few days.

Larz, with his “Falcon Sword,” is at level 16, while Elgart, the adventurer guild master in Ishka, is at level 35. That puts me between Larz and Elgart in terms of level, but as previously considered, my level notation is fundamentally different from others’.

In reality, not even the Berch siblings, who are level 50 and above, or Gozu, who is level 81, could stand up to me. This is not just my own conceit.

During the battle with Gozu and his group, I was drunk on the power I gained from devouring a mythical creature, and that feeling did not go away even after the fight ended. I tried my best to stay calm, but there was a part of me that was still unsteady in my mind.

…But in an instant, that intoxication vanished.

It was like having a bucket of cold water dumped on my head. The power of the Soul Eater, which I had thought to be infinite, paled in comparison to the power that flowed from the Dragon’s Nest.

It’s like comparing human strength to the power of the earth; the comparison is absurd from the outset.

“I see. So that’s how forests like Titis come to be, with something like this at their core.”

A huge forest that covers an area equivalent to that of a country. Many magical beasts and monsters roam around, making it impossible to develop. There are various medicinal herbs growing not only in the deep parts of the forest, but also in the outer areas, and countless adventurers gather them every day without ever depleting them.

Until now, I had never really questioned it and thought, “That’s just how it is,” but now that I think about it, Titis Forest is notably richer than other forests. This is likely largely due to the presence of the Dragon’s Nest.

I have been able to live in Ishka for the past five years despite being at level ‘1’, and I owe it all to the Dragon’s Nest. Perhaps I should express my gratitude by throwing in a gold coin or two, like an offering.

However, how did no one notice this before? Or perhaps, has no one ventured this deep before?

Clearing through the densely packed trees is already a challenge, with no room to walk through. And on top of that, the trees have the added bonus of automatic regeneration. Without following the Hydra, I would never have been able to reach this place.

Looking up, a thick canopy of plant branches blocks the view from the sky. Even if the dragon knights of the royal capital were flying overhead, they wouldn’t be able to notice the Hydra’s lair. Of course, the same applies to me on Clau Soras.

If not for this moment today, I would never have been able to reach the Hydra’s lair.

With that in mind, I really want to make the most of this opportunity――

My honest impression is that this is a power that cannot be controlled by humans. If we could harness the power of this dragon’s lair, we could gain tremendous strength. We might be able to wield power tens or even hundreds of times greater than what we have now.

However, I think it’s impossible, like trying to drink all the water in the sea.

Besides, my power is that of a ‘Soul Eater’, not a magic-eater or an element-eater. I haven’t even completely controlled the power of the Soul Eater, so it’s best to avoid reaching for powers outside my area of expertise.

And at that moment, Claira’s voice grazed my ears from behind.

“Is this the demon gate?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, turning around. As far as I knew, there was no such huge hole on the island. Besides, the demon gate was a building located in the center of capital city, a literal “gate.”

Before my eyes, Claira stood frozen, her already pale face turning even whiter.

Then, suddenly, Claira collapsed. Like a puppet with its strings cut, she fell to the ground with a thud.

In a panic, I rushed over and peered at her face. Claira’s breath was ragged and labored, and her mouth emitted wheezing sounds. Her eyes were tightly shut, and a deep crease formed between her eyebrows.

It seemed her body couldn’t withstand the massive amount of magic power being involuntarily infused into it.

As I’ve said before, the magic power here is beneficial to humans. However, no matter how beneficial a force may be, forcibly exceeding the necessary amount will cause the body to collapse. It’s like forcing food into a full human’s mouth and washing it down with water.

Even I am suffering considerably. If I don’t leave this place immediately, I’ll end up collapsing like Claira.

Upon looking, new plants were sprouting around Claira, crawling up and covering her limbs.

…Humans who collapse here would likely end up dying, with their bodies covered in plants like this.

With a click of the tongue, I removed the plants from Claira’s body and kicked away the ones that clung to my own legs. Then I quickly scanned my surroundings.

One of the conditions for the birth of dragon species in this “world” had been confirmed. There was no need to linger any longer; we had to quickly defeat the Hydra’s main body that had taken refuge here and retreat.

We could conduct a detailed investigation of the dragon’s den next time. At that time, we should bring someone who is more knowledgeable about these things than I am, such as Lunamaria or Miroslav.

Fortunately, or rather naturally, I quickly discovered the location of the Hydra. It was easy to tell because there was a clear path of fallen trees.

I thought diving into the dragon’s den would be a hassle, but it seems even the Hydra would avoid such a move. Probably, even the dragon species wouldn’t be able to escape extinction if they did so.

By the way, the remaining main body was more formidable than the eight-headed state, but I was able to easily defeat it with a single blow of the Soul Eater.

Well, it wasn’t surprising it had no fighting strength as it was feigning death. For the Hydra, this state was undoubtedly its last means of survival.

The Hydra was tough, but the influx of souls after the battle was the most difficult part. The sensation of a large number of souls entering my body combined with the erosion of the dragon’s den magic almost made me lose consciousness.

My level had increased to 25, but I had no time to celebrate. I carried Claira and left the dragon’s den, even going deeper into Titis Forest.

Along the way, I was terrified to see the path created by the Hydra blocked by fast-growing plants. The excessive power of life is more dreadful than ordinary demons.

Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any magical beasts on my way out, but I believe they might be more ferocious than those in the outer parts.

――Yes. It was like Demon Island.

Authors note:

Anima (Part 2)

Anima, the ‘Other Self’ within you, isn’t necessarily beneficial for its wielders. They have a firm will of their own and if they don’t like their wielder, they will refuse to cooperate and even become hostile. In the history of the Mitsurugi family, countless individuals have been mentally and physically damaged because they couldn’t control their Anima, including those who were taken over by them. In this sense, Anima is synonymous with sickness or curse. These dual-personality beings possess powers that surpass those of ordinary people, and as a result, some view them as a threat, such as those who see the Green Woods Warriors from beyond Demon Island. This is why there are factions within the Adoastera Empire that view the Mitsurugi family as a danger.

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