We are presented with a triangular grid containing the headless body of some reptile, several heads (presumably) belonging to said reptile, along with some swords and rocks. As suggested by the title, this reptile is a hydra - a mythical beast which has the power to regenerate two heads whenever one is severed. Since there are 8 swords, indicating 8 chops, we would expect to see a total of 9 heads and this is indeed the case. It is now plausible that we should connect the hydra's heads to its body so that the necks branch when they meet the swords. Also, since the swords are oriented in various directions, we would expect this to convey some more information about the neck splittings. Indeed, a sword's blade must point towards the hydra's body. With these rules in mind, it turns out there is exactly one way of connecting up the hydra's head (avoiding any rocks), as illustrated below:
We must now figure out how to extract some kind of message from our solution. A plausible idea would be to measure the lengths of each neck segment ending in a head (as marked in colour above). Observe that the necks of the hydra form a binary tree on the page. Since there is a clear left-right splitting at each sword, we can order the heads by tracing the boundary of the necks in a clockwise manner beginning from the hydra's body. Recording the neck lengths in this order gives:
Converting the numbers to letters gives LEONAHISS. A quick web search reveals that Leona Hiss is one of the many aliases of the Marvel Comics character Viper, who was also fittingly known as Madame Hydra.
Solving tips: We can deduce some simple rules which can help with connecting up the hydra heads. First, we must never form any loops, nor disconnect any portion of the hydra from the body. Secondly, since the blades always point towards the body we can never have two blades pointing towards each other (with no split in between), nor a head connected to a blade (with no split in between). Finally, it is not possible for two hilts of a sword to be connected to each other with no split in between. (See hint 2 for an illustration.)
|The answer is: viper|