With the group of kobolds defeated the group of four began splitting up the loot. Thomas gave four of the mana crystals to Victoria and Janice while keeping three for himself and Selena. The next time they came across an odd-numbered group Thomas would get the extra mana crystal. Like that they would just go back and forth with who got the extra crystal. They also had a better understanding of how everyone fought now. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible for Thomas to fight next to Victoria. The way she swung her sword was far too wild and covered too large of an area. If he was near her there was a good chance he would be hit along with the kobolds.
Together the group of four proceeded along the path that Victoria had set, they were heading directly to the fifth floor on the most direct path. With no need to explore they only encountered five groups of kobolds that they all worked together to wipe out. All in all, they wiped out just under thirty more kobolds together before they arrived at the stairs leading down to the next floor. As they walked down the stairs, Victoria spoke over her shoulder, "I don't know the path to the chieftain's room so we'll actually have to explore on this floor."
Selena spoke up to advise the group, "While the kobolds on this floor are still elites, they're a bit stronger than the ones on the fourth floor. So be careful."
No one in the group had taken so much as a scratch so far thanks to Victoria being so violent and attracting the attention of all the kobolds. With them focused on her the three spellcasters had free reign to hit the monsters with any spell they wanted. It did not end well for any of the kobolds.
Victoria nodded in agreement with Selena as she said, "Yeah, they are a bit stronger, but nothing we can't handle as long as we don't do anything stupid."
After Thomas located the teleportation formation leading to the surface, they all made their way down the first path. Since they didn't know exactly where to go they used Thomas's method and chose the left-most path and began their search. At the end of the path, they spotted a group of five kobolds and came to a stop. At this point, they'd fought together enough that Victoria knew not to charge in right away. Unlike Janice, Thomas and Selena both took a bit of time to get their first spells prepped. Since she'd only worked with players who could cast spells instantly it had taken her a little getting used to.
Janice, for her part, was glad to see that the way Thomas used magic was 'inferior' to hers in at least one respect. She could instantly cast any spell she knew and it always took him some time to get his magic going. However, she'd also noticed the flexibility he had with his spells while hers were extremely rigid. She was rather jealous of that and wanted to be able to go to the academy as well.
Once both Selena and Thomas were ready they gave the signal. Victoria got in a crouch and was ready to charge, though she still waited a moment. Thomas grinned as he and Selena stepped forward and fired two spheres of water into the room. When both spheres were near the center of the group of kobolds they exploded. There was a loud burst of sound as the water bombs detonated and sent a few of the kobolds tumbling to the sides. They'd gotten into the habit of hitting the kobolds with the water bombs to injure and confuse them before Victoria charged in.
True to the plan, right after the water bombs detonated Victoria charged into the room with a roar and began to swing her greatsword around to smash the kobolds. The kobolds on this floor were definitely tougher and a bit harder to kill, but that only translated to taking longer for their group. With Victoria scattering the kobolds and disabling them by breaking bones they became easy pickings for the three casting spells at them.
After defeating the kobolds, Thomas went about collecting the mana crystals for distribution. When he got near one he couldn't help shouting, "YES!"
He picked up a kobold hide and held it high in the air as he smiled broadly, "Finally another one dropped!"
Victoria gave him sarcastic applause and smirked playfully as she said, "See? I told you your luck would be better with us around."
Thomas rolled his eyes and stored the hide in his inventory before he finished distributing the mana crystals between himself and Janice. She was holding the loot for Victoria and herself much like Thomas was holding the loot for Selena and himself. With that done they moved on to continue their search for the door to the Kobold Chieftain boss room.
After a little over half of the day passed they arrived in front of the door for the Kobold Chieftain. The journey had been tedious but along the way, they had killed plenty of kobolds and gained a fair number of mana crystals as well as experience. The most exciting part though was that Thomas had managed to collect a total of four kobold hides now! He just needed one more and the annoying quest would be completed. He didn't expect that the boss would drop it though. The boss would already be dropping a quest item so for it to drop two would be unusual given his experiences within the game so far.
In front of the door to the boss room were two distinct groups of people waiting their turn. It was similar to when Thomas had fought the goblin boss in the past so he wasn't surprised to see the group. He did a quick check and noticed that out of the ten people that had arrived before them, only six were players. The groups were broken into a group of six, three of which were players, and a group of four, three of which were also players. He found it kind of funny that both groups had just three players.
They all picked a spot to wait their turn in line. After getting comfortable and pulling out a skewer of monster meat he turned to ask Selena, "You've fought the Kobold Chieftain before right? What can you tell us?"
After asking he ignited a small fire over his palm and started to reheat the cold skewer. He preferred skewers over most other things for when he was exploring since they were so much easier to eat with just one hand than most things. Selena wrinkled her nose and instead of answering his question asked, "How can you stand eating that stuff?"
Thomas grinned and said, "Because monster meat is so tasty!"
Victoria chimed in, "Right?! I don't get why the locals all consider it so low brow. It's sooooo much better tasting than regular animal meat."
Janice stayed silent but nodded her head in agreement with Victoria and Thomas. Selena looked over the three of them and then shook her head, "There is seriously something wrong with the tastebuds of you otherworlders."
Unable to contain his curiosity about the oddity, Thomas turned his head and called out to the ten players and NPC's sitting not too far away, "Hey! I gotta know. Is monster meat tasty to all you otherworlders? What about you locals?"
One of the NPC's, a young man in plate armor, spoke up, "Monster meat isn't terrible, but it's not particularly tasty either. I only eat it when I'm low on money."
A female player in the same party spoke up, "I think monster meat is incredibly tasty. I went to a fancy restaurant in the city that caters to the nobles once when I had some extra money and wanted to treat myself. I had the equivalent of filet mignon and lobster from our world. It was okay, but it had nothing on even the most basic monster meat skewer from a street vendor. And I mean a plain one that's only been seasoned with salt!"
Thomas had sparked a conversation between the three groups as they all talked about how the different foods tasted. As the conversation went on the main thing Thomas took away was that otherworlders found monster meat to be far more delicious than regular animal meat while locals thought the exact opposite. No one really knew why but it was very clear that all the otherworlders present found monster meat far more appetizing. With that conclusion reached, Thomas turned to Selena with a grin and said, "See? I'm not strange. I fit in perfectly with the rest of the otherworlders here. Now that that's solved. What can you tell us about the chieftain?"
Selena sighed and gave up on the food topic. Clearly, all otherworlders were freaks and there was no point in talking about it more. Instead, she answered his question, "The chieftain is significantly stronger than the elites physically but that's not the main threat he poses. The chieftain has access to darkness magic. He will use his magic to attempt to curse and weaken us before he closes in for the kill. Though you have light affinity Thomas, you've not practiced with it at all have you?"
Thomas shook his head so she looked at Janice and asked, "Have you learned anything to remove curses?"
Janice shook her head as well and said, "The only light element spell I learned was light so I could see in the dark. I prefer the lightning element so most of my money went to learning spells of that element."
Selena sighed and accepted the situation, "That means we have no way to remove the curses it will place on us. Though they are not strong by themselves, if we are hit with several of them at the same time we will be severely weakened and in trouble. Fortunately, the curses the chieftain knows does not include one that can erode our Endurance." She looked at Victoria as she said this. Victoria had the highest Endurance out of all of them and could tank rather effectively because of it. Selena continued, "If Victoria can keep his attention she will end up with most, if not all, of the curses placed on her. They will slow and weaken you Victoria but you should still be able to defend yourself. IF we can end this battle quickly then he will not be able to place too many curses."
Victoria just nodded and accepted that. She was currently the tank of the group and it was precisely the job of the tank to take the most damage and protect the rest of the group from things like debuffs. In a perfect group, there would be a healer to remove those curses from her, but there wasn't much they could do about it without heading out of the dungeon to look for someone. Seeing how easily Victoria accepted the task of being cursed, Selena looked at the others and then continued, "With Victoria being the main target of the curses that leaves us to deal damage to the chieftain and take him down. Which brings up the last thing we need to be prepared for. The chieftain will summon two elite kobolds to protect himself once he is hurt badly enough."
None of the players were too surprised by her statement. It was a common thing for bosses so summon subordinates in fights. Since that was the case, Thomas spoke up and said, "When it does I'll get their attention and tank them. Once they appear we should all focus on killing them before returning our attention to the boss."
Everyone nodded in agreement. That would leave Victoria on her own against the boss for a bit but at this point, the three of them were proficient at killing the elites and would rejoin the assault on the boss after that. With a rudimentary plan in place, they all relaxed and waited. Thomas continued to reheat and eat skewers, even sharing a few with Victoria and Janice since they couldn't reheat their food like he could. As they ate the doors to the dungeon opened and the group of six people stepped into the boss room. Everyone moved closer to wait their turn.
As they waited another group of five players came in and seeing the line, they sat down to wait their turn. It seemed most people willingly followed etiquette while in the dungeon. After all, pissing off a group while not being able to know if you could win in a fight would be stupid.
As Thomas munched on his lunch, he opened his character sheet and looked at the experience he had accumulated with a smile. Thanks to the large number of kobolds they had killed on the fifth floor he had gained a great amount of experience and he intended to spend it right now. Without any qualms, he spent 4,550 experience to immediately increase his Agility attribute from forty to fifty. He also spent 800 experience to increase his Magic attribute by a single point to eighty. After that, he spent his remaining experience to increase his Power, Endurance, and Agility as much as he could while maintaining even values. He was preparing for the fight with the boss and found himself greatly looking forward to seeing his increased speed during the fight.