Mistress Abels faced off against Master Hykel’s axe with a polearm with a spike and hammer at the end of the shaft. The spike could be used for piercing through flesh and armor but if it couldn’t, the blunt side could still be used to cause damage. Unlike a version a regular soldier would use, the entire shaft was made of metal. While there were woods that could stand up to the sort of force fifth tier cultivators might produce, they weren’t easy to get a hold of.
Besides their choice of weapons, the differences between the two Immortal Berserker’s fighting styles became apparent shortly into the match. While Master Hykel used berserk energy to assist his movement and provide sufficient traction with the ground, Mistress Abels used magic to perform the same task. The arena was protected against damage, but temporary deformation by magic was still possible. Though it was very small, Barrett saw the stone arena rise up slightly as she moved, pushing up against her, as well as slanting to give her something to push off of. While both methods accomplished quicker movement, they had different side effects.
Mistress Abels clearly knew that Master Hykel’s armor wouldn’t be easily penetrated by the spike side of the polearm’s head, instead taking wide swings with the blunt side, the end moving in a figure 8 pattern to keep momentum build up instead of having to stop the swings completely. Those sorts of movements were quite common, though they required the user to be able to keep up the attack. In this case, Mistress Abels was able to ward back Master Hykel with the advantage of her reach.
The two of them moved around looking for openings. Though Master Hykel couldn’t approach, he continuously looked for opportunities. If her weapon had been weaker he could have just severed it, but as it was such an attack would just leave him open.
The combatants traded blows back and forth, though they were all glancing blows, easily negated by their respective armor. Barrett felt the berserk energy flying off of both of them, though only a small part of it. Most of it went to its actual intended uses, but he was especially attuned to feel it.
Barrett imagined the two could probably have fought for hours with no progress… and if their lives were on the line, they might have actually considered that if they thought they had the advantage. In fact, given how evenly they seemed to be matched the smarter choice would have been to try to reach a compromise, even if they didn’t like each other. However, they were in a match… and that meant they needed to fight. After a few minutes of testing each other, they started performing more risky moves.
Master Hykel was fast enough with his axe to deflect most of the blows, unless Mistress Abels strongly committed to an attack. Likewise, he couldn’t step forward to within his own striking range unless he committed. They could only wait for an opening… or make one.
That was what Mistress Abels did. Barrett didn’t even see any indication it was coming, but suddenly Master Hykel tripped slightly. The hammer head came down towards him… not his head or torso, but the arm he used to block with. There was the clanging of metal and Master Hykel flew back. Barrett thought he saw an indentation in Master Hykel’s bracer, but he still held the axe in both hands, so the arm was still functional. Unfortunately, Master Hykel hadn’t been able to gain any advantage from the exchange, just preventing damage. Still, if the ground had moved suddenly underneath Barrett, he doubted he would have done as well.
Master Hykel found the next opening as Mistress Abels swung too wide, stepping in and getting a strike on her shoulder. Though his axe glanced off and didn’t penetrate the armor, the force behind it still bent the pauldron somewhat. Barrett could see her being slightly less smooth with her motions.
Then, the ground once again moved beneath Master Hykel’s foot, just as he was taking a step forward to try to move in for another attack. His leg went backward and spun him around just at the same time Mistress Abels’ weapon came swinging down toward his head… but Master Hykel suddenly reached up and deflected the attack as if he wasn’t off balance at all, then swinging his axe back toward Mistress Abels as he stepped forward, his foot stomping the ground and creating cracks as his axe collided with her armor head on.
The arena’s defenses activated, but Barrett still saw the axe go terrifyingly far though the armor. Based on the blood, it should have gotten most of the way through several ribs- and he knew those ribs were as tough as steel, ignoring the harder-than-steel armor on top of them.
Mistress Abels blinked. She didn’t seem to be concerned about the handwidth gash that was pouring blood, but merely looked over Master Hykel. “Ah… I forgot. You’ve been learning craziness. No wonder that movement was so easy to read… it was all fake.”
“But it could have been real… if I wanted it to be.”
“Hmph. Next time I’ll spin you around so much you won’t even know where you feet are, and see how shifting your weight helps then!”
The two parted with good natured handshakes, and Master Hykel came to review with Barrett. “See? You can always learn something.” He held up his left arm, “Though I bet you missed this.” He held up his left arm, with the dent in his bracer.
“What about it?” Barrett frowned. He’d certainly seen it happen.
“This dirt.” Master Hykel brushed a small amount of dirt off of it, up near the elbow and not in the middle of his forearm where the dent was. “It was slowly worming its way toward my elbow, and I would have found myself suddenly unable to move as I pleased if I’d let the fight drag on. Or I could have redirected my energy to blow it away… but then leave myself open. I settled for pretending to leave an easier opening… though I almost messed up anyway. Fighting with your weight shifted is…”
Barrett nodded. “Yeah. It’s not easy to get used to. The good thing about it is it’s not easy to read. Doing the same thing with energy would light you up like a torch, but using stamina…” Barrett tilted his head, “I”m not even sure if there’s any way to tell, short of trying to move someone and see how it happens.”