The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 82

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I wanted to do something to help Alhorn… but I was still flat on my back. I could only watch… but fortunately I wasn’t the only person.

Alhorn managed to notice what was happening and angled his shield to try to catch the necks and the body, keeping them apart. I wasn’t sure if his shield could survive that sort of momentum… but then something unexpected happened.

A huge block of ice was forming over all of the necks as they curved. The block of ice was just a bit wider than all of the necks put together, and covered about the middle third of the necks. The momentum of the necks cracked the ice even as it formed, but it slowed them down. I could just barely see Alhorn shaken by the heads, and thought his shield might have bent slightly… but he was still three dimensional. I looked over to see Kasner in a state of supreme concentration, and realized I had almost forgotten that his staff actually was best for enhancing ice magic, instead of his usual lightning.

I managed to struggle to my feet. My left arm may have been broken, and I couldn’t use my shield- but that didn’t mean I couldn’t fight at all. More importantly, I couldn’t just leave Alhorn in danger and do nothing. Except… I didn’t have a weapon. I thought my glaive was probably somewhere under the hydra, but I couldn’t be sure. I needed two arms to use a bow… and then realized it had broken in the fall. Did I have my sling still?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go looking for rocks. Socks came running over with my spear in her mouth- having just ripped it out of the side of the hydra where I first threw it. She dropped it in front of me then sprinted back toward the hydra, not even giving me time to say “Thanks, girl!”

Alhorn was managing to fend off the hydra still. Halette’s arrows had at least partly blinded another two of the heads, leaving only two of them at maximum functionality. Even then, they seemed to have slowed down somewhat.

I readied my spear and took my stance. Just a bit more and we could take down this hydra. I wanted to help Alhorn fight it, but going into melee range with my spear and no shield wasn’t the right way. However, I could tell that blood loss was getting to the hydra.

I concentrated before I threw, gathering my remaining mana. I thought back to Ruslan’s throw. I knew I couldn’t replicate that perfectly, but it was the very best attack I’d seen yet. The whole attack was simple, yet perfectly balanced. The mana covered more than just the spearhead, but the whole spear- allowing it to fly through the air unhindered. I tried to do the same, then threw with all of my might.

The spear flew true, not that it was hard to hit a hydra, and sunk several inches beyond the spearhead, penetrating through the scales as was deserving of the name of the skill. I would have liked to say that the hydra immediately fell over dead from my fiersome blow, but instead I was the one who nearly collapsed from draining all of my mana.

I fell to one knee and watched as Alhorn stabbed into one of its necks, bringing a spray of blood from an artery. Then lightning arced between the remaining heads and my spear wound, creating smoke as it charred the hydra… who after a few more bites of effort finally collapsed, covered in wounds on all sides.

I looked around, finding that most of the rest of the hydras were already dead. That included the hydra boss. I wished I had been able to watch that fight, but it was already too late. I did see a few holes through some of its necks, and maybe one at an angle through its body.

Everyone who was still in good condition worked together to finish off the remaining hydras, then went to work dismantling them for the best parts. Everyone was getting paid to participate in the extermination, but that didn’t mean it was a good idea to waste resources and extra money.

Before I participated, I let Kantrilla bind my wounds and put my arm in a sling. Alhorn and Socks had wounds that needed patching as well. Alhorn probably had a few broken ribs, among other things, but he still managed to walk around. I wondered how much Toughness he had. Though it wasn’t enough to shrug off being crushed by a hydra, I knew it would be pretty good.

As we loaded hydra bits onto Hood, I couldn’t help but wonder. “Why don’t people take mules into dungeons?”

Halette had the answer, “Unlike fields, dungeons could easily have enemies come from behind without a way to spot them. Besides, regular animals can’t handle the strangeness of the dungeon very well. I hear there are some pack animals for dungeons, but they’re more expensive since they have to be able to fight for themselves and take other special training.”

I nodded, “I guess that makes sense.”

—–

Marching for another day while wounded wasn’t fun, but I wasn’t going to complain. Not everyone got off with just a broken arm. Though we brought adequate numbers, some other adventurers suffered serious injuries that would probably lead to them losing a limb, and four died. It was didn’t matter whether they weren’t strong enough, suffered bad luck, or were careless. They were dead.

Adventurers died all the time, but any individual wasn’t terribly likely to die. After all, if there was a ten percent chance of death every day, almost nobody would last out a month. In fact, a one percent chance per day led to near sure death in a few years. That was why adventurers generally fought enemies that they considered “easy”. Sure, our party could apparently kill a six headed hydra- but even five headed ones were a bit too risky to fight all the time. If we couldn’t kill our enemies in a short time, it became very risky.

That was also the reason Kantrilla was an important part of our party. While she didn’t kill enemies and couldn’t afford the mana to repeatedly cast barriers, she healed our wounds. At the very least, she stopped the bleeding quickly, even if it wasn’t fully healed in an instant. There were some parties that adventured without a healer, but there were many stories of them ‘winning’ a fight, only to have a member die of their wounds on the way back to town or out of the dungeon. It was relatively rare, since most people knew about it, but I still heard the rumors. I was glad that I had met Kantrilla. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without her. I really liked the rest of the party as well, but it wasn’t quite the same as my first good friend in this world.

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