The next few rounds weren’t much of a challenge for Barrett- his opponents were still mostly early third tier. Following rounds would almost exclusively have mid third tier or higher participants, however. There were still two-thirds of the rounds left in the tournament, but most of the competition had already been eliminated, with less than five hundred participants remaining after five rounds. Thus was the nature of a single-elimination tournament.
Barrett continued watching as many matches of those he knew as he could. The next match of note involved Kaylani again, though this time Barrett was invested in both participants. Against Kaylani was Nilima. Barrett wasn’t sure how the match would go- while it was true that Nilima was more or less even with him and Barrett had beat Kaylani in both their matches, past effectiveness didn’t say anything about the future… nor did it determine what matchups people were good for. Nilima didn’t use any metal, so her fighting style would be unhindered against Kaylani. On the other hand, she also didn’t have any way to attack at long range… not that such issues usually stopped her.
The two made an odd pair on the stage- an armored woman with long metal hair versus a skinny unarmored woman with close cropped hair. As soon as the match started, Nilima wasted no time charging forward towards Kaylani. In response, Kaylani attacked with a veritable wall of spikes launched at her. Instead of trying to get around, Nilima charged directly through- jumping headfirst and twisting her body, avoiding most of the spikes and deflecting the rest of them with the energy she held just above her skin. Barrett saw a few streaks of blood indicating her defenses hadn’t been perfect, but none of the wounds were serious.
Nilima was fast, and had already reached Kaylani before she had time to prepare another attack. Instead, Kaylani’s armor stretched out to meet Nilima’s palm strike, a tactic Barrett found quite useful since Nilima’s attacks could penetrate armor- but she still needed to be close enough to the body. However, as Nilima’s palm struck the armor, she fell forward and to the side, turning the action into a leg sweep while avoiding a counterattack of needles Kaylani had been readying.
Kaylani jumped back and away, but Nilima’s foot just brushed against her ankle, and Barrett could see the energy penetrating in. Based on the way Kaylani landed, it had done some damage. However, she had opened up some space to attack again- and she still had control of the various spikes she had thrown out.
Attacks started coming at Nilima, but she deftly avoided damage no matter what Kaylani did. If the attacks were spread out to cover an area, she slipped through the middle deflecting what remained. If the attacks were concentrated on one area, she dodged around completely, changing directions suddenly as she used her energy to redirect her momentum. Nilima didn’t come out completely unscathed, but none of the wounds were yet more than skin deep. Meanwhile, Kaylani was slightly slower because of an injured ankle, which allowed Nilima to catch up for more attacks.
Nilima expertly shifted her energy around- what looked like an attack with a palm could immediately switch to a leg. Then Nilima used Kaylani’s own extended armor as a vault to flip over behind her, her heel slamming into Kaylani’s back. For her own part, Kaylani didn’t go down from that attack, indicating her internal organs were stronger than most. Normal people or even most first or second tier cultivators would have had their insides turned to mush from that attack.
Nilima used the rebound from that attack to pull away from an elbow attack by Kaylani, leaning down to step forward and attack Kaylani’s legs. Her left hand struck Kaylani’s thigh… and then stuck there as Kaylani’s armor folded over her fist. She tried to pull away or attack but her other hand was already restrained from metal sneaking onto her when she had pushed off of Kaylani to vault over her… and one of her ankles was restrained as well. Even so, Nilima twisted and struck out with her one free leg, coming in contact with Kaylani’s gut.
Kaylani’s face contorted, and Barrett could recall exactly the sort of pain she would be going through… but she had Nilima trapped and her spikes were on the way. Nilima was unable to move out of the way… but that didn’t mean she couldn’t attack. Barrett couldn’t make out exactly what was happening, but he saw energy travelling up Nilima’s leg that was attached to Kaylani’s torso before the arena’s restrictions activated, stopping both Nilima’s attack and the approaching metal spikes and needles. Barrett nodded. Nilima didn’t need the momentum behind her body moving to attack- all of the power came from her energy.
Even though she was the victor, Nilima had to limp away from the arena. Barrett saw her wrists and ankles were, if not broken, very close to it. Unlike Barrett, she wouldn’t heal that much faster than a normal person, so the next few matches would be much more difficult for her. Kaylani, meanwhile, was dripping blood from her mouth and hobbling along on one leg with a shattered thigh and one leg with a broken ankle.
Barrett went to see Kaylani first. “She’s strong, isn’t she?”
“Very. And crazy. She knew I would grab her last foot but kicked me with it anyway. She won one of the second tier tournaments, right?” Kaylani coughed up a small bit of blood.
“Right. You should go get look at.” Barrett waved goodbye and scurried off to see Nilima. She was already leaving the area. “Not going to get a doctor to look at you?”
Nilima turned, “Barrett? I’ll be fine.”
“You’re actually about to collapse, you know.”
Nilima looked around and saw there was nobody else looking, then flopped onto her back, “Of course I know. I don’t know how you fight injured.”
“It hurts,” Barrett grinned. “I’ll get Shanta. You need to recover properly so we can fight later.”
“You just don’t want to lose to me when I’m injured.”
“I don’t… but I also don’t want to win that way,” Barrett shrugged, “I’m planning to win this time.”
“Pfft. We’ll see.”