After cleaning himself up and giving his clothing out to be washed, Thomas relaxed in his bed and checked his character sheet. He was pleasantly surprised at his growth. He had stopped paying attention to his experience gains after being in the dungeon for a while so seeing over four thousand experience sitting there waiting for him was pretty awesome. He crossed his arms over his chest as he thought about what he should spend his experience points on. He knew he was going to the magic academy in the next few days so he definitely needed to crank up his Magic attribute. However, even his Power attribute needed to be increased as well to let his spells deal more damage... Well, when he learned some anyway.
Thomas spent 1,650 experience to increase his Power attribute from 30 to 35, to start with. Next, he spent 2,150 experience to increase his Magic attribute from 40 to 45. Thomas left the remaining 643 experience for later. After confirming his experience expenditures, he felt the warm current of energy flowing through his body that always accompanied his attribute increases. He savored the feeling and let it relax his body until he fell asleep.
The following day, Thomas stopped at the general store to top off on crossbow bolts and hit up a few of the street vendors to buy some snacks and lunch for his day diving into the dungeon. At the dungeon, he checked in with the official and used the large teleportation circle at the entrance to jump directly to the fourth floor of the dungeon. After arriving in the saferoom on the fourth floor, he cocked his crossbow and loaded a bolt into it.
Picking his path and mapping his choice in his mind, he made his way towards the next section. In the room, he spotted a group of the elite goblins. Without any hesitation, he shot the only elite holding a shield and killed it instantly. This left five shortsword wielding elite goblins that he decided to engage in melee. Thomas swiftly moved through the group of goblins while attacking them with his kukri. He could feel the difference in his Power after last nights upgrade. Before he'd felt at least a little resistance when cutting into the goblins, now he felt nothing.
With quick, simple, and effective attacks, he dispatched the elite goblins without even getting a scratch. Thomas was a little saddened that he wasn't feeling much of a challenge but he knew he was just here to grind for experience for his trip to the capital. After collecting his loot, he picked another path and made his way deeper into the dungeon. He used his crossbow to pick off the goblins wielding shields and took out the rest with his kukri. In between each room he would use his 'Serenity' skill to refill his mana to keep himself from even coming close to running out.
After clearing ten rooms with an average of six elite goblins each, he finally found the stairway leading down to the fifth floor. It took a few hours to find it so after walking down the stairs a little bit, Thomas sat down to relax and eat a bit. He was a little disappointed that his storage ring didn't stop time so the food in it would cool down and even eventually rot if he left it there. After eating his cold food, he finished moving down to the fifth floor.
Once he was in the saferoom on the fifth floor he looked around and spotted the magic circle that would teleport him back to the surface. He'd chosen to eat on the stairs because he wasn't entirely sure if the room at the bottom of the stairs would really be safe or not. At least the stairs could act as a choke point. Besides, it was better to act in a cautious way from the beginning instead of being complacent and letting it become a habit that caused problems in the future.
Thomas checked his crossbow and his kukri before selecting a pathway to take. As Thomas was walking down his selected path he heard the sound of combat coming from ahead. After stepping around a corner he saw a group of four humans fighting a group of seven elite goblins. One of the elites towered over the rest at a height of at least one and a half meters. Thomas stopped at the entrance and watched the battle as it unfolded. The four players were a pretty decent combination.
From what he could see they had a powerful male melee fighter acting as the tank to keep the attention of the enemies. Next to him was another man wielding two slightly curved swords that would attack and damage any of the elites that struck the tanks shield. Behind them, another man and a woman dealt damage from the back lines. The woman wielded a bow and fired arrows at the goblins anytime she saw an opening. Meanwhile, the last man would cast a spell while shouting out 'firebolt' to send a small ball of fire flying at the goblins.
Thomas watched them fighting for a little bit and thought they might be pushing themselves some to take out these goblins. The two men fighting on the front lines both had small wounds bleeding on their bodies while the male spellcaster at the back was sweating profusely and swaying on his feet. It looked like the spellcaster was about to completely run out of mana and pass out.
After watching them take out half of the goblins, Thomas walked past them and headed down a new pathway leading to a different room. He could have helped the group he'd seen, but more than likely they wouldn't be grateful for the help and instead would have accused him of kill-stealing their goblins. Besides, he wasn't some righteous hero and felt no compelling need to help strangers. As he walked down his new pathway he heard the sounds of combat coming from ahead of him again and groaned.
In the next room, he saw another group of humans fighting a group of goblins. This time it was just three people taking on eight elite goblins. However, this group was doing significantly better than the previous one and took out two of the goblins in moments. Thomas nodded and calculated that the group of three was definitely stronger than the group of four he'd passed. Thomas didn't stick around to watch again and instead just picked another pathway and moved on.
Finally, in the next room, he saw only goblins and no humans fighting them. Thomas knew it was weird how he hoped the dungeon wasn't instanced, but at the same time was annoyed that people were fighting in it. He couldn't explain his feelings on the matter properly, it was just how he was. Thomas quickly examined the group of seven elite goblins and quickly spotted the two carrying shields. He lifted his crossbow and fired off his first shot. The bolt nailed the goblin in the head and alerted the remaining goblins to his presence.
Thomas quickly reloaded his crossbow and fired his second shot. However, against his expectations, the second shield wielding goblin lifted its shield and caught the crossbow bolt on it. Thomas clicked his tongue and loaded the third bolt. Unfortunately, he didn't have the time to fire it as the goblins closed into melee range. Thomas parried one sword attack while dodging another. He danced through the goblins while his kukri reaped their lives.
To his surprise, the only goblin he didn't manage to kill in a single blow was the one carrying a shield. Not only did it block his bolt previously but it also blocked the attack from his kukri. Thomas wasn't discouraged or bothered by the blocked attacks though. Even with the shield blocking his blow, the goblin was still sent stumbling back several steps. Thomas followed the goblin closely and instead of attacking with his kukri again he fought 'dirty' by kicking the goblins knee as hard as he could.
There was a resounding 'CRACK!' as his foot collided with the goblins knee and easily broke the thin limb. The goblin screamed in agony as it collapsed to the ground to cradle its broken limb. It's leg stuck out at a very clearly unnatural angle and Thomas felt a slight pang of sympathy as he watched the goblin gingerly cradling it while screaming. Thomas didn't let it suffer long and quickly decapitated it to put it out of its misery. With the shield carrying elite goblin defeated the room fell into silence.
As he moved to start collecting the mana crystals left behind by the defeated goblins, Thomas noticed three humans standing at the entrance to the room and staring at him. Thomas realized he'd let his guard down while he was fighting with the goblins and mentally kicked himself. Though, after a moment, he realized that they were more on guard against him than he was against them. Judging by the shock on their faces, they had seen a fair portion of his performance.
When Thomas waved at them, all three people gave a start. The only woman among them even blushed a little. Thomas said nothing and went about collecting his mana crystals while still keeping an eye on the three watching him. Once he finished collecting his mana crystals, Thomas pointed to one of the pathways leading out of the room and spoke to the three still staring at him, "I'm going that way."
The three nodded and made their way to a different pathway. There would be no point in following the same pathway as Thomas since he would not leave anything alive for them to kill. As he entered the next room he saw something new and unexpected. The six elite goblins standing around were not unexpected, what was unexpected was the black swirling vortex in the middle of them. Thomas crouched down and watched silently, curious about the new sight before him. The vortex was composed of a black smoke-like substance that swirled around and coalesced into a black blob.
It took less than thirty seconds for the vortex to vanish and the black blob to transform into an elite goblin. Thomas realized he'd just witnessed the birth of a monster inside of the dungeon. Thomas felt a bout of 'assholeism' coming on, so he raised his crossbow and fired the loaded bolt. The bolt flew through the air and pegged the newly born goblin right in the head and instantly murdered it before it had even lived for more than ten seconds.
The remaining goblins seemed to be offended by the death of their newborn brother, or maybe it was a sister? Either way, the six goblins roared in rage and all charged at Thomas together. Thomas quickly reloaded his crossbow and picked off one of the charging goblins before it could get closer. Shortly after that, the remaining five came within melee range. Thomas started to move between them while channeling mana into his kukri for his attacks to deal devastating blows. As Thomas was bisecting the chest of one of the goblins he felt a 'thump' on his back. Turning around he was surprised to realize one of the goblins had actually managed to land a blow on him.
The blow didn't hurt him in the least and was simply more of a surprise than a danger. However, if he allowed something similar to happen when fighting a stronger monster it could prove deadly. Angry with himself, Thomas lashed out with a kick that crushed the goblins thin chest and sent it flying nearly a meter before it slammed into the ground and dissipated into dust. After finishing off the remaining goblins and collecting their drops, Thomas paused for a moment to think over the mistakes he'd been making.
It had been three months since he quit playing his previous game and even in that game, he had played a more supportive role than a direct combat role. However, here in AoG he was feeling a bit of a desire to get into combat. AoG itself seemed to be pointing him down that path since it was the most effective means for him to gain experience to increase his attributes. Increasing his attributes would directly increase his capabilities for producing items.
Thomas sheathed his kukri and crossed his arms over his chest while he thought back. The last game he had played had been filled with laser rifles and spaceship combat. There was very little getting into peoples faces and slashing them with swords. He had to think back further to the last medieval era game he had played. From his point of view, it had been several years since he'd really fought heavily in melee so it took some effort for him to recall some of the lessons he'd learned. He'd always been good at making friends with excellent fighters and some of them had taken the time to give him lessons and tips.
Thomas thought back to his best friend Jeff. Jeff was somewhere in AoG doing something, descriptive right? Jeff always liked to play some sort of hero and usually led a guild of his close friends on quests for 'justice'. Jeff was a much better fighter than Thomas had ever been and had spent a lot of time teaching Thomas how to fight properly. Thomas just needed to think back to those lessons and apply them once again. The hardest lesson that Thomas had to ever learn was spacial awareness, knowing and 'feeling' where enemies were in relation to himself. Thomas closed his eyes and took a deep breath to focus on the memories of those lessons with Jeff.
Thomas spent a good twenty minutes just remembering what Jeff had tried to teach him. VRMMO's were games of the mind and the mind was the most powerful tool at his disposal. As he recalled the lessons he thought of ways to implement them into his current fighting style. When he opened his eyes they flashed blue for a brief moment as newfound confidence seemed to radiate off of him. Thomas strode confidently towards one of the pathways leading to another section of the dungeon.