The sword wielded by the referee of the match- a fifth tier warrior- was aimed straight towards Barrett’s eye. It moved ever closer- from a meter away, to half a meter, to a few centimeters. It stopped perhaps a millimeter away. Was that the arena’s restrictions kicking in? No, that had a certain visual flare to it. Besides, once his eye focused again, Barrett saw Master Hykel’s hand clutched around the sword and bleeding. Well, good.
Barrett felt so relieved that he managed to muster up his remaining stamina to pummel the curse into tiny little pieces. He wanted to watch Master Hykel, but there was something else he needed to do. He reached down to Victoria next to him- now that she was unconscious and still he could see the makeup disguising her- and broke her hands. He had expected the arena’s restrictions to stop him, but it didn’t. He had considered twisting her neck, but she couldn’t be interrogated if she was dead.
He turned to see Master Hykel just as he was pulling his axe back. With his right hand Master Hykel still held onto the sword that had been aimed at Barrett, and so the axe was only in his left. He must have just attacked with it, but Barrett couldn’t see any wounds on the referee. When Master Hykel swung the axe again, he saw why. The restrictions of the arena were fighting against Master Hykel, trying to stop his swing.
Tendrils of energy swirled around Master Hykel’s axe, preventing it from swinging… then the arena started trembling. Barrett could barely feel it from right next to Master Hykel, but he definitely felt the berserk energy flooding through Master Hykel. Suddenly, the axe in Master Hykel’s hand burst forward, slicing down and chopping through the shoulder of the referee- completely severing the arm that held the sword. Barrett was reminded why there were no tournaments for sixth tier or higher cultivators. The arena restrictions couldn’t handle it.
“Scum!” Master Hykel shouted, “You dare to falsely accuse my student and try to kill him?!”
The referee didn’t respond- instead screaming in pain over the loss of his arm. Barrett shook his head. Sure, losing an arm hurt, but there was no reason to be such a big baby about it. He’d lost an arm when he was just second tier, but this fifth tier referee couldn’t handle it.
The arena flew into chaos. Barrett saw various arena guards rushing over, but there were also various members of the Immortal Berserker Sect entering the arena. He hadn’t known there had been so many watching. Barrett even saw two new faces of older men… older, but still very muscular… and radiating the aura of seventh tier Immortal Berserkers. The arena guards pulled out their weapons, but then a shout resounded through the arenas.
All of the guards turned to see the voice, then inclined their heads. “Sir Joston, this man has broken the sanctity of the arena…”
“Indeed… someone has.” The man who spoke stood at the top back of the stands around the particular arena they were in. “For your sakes I hope you meant that corrupt referee. Unless you are blind?” One eye from the man bore down on the group below- the other covered by an eyepatch.
“Ah… of course, Sir Joston…” one of the guards finally stammered.
“You sound doubtful.” The large man jumped down from the top of the stand, landing next to the edge of the arena with a resounding thud. “Perhaps I should be clear. As Master of the Arena, I hold you all to high standards. Of course, you all know that foul play in the arena merits punishment… but that doesn’t mean you can summarily attack. Nobody would trust Stredo’s arena ever again.” Sir Joston spit a huge gob of gunk to the side. “A few bad eggs have already caused us to lose prestige here. The arena restrictions were clearly manipulated. It is clear that ‘Nina’ has used poison… and that she entered the arena in disguise. Do you have anything to add, young Barrett?”
“Let’s see… Just that ‘Nina’ is a member of the Silver Blades, who are already banned from the arena. At least, she trained in their style and is under their employ.” Barrett grimaced, “Also she cursed me and even proceeded to attack me with the curse within the jurisdiction of Stredo.”
“Very well.” Sir Joston looked around, “We will be taking this referee and Nina, Victoria, or whoever she is in for questioning. The results of this investigation will be announced throughout Stredo.” He turned to Barrett and Master Hykel, “The two of you will need to remain in Stredo. You appear to have no need of medical aid…” The cuts on Master Hykel’s hand were already healed, and Barrett took stock of his own wounds… of which there were none. Not physically, anyway. He was almost completely out of berserk energy, and his stamina was bottomed out. Fortunately the curse had receded for the current time. Barrett just wished he could afford to collapse unconscious.
While Barrett and Master Hykel could not leave Stredo, they weren’t under arrest. Thus, they were set up in a safe inn. The two seventh Tier Immortal Berserkers came along with them. Master Hykel laughed, “Sorry for wasting your time… I guess we didn’t need you to fight at all.”
One of them, who had a nicely cultivated beard, shook his head, “A show of force is sometimes necessary. Besides, we must show at least some sincerity to the young man who we used as bait.”
“Thank you for coming to help,” Barrett bowed his head, “I don’t yet know the name of either of the two grandmasters…?”
The one with the beard nodded. “I am Grandmaster Zhubin. This is Zour,” he nodded to the other seventh tier man. Barrett saw he had a wicked scar from the crown of his head all the way to the tip of his chin. “Zour does not speak much, but he needs to get out sometimes,” Zhubin grinned, then looked to Master Hykel, “Mistress Aurora would be proud of you and the student you have raised.”
Master Hykel grinned wistfully, “She always did smile when I got up to trouble…”