The Many Lives of Cadence Lee

by

vladerag

Chapter Twenty Seven - (relatively) Big Game Hunting

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A note from vladerag

  Ok, time for an announcement: I am going to be allowing people to read ahead on Patreon starting Nov. 1st.  The current plan is that starting at $1 you will be able read 1 chapter ahead; a $3 donation will allow you to read up to 3 chapters ahead; $5 dollars will allow you read up to 10 chapters ahead and $10 will allow you read everything I have available at the time.

  Now, as of Nov. 1st there will only be 1 extra chapter, so there is no reason to donate more than $1 for now.  However, this brings me to a question that having Patreon brings up which is: what is the schedule for releases?

  My first readers - as well as people who remember some of the replies and notes I left in the earlier chapters - will know that I am pretty much releasing chapters whenever I feel like it and have the time to write.  Considering my issues with depression I have been reluctant to commit to a particular schedule, and I still am.

  Instead, my current plan is to release at least 7 chapters a month here on RoyalRoad and possibly up to 10 if I can manage it.  On average, that is a chapter every 3 to 4 days.  Patrons can expect twice that, for every 1 chapter I put up on RoyalRoad, I will put up 2 on Patreon.  So Patrons can expect 14 to 20 chapters a month.

  However, there still isn't a precise release schedule.  Between work, family, covid, and the general insanity of my life, my releases might come in spurts.  I like being able to write a chapter than leave for five days, come back and writing three chapters in a single night before leaving for four more days and coming back to write a chapter a day for three days.  That flexibility means a lot less pressure for me, despite a relatively high writing volume.

  Another problem that comes up is...  Well - look, I didn't plan this, ok? - the next chapter was supposed to be an extra wrapping up Cadence's life as Hemere.  However, it is pretty obvious to anyone that the next numbered chapter after this one will feature Cadence's Evolution.  So it kind of feels like I engineered a cliff just to push people into Patreon, and I would kind of like to claim to be that diabolical (and organized) that I could see ahead into the future and plan this release out, but in reality, this is completely an accident.

  I just wanted to say that because I would feel bad if I did it on purpose...  I still feel bad even though I didnt do it on purpose!

  Also, please don't donate before Nov. 1st.  I don't know if Patreon changed while I was gone, but as far as I remember if you joined now it would charge you immediatly and then charge you again on Nov. 1st.  There isn't even anything there for you to read yet.

  Feedback on this would be much appreciated.

  -Vladerag

  One thing I found interesting was that I seemed to level some Skills faster than others. Specifically, the Skills Swimming, Digging, and Jumping leveled much more quickly than Crafting or Analysis. Perhaps it was because they were Skills that a toad would use, and I am a toad? Hard for me to say, but I am at least happy that I am leveling my Digging right now.

 

  “[Digging has Leveled up! Digging is now Level 3!]”

 

  In fairness, I was doing a lot of digging. My plan was simple: dig hole, bait lizard into hole, collapse hole, lizard dies. Since I could apparently breath in mud - which is still such an odd thing to be capable of - I figured I could just collapse the trap on top of myself and then dig my way out again. Meanwhile, the lizard - or whatever I catch - suffocates and dies.

  Thing is, even though I am large for a toadlet, my prey was far larger than I was. That meant I had to dig a big hole. For me, anyway; if I had a human body and a shovel I could finish this in a few minutes.

  I even got to test my whole “breath in mud” thing when my trap collapsed on me by accident! I panicked a bit, but it mostly worked! It was very strange, but apparently I didn’t really need to breathe all that much anyway. I could probably hold my breath for a long time, but it would be hard to test since I can’t exactly stop my skin from breathing.

  So I had to dig the whole thing out again!

 

  “[Digging has Leveled up! Digging is now Level 4!]”

 

  This time though, I dragged sticks over - like I did for my wall - to help try and hold the ceiling up. It turned out that it was a lot more complex to prop up the top of my trap than just sticking sticks into it though, and it collapsed again. So I dug my way out and started again!

  This time, I tried mixing plant material into the roof. I tried to make it work well with my stick supports, but that didn’t work either at first. So I had to dig. My. Way. Out. Again. And. Try. Again.

 

  “[Digging has Leveled up! Digging is now Level 5!]”

 

  I actually ended up going back to Toadhome for the morning and going to sleep. I woke up and started working again, now trying to use horizontal sticks and plant material to help hold up the top of the trap. Doing all of this without hands was rough, I had to move everything by biting them and dragging them into place! On the bright side, I recovered one more point of health and gained one more point of xp. Woohoo?

  To make it worse, I had to hide more than a few times when my would be predator and prey came by before I was ready. That lengthened my construction time considerably, but slowly and surely, I finished my trap.

 

  “[You have learned the Skill: Trap Making! Trap Making is now Level 1!]”

 

  Huh. I didn’t get the Skill until I actually finished the trap. Just trying to make one wasn’t enough. Probably. I suppose I could have been getting some sort of hidden experience and gained some on every attempt only for this trap to put me over the limit for level one. There really isn’t any way for me to tell for sure. I guess it isn’t important right now.

  No, what was important was baiting my prey! Of course, the bait was me so if I messed this up I would get to go back to Podi via a lizard’s digestive track. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea? I suppose it is a better plan than fighting them head on, but I probably would be far safer by just hunting Hatchling Green Lizards. But I don’t want to be a toad for a month or two, so here we go!

  

  I said that, of course, but the reality was I still had to wait for one of them to come by. Sitting still was just not something my species was made for though, so my wait was very nearly unbearable. It was just hours of sitting on top of my Toadhome wall, peeking out from the leaves and waiting for my chance.

  I actually fell asleep, and when I woke up one of the Young Green Lizards was at the water! Adrenaline flooded my body as I hopped out of my hiding spot, moving to the front of my little trap. It hadn’t noticed me yet, so I guess I should try and catch its attention.

  “SQUEAK!”

 

  “[You have learned the Skill: Taunt! Taunt is now Level 1!]”

 

  ARE YOU MOCKING ME, SYSTEM!? FUCK YOU! IT IS YOUR AND PODI’S FAULT THAT I AM A SQUEAKY TOAD!

  I almost forgot about what I was doing when I got that notification. Fortunately, having a lizard that was the size of a small dog charging at me helped remind me of what I was doing. I turned and hopped my way down the hole with the lizard right behind me; it was fast!

  It was very fast and big and strong, so it very easily broke my crude supports and the ceiling collapsed on us both. I started to dig my way out, feeling the vibrations of the struggling lizard behind me. I made it to the surface and proudly turned to observe my handiwork. The lizard’s tail was sticking out of the dirt and wiggling, so I just had to wait… For it… To…

  ...Is it digging its way out?

  Oh, fuck me, it is! I need to run away before it gets out and murders me! I flee to Toadhome, sealing myself in my hole and hoping that the now probably incredibly angry lizard doesn’t find me. I can feel the vibrations and just barely hear the hiss of a very furious monster. I have a moment of terror when I feel the mud that covers me get pressed down, something large must have walked over me and it wasn’t hard to guess what!

  I can’t really be sure how long I waited under the mud, but after a long wait I went up to the surface again. It was night out and Toadhome was in ruins. My wall had done absolutely nothing to stop the rampaging Young Lizard and I had a few holes in it now. First things first, I cautiously hopped around and made sure that the lizard was gone.

  After that, I started to rebuild my little home under the bush. It wasn’t a nice feeling to realise that my home - as painfully crude as it was - was so easy to destroy. While I was working, my thoughts turned to my failed plan. I suppose that I had never considered that they could just dig themselves out and now I felt like an idiot.

  I either had to dump enough dirt and mud onto whatever I trapped that they couldn’t escape because of the weight, or I had to find another way to stop them from escaping. I had no idea where I would even begin to do either. I was probably at the limit of what I could make as a toad when it came to pit traps, the lack of hands was just too problematic.

  So what could I do? Could I weaponize my poison somehow? An Analysis of my [Toxic Skin] Ability made me doubt that I could do a whole lot with it…

 

  “[You secrete poison through your skin]

  [Many, if not most, frog monsters use poison in some way. In most of these monsters the toxins are relatively weak, but in some they are lethally potent. Your toxin is very mild and causes irritation to eyes and nose on contact. Significant consumption may result in cardiac arrest in small monsters.]”

 

  Admittedly, the “may result in cardiac arrest,” bit looked promising, but it was qualified by the “significant consumption” part. I could read between the lines enough to know that “significant consumption” meant eating me. Presuming my poison had any effect on these lizards at all, which I doubted it would.

  Although, I didn’t have to hunt lizards, did I? There was a whole ecosystem out there, and there had to be something that was weak to my toxin. Or, of course, I could just hunt weaker monsters. I had nine xp right now, so I need thirty one more to level up. After that I would require another fifty xp to level up enough to evolve. So, if I can hunt three monsters below my level every day I would need to spend three weeks to evolve.

  For some reason that just feels unbearably long. I need to invest in Willpower after this, if I had some patience this wouldn’t even be a problem! Worse still, in the back of my mind I could just feel that I already had all the tools I needed and I just had to put them together! It wasn’t until I ended up kicking a pebble out of frustration that the answer came to me.

  To properly throw rocks at a monster, I needed to use my back legs. But I couldn’t aim very well, so I would need a spot that I could hit if I practiced and a monster that wouldn’t dodge. Obviously, no monster would just sit there and let me throw rocks at it, but if they were caught in a trap…

  It would be dangerous, but I had already accepted the danger. It would also take a lot more digging and working, so there wasn’t any time to waste! I dug up my old traps to salvage the materials I had used, planning to make a more traditional pit trap. My hope was that if I angled the sticks downward in the pit, when the lizard put its leg in it would have difficulty pulling it back out.

  If it got out easily… Well, I wouldn’t necessarily be fucked, but I would probably be fucked. I would much prefer that the lizard just stayed put and died from me tossing rocks at it, although this latest failure had shown that I probably shouldn’t bet on that happening. I should plan around the idea that it would escape the trap before I killed it.

  If I could get my toxin into the lizard’s eyes that would really help my chances after it does escape. If it couldn’t see me, it wouldn’t be nearly as much of a threat. I wasn’t sure if my poison would work on the lizard, but even if it could ingest my toxins just fine it probably didn’t want them in its eyes. Actually getting the poison to its eyes would be the difficult part though, maybe I should just rub myself against everything I was using as part of my trap.

  I’ll just make everything poisoned and hope that it gives me an edge when I try again. I do discover that one stick in particular makes a good back scratcher though and get distracted by that for an hour though. Low Willpower is difficult to deal with…

  My preparations for my second attempt take me another two days. I would kill for hands and a shovel right now, although if I had both of those I would just whack the lizard over the head with the shovel instead of doing any of this crap. With two more hp and two more xp in the bank, I got my pile of stones ready and got ready for my second attempt.

  I had to wait a while, but eventually the Young Green Lizard returned. It was more careful this time, warily looking around as it approached the water. I, of course, demanded its attention with my determined and powerful warcry!

  “SQUEAK, SQUEAK!” I proudly taunted my opponent, and it seemed to remember me! It hissed angrily and charged me, because that worked so well last time. Just like last time, it ran right into my trap without even a second thought and a second later…

  “Crack!” The sound of my kicked pebble hitting its scales was actually pretty loud, and more importantly it seemed to hurt it! Although, it didn’t look very hurt by it. No matter, I brought a lot of rocks for this.

 

  “[You have learned the Skill: Throwing! Throwing is now Level 1!]”

 

  It wasn’t that easy though, after a dozen rocks to the face the lizard finally managed to break its way out of the trap and charge at me again ...only to fall into the second trap I had made. Mwhahaha, now you know the depths of my genius! Now die for me, you fool!

  My confidence was ill-founded however, as I was not able to kill it before it broke out of the second trap! I would have liked to say that I had prepared a third, but honestly, I didn’t think I would need a third… Live and learn, presuming I survived the next few minutes!

  Fortunately for me, a few dozen rocks thrown into the lizard’s head made it a little punch drunk. It wasn’t able to charge in a straight line and I easily dodged it, hopping off my wall to kick some of the random pebbles that I had used to make my ramshackle structure at the lizard.

  I decided to call the fact that I had used rocks on the outside of my wall “future planning.” Who is to know that it wasn’t all part of my grand plan? Podi isn’t going to tell anyone!

  The next minute followed a pretty easy pattern. Throw rocks at the lizard, dodge its shaky charge, and throw more rocks at the lizard. It is really tough! Or maybe I am really weak… It doesn’t matter I suppose, since it can’t actually hi-

  Halfway through that thought I got smacked by the lizard’s tail and was tossed into the air.

 

  “[You have been hit! You have lost 20 hp!]”

 

  Holy fucking shit, by Podi that hurt! I was down to a mere ten health! Another hit like that and I would die instantly! I almost decided to cut and run into the water, but the lizard didn’t look any better than me. It wasn’t pursuing me for some reason and it actually seemed to be struggling to stand. So I hopped - painfully - over to a rock and kicked it at the lizard to start our dance again!

  I am not sure how long it took, but eventually I squeaked out a win.

  “[You have defeated a Lvl. 2 (Young Green Lizard) and earned 31 xp!]

  [For killing a monster in a higher evolution state than yourself, you have earned 100% extra experience! You earned 31 xp extra!]

  [Congratulations! You have reached Level 4!]

  [You have gained +1 Strength, +1 Endurance, and +1 Vitality!]”

 

  It didn’t feel like a win though, I was basically dead. My instincts were driving me towards suicidal decisions and it had nearly cost me this life. The main benefit of this fight wasn’t the experience, but the fact that now that I was so injured my instincts had quieted down enough that I could really consider just hiding in my home and eating bugs instead of trying to hunt creatures dozens of times my size.

  I limped home, dragged my wall back into some semblance of what a wall is supposed to look like, and went back to my little hole in the ground. I checked my menu, and while the gains did make me happy, the ten hp I had reminded me of how close I came to death.

 

Character Menu:

Name: -   Species: Hatchling Boreal Toad   Level: 4/5   Experience: 32/50

Class: -locked-   Health: 10/48   Mana: 0/0   Stamina: 03/100

Statistics:

Str: 17    End: 16   Vit: 16    Agi: 9   Dex: 5

Per: 15    Acy: 20   Wil: 3    Cha: 12Mgc: 1

Lck: 163

Abilities:

[Breathes through her Skin](racial)  [Toxic Skin](racial)  [Better First Impression]

[Healthy Thoughts]  [First Words]  [Killing Blow]

Skills:

Ambush: 1  Analysis: 1  Charge: 2  Crafting: 1  Digging: 5  Dodge: 2

Jumping: 4  Swimming: 2  Stealth: 2  Taunt: 1 Throwing: 1  Trap Making: 1

 

  How long would I be able to rest though? How long would I have before I got dragged around by my instincts into another idiotic decesion? I honestly felt a strange sort of terror with the realization that without Willpower I was less a toad with a human mind and more a toad with a human looking through its eyes while it went on about its life.

  Sure, a regular toad wouldn’t have been digging traps, but a reasonable human wouldn’t be thinking about hunting when they were half dead! Could I work on my Willpower somehow? Maybe try to take up meditation? I had no clue, but I was going to have to try during my convalescence or I probably would die trying to kill a dragon with a bit of dirt or something equally stupid.

 

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About the author

vladerag

Bio: Hello! I am Vladerag the author of several stories here on Royal Road! I hope you are enjoying whatever you are reading, and I hope you check out some of my stories!

You can find them here! https://royalroadl.com/profile/76129/fictions

And if you are interested in supporting me, you can do so here as well! https://www.patreon.com/vladerag

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