Barrett wondered if the fight with Nilima would have gone differently if it were actually life and death. The answer was almost certainly. He probably would have dodged the attack instead… but even if he hadn’t, he might have won that. He could have won, but he didn’t.
If it were actually life or death… Barrett felt his chest. Maybe his heart would have a hole through it. That was probably fatal, but Nilima would have died too. Then again, Barrett considered that he might be able to handle a hole in his heart. It just depended how big it was… and how close medical attention was. If he didn’t die, recovery wasn’t a problem… but that was only speculation on not dying in an already speculative situation.
What could he learn from the situation? Mostly, it was things he already knew. First, exchanging blows with an enemy was stupid, even if he was tough. Second, that just because he thought he knew all of his opponent’s moves didn’t mean he actually did. Finally, Barrett wondered why he even had an axe.
Sure, an axe was a decent weapon. Good for chopping, capable of great power. It wasn’t the swiftest weapon, but it wasn’t that slow if he was strong and skilled. Barrett could see why people would use an axe, and Master Hykel in particular.
No, the question wasn’t why anyone would have an axe but why he would have one. A large amount of the time he found himself just attacking with his fists and feet anyway. He was using an axe because… Master Hykel did.
That wasn’t necessarily bad. Master Hykel had been his teacher for years, and learning his best weapon was logical. It wasn’t like an axe was bad, either. It provided more reach and power than just using his own body. He just didn’t find himself needing those as much as he thought he might. Barrett supposed it was time to take advantage of the fact that the Immortal Berserker Sect had people specialized in all kinds of weapons who could help him find the best fit for him. Master Hykel had mentioned that a couple times, but Barrett had been busy with other training… or recovery. Of course, before he got seriously back into training, there were some more matches to watch.
If Reina hadn’t had a sword in her hand and Barrett didn’t know her, he could have mistaken her for a noble lady. It wasn’t just the clothes she wore- which were also supple armor- but the way she carried herself. There was an elegance and confidence to the way she stood, and a gracefulness to her every move. That sort of gracefulness actually made her frightening in combat. Most of her opponents hadn’t really been prepared for her attacks. There was no loud stomping of feet on the ground, and her movements didn’t look quick. Perhaps the flowing sleeves on her garments were made for just that purpose.
Perhaps in the first round or two she had been underestimated because she was a woman- even though spread among the various kinds of cultivators they were only slightly less numerous than men.
At the current point in the tournament, her opponents wouldn’t underestimate her. Her opponent in the current round was a mage, and he started off the combat with a shining barrier to protect himself. Then he took a deep breath and breathed out, fog rolling from his mouth. Barrett clicked his tongue.
There was nothing wrong with the move. It was probably even logical, assuming he had a way to see through the fog better than Reina. It just made it less exciting to watch the match.
Reina had already moved into the fog, and all Barrett could see were occasional flashes of lightning or gouts of fire. However, the fact that they kept occurring meant that Reina was still in the match and moving around.
Based on how the attacks went, she was actually moving in a continuous clockwise motion, except with variations to her speed. Her opponent still seemed to be in the middle of the fog, barely moving while she dashed about. That meant she would likely tire herself out first, if he was conservative with his attacks. Especially since she would have to expend energy constantly for increases and decreases in speed, and to dodge his spells she had little chance to see coming.
She couldn’t see through the fog… but that didn’t mean she was helpless. Barrett imagined she should have some sense for how to dodge his spells since she also cultivated mana. She just might not be able to attack properly.
There wasn’t much to see but roiling fog, but Barrett watched intently. Then he realized what he was seeing. The fog was moving… more and more swiftly. Soon enough, it was swirling up and thinning out. Barrett could see Reina’s form flickering about, and the mage’s silhouette in the middle.
Reina moved in and out, but always in the same circle. As she approached behind the mage, her sword would skitter against his barrier. It was a translucent barrier of mana. Without any elemental properties it didn’t have any special qualities, but it also didn’t have any particular weaknesses. However, that didn’t mean it was unbreakable. Barrett could see the barrier wavering with the mage’s concentration and fatigue. Then he saw the mage take another deep breath, and try to restore the rapidly thinning fog in the area. Unfortunately, it was too late.
Reina already had control over the area around him, and his additional fog was dispersed even more rapidly than the previous time, his effort wasted. Reina didn’t miss the chance to launch a sharp attack on his barrier, stabbing through it. The barrier collapsed, but delayed her enough that the mage had a chance to dodge back.
As he did so, he found himself stepping out of the calm of the winds and lost his footing, while Reina actually took a step back into the winds and moved around the center of the circle before coming up behind him. Then everything stopped. Reina’s rapier was touching the mage’s back, and the wards separated them.
Barrett stroked his chin and wondered how he would have dealt with the fog. Well, he probably would have just run into the center and smashed through the barrier… but he might have taken a critical attack on the way. Magic moved swiftly, but it could still be dodged by judging the right timing and looking where the mages eyes moved. They still had to aim their spells at the right place, after all, and eyes were the best for that.