(Patreon) Strength 154

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Kasner and I had worked together to weaken most of the largest vines the plant creature had. There were still a handful of larger vines attacking Alhorn, Socks, and Khyrmin. There were also smaller ones all over, but they couldn’t reach as far and were less dextrous, mostly swinging wildly and only occasionally trying to entangle anyone.

Just because things were looking up for us didn’t mean I could relax. Armor wouldn’t protect against my arm or leg being grabbed and broken. Toughness and Strength would help, but obviously it was best to never be grabbed in the first place.

I deflected a vine swinging towards me, using Kantrilla’s mace to smash it against the ground. The vine deformed… and unlike the cuts and stabs from before, it stayed that way. Even the cuts and stabs were healing more slowly. We were managing to wear this thing down. I smashed another frozen vine and moved forward.

Khyrmin was a whirling vortex of death- any vines that came near her got slashed clean through such that they could not repair themselves. I saw that she wasn’t standing directly next to Alhorn and Socks, but instead let them fend for themselves. Actually, she could probably have killed the monster already if she chose to advance towards it.

With some of the biggest vines out of the way, Kasner decided to target the main mass. Ice started forming in the center of the mass, and though it broke much of it away the vines started to slow down. Halette shot some of the frozen places, and while they didn’t shatter every time she slowly whittled things down.

The vine monster was clearly starting to recognize the danger as it slowly moved away, but it was already too late. It was weakened too much, and Alhorn used his father’s sword to hack away at the vines until a central mass started to appear. Socks and I helped to fend off the remaining vines as Alhorn drove his sword hilt deep into the large sphere of plant matter in its center. He twisted his sword back and forth to cut as much as he could, and even though it was trying to hold itself together the slash kept widening.

Socks jumped in and started clawing and biting off chunks, and the plant monster stopped moving. Even so, we continued to hack it to pieces.

“Is it dead?” Kantrilla asked.

“Um… “ Halette looked from afar. “It should be dead… if it isn’t repairing itself anymore.”

Khyrmin nodded, “It’s dead. A good deed. Such plants are a blight on the land.”

Most people had some injuries- except Carlos, Kasner, and his pony, who had been out of the area of attack the whole time. Most injuries were small, but Alhorn’s horse was in a bad state. One of its legs was clearly broken, and overall it was in a poor state. In a world without healing magic, the only proper choice would have been to put it out of its misery. However, there was no way we were going to do that if we could help it.

Kantrilla had Alhorn and I set the bones in its leg as she put on a splint. Then she applied healing magic to the horse, piece by piece. It wouldn’t be instantly healed, but it would be able to recover. The only problem was how to get it to somewhere where it could recover.

Then the horse stood up. It was shaky and clearly in pain… but it hobbled over to the road, huffing. Khyrmin laughed, “Whoa, she’s a tough like an oak.”

Alhorn nodded, “Indeed… perhaps I shall call her Oak.” Our horses had names, but they were all boring names. I was still trying to come up with a good name for mine, but Alhorn had beat me to a good one. At least, I thought it was good.

—–

Our travel slowed down as Oak recovered, but we weren’t in such a hurry that we couldn’t afford to give her the time. The day she was injured she just barely managed to make it to the next town, but the day after that she was plodding along at a steady if slow pace. Fortunately there were more cities to stay in this deep into Fepresil. With constant care from Kantrilla and encouragement from Alhorn and Halette she was basically healed by the end of a week- enough so that she prodded Alhorn to ride on her again.

Another week after that we arrived at Elunore, the capital. By that point I had thought I was inundated to large trees, but then I saw Elunore. The road was straight and wide for some distance leading up to the city, but I could already pick out a handful of truly massive trees. Sure, giant sequoias were big enough to drive a car through- but they were only that big and a few hundred feet tall. These trees were as big as skyscrapers- as tall and probably as wide. There was no way they could have grown without magic of some kind- but that wasn’t a problem in this world, or especially this country.

Khyrmin led us inside. “We’ll stop by an inn first,” she said. “Even if my lead works out without trouble… we won’t want to leave today.”

“About that trouble…” Alhorn frowned.

“Ah… well.” Khyrmin shrugged, “I’d honestly expected to run into it already. But even here they let me walk right in.”

“Why wouldn’t they?” Kantrilla asked, “You’re a citizen here, right?”

“Well, yeah, but…” Khyrmin shook her head, “Well, trouble still might happen. The person I need to talk to probably won’t be in a good mood to talk to me… ever again.” She turned to the party, “I know your group is prepared to go through a lot for Kasner… but just be ready. Actually, maybe we’ll pretend not to be together. That way, when trouble happens… you can just leave.”

“Well, there might not be trouble,” Kantrilla said.

“Yeah. And it might rain in Escait,” Khyrmin shrugged, “But I wouldn’t bet on it.”

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