With his kukri stuck in a cat-headed kobold's chest, Thomas found himself completely without a melee weapon for the first time since he made it. There was no need to panic though. Fists, feet, magic, and other options were still available for him to use to fight. Remembering the fight with Jeko he grinned and balled both of his hands into fists as he surrounded them with mana. Instead of directly copying Jeko, he converted the mana into the earth element. He backpedaled to put some room between himself and the rest of the kobolds. They had all turned their attention to him and began to charge at him.
A quick glance at Selena showed her prepping her own spell. His attention returned to the kobolds as the mana on his fists finally became solid stone. Thomas started with a simple cube covering his fists turning them into solid hammers, he didn't have time to go for a more complex design just yet. As a kobold closed in on him he stopped stepping back and reversed direction as he cocked his arm back. As the first kobold stepped in close enough his arm shot forward to slam his brick-like fist into its face.
The impact of the blow sent the kobold tumbling backward but, unfortunately, hadn't killed the tenacious creature. The remaining kobolds continued their charge heedless of the distress of their 'comrades'. Thomas bent his elbows and brought his fists up in a boxer's pose. As the kobolds slashed with their claws he would duck and weave while dishing out quick jabs. The punches had some effect but were not deadly enough to put down any of the kobolds in a single blow. As he dodged blows he slowly refined the shape of the stone covering his fist. Short spikes slowly began to form.
As Thomas fought the kobolds, Selena started casting spells to help deal damage to the kobolds at the back of the group. Bolts of fire flew from her hand to hit the kobolds and burn them even more. Every time she hit a kobold it would let out a scream of pain and turn towards her. Anytime this happened, Thomas would circle around the group and punch the kobold to get its attention back on him. Though there was no visible aggro system within the game, he found that the monsters tended to focus on whoever hit them last.
It took some time but he finally managed to form an array of ten centimeter long spikes on the flats of his fists making them deal much more damage every time he hit a kobold. With their teamwork, they finally managed to down their first elite kobold. Thomas had hit it in the face with the spikes on his fist while Selena hit it in the back with a ball of fire. Before they could even celebrate a little at their minor victory, Thomas felt an impact on his back. He felt like he'd been hit with a hammer and was forced to take several steps forward or risk falling.
After regaining his balance he moved further away from the kobolds and examined the situation. Three kobolds were still focused on chasing and attacking him. One was turning to dust on the ground. The last one was still laying on the ground clawing at his kukri sticking from its chest while screaming. Seeing everything, Thomas bent his knees and dug his feet into the ground as hard as he could. He dashed forward as fast as he could while he punched out with his stone and spike-covered fist. His target was the kobold furthest back in the group of three.
Before the kobold could even begin to react, Thomas's stone fist slammed into its head with the combined forces of his strength and speed. The kobold's skull and Thomas's stone both cracked audibly. The kobold couldn't even scream as the force of the blow broke its skull and sent it tumbling across the room. The kobold came to a stop after rolling a few times and didn't stand again.
Thomas turned to face the last two standing monsters as he fixed the damage to the stone on his fist. Just feeling the impact and having it break the stone around his hand showed him how tough these creatures were. If he didn't have Selena firing off fire spells to help distract and confuse the creatures, he wasn't entirely sure if he could handle the group entirely on his own. As he had that thought, Selena fired off another bolt of fire and hit a kobold in the back of its head. The creature let out a scream and turned to charge at her.
Seeing his opening, Thomas charged forward at full speed once again. With its back turned to him it was completely exposing itself to his attack. Not wanting to waste the opening, he got behind the kobold and brought his fists together to box the kobolds ears. The two hard stones slammed into the kobolds head with a clearly audible thump and the sound of its skull cracking could clearly be heard. The monster limply collapsed to the ground, dead.
With only two of the monsters standing, things became a lot easier for him. As the two monsters slashed at him with their claws, he dodged one attack and knocked the other aside with his stone-covered fist. As the kobolds started to recover, he struck out with his foot and tripped the kobold he'd dodged. It had overextended in its attack and easily lost its balance. As it fell he focused on the other monster and punched out. His fist was aimed for the upper portion of the monsters head, specifically its eyes.
His fist slammed into the kobolds face letting the spikes on it gouge out the creature's eyes. It might be tough, possibly tougher than him, but soft parts were still soft. The kobold covered its eyes with its paws as it let out a heartrending yowl of pain. Thomas felt no pity at the sound as he called out to Selena, "I leave that one to you!"
He spun around to ignore the blinded kobold and focused on the one that was picking itself up off the floor. Thomas jumped onto the creatures back and used his weight to help hold it down. After landing on the kobold, he cocked his arms back and started to rain repeated blows down on the back of the kobolds head. At this point, he was starting to feel a little drained as his stamina got lower and lower. He couldn't muster up enough strength to deal a single decisive blow so he went for repeated lighter blows and let the damage from the spikes pile up.
After the final blow to the back of the kobolds now mangled head, he felt an intense burst of heat to his side. He looked over to see Selena bathing the blinded kobold in flames from a flamethrower spell. The kobold screamed for a few seconds before it couldn't hold out any longer and collapsed. As she ended her spell, he climbed to his feet and they both looked at the last living kobold. It was still on the ground struggling to remove Thomas's kukri from its chest.
Thomas stopped channeling mana into his fists and let the stone fade away as he walked toward the kobold. When he got close he lifted his leg and channeled mana into his foot. A few seconds later his entire foot was covered in a thick layer of stone. He stomped down on the kobolds head with his foot as hard as he could. The kobold's skull cracked under the weight and force of the blow finally bringing its struggles to an end.
With the final kobold finally defeated he stopped channeling his mana and collapsed to the ground on his back. As the adrenaline from the fight began to fade from his body he felt a throbbing pain on his back and groaned loudly. The blow he'd received had done more damage than he'd thought. The adrenaline high from the fight had dulled his sense of pain but with it fading he could feel every ache in his body. He could feel minor aches where he'd been hit and hadn't even noticed but the blow to his back was clearly the worst of them all.
Selena walked over and looked down at him as she asked in a concerned tone, "Are you alright? You took a solid blow in the middle of the fight."
Thomas slowly sat up with a loud groan of pain. He gestured to his back, "Can you take a look for me?"
Selena walked around to get a look at his back. Seeing the damage she grimaced and said, "You're bleeding. The kobold managed to slash your back pretty badly."
Thomas blinked and asked, "Is it really that bad? It just feels bruised!"
Instead of hearing a reply there was the sound of a cork being popped out of a bottle. Shortly after that, he felt cold liquid being poured onto his back. The pain slowly began to fade away causing him to sigh in relief. Selena finished what she was doing and walked around to his front, "I poured some healing potion on the wound and it's healing up."
Before he could reply they both heard the sounds of footsteps. A moment later a group of players entered the room. They looked around, saw no kobolds and quickly moved on without paying any attention to Selena or Thomas. Thomas found it a bit odd that the guys in the group hadn't even taken a second look at a beauty like Selena. Then again, it saved him from getting into a cliche situation where they picked a fight over her. With a sigh, he turned back to Selena and asked, "How bad was the damage to my armor?"
"It's got three slash marks clean through it and a gouge where the fourth claw didn't manage to get through", she replied.
He climbed to his feet, feeling a little unsteady on them, and went about collecting the five mana crystals and his kukri. As he did he spoke to Selena, "I can see now why you said we couldn't get much further on our own. These guys are damned tough."
In most games he'd played in the past, kobolds and goblins were usually just simple cannon fodder. However, the kobolds here had been tough and he highly doubted he could have handled the group alone. As he collected the last mana crystal he faced Selena and said, "So before we return tomorrow we need to find some more people to join us right?"
She nodded, "Especially if we want to defeat the general. Or, we could just stick to the upper floors and defeat the weaker kobolds. We'd still be able to raise the ranks of our magic that way."
She was right of course, they could just farm kobolds on the first three floors. However, he wasn't satisfied with that. Though he would prefer to be in a forge or Hekrin's shop making something right now, he needed to get stronger and knock the rust off of his body. It was also becoming more and more clear to him that he needed to be much stronger if he was going to be able to do the things he wanted in the future.
He walked over to one side of the room and sat down, "I need to recover from the fight."
Selena joined him. She wasn't nearly as exhausted as him as she'd just stood around casting spells and with her mana so much higher than his she barely felt drained at all. As they relaxed, Thomas opened his character sheet and looked at his experience. He currently had 5,517 experience he could spend and it was time to do so. He felt like his speed was currently fine, what he needed was to hit harder and to be able to take a hit better. He split his experience in half and spent all of it to increase his Power and Endurance as much as he could. He increased both attributes from forty to forty-six right then and there.
With the experience spent, he felt a flood of warm energy throughout his body. He closed his eyes and activated 'Serenity' to recover not just this mana but also his health and stamina. If he had one skill that he considered to truly be strong, it would have to be 'Serenity'.
After he felt like he'd recovered all of his mana and stamina, he climbed to his feet. His back was still a little sore but felt far better than it had right after the fight had ended. Any other little bruises or scratches that he had were completely healed. Selena climbed to her feet and asked, "So are we going back to the third floor or pushing on deeper into the fourth?"