The floor was lava.
Not real lava, but Monster Lava.
There were those runic scripts all over the surface around where I'd breached via operation [This Time For Sure] and I was under the clear suspicion that touching those would result in a similar occurrence to what might happen if I stopped using magic.
After finishing the railings and carving them out to look like serpents being lofted upon the raised webbed hands of frogs, there was nothing reasonably left for me to sculpt. Like someone who had been running on a treadmill and suddenly found themselves back on solid ground, I felt somewhat confused.
Scripting that would burn me was everywhere, and there seemed to be houses made out of wood and stone, there were even animals in the distance, penned up together: But this was obviously still a cavern. A huge cavern, if I looked up, there was stone, not sky.
So... I was still in the dungeon. This was like before, when I momentarily popped up in a new tunnel, only... different, somehow.
It's funny, in retrospect, how I thought of all that and not the more obvious. I guess my state of mind was a bit frazzled. It didn't help, of course, that I realized "not using magic" was exactly what I'd just started to do, having nothing left to [Earth Sculpt]
That urgency forced me back towards my Plan B: Throwing mana down the insatiable and greedy gullet of Gaia before I exploded under the build-up of heat and energy beneath my scales.
"[Voice of Gaia] What's the deal with the floor?"
Ah... I remember that feeling even now: The feeling of switching from a fire set as "Open Flame Roast" dropping to "Slow Toast"
Mana burn is no joke.
"Scripts of Magic created by the First Men. Created as a defense during the Era of Tragedy."
An interesting reply: Not a non-answer. For someone barely half-conscience of anything outside of fire and pain, I was intrigued.
"[Voice of Gaia] Why does the floor fry monsters?"
This momentary peace. I think it might stay with me until the day I die. The inner flames of overflowing mana drawn back to feel almost normal for a few seconds.
"[Scripts of the First Men] ... [Status: Broken] ... This floor no longer has the capacity to repel corrupted-beings due to scripting damage."
Even in a mana-induced haze, that was a statement to bring me back to lucidity. Just enough time to contemplate and process a bit. It's that sort of Instant-blank-thought where a mind can realize something very important was just said, but can't quite wrap its thoughts around exactly "what."
"Wait, [Voice of Gaia] repeat that last-"
Before I could finish that, Miss Paladin stepped up past me. Step by step, tired to the point of her legs trembling, and body frail, she fell to her hands and knees. They she held herself, just barely off the floor, heaving with deep gasps, before turning to me at eye level.
"You've done it." She said, smile on her face wider than I think I had ever seen before. "You saved me." Her tough facade of unbreakable grit fell away to a single grateful sob, smile quivering as her tears sprouting to the air fast as any water magic.