The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 153

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The terrain around us quickly transitioned from ‘forest’ to ‘jungle’. It didn’t exactly seem natural, both the abruptness of the change and the change in types of plants. The types of trees changed slightly and they were more covered in moss and vines. Even the temperature changed somewhat. “Is this normal?” I asked Khyrmin, “Suddenly everything is so different.”

Khyrmin nodded, “It is normal. Fepresil contains all sorts of forests and plantlife. Sometimes the transition is abrupt. The local flora and fauna change as well. We should be cautious of them.”

“Right,” I nodded. I wondered what sort of creatures might live in this jungle. Giant panthers? Tigers? Other cats? Obviously I didn’t know that many things that lived in jungles. There were monkeys and birds and all sorts of things, but even larger versions of most jungle birds wouldn’t be a threat… probably.

As we rode along, it became clear that elves really didn’t live that close to the border. Though we were more than a day on horseback’s travel into Fepresil, we had only just started to start passing through villages. I thought I saw a few little roads going off to the side, but I couldn’t be sure. They weren’t particularly worn into the terrain, and even the main road we were on barely looked traveled. Plants were growing in from the edges of the road and even a few brave souls were springing up in the middle.

I kept a watch out for anything coming to attack us. I wasn’t our primary scout or anything, but it was useful to spot danger myself just in case Socks or Halette couldn’t warn me in time. Besides, there wasn’t that much else to do. There was only so much talking to be done after days on the road. We still probably had a while until we reached our destination- which was apparently the capital, Elunore.

At one point there were giant vines that had grown across the road- big enough that we had to slow down for our horses to pick their way over them. They were only maybe six inches across at the middle of the road- thicker on our left and thinner on our right- but there were enough of them the horses needed to step between them instead of on them. 

As we were picking our way through, suddenly the vines moved. Alhorn and his horse were caught up in some of the vines. Khyrmin slashed one that tried to wrap around her leg. I saw what was happening just in time to react to the slightly slower vines near me. There was one big one, and I pinned it to the ground with my spear. I dismounted my horse and sent it running forward with a slap on its rear. I couldn’t fight on it, and they were trained to wait nearby… in theory. 

Socks immediately went running towards Alhorn and his horse, while Halette- the only one of us who was actually good at riding a horse- pulled of the road to the right, where the vines were thinner.

Kasner and Carlos were further back out of the area, and they immediately retreated away from the moving vines.

The vines near Kantrilla had somehow gotten stuck on another root and even tangled around each other, which gave her a chance to ride forward past the area.

I pulled my spear out of the vine I’d stabbed and ran toward Alhorn. He already had a sword out slashing at some of the vines, but he didn’t have a good angle to chop through them in one swing. He was being dragged towards a larger mass of vines that had clearly given up their pretense of being a plant… or a normal plant anyway.

I stepped back and forth over the vines- closer to the source they were thicker and thus couldn’t bend as quickly. I did have to watch behind me as they pulled in, but I was faster than them for the moment. I tried to make sense of what I should attack. Nothing about the main mass of vines looked particularly important, and I was worried about my chances of getting my spear back out of there if I threw it. I certainly wasn’t going to risk my adamantine dagger getting lost in there unless I saw a good target.

I stabbed at a random vine as I got closer. There were only a dozen of the truly large ones draped across the road, so if I could take them out things would be much easier. I pulled my spear out and stabbed again in a different spot. Since I remained where I was for a few moments, I noticed that the fibers inside the first wound pulling together, closing the wound. I saw some of the places Alhorn had hacked into knitting back together as well- though Socks had managed to catch up to him and chewed clean through one of the vines. The end of that had sealed up, but the lost part of it had stopped moving.

I turned back to the vines pulling in behind us, but Kasner apparently had that handled. Kasner had frozen sections of the vines together, and the freezing was strong enough that some of the vines had torn apart when trying to pull away.

Halette was firing arrows into the main mass of the creature, and while I couldn’t say whether or not they were effective at least they stuck deep into some of the vines there and prevented it from regrowing. Khyrmin had caught up with Alhorn, and she sliced clean through several of the vines with a single slash.

I was once again dismayed at the loss of my arsenal of weapons that I hadn’t managed to build back up yet. A spear certainly didn’t seem like the best weapon to use. I ran over to Kantrilla, holding out my spear, “Trade you.”

“Umm… sure.” She placed her mace in my hand, and took the spear. It was a bit heavy for her, but she was trying to stay away from the battle- she’d already cast a few barriers on people, and she was still working on casting Bless on people.

With a different weapon, I rushed towards one of the vines that had a frozen section that was not yet broken, swinging the mace. There was the wonderful sound of shattering as I did so. Then I moved onto the next, and the next. With the length of some of the vines reduced, Kasner moved forward to freeze some closer to the base. Instead of trying to freeze them together, he just concentrated on a single section at a time which I then shattered.

The vines themselves were not without their dangers, even if they couldn’t grab onto us. They swung around bashing into my legs and arms- and there were some little spines that made me glad I was wearing armor. 

Khyrmin, Socks, and Alhorn had managed to disentangle Alhorn and his horse, but there were more vines moving out from the main body to threaten them. The strange plant clearly hadn’t given up just yet… though I wasn’t sure if it even knew that it was in danger, at least not clearly.

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