Barrett wondered if Kaylani recognized him. He was wearing full armor this time after all. He didn’t have a chance to find out, as the match started.
He already knew she could attack at range… and he didn’t have anything for that, so he made a quick mental note to learn a ranged weapon for real combats and ran forward. He sensed power washing over him. He wasn’t surprised when he came to a screeching halt as his armor and axe stopped moving with him. He could feel his axe trying to twist in his grip, but he held it tight. He struggled to move his arms and legs, and though they moved slightly he could feel the metal holding him back, leaving him standing open. Barrett could just imagine a thin needle going for his eyes or throat and finishing him off, but they hadn’t come after a few seconds.
Then Barrett grinned inside the helmet. His eyes could still move freely, and he could see the strain in Kaylani’s face as he struggled against her hold. After all, even if she could control metal, it still took energy. There was just the slight issue of being held up off the ground. Even if he could twist and turn he couldn’t actually move anywhere. Kaylani couldn’t keep it up forever, but he saw her starting to open a belt pouch. He couldn’t afford to just wait for his defeat.
Every twist and turn he made was responded to with a tighter grip, a stronger push. He couldn’t build up any momentum. When he gathered berserk energy and used it to propel himself, he found a stronger resistive force. Barrett closed his eyes and concentrated… leaning back slightly. Then the threw himself forward. His head shot down toward the ground, with the metal needles flying harmlessly over his head.
Then he shifted weight back out of his head into his left arm, pulling himself to the side. His feet impacted the ground. He continued shifting as much weight as he could to different places. Side to side, forward, backwards… and the whole time he threw himself closer and closer to Kaylani. Then he was within striking distance, and he chopped toward her with his axe. Her body was like metal- maybe it was metal, so even though she was mostly unarmored she wouldn’t have been injured even without protection from the arena.
Then Barrett’s axe suddenly stopped, with the rest of him suddenly free of pressure. That included his leg coming up for a kick, which contained most of his actual weight and momentum. That kick impacted into Kaylani’s stomach, which was enough for her to lose control entirely. She was thrown backwards, and Barrett followed after her, bringing his axe down toward her chest. At the very moment where it was about to impact, his axe stopped. It wasn’t like before, where it had been pushed against… but it actually just stopped entirely. Barrett didn’t even feel any force on her arm, there was no barrier he bounced off of… but there was a glow around everything that picked both of them up and pulled them apart. It seemed impossible, but Barrett thought that just meant he wasn’t strong enough to understand how it worked.
Barrett found himself announced as the winner. With how much berserk energy he poured into that attack to push against her control, he knew it could have caused serious damage… but that was what the wards were for.
Kaylani blinked and patted herself down, then collapsed onto her rear end. Then she blinked and looked at Barrett in surprise. “Do I… know you from somewhere?” She squinted her eyes… and Barrett removed his helmet. “Dammit!” She reached up to grab her hair, “It’s you? How did you do that? Your body pushed in ways that your energy didn’t… on top of being freakishly strong.”
“It’s a special technique where I shifted my mass around.”
“With hidden energy?”
Barrett shook his head, “Without energy.”
“That’s not how things work. You don’t have to tell me if it’s secret, but don’t make things up.” Kaylani flipped her head to the side, which in turn made her hair flip in front of her face, making a sound like rain on a metal rooftop.
“It’s a Pure Body Tempering thing.”
“But you’re not… whatever.” Kaylani shrugged, “It’s bad luck I ran into you so early, I guess.” She pushed herself up off the ground, “At least I know I need to train my power and endurance more. I hadn’t expected someone at the same tier to be able to fight back so much even without that weird stuff. Then again… I’d heard you Immortal Berserkers do crazy stuff. Especially since coming here. Wait… were you the guy who got into that deathmatch a couple months ago?”
“Everyone keeps bringing that up. They have deathmatches here all the time!”
“Yeah, but not two second tier people fighting with the lives of a fifth tier master on the line… plus all the cheating and stuff.” Kaylani breathed out heavily, “Well, I was hoping to go further than the second round. Just make sure you get pretty far, alright? If you lose next round I’ll just look bad.”
“Of course.” Barrett nodded, “I can’t say I’ll make it to the end, but I’m not about to get knocked out early unless I meet a very unfortunate opponent.”
Kaylani shrugged, “Well, I ran into you so… don’t count on it.”
The next few rounds weren’t much to speak off. A few days would pass, Barrett would fight again, and then it would repeat. Several of his opponents were early second tier, so they didn’t pose that much threat. Barrett went all out, which resulted in one opponent losing to the first strike. Barrett hoped that not getting cut in half but seeing that it could have happened would motivate them to become stronger instead of making them give up.
Some of his opponents managed to wound him. The wounds weren’t all inconsequential, and with fight every few days it could have been a problem… for people who weren’t Immortal Berserkers. A day of rest was like a month or more, even without using Pure Body Tempering abilities. Unless he got seriously injured, he would be heading into each match completely uninjured… and even slightly tougher than the last one.