“I surrender!” Kail called out and stepped away from Barrett, toward the guards. “I thank you for your good intentions, Sir Barrett, but I can’t allow you to be wrapped up in this.”
One of the guards grabbed Kail’s arm… and then quickly pulled back. Barrett stepped up next to Kail. “Too late. I already gave my word to bring you safely away from here.” Barrett flicked his hands, scattering blood onto the ground. “I always keep my word. I told you, anything that touches Kail, you lose.”
The guard looked down at his hand… but didn’t find it at the end of his wrist. Instead, it was on the ground. It wasn’t cleanly severed. Instead, it was somewhere between a cut and a crush. Without a proper blade, Barrett couldn’t make berserk energy as sharp as he wanted… but he could improvise.
The cultivator from the Macaio clan shouted, “Kill him!”
Barrett couldn’t afford to hesitate. While he was confident in his ability to defeat his opponents, he also had to protect Kail. He also needed to do so quickly, before more enemies showed up.
One of the best benefits of training in Pure Body Tempering was the ability to attack from positions that didn’t seem to be a proper stance. It was still better to take a proper stance if there was time, since it took stamina to balance in ways the body wasn’t meant to… but Barrett needed to attack immediately. In a proper duel it was dishonorable to attack an opponent who had not readied themselves, but against people trying to kill him in the street Barrett didn’t need to act the same way.
Barrett’s foot kicked up into the man’s ribs. That gave the benefit of being a large target, so even though he started to dodge he couldn’t avoid the attack. The ribcage helped protect the area with the most vital organs, but it wasn’t perfect. Even the guard’s armor could do little enough to protect against berserk energy supported by Barrett’s whole body weight. All Barrett needed was for a small portion of his attack to get to the heart.
The first guard went staggering back, while the second took a step away while pulling something off of his belt. He launched a ball of metal at Barrett, who dodged it easily. Too easily, in fact. He had been expecting the momentum of the attack to carry it past him, but instead it turned and moved back toward him.
Normally such a move wouldn’t have presented any danger. Without any momentum behind it, a ball of metal couldn’t do much damage. However, when it touched Barrett’s arm instead of impacting it wrapped around his arm. It wasn’t nearly so solid as it had appeared.
Barrett gathered berserk energy to blast the liquid metal away from his arm. He couldn’t afford to deal with it holding onto him or any other problems it might cause. Some of it had managed to find its way into his arm in that short moment… but he attempted to lock it in place. He wasn’t sure how to sever the magical control, but he could keep it from doing as it pleased.
At the same time as Barrett attacked there, Kail rushed the member of the Macaio clan, nearly knocking him off his feet. Barrett wasn’t sure it was a wise choice, but at least he had decided to fight.
The first guard was missing a hand and had a wound in his chest, but he managed to pull out a similar ball of metal as the other. However, Barrett wasn’t going to be tricked again. He knew he couldn’t let it get close. As he moved to avoid the attack, he also chose to run toward the second guard. Their ball of metal was dispersed for the moment, and it would take them some time to be able to use it again. Perhaps they had more, but there were only a few steps between him and Barrett.
Barrett’s attack was a straightforward punch, overflowing with berserk energy. His attack was aimed forward toward the guard’s waist, but all he had to do was step back and to the side to avoid it entirely. As he did so, he found his foot wouldn’t move… and that lost him the exact moment he needed to avoid the attack. Barrett’s fist shattered the man’s hip and freed his foot from the cobblestones beneath it which had molded around his foot. If the guard had been in any other circumstance, all it would have taken to free his foot would have been a firm tug… but he wasn’t expecting to need that level of force to move.
Barrett couldn’t consider him out of the fight with just a broken hip, but the pain was enough to distract him long enough for Barrett to grab him and toss him toward the first guard’s attack. The second guard flew into the ball of liquid metal with no damage, but it did throw the attack off course and disrupt the second guard’s concentration as his hip shattered and then impacted the ground as he rolled.
Kail was pummeling the Macaio clan member with his fists, alternating back and forth. He didn’t seem to be causing any serious damage- his opponent was a tier ahead of him in body training and moving to soften the blows- but it kept him occupied and unable to retaliate immediately.
Barrett rushed toward the first guard, using his ability to balance at impossible angles to duck to the side under the ball of metal. Just before he reached the guard a second ball of metal appeared from another container… but Barrett had already anticipated something like that. No matter how good a weapon was, a backup was always necessary. He leaned to the side, one hand touching the ground as his leg swept behind the guard’s knee, hooking on and pulling him down. Barrett used the same momentum to spin around and bring his heel onto the man’s head- a maneuver that would have been impossible without the flexibility and ability to shift weight that Pure Body Tempering gave Barrett. Using two types of abilities simultaneously, such as berserk energy and stamina, was starting to become second nature to Barrett.