The city of Amielas was right on the edge of the swamp. It wasn’t a particularly great place to build a city- but then again it wasn’t exactly the normal sort of city. It was there because an adventurer’s guild had been built, and the rest of it had sprung up around the guild. The guild was there because of hydras- and other swamp monsters. The guild in Amielas recorded and distributed bounties on creatures, as normal. However, because it was right next to the swamp it saved adventurers days of travel Ekralas- what would have otherwise been the nearest guild. Saving a few days of travel each day and having a closer place to rest and recuperate would greatly increase the efficiency of the adventurers. During some seasons, Amielas was almost empty- but currently it was bustling with activity.
When we arrived in the afternoon, we saw people going in and out of shops- most of which catered to adventurers- and even a whole hydra being dragged in on a oversized wagon. Normally a wagon rolled, but this one was being dragged. The hydra’s filled up the whole wagon, which looked to be made of ironwood and was about eight feet wide and a dozen deep. The hydra’s eight heads were tied together, making it look like a bundle of snakes- if snakes were about the size of a person making their arms into a circle. The thickness of the necks made the whole things seem short and stubby, but the necks were still a good ten feet long. The wagon really didn’t have any wheels and was pulled by a team of four powerful looking horses. I saw a long depression on the dirt roads behind the hydra, and could tell why they removed the wheels. They would have sunk into the ground and become useless- especially in the swamp. I wondered who wanted a whole hydra. Maybe it was just because it was a particularly impressive specimen. That one probably took a team of E or F rank adventurers to fight. Some of them had probably gone through class advancement at level 25… I wondered when I would be that strong.
“Whoa, I’m glad we’re not fighting big ones like that.” Halette shook her head, “I thought ones with bodies as tall as horses sounded big.”
Alhorn shrugged, “We shouldn’t worry about ones like that. They should be quite rare… and rather easy to see coming, I’d imagine. Almost every hydra will have five or fewer heads and be a much more manageable size.”
After notifying the guild of our arrival we headed out into the swamp. I had expected extremely unpleasant scents, but it mostly smelled like water, plants, and mud. It wasn’t exactly pleasant but at least most of the scent was fairly bland. Hopefully it would stay that way.
Socks was eagerly sniffing everywhere, but that said nothing about the quality of scents available. I only knew of dogs shying away from a few extremely foul scents- and a wolf was bound to be much the same as they shared the same genetics.
It was over an hour of walking through mud, carefully picking the most solid ground, before we saw our first hydra. Most of those near the edge of the swamp would be killed by other adventurers fairly quickly as everyone started out from the same point. Actually, “we” didn’t see it- Halette saw it and once she pointed it out it was rather easy to see. It was a few hundred feet away but heading generally in our direction. This particular hydra had three heads and was shorter- but much wider- than a horse. Not counting its necks, of course, each of which was almost a foot thick and probably about as long as I was tall- five feet.
I pulled out my bow, holding it in a relaxed position waiting for the hydra to get close enough. My target was its head- any one of them, and preferably an eye. If I couldn’t hit that, I wanted to hit a neck. I supposed aiming near the base of the neck wouldn’t be bad in that case.
When it got to about 200 feet, Halette and I started shooting. While its heads were mobile, unlike archery targets, the total size of just its heads and necks was much bigger than an archery target as well. My first shot only hit the body. At that range, it bounced off the scales. My second and third shots hit two different necks. They stuck, and caused some bleeding- but Halette managed to pierce an eye. I wasn’t embarrassed about her being more accurate than me since she practiced more, but that didn’t mean I didn’t need to get better.
The hydra was roaring angrily from all of its heads, as strange sort of roar that I couldn’t equate with anything else.
Once it came within thirty feet I put away my bow and pulled out my halberd. It wasn’t magical like my mace, but the reach was much better. I would have a chance to try the mace once I was more confident in my ability to fight a hydra.
With Alhorn, Socks, and me there was one head each. That didn’t mean we only actually had to worry about one, but it also meant we didn’t necessarily have to face more than one at a time. I was just bracing myself for it to arrive when I saw electricity arc over my head… and back and forth between the heads. Then the hydra collapsed in a smouldering pile. I prepared to attack it just in case it wasn’t actually dead, but then a familiar cloud of experience came out. It was many times more than what one would see in a goblin… but hydras were solitary creatures. Individually they were stronger than goblins- as attested to by the fact that they survived more than two or three arrows- but a three headed hydra wasn’t particularly more dangerous than a pack of goblins on the third floor of the dungeon.
Kasner grinned, “Hmph, looks like the small ones are no match for me!”
I understood that it was smaller for a hydra… but I don’t think Kasner had the right to call anything small. He was small enough it could probably almost swallow him whole… if its heads and necks were anything like actual snakes, it absolutely could.
I would have liked the chance to fight it in melee, but there would be more hydras. I didn’t mind saving my energy.