(Patreon) Strength Chapter 71

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Dismantling the hydra was tough, mostly because of its outer scales. Most of hydras weren’t actually that useful- at least not worth lugging back hundreds of pounds to town. However, even subtracting some organs fed to Socks and a small portion that was safe for humanoids to eat… we still had a whole mess of teeth and scales. One thing nice about dungeons was that monsters there weren’t exactly real, and thus only left behind drops that were mostly worth something. Out here, we just had a dead hydra.

It was early for lunchtime, but we stopped anyway. Small strips of hydra were held over a fire, their size allowing them to cook quickly. We didn’t have to worry about the smell attracting other monsters- the smell of hydra was enough to keep most things away until it started rotting and attracting scavengers. Other hydras might not be afraid, but they might not be attracted either- and we would be able to see them coming from a large distance away.

Alhorn shook his head, “We’re going to need a pack animal or something.”

“Yeah…” I agreed. It wasn’t so much an issue of weight- I could carry quite a bit. However, there was just so much bulk that carrying even the choice parts of more than a small hydra would be an issue. The terrain wasn’t smooth enough to bring a handcart along or anything, so a pack animal would do. We should have realized that back in town.

Kantrilla frowned as she looked at the strip of hydra meat she was holding, with a bite out of it. “Hydra doesn’t taste good.”

I agreed. I didn’t think it tasted bad particularly, but it wasn’t good. It probably wasn’t the cooking method, but the meat itself was very… gamey. That was probably the right term- but I hadn’t really eaten many game animals. I could say it was very irony. The safe parts of hydra meat were supposed to be good for building muscle and such… which meant it probably had a very high protein content as well. Of course, the exact details of this were speculation since they didn’t have particular ways to measure those in this world, at least not that I had heard of.

Socks seemed very happy with the chunks of meat and organ and very large bone she was given, but that was to be expected. Normally her eating prospects were somewhat more mundane. Halette couldn’t afford to buy her huge quantities of meat so it was supplemented with Socks having to go hunt horned rabbits. That was enough to fill her up, but I imagined hydra was more exciting. Personally, I preferred the taste of rabbit- even cooked by myself over a fire, once I figured out how to do it.

—–

Everyone made sure not to eat too much. After all, we still might get in a fight. That wasn’t too hard for most of us, but Socks whined and stared at how much hydra was left behind that she didn’t get to eat.

We wouldn’t be able to carry that much more, but we planned to fight at least one more hydra. We wanted to at least maximize our gains from the trip even if we couldn’t make full use of the day. In theory we could trek back out but we would have to trudge back through the outskirts of the swamp again where there was nothing interesting. If we could get a pack animal it would be better to wait for the next day.

“There’s one!” With another half hour of searching, Halette spotted another hydra.

I dropped my pack full of hydra bits and pulled out my bow.

This hydra had four heads. That would make it a bit more dangerous than the last one, but if we couldn’t beat one of these we needed to give up hunting hydras.

My arrows whistled through the air, striking the hydra’s necks. It wasn’t as good as hitting it in an eye, but if I aimed at an eye and missed it would do no damage- even if it struck the actual head it wouldn’t penetrate through the thick bones there.

Kasner once again chained lightning between the heads… but while they still smoked the hydra kept moving. That made sense, because each neck and head was bigger and thus the electricity spread out more.

Once again when it was thirty or so feet away I pulled out my halberd. Alhorn and Socks and I got ready. This hydra’s necks were over six feet long, plus the head.

As one head snapped down at me, for the first time in my life I almost wished I were shorter. Socks was low enough to the ground that the hydra had to fully extend its neck to reach her, lowering its mobility.

For my own part, I fended off the head going directly for me by jabbing at it with my halberd. The head backed off without taking any damage, but that allowed me to move closer to where I could strike the body. To my side, I saw Alhorn had actually managed to fend off the attacks of two heads.

I moved right up close to the hydra, where it would have more trouble biting me. At least, it couldn’t snap its neck out in a sudden attack. I took a swing with the axehead of my halberd, and with the skill Bash I managed to slice through the scales and leave a nasty gash on its chest.

I heard that eventually I could judge where a hydra would attack by looking at the bottom of its neck, but for now I had to craned my neck directly above me. Using Martial Trance I got a read on the situation. As expected, my attack had made the hydra more concerned about me, and I saw two heads looking to attack me. At the same time, the body in front of me was moving forward to try to crush me under its weight. I barely managed to dodge to the side- and fortunately Alhorn saw me moving and stepped out of the way.

Socks grabbed one of the hydras front legs, ripping and tearing, while I moved around to the side. I should probably have already done that, but I didn’t have any practical experience fighting hydras. Though their heads could be tricky to deal with, they could only attack with a smaller number on either side compared to the front.

In a few more minutes, the hydra came crashing down. It took multiple slashes on its torso from me, arrows from Halette, a few stabs in its necks from Alhorn, and more electricity from Kasner. Fortunately it was tall enough that it was easy to attack over those of us in the front.

Socks and Kantrilla contributed as well, but in different ways. Socks did cause some bleeding but her more important contribution when biting and tugging on its leg was to reduce its mobility. Kantrilla had provided Dexterity buffs to everyone to help with moving around on the uneven terrain.

After that, we went back to town to digest our first combats with hydras. We had gotten out mostly unscathed, but there had been some close calls- and if a hydra actually managed to chomp down on one of us it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. As it was, we still got shoved around and banged up.

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