Nilima walked next to Barrett, nodding at the summary of his story. “So… what you’re saying is… I can hit you as hard as you want without worrying about crippling you or something?”
“That wasn’t exactly what I meant for you to take away from that whole thing…”
Nilima shrugged and grinned, “Too bad. It’ll be good for you anyway, with your crazy Immortal Berserker training.”
“Well…” Barrett scratched his head, “A true immortal body is rare enough we don’t really have exact details about it. Besides, if you destroy my heart or turn my brain to mush I’ll die without even knowing if it can recover that sort of thing.”
Nilima shook her head, “You don’t have to worry about that. Unless you stood around and let me, I couldn’t even do that. I mean, I could turn a normal brain to mush but you surpassed normal levels a while ago anyway. The advantage of my style is that most people don’t train their internal organs except by proxy.”
“Hmm. What is your style called anyway?”
Nilima held out her hands, “No idea. It’s Mistress Joshi’s style. It might not even have a name.”
Barrett frowned, “You think she’d tell you if it had a name.”
“Maybe. We don’t talk much. She teaches me and I go fight people.”
“And to think, I’m the one practicing a berserker style.”
Nilima flipped her head away. “Hmph. Don’t compare my style to yours. Practical use is the only way to be good at something.”
Barrett agreed with that, but he didn’t see what that had to do with her not being more like a berserker than him, in some ways.
When they arrived at the gate, the guards stopped them. “Who is this?”
“This is Nilima. She’s a member of the…” Barrett frowned, “Well, she’s Mistress Ishita Joshi’s student.”
The guards nodded and wrote down the information. While bringing people in and out of the Sect was allowed, they kept note of who came and went. After all, the sect did have enemies and there was little laws could do to protect people from dying if people were determined. Sure, they were under the protection of Stredo, but they still had to have people arrive to help. Even the Silver Blade wouldn’t do anything for fear of retribution, but there were outside groups that had trouble with the Immortal Berserker Sect as well.
Barrett mentioned the buildings they walked past, “There’s not much to say about most of it. Residences, a few smithies and such, and training areas. Most of it’s not useful to you in particular but if you’re looking for sparring partners there are lots of us here.”
Nilima nodded, “That’s good… but it’s not like I can fight against just one style all the time. Still, it’s good to know there will always be someone to beat up.”
“Just be careful… there are plenty of strong people about our age, and well… we’re not the best at holding back.” he looked at Nilima’s thin frame. It looked like she could snap in a harsh breeze.
“Avoiding taking damage is part of training as well. Besides, did you hold back when you fought me?”
Barrett had to think about that one. He definitely wouldn’t say he went easy on her, but the difference between not going easy and a life and death match was… significant. Ruben could have testified to that, if he were still alive. “Not really, but we sort of assume a certain level of bodily toughness. I doubt you want to spend a few weeks recovering if you slightly misjudge someone’s strength.”
Nilima rubbed her forearms. “It’s not that fun. I don’t see how you do it.”
“Well, most of the time we don’t spend very long recovering. That’s sort of the whole point.”
“Yeah, yeah, you’re crazy. I get that.”
Barrett just shrugged, “Well, here we are. We have a lot of different kinds of sparring equipment but…”
“Don’t need it. It would only slow me down… and I doubt it would help me if I took a solid hit.”
Barrett nodded, “Likewise, I doubt it will make any difference against you.”
The two found themselves facing off in their own section of the training area. Barrett found it somewhat odd to be in a semi-formal setting. When they had first met, Nilima had just challenged Barrett to a fight on the streets and most of the times after that they had just broken into fighting upon seeing each other. There had only been one short period of time where there were formal sparring matches between them.
Barrett moved first. He knew that swinging the training axe in his right hand was mostly fruitless. She would never hold still long enough to get hit. However, it still let him control her movements somewhat. She still had to dodge his attacks, and when she closed in he could still attack with a fist or a knee.
Barrett himself had to dodge her attacks with all the alacrity he could muster. Though her style fell under the ‘gentle’ category, that only indicated it wouldn’t involve a lot of cuts, bruises, or broken bones. If she got in a solid strike, her energy could pierce through his body to his vital organs. That had happened many times in the past, and while Barrett wasn’t worried about taking a bit of damage, he could easily be out of the fight with a single mistake.
Then Nilima gathered energy to her palm and to her legs, springing forward with a palm strike toward his torso just ducking under Barrett’s axe. With the energy gathered to her legs, she was so swift Barrett couldn’t dodge- but he could block with his arm. Her palm impacted his left arm… and he felt like someone was shoving past him in a crowd. Meanwhile, her foot impacted his ankle, and he felt her energy flow out into the muscle and bone. He realized the energy she had gathered in her palm was just a decoy.
Even so, Barrett counterattacked by bringing up his knee into Nilima’s stomach, sending her flying back. He had almost forgotten how easily she sailed through the air as she dispersed the force of his attack into movement, finally landing on her feet.
As she landed, she dropped her stance and held her stomach with one hand. “I’d almost manage to forget what this was like. Stupid berserk energy.”
Barrett hadn’t had long to gather energy to his knee, but even a small amount could cause significant damage. If Nilima hadn’t been so skilled at energy dispersal, she wouldn’t have gotten away with just slight unpleasantness.
Barrett tested his ankle. It wasn’t too bad. It wouldn’t stop him from fighting, at least. He would just have to avoid taking any more damage there. Across from him, Barrett saw Nilima getting reading for a second round of sparring.