Alhorn was strictly disallowed from exercise, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t come with me to check out the equipment shops. They weren’t as good as in Ekralas, but during hydra hunting season a good number of pieces of equipment found their way to Amielas.
“How about this one?” Alhorn asked.
“Hmm. I’m not really an experienced judge of shields, but it looks pretty good.” The most important thing about the shield was it was almost the size of a person. Not as thick, of course, but a bit wider and almost as tall. Actually, if I was being honest, it was as tall as a person- at least some people. Like myself.
“It looks heavy as hell though. Very impractical. In most cases, anyway.” Alhorn kept looking at the shield. “Since it’s metal this thing must be… fifty pounds or close to it?” Alhorn looked down at his bandaged waist, “On the other hand, if it keeps me from being bitten in half I can handle it. Shield Mastery will help a lot with that.”
I nodded. Armor Mastery, along with somehow making armor more effective, reduced the effective weight the user felt. Apparently, it was the same for Shield Mastery. “They might still be able to grab you if they turned their head to the side, but at least they couldn’t crush you… I need to get one too. Maybe we can even get one for Socks.”
Alhorn laughed, “I don’t think Socks would appreciate having something like that covering her back and restricting her movements. She’s low enough to the ground she should be alright… hydras seem to have trouble with that.”
I nodded. Socks was actually almost as tall as me now- but that was when standing at full height. In combat she was lower to the ground, and she was fast enough she could easily run around behind a hydra where its heads had trouble reaching. Putting a heavy shield on her would just slow her down. It might be possible to get her real armor, but it was expensive. Even Halette knew it was too much for her to spend at the moment- and she spent more on Socks than on herself. “I need a new weapon too.” Even if it weren’t for the fact that the halberd had gotten mangled, it wasn’t the right thing to use. The heavy mace was also not the right choice, which was sad because I liked the enchantments.
“Arming swords aren’t bad,” Alhorn suggested.
I shook my head, “They don’t have enough… reach.” I had shorter arms and a smaller body, but more than that I fought differently than Alhorn. I didn’t wait for the heads to come down to me- stabbing them in the eyes and such. Preferably I would attack the necks- or the body if I could do real damage there. Unfortunately the body scales were extremely tough- even with my Strength I had trouble damaging them enough to matter. I couldn’t pierce into its body deep enough to damage any vital organs.
I thought a sword would be good for what I wanted. The important part was the large cutting edge that swords had. While I considered axes, they had the same problem as a halberd. The cutting edge was not thick enough to chop all the way through a hydra’s neck- at least not the ones I was most worried about. Any axes designed for use in one hand were worse- having cutting edges no longer than a handful of inches.
Upon further research, I realized a sword was only half a solution. There were few swords long enough to do what I wanted, and they were all tailored for use in two hands. It wasn’t a problem for me to hold them and swing them, but the balance was all wrong if I wanted to take full advantage of the reach.
I realized part of the issue had been with my battle tactics- I didn’t have to chop all the way through a hydra’s neck. I just needed my weapon to not get stuck. Unfortunately, a halberd’s axe head wasn’t great for what I needed, and the spear portion led to it getting stuck in any situation I wanted to cut through something wider than the axe head. As I browsed the weapons, I found something that would work.
Glaives were basically swords- one handed ones like falchions- on the end of a polearm. I know I probably insulted polearms users and sword users together there, but that was what they were. All of the tip could slice, and as long as I wasn’t concerned about lopping of a head entirely it was exactly what I wanted. I could chop through the lower half of a neck- or whatever part I could reach- and as long as I didn’t try to cut deeper than the blade allowed and connect with the haft, I would be fine.
Glaives weren’t really intended to use in one hand, but thanks to some kind shopkeepers letting me swing around their weapons I managed to find one with the right balance for what I needed. Close enough, anyway. Any deficiencies could be made up for by better technique and more Strength.
Getting used to having a shield was hard. What was more, a very heavy, bulky shield. I couldn’t cut across my body all the way, because my arm or the tail end of the haft of my glaive would collide with the shield. Not that I planned to make such movements against a hydra, but it was good to know my limitations. For a hydra I would mostly be slashing above myself in an arc, or the same but tilted forward.
Fortunately I had a few days to get used to it, because Alhorn still needed to recover from his injuries. During that time, I had plenty of time to practice… which was good because I stumbled all over the place. It was hard to balance myself with the addition of so much weight. Sure, I could support it with muscle- but in the extreme case I would just fall over on my face. I had to hold the shield a bit closer to me than I thought I would. It would be easier if I only had to worry about one thing.
I briefly had the stupid idea to turn the shield into a weapon by sharpening the edges. There were some rather obvious flaws to that, besides the fact that I couldn’t really get any reach. It wasn’t really giving up my defenses- it was wide enough to still block for me- but rather that weaponizing it would weaken it. Sharp edges meant thin edges, which meant easily breakable and crushed edges which meant… the loss of the entire point of the shield. I wondered if something could be done with adamantine. I heard it was basically unbreakable and capable of holding very sturdy but sharp edges. On the other hand, it was extremely expensive. I couldn’t even hope to afford a dagger sized piece of it until I was past my class advancement at level 25, and an entire shield would be insanely expensive.
The good thing about the shield being so heavy was it actually helped my Strength grow more quickly. Along with hunting hydras and eating their meat, I had been advancing pretty well over the past few weeks.
|All In (Strength)|
|Club Mastery (4)|
|Dodging Mastery (4)|
|Melee Weapon Mastery (5)|
|Halberd Mastery (2)|
|Bow Mastery (4)|
|Sling Mastery (2)|
|Ranged Weapon Mastery (3)|
|Warhammer Mastery (2)|
|Armor Mastery (2)|
|Mace Mastery (3)|
|Striking Mastery (1)|
|Grappling Mastery (2)|
|Sword Mastery (2)|
|Parrying Mastery (1)|
|Shield Mastery (1)|
|Glaive Mastery (1)|
|Analyze Strength (4)|
|Martial Trance (4)|
|Whirlwind Attack (3)|