After a 'bland' breakfast in the cafeteria, Thomas was making his way to the academy entrance wearing his full dungeon diving gear when he spotted a familiar person standing at the gate. He smiled as he looked at Selena, though he was certain she wasn't waiting for him given that they were done with their work together. When she spotted him, he lifted his hand and gave her a little wave while he continued to move through the exit past her.
Thomas stopped as she called out to him and turned to face her. Selena came over to him and held up her clenched fist, "I needed some time to get this. If I'd known how quickly you'd learn yesterday I would have made sure we got it already."
When she opened her hand there was a simple ring sitting on her palm. Seeing the ring, Thomas remembered that she'd told him about getting something to prevent the crystal balls that read elemental affinities from detecting his affinity with Unholy magic. Thomas smiled at Selena as he picked up the ring and slipped it onto his right-hand ring finger. The ring automatically adjusted to a perfect size to fit his finger. Selena watched and as he slipped the finger on her cheeks turned red as she blushed. She stepped closer and whispered in a low voice, "What do you think you're doing?!"
Confused, Thomas answered with, "Putting the ring on?"
Selena's blush deepened as she said in a voice that was a mix of anger and embarrassment, "Take it off that finger right now!"
Still confused, he did as she instructed while asking, "What's wrong with wearing it on that finger?"
Selena took a deep breath and angrily stared into his eyes as she said in a low voice, "That's where married couples wear their rings! If anyone saw me give you the ring and you wearing it on that finger they might think I had proposed marriage to you! Even worse they would think you accepted!"
Thomas nodded in understanding. Back in the real world, married couples wore their wedding bands on their left hands, but it looked like in the game it was the right hand. He briefly wondered if the programmers made it that way to trigger situations just like this. He'd automatically assumed that the right hand was safe but had immediately been proven wrong. He looked at Selena and whispered, "Sorry, I didn't know. Back in my world, we wear wedding rings on the left hand."
Selena glanced at Thomas's left hand where his storage ring was sitting on his ring finger. After looking back into his eyes she gestured to the ring as she asked, "Does that mean you're married?"
Thomas glanced at his storage ring and then looked back at Selena as he answered, "No. It's just more comfortable there."
As he spoke he slipped the ring she had given him onto his right-hand middle finger, "Is this better?"
Selena watched him put the ring on and nodded her head at his question, "Much better. Just remember, that ring only prevents your element from showing when examined by a device. If you use you-know-what the ring has no effect. Do not forget that."
Thomas gave her his best smile as he said, "Thanks for all the help Selena. If you ever need my help let me know."
After he finished talking he turned around to make his way to the Adventurers guild to pick up one quest before heading into the dungeon. Before he could take his first step a hand grabbed his shoulder and stopped him as Selena's ice cold voice said, "Where are you running off to without repaying me?"
Thomas froze and wondered if today was just going to be one of those days where nothing went right. How could he forget that Selena was the type that would hold things hostage until she was paid back? Thomas slowly turned around and awkwardly smiled, "Sorry, it slipped my mind. How much do I owe you?"
Selena's face was completely devoid of any emotion while her blue eyes were as cold as ice. She held her hand out palm up as she spoke with the same ice-cold voice, "Five-hundred gold."
Thomas grimaced at the price for the ring. It was ridiculously expensive but since it would hide his secret he had no choice but to pay for it. He fetched the five-hundred gold from his Inventory and passed it over to Selena. The moment she received the money her entire attitude changed as she gave Thomas a sweet smile. Thomas relaxed a little and smiled back. Before he could say anything else, Selena spun on her heels and marched away from him and slipped into the crowd to go off and do her own thing for the day.
Thomas watched her march off and let out a sigh while shaking his head. Hopefully, she would forgive him for the mistakes he'd made today. One was really just out of ignorance of the local customs, though the other was just him being an idiot. With another sigh, he started to make his way to the adventurer's guild to pick up the kobold hunting quest. He didn't know if he could just kill the kobolds and turn in the quest later or if he needed to pick up the quest first. He decided it was better to be safe than sorry so he was going to get the quest first.
After picking up the quest he made his way to the entrance of the dungeon. After he checked in he walked into the entrance at the ground floor. He was confident that he could defeat groups of Elite Kobolds on his own, but it would take a long time and all he really cared about was increasing the rank of an element to twenty-five to finish Hekrin's quest. He could easily do that against the weaker regular kobolds.
As he made his way down the stairs toward the first floor of the dungeon, he opened his character sheet and looked at the elements he'd unlocked so far. The metal element was currently the highest ranked behind the four elements of 'life' so he decided to go with that one to save some time. He liked the metal element and found it fun to use, he just disliked that he couldn't use it to make permanent metal objects. If he could he would save so much time with his work! Which is probably exactly why it didn't stick around.
As he arrived in the safe room of the first floor he decided to just randomly pick weapons to use with the metal element. Unfortunately, they would have to be rather simple weapons since he knew his rank was too low to make anything complex. Still, that left him with a veritable library of melee weapons he could use as well as long-range attacks such as his 'finger gun' spell. His plan was pretty simple. He would open with a ranged attack or two before conjuring a melee weapon and finishing the fight. Since he was alone he couldn't tag team the kobolds as he had with Selena previously.
He looked at the various paths leading out of the safe room and smiled. He'd just been here a couple of days ago so the dungeon hadn't had much time to change. This meant he knew the exact route that would lead to the second floor. He deliberately picked a route that didn't lead to the second floor. His goal wasn't to dive deeper into the dungeon.
As he made his way down the pathway he summoned up his mana and converted it to the metal element in the shape of a fifty caliber bullet weighing around fifty grams. He smiled as he looked at the bullet floating above his hand. Unfortunately, he couldn't provide nearly as much power as the bullet needed to be truly devastating. So far he hadn't managed to fire a bullet faster than the speed of sound. He expected that would change as his Power attribute increased though.
As he stepped around the final bend in the pathway he could see into the room containing his targets. He was still a good fifty meters away so the bear-headed kobolds within the room hadn't noticed him just yet. Thomas started spinning the bullet above his hand as he looked for a target to take out. As he watched two of the kobolds got close to each other and started to growl back and forth. He briefly wondered if they were having a conversation of some sort before deciding to take the two of them out at the same time.
He took careful aim to attempt to launch the bullet through both of the kobolds' chests at the same time. Once he was certain of his aim he fired the large bullet with as much force as he could muster. There was a loud popping sound as the mana 'spring' erupted to launch the bullet. Even as it was still in flight Thomas changed the flow of his mana to begin summoning a simple longsword.
Just as the flow of the mana he had summoned began to change the bullet arrived at its targets. Due to the mass and velocity of the bullet, it collided with the first kobold and easily pierced through its back while practically disintegrating its chest as it exited. The bullet continued its flight unimpeded and penetrated the chest of the second kobold before exiting its back an instant later. There were two large sprays of black blood as the bodies of the now dead kobolds were knocked over by the force of the bullet.
Thomas had just started to move as the longsword made from his metal element magic started to come into existence. As he started to move the four remaining kobolds in the room let out feral roars and turned in his direction as they charged. As Thomas and the group of kobolds met, the longsword had finally completed forming. Thomas had made the edge as sharp as he could without worrying about it chipping or breaking since it was made of pure mana and it would just take more to fix any damage.
As the first kobold arrived near him, Thomas slashed horizontally and quickly decapitated the kobold. He didn't look at the sight of what he'd done and focused on the remaining three instead. After his experience with the Kobold Chieftain, he had no desire to see what it looked like when he decapitated a monster. He was significantly stronger during this dive than he had been the first time he arrived with Selena so he felt no real threat from these kobolds anymore.
Thomas pushed his speed to the maximum and charged at a kobold. His speed instantly spiked to an incredible degree. Before he understood what was happening, Thomas found himself slamming face first into the wall on the opposite side of the room. The room was around fifty meters wide and he'd crossed the entire distance in less than a second, faster than he could react, and had been unable to even think of braking before he'd slammed into the wall. He hit with enough force to cause cracks to appear in the wall and stun himself for a moment.
When he recovered from his shock the entire front of his body was assaulted by pain from head to toe. Especially his face and nose. Reaching up he gingerly touched his nose and felt the wet sensation of blood dripping from the clearly broken appendage. Thomas grimaced and turned around to see the remaining three kobolds looking at him in confusion. They might be the equivalent of newborns but they had not expected their enemy to be hurting itself.
After a brief pause, they roared and charged their injured enemy. Thomas left his injuries for later and gripped the summoned sword in his hand. This time when he charged at the kobolds he lowered his speed to about half of his maximum. Even then he crossed the majority of the room in a single second to decapitate a very surprised kobold. Keeping his speed under control, Thomas made quick work of the last two kobolds. They had been completely unable to keep up with his speed and had easily had their lives reaped by his summoned longsword.
Thomas looked at the slowly disappearing corpse of the last kobold and let out a gurgling sounding sigh. In the future, he should probably test his limits in less confined environments. Somehow he felt like this wasn't the first time he'd made this promise to himself. Shaking his head to get rid of random thoughts he pulled out one of his health potions and downed it. He hadn't had to use these too often, which was a good thing, but they had also become progressively weaker as he'd grown stronger.
After downing three of the healing potions and using 'Serenity' for a bit he recovered his health, mana, and stamina to their peak. He collected the six mana crystals and headed toward another passage that didn't lead to the next floor. He would need to hold back his speed from now on or risk running into another wall before he could react.