Thomas moved through the passageway into the next section of the dungeon while reloading his crossbow. He intended to try to emulate something Jeff had taught him in a previous game. He didn't know if it was possible and, even if it was, he was certain that his 'Mana Control' and maximum mana weren't strong enough to maintain it for long. At the end of his path, Thomas stepped into the room and eyed the six goblins within. Two of the goblins were shield bearers, while one of them was one of the one and a half meter tall ones he'd seen earlier.

Thomas lifted his wrist and fired the crossbow to pick off one of the shield bearers. While the goblins screamed and charged at him, he reloaded his crossbow and picked off the second shield bearer. He intended to leave the taller goblin for last to test out if he could perform the trick Jeff had taught him so long ago. Gripping his kukri tightly, he dove into the group of goblins to hack, slash, and chop them to death. Once the three regular elite goblins had been defeated, he focused on the taller goblin.

The tall goblin had carefully watched Thomas as he fought the other five goblins. It hadn't approached closely and had stayed far enough back to not be attacked by Thomas's kukri. When it was just the two of them left it growled deeply and lifted its longsword in both hands. Maybe it was better to refer to it as a bastard, or hand and a half, sword? It didn't really matter what the weapon was referred to at the moment. As the goblin held its sword at the ready, Thomas gathered his mana and urged it to pour out of his body in every direction. He used his 'Mana Control' to attempt to keep the mana contained in a somewhat spherical shape around his body that reached out about a meter.

The point of the technique was to use the mana as an extra sense. With the mana cloud around his body controlled by him, Thomas could, theoretically, 'feel' when something entered the boundaries it. He should, again theoretically, be able to 'feel' every movement of everything within the cloud of mana and 'see' it. If he had to pick a way to describe it, it would be like mana sonar.

With the mana being emitted from every pore of his body, he could feel his mana draining at a ridiculous rate. Even worse he felt like at least eighty percent of the mana he emitted escaped his control and simply evaporated into thin air. The goblin watched Thomas for a few seconds that felt like an eternity to Thomas as his mana drained. Thomas didn't want to attack first, the point of this was to see if his technique would work or not so killing the goblin immediately was pointless.

Unable to wait any longer the goblin let out a throat-rending scream and charged at Thomas while brandishing its sword. Thomas waited in place and let the goblin charge him while he crouched down and assumed a stance. Thomas grinned broadly as the goblin charged into the cloud of mana being emitted from his body. Unable to contain his excitement he shouted out loud, "I can feel it!"

It was true. The moment that the goblin entered his mana cloud he could feel its entire body. It wasn't necessarily a pleasant thing to feel every inch of the goblin's body, in fact, it was a decidedly unpleasant sensation to have assaulting his mind. However, none of that mattered. What mattered the most was that he could feel the exact angle of the goblins slashing blade, knew the exact position of its feet, and knew exactly how much the goblins muscles had tensed for its swing.

Thomas carefully moved his body to the side and let the slash from the goblins sword pass by his body by no more than a few centimeters. Once he got better control of the technique he would be able to dodge attacks by a hairsbreadth. As the goblins sword slash passed by him he struck out with his fist and punched the goblin right in the face. He didn't use his full strength so he didn't risk accidentally killing the goblin outright. The blow knocked the goblin back a couple of steps and pissed it off. With blood red eyes and black blood gushing from its broken nose, the goblin let out a loud scream and charged in to slash at Thomas again.

Feeling that his mana would only hold out for a few more seconds, Thomas decided to end the fight now. Feeling the goblin putting all of its power into a downward slash, Thomas spun to his left. Without even looking and relying only on his new technique, Thomas swung his kukri at where he believed the goblins neck to be. After the slash, Thomas was forced to stop using the technique as he felt his mana dipping below ten percent. So he couldn't instantly know the results of his attack. Though a moment later he heard the goblin's body collapse to the ground and when he turned to look it was already disintegrating into dust.

Thomas couldn't keep a smile off of his face as he sat down with a happy sigh. He felt mentally and physically drained from using the technique and running out almost all of his mana. He pulled out one of his remaining mana potions and drank it then retrieved one of the snacks he bought to munch on while waiting for his mana to recover. He didn't feel comfortable using 'Serenity' while in the middle of a room where goblins could spawn while he wasn't paying attention. As he chewed on his snack he opened his character sheet and looked for something new. He couldn't stop grinning at what he found.

Mana Field // Rank 1 // 14/20 Exp // A basic mana technique that allows the user to discern their surroundings using pure mana. Very inefficient.

Without using 'Serenity' it took him a good ten minutes to recover his mana completely. Once he felt better, he climbed to his feet and loaded his crossbow. The next pathway led him to a dead end that contained four elite goblins. Two of them were the taller ones while the remaining two were shield bearers. Thomas decided not to use his crossbow and instead charged directly into the group while activating his new 'Mana Field' ability to feel their movement around him.

Thomas felt like a headache was going to form as a large amount of information invaded his mind. He could 'see' and 'feel' all four goblins and the information he was getting was overloading his mind. He didn't let that stop him though and fought through it. He dodged attacks and counter-attacked when he found openings. He could only maintain his 'Mana Field' for about twelve seconds but defeated the four goblins in just nine.

After collecting the mana crystals, Thomas sat down to drink another mana potion and relax to recover his mana. He checked his remaining mana potions, and seeing only seven left, decided he needed to stop using his new technique for the time being. It was extremely mana intensive, inefficient, and would drain him of his mana potions in no time. He wanted to save what he had left for emergencies so he could use the technique when it was needed.

Once he recovered, he turned around and headed back in the direction he came from. For the next hour, he explored the dungeon and killed anywhere between four to seven goblins in the rooms he visited that lead to dead ends. He eventually found himself following a path with no goblins on it. At the end of the empty path, he found the stairs leading down to the sixth floor.

Halfway down the stairs, he stopped and ate his cold lunch. As he chewed on the cold food, he made a promise to himself to see if there was a way to make a storage ring with the time inside of it stopped. Provided something like that didn't already exist. Once his lunch was over he proceeded down to the sixth floor. After locating the teleportation circle in the safe room, he picked a path and started to walk down it.

Thomas snuck up to the entrance to the first area at the end of his chosen pathway and peeked into the room. He wasn't afraid, but he'd been informed that the dungeon was only seven floors with the boss room being the entire seventh floor. That meant that the monsters on this floor would only be weaker than the boss. In the room, Thomas saw a group of the taller elite goblins wearing leather armor and holding a variety of weapons. The most interesting ones were the goblins holding spears and shields.

Thomas disliked dealing with the shieldbearers in the dungeon. They didn't pose any more of a threat to him than the others, they could just be more annoying to kill since they could sometimes block his attacks. Thomas leveled his crossbow and fired the loaded bolt to peg one of the shieldbearers in the head and kill it instantly. Through his combat experience, he'd noticed that hitting certain spots would always guarantee a kill. No matter how tough a creature was, if you destroyed its vital organs, such as the brain, it would die instantly.

As the goblin fell the others roared and started to charge at him. He swiftly reloaded his crossbow and fired a second shot to take out the second shieldbearer. Left with six of the tall elites, Thomas charged into the center of them and fought ferociously. He tried to remember everything he'd learned from Jeff and apply it to his attacks and movements. He feinted, parried, blocked, dodged, and counter-attacked as he danced in the middle of the pack of goblins.

It didn't take much time for Thomas to finish off the goblins and begin to collect their loot. As he was doing so he came across something he'd not seen before. He'd collected hundreds of mana crystals from regular and elite goblins but hadn't seen any indications of other loot from them. Sitting next to one of the purplish colored mana crystals was a perfectly clear crystal shard. If it hadn't been next to one of the mana crystals he could have easily missed it. Thomas picked up the crystal shard and examined it.

Item Type: Skill Crystal Shard
Rarity: Magical
Quality: Broken
Description: A shard of a Skill Crystal. Collect 10 Skill Crystal shards to combine them into a complete Skill Crystal.

Thomas frowned as he read the description. It wasn't helpful in the least and the only thing he could infer about it was obvious, that it had something to do with skills. Thomas stored the Skill Crystal Shard within his storage ring and made a mental note to ask about it later. Hekrin would probably know what it was. Thomas put it out of his mind for the time being and picked a new pathway to follow to move deeper into the dungeon.

Over the next two hours, he slaughtered masses of goblins and steadily gained experience points and mana crystals. There had been no signs of another skill crystal shard dropping again. During his exploration, he'd run across four groups of players fighting with goblins and one group coming back down a path he'd chosen. Aside from the skill crystal shard and the fact that all the goblins were the tall elites, there was nothing special about the sixth floor. By the time he found the stairs leading down to the seventh and final floor, it was getting into the evening.

Thomas decided to keep going and see if the boss was around for him to kill. It seemed like only the boss would drop the 'Goblin Generals Helmet' that he needed to complete his final quest for the adventurers guild. He also double checked his guild card and decided to kill four more regular goblins on the first floor of the dungeon to even out the mana crystals he could turn in for the quest. That would allow him to turn it in twenty times. The elite goblin quest would be even more ridiculous as he had enough mana crystals from them to turn the quest in fifty-two times! 

Looking at the pile of over 260 mana crystals from the elites, he decided to keep half of them for himself. He could use them for enchanting so giving them all away for experience and gold seemed like a waste if he would just end up buying them back at a marked up price. Of course, most people taking these quests would be in groups of three or four and it would take them far more effort to defeat the elites than it took him. If he'd tried to do this as soon as he started the game he would likely still be on the first or second floor of the dungeon. He was just too strong for this dungeon with his current attributes.

After a snack and a little use of 'Serenity' to recover his mana to the peak, he started to make his way down the final flight of stairs to the seventh floor where the boss would be waiting for him.

A note from thomasdarkrose

If you're interested in supporting me please consider joining my Patreon or donating to the story. If Patreon reaches my goal I can write full time and will write ~150,000 words/month (currently writing about 75,000/month). Anything donated or pledged beyond that will go towards creating art for AoG.

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Spoiler: Character Sheet

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About the author


  • Georgia, USA

Bio: Just your average self-employed American with some spare time that enjoys reading, and now writing.

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