The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 72

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I hadn’t fought many things that could survive more than one solid blow from me. The warrior type boss goblins being the first exception, and now hydras were the other ones. It reminded me that high level adventurers had very high attributes- including more Strength than me. Not that anyone at my level would have more unless they were a giant. The important thing was that when my Strength wasn’t sufficient to kill an enemy in one hit, fights became much harder. Of course, I couldn’t expect to perform perfectly against new enemies but the point remained. I had relied on my Strength to get by until now, not that I had any real choice. On the other hand… I thought perhaps I should have dealt less with the body even if I could damage it through the scales. Just because I was strong enough to do that didn’t mean I couldn’t cut off heads.

As I thought about Strength, I idly looked at my attributes. There wasn’t usually much change in a single day, but today my Strength had increased by three. I wondered if it had something to do with the hydra meat, or if it was just finding something I had to use my full power on. Well, the most probable conclusion was a combination of both.

—–

We weren’t the only ones to realize that carrying back parts from a hydra was rather difficult- we had just forgotten that detail. Merchants in Amielas already knew about the problem- and had preparations for just that. Specially trained pack mules could be rented or purchased in town.

Their special training was mostly in self-preservation. Optimally in a battle they would not be involved in the slightest- but also not run off where they couldn’t be found. Halette could probably have trained one, but we didn’t have the time and nobody sold untrained mules anyway.

“I like the one with the brown snout!” Halette declared. As a beastmaster, she was the one most qualified to pick the animal we brought with us. They all looked just about the same to me, so it didn’t matter. “What’s his name?”

“Hood.” The merchant stated. It seemed like he had the same sort of naming scheme as Halette.

Hood probably wasn’t the best pack mule available in town, but for the best we’d have to get up early and hope someone who was done hunting hydras had brought back a better one. Even so, none of the mules were going to be poor quality. One good thing about the guild is they cared about the adventurers working for them. Since this service catered almost exclusively to adventurers, they had to keep a certain level of quality if they wanted to retain their business.

—–

Having fought a hydra up close, and seen how big their teeth were, I wasn’t at all disappointed when we managed to defeat hydras before they got into melee range. It was only the smaller ones- three heads or fewer- but they were still quite profitable in terms of experience and money.

It was very different from fighting in a dungeon. Seeing enemies from a long distance and having the room to shoot at them was a nice change. Socks didn’t get to participate in some of the combats, but she was quite happy to eat hydra bits anyway.

Of course, there were plenty of bigger hydras too. They were impossible to take down before they finished closing in, at least with our party composition.

“There’s another one- five heads.” Halette pointed it out. Five headed hydras were the biggest we would face- but there weren’t that many bigger ones anyway. The yearly hunts helped with that.

As I let loose a few arrows, I realized I should pick up a bow skill. Maybe something like Rapid Shot, which let you shoot two arrows in quick succession- faster than a hand and bowstring could normally move. If we could kill more hydras before they got to us, it would be better- and then I wouldn’t need that mana for melee.

Once again, the hydra got close enough for me to pull out my halberd. My heavy mace was magical, but the freezing effect it provides didn’t make up for its lack of damage versus a hydra. I couldn’t break its limbs, and could only shatter some scales- under which was still a lot of muscle. Chopping into it or lopping off a head with my halberd was much better.

Our tactics had developed somewhat. Socks would head around behind the hydra- it was harder for it to attack that way, and she couldn’t reach its necks anyway. From there, she could attack its hind legs or its tail. Though the tail swiping could be a danger to her, it was also part of the hydra’s mobility and balance.

Alhorn and I would stand in front of the hydra, off to each side. This was the least optimal position for it to attack us where it wouldn’t just turn around. Hydras weren’t smart, so with one of us it each direction it kept it from turning. There was the chance that it would just charge forward, but Halette, Kasner, and Kantrilla stayed well back. Hood would retreat even further behind them, watching. He still put in work, carrying hundreds of pounds of materials back each day.

I stood back, away from the body of the hydra. I had been nearly trampled when I got too close before. Two heads bit at me, and I slashed at the leftmost head while dodging further to my left. That prevented the second head from being able to attack me- with the first head getting in its way. I carved a nice gash into the side of the neck of the first head. I would have liked to take the head clean off, but the neck was too thick and I hadn’t had a good angle anyway.

Then I heard Alhorn cry out. He had been caught in the jaws of the fourth head. It lifted him up off his feet, and though he had his shield wedged in between his teeth, helping to prevent it from crushing him, its other heads were now free to try to tear him apart. We had to act fast or the results would not be pretty.

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5 Replies to “The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 72”

  1. AshSlanabrezgov says: Reply

    I’ve caught up.
    I liked historical weapons porn.
    Liked tactics.
    Didn’t like how MC gained his class.

    Being OD&D fan and fan of Jaquayed Dungeons… I didn’t like how dungeons turned out to be in this story. Respawning monsters, dissolving bodies, exploited as resources by state. It feels so… civilized. So casual. So tamed. So specialized for combat. With straight corridors. No wonder and chaos and horror. No rules unexplored. No utility of yore. No inner factions of megadungeon.

    Adventurer’s guild and monsters – for the same reasons.

    Liked party audits.

    That’s… A pity. No, I don’t say your work is bad – cause it’s not. It’s just an idle lament about how difficult it is to find something for a certain taste.

    Thanks for writing this story. Wouldn’t follow it (because world is too far from territory I find captivating), but it was well done ans had lots and lots of interesting chapters and interactions.

    1. I appreciate the well thought out response 🙂
      I agree that not everything is for everyone, and there’s nothing to be done about it not being the kind of story you’re looking for.
      I do bring you one question: where do unexplored dungeons come from? I’m not saying it’s impossible to have them… but it requires a very large world with a low number of adventurers- a large world that used to have more people and somehow now has forgotten about places.
      The only exception might be very deep caves or some such…
      I’m not saying those sorts of stories aren’t interesting either. But I do like thinking about where such things might actually come from 😛

  2. AshSlanabrezgov says: Reply

    Hm. In last ten years, I started to expect for adventurers to be unwanted people. Vagabonds, hobos, reavers, cutpurses, petty thiefs, serfs on the run, violent radical religious fanatics, warlocks guarding secrets long dead, twelveth child of poor noble family. Thus their population is not vast. They go places dark and far because there is no place in normal society for them. They are unwanted, untrusted and sometimes preventively prosecuted by government (be it corrupt and tyrannical, or faithful and responsible). Often loathed by common folk – for who loves ’em damned shady beggar-thiefs who steal your hard-earned food and stuff?

    Adventurers dwell on the fringes of civilized lands. They are first to touch things beyond grasp of Human Empire/Kingdoms. They mingle with demihumans. They ally with or sneakily steal from mushroom folk. They trade with fay or demons. Or angels… in all their horrible tentacle glory.

    To live another day they need shelter from rain and snow, and warmth, and water, and food. They need to keep sane. They want all these things mentioned… because those they don’t have for granted. These things… Are heartbreakingly temporary for their unwanted kind.

    Untouched places to explore… Where could they come from?

    There were lots of ideas over the years by other folks. Some require specific setting. Others – can be inserted almost in any world.

    1. A door on a slope of a mountain that becomes a portal to secluded pocket dimention only once in a two thousand years when the stars are right.

    2. Setting where agressive colonization takes place – close to what happened with colonization of America. Locals are being plundered for riches, foundations of their societies damaged, their lands are contested, their children are enslaved and exploited. Storming their strongholds and terorrizing carravans and plundering their villages can be rewarded by goverment of invaders. And now there are holy sites and arcane constructions of locals – that were abandoned. What dwells in those shelters now?

    3. Setting where adventurers are first humans to explore new world, they are outsiders on the certain magical plan. Everything around them is new. Maybe they explore insides of multidimentional corpse of long dead god, housing worm-like parasites, churches, and tribes of forsaken clergy. Maybe they come to a banquet of gods of chaos. Maybe it’s automated technological station from the future, operated by AI, damaged by experimental attempt to travel back in time.

    4. Setting where humanity is dying out. Something went wrong and their civilisation just couldn’t support itself anymore. Maybe it was climate change, or civil war, or desease. With numbers and knowledge dwindling many structures and devices become abandoned. Beasts and dark things or silence take hold of unneeded towers and castles, of villages. Chaos is a force of supernatural that seeps into abandoned places and consieves a new resources of horror or salvation. Or both.

    5. Setting where outsider forces are invading human realm. Dungeons are their giant walking city-sized weapons, their teleported towers and arcane devices.

    6. Setting where dungeons just started to pop up. They are untouched because they just new. And there might be nefarious reason for them popping up.

    7. Drastic decrease of sea level that opened access to caves and terrain that were flooded before.

    8. Space ship falling from the skies.

    9. When giants walked the earth, a thing layed on the earth and fell to sleep. So heavy it was, it fell deeper and deeper under the ground with years. But now it felt dangerous item nearby. It stirrs, not completely awoken, and it’s dream changes reality around it. A small outpost town that was situated above the sleeping giant becomes affected, and in overnight it becomes empty ghost town.

    10. (See the computer game The Darkest Dungeon)

    11. And so forth.

    1. Part of the issues is the settings/systems that typical D&D stuff is in. D&D 3.5 requires that there be a significant enough amount of adventurers for there to be trade of magic items- or the rules don’t function. Same with Pathfinder.

      5th edition D&D does open itself up to rarer adventurers, because it’s not reliant on having a large number of magic items- they’re much more rare and special, but also not an absolute requirement for the game to function.

      On the other hand, if there aren’t magic items- or other valuable things- who’s going to explore into a deep dark dungeon? Not as many people, that’s for sure. Maybe a few people interested in ancient history.

      Some of those ideas are really good though… The sea level one especially, since it’s actually quite hard to explore deep sea stuff in D&D type games, even with high level magic- unless you just ignore pressure.

      Still a number of things require large population decreases in the past or present, which is perfectly fine but does make it hard if you have a setting where multiple campaigns are going to be run at similar times in history…

      My friends and I have talked about a setting where adventurers are actually cursed- people send them out to fight monsters and explore long unexplored ruins, not because they actually threaten the people directly, but because if they *don’t* send the adventurers out the monsters will come to them. It also explains how all adventurers seem to have dead family even though by all accounts it’s a very lucrative business (even if quite dangerous)

  3. This story is so calm, no tension~

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