Barrett had the opportunity to watch the matches of others he knew. There were a couple acquaintances from the Immortal Berserker Sect, as well as Reina and Nilima. Barrett hadn’t seen Lamont since coming to Stredo- though apparently his master would likely pass through at some point. Apparently they hadn’t come for the tournament… or at least they hadn’t stopped by the Immortal Berserker Sect and Barrett hadn’t seen them. Shanta was in Stredo, but not participating in the tournament. The reason… “Master Stieber says there’s no point in entering the tournament if I can’t use poison.” Shanta shrugged, “Not that I care anyway. I’m in it for the medicine… and it just happens that training in energy helps with that.”
If he was being honest, most of the matches they were in were… boring. Nilima’s battles mostly went the same way. The match started, the combatants approached each other, Nilima hit right in the middle of a breastplate… and the match was over. That was even the case against wizards with magical barriers. She could direct her energy to flow through pretty much everything. If anyone actually depended on armor or barriers, they were defeated instantly. Those who trained their bodies did much better… but for the most parts their internal organs wouldn’t be able to handle her damage. Maybe in later rounds the matches would be more fair, but Nilima could slip past almost any attack and nobody was quite prepared because of how weak she appeared with her tiny frame.
Reina was met with slightly more even looking matches, but even so she usually finished the matches in a handful of attacks… which wasn’t a very long time. Her rapier would whip back and forth, with any of the attacks being deadly if the opponent failed to guard or dodge. She actually floated around them as well, not needing to step on the ground to turn to attack them from behind.
Nobody had too much trouble making it into the later rounds of the tournament. With approximately seventeen rounds, the last eight rounds sounded like the tournament was halfway done- but there were actually less than one percent of the total participants remaining at that point, the numbers having been reduced to a mere 256 from tens of thousands. Things were spread out so that everyone would only have one match per day, which meant that most of the arenas would remain unused for purposes of the tournament. That also meant seating was more coveted… though as one of the remaining participants Barrett was guaranteed a seat.
His first match was against a fire elementalist wizard. He would almost wonder why he always got matched against people who used fire… but it was a very common type to train in. On the other hand, normal fire didn’t really bother him anymore.
Barrett thought it was unfortunate that he was using the whole arena. That meant he was further from his opponent. While he realized that it was a distance designed to be fair for all matchups, he didn’t have a good method of attacking at range. It wasn’t really important in a tournament where he could afford to lose… but he needed to seriously consider learning a method of ranged combat.
The combat started off with the wizard making a dome of fire over himself, starting about three yards away from himself. If Barrett wanted to attack him, he would have to pass through it. Barrett was impressed by the power output for something of that size, but he imagined that the flames weren’t at full power all of the time. Otherwise, the wizard would run out of mana in a matter of seconds.
Barrett dashed forward. With all of that fire, he couldn’t see what the wizard was doing. The flames all around him concealed both his movements and whatever he was doing with mana behind the dome. Unless he was doing nothing, but if that was the case Barrett would only have to stand around and wait for him to exhaust himself.
There was only a brief flash of warning in Barrett’s mind, and he threw himself to the side out of the way of a bolt of fire. He could feel the heat as it passed. It was strong enough that it could have burned a normal person just by passing near. In this case, it was just uncomfortably warm. Barrett moved his direction of approach, trying to be more covert… but the next bolt of fire just as accurately targeted him. That meant they weren’t relying on sound to target him, and normal sight wouldn’t work. On the other hand, only a fool would cut off their only senses, so it wasn’t like Barrett hadn’t expected something.
After the second bolt of fire, Barrett was close to the dome of fire. He turned straight on and rushed towards it. He could feel the heat from three meters away, and two steps later it was like sticking his hand in an oven. Then he dashed through it, chopping down with his axe and berserk energy to ruin its semi-solid form. The fire flared as he contacted it, bursting with power and heat. It was hot enough to burn off skin in an instant. As hot as being on top of lava… but that was only for an instant, and then he was through. His hair was on fire… but that was an expected outcome. It was gone before he really thought about it, and he was moving further away from the heat as he charged the last meters toward the wizard.
For his part, the wizard reacted calmly toward a berserker charging through his defensive barrier, quickly pulling the fire in and in front of him, pouring all of his mana into it. The fire was more intense than being in the caldera of lava, an impressive feat. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a few moments as Barrett gathered berserk energy and chopped through it. Then the fire was contained as the activation of the arenas defensive barriers signaled the end of the match.
The wizard stood there, panting. “*Huff* *huff* you… are you… fireproof?” The wizard put his hands on his knees as he looked at Barrett, “You didn’t even… use energy… to defend.”
Barrett shook his head, “I’m an Immortal Berserker. Our energy isn’t suitable for blocking.”
“Oh.” The wizard sniffed the air. “At least I burned you a little bit.”
Barrett nodded. After the volcano, his body was much more resistant to any type of fire. “You should have condensed it all like those bolts of fire. It was spread out too much. Probably good enough to turn a normal human to a pile of ash, but even if it’s undodgeable people can still defend against it.”
“Haaah.” The wizard sighed, “It worked just fine against everyone else in the tournament, even if they defended with energy. I guess I just underestimated the top people in the second tier.”
Barrett hadn’t realized it, but he was near the top of the second tier. Sure, there could be a few people from each sect in the area who were stronger than him, but that was it. On the other hand, part of that was because all of the best would continue to be stronger and grow into the next tier. Even so, he was still less than twenty years old. He did know that he might not be the strongest yet… but as he kept getting stronger he would be more able to control his own destiny, whatever that might be.