Pain coursed through Barrett. He wasn’t willing to call any pain ‘good’ pain, but at least he knew it served a purpose. Each destruction he underwent brought more power. He hadn’t grown numb to the pain- nor could he let that happen- but at least the pain faded quickly. It was only unbearable for an hour at most.
Even with the pain, Barrett was filled with a sense of accomplishment. Though passing the three hundredth destruction didn’t seem that important, he was just about at the halfway point between third and fourth tier. The total journey would be about seven years- though he’d lost about half a year, so he was looking at something closer to seven and a half years total. In the next year’s third tier tournament, he would be at his best for any of those tournaments. He wouldn’t quite be fourth tier in time for the next tournament two years after that, and he certainly wouldn’t still be third tier in for the next third tier tournament- unless something horrible happened. Even if he wasted four years somehow, he was confident in reaching fourth tier- and becoming a master- before the second third tier tournament, near the beginning of the next cycle.
Barrett stretched and stood up. He needed to get to the arena soon, as today was the final match of the second tier tournament. Kail would be fighting, so he needed to go support him- though Kail’s potential victory wasn’t really dependent on anyone but himself.
Kail’s opponent would be a water mage- which also included steam and ice. Barrett wasn’t sure about the other details, since he hadn’t watched her matches. Still, as one of the participants in the final match she wouldn’t be an easy opponent.
Barrett arrived at the arena, where he had previously secured a rather distant seat- it was the final match, after all. However, it wouldn’t be much trouble for him to watch from a distance. Both participants arrived soon after, and the referee announced the match.
“On this side, Kail Anaconi, of the Anaconi clan!” the referee waved his arm, “And on the other side, Lucia of the Crystal Palace!”
The Crystal Palace was a faction local to Stredo- their school was outside the city, situated on Bittercold Peak, southeast of Stredo in the mountains bordering the Tornado Plains- or what had been the Tornado Plains.
The match started, as usual, with both participants apart from each other. Barrett watched closely as the match began. Kail was primarily a melee combatant, so he charged forward with a heavy hammer and a metal shield, ready to respond to an attack. Lucia stood her ground, gathering mana and pulling water out of the air.
When Kail was about halfway to Lucia, she used a portion of the water as spikes of ice launched towards Kail. Unlike real icicles, the ice spikes were smooth and much closer to a true cone. Barrett imagined they would also be sharper and hold their shape better. As they reached Kail, he used his shield to not only deflect them, but also to force them off course even further by swiping his arm. Several of the ice spikes shattered, and the rest were thrown off course far enough they could not easily turn to attack him. His shield hadn’t been quite the right size to deflect them all at once, but he had expanded its size with his metal attribute energy, which was excellent for such maneuvers.
As Kail continued forward, Lucia didn’t attempt to use ice spikes again, instead merely launching a large sphere of water. It wasn’t fast enough to be an attack, but it was definitely still targeted at Kail. Kail continued rushing forward, only slightly changing trajectories to try to dodge around the sphere of water. As he did so, a wave of water shot out from the sphere, latching onto him. However, his momentum carried him onwards, and he pulled away with only a small amount of water latching onto him.
That small amount of water became a large problem when moments later the joints of his knees froze up one at a time, causing him to stumble. He managed to catch himself on his hands even as his elbows froze, but he couldn’t bend his arms or legs- and then the shoulders and hips were frozen in place as well. Lucia launched more ice spikes at Kail’s nearly helpless form… but one by one he broke the ice at each joint. Though he was a warrior and quite strong, there was not generally sufficient leverage to break the ice, especially with the muscles stuck in place… but Kail had trained in Pure Body Tempering. One joint at a time, he focused his strength on each section of ice, starting with his elbows and shoulders. He shattered the ice on his left arm before the ice spikes reached him- and from his prone position it actually wasn’t difficult to block them all. One still struck his exposed right arm, but it barely did anything to his tough body, even as it aimed in the shoulder joint of his armor- where the ice melted away just in time for impact.
Kail used his energy to sever the magical connection to the ice on his joints and in another few seconds he had broken the remaining parts and was up and running again. Now he was quite close to Lucia, and she kept all the water nearby- even forming it up in front of her. As Kail approached, Lucia formed a dome of ice, nearly a foot thick.
Unfortunately, Kail had significant momentum built up again- and with his metal attribute energy causing his hammer to swing with much more force than it normally could, combined with a little bit of Pure Body Tempering, he cracked the top of the defensive dome as his hammer came down on it.
Barrett saw water forming outside the dome and settling into the cracks to help seal them. At the same time, some of the ice forming the dome was melted and reformed to perform the same job. Kail continued striking again and again, circling around to cause damage on a wider scale. Soon, it became clear that he was causing damage faster than it could be repaired- and then the top of the dome shattered leaving an opening Kail leaped into.
Lucia had used nearly all of the water she had gathered repairing the shell, and thus she didn’t have much left to defend her. Even as she used her last bit of water to attempt to freeze the area around Kail’s eyes, his hammer came down towards her head- only to be stopped by the arena’s defensive enchantments. Barrett moved down from the stands to congratulate Kail on his victory.