By the eighth round of the tournament there were only about one hundred participants remaining. It wasn’t surprising for Barrett to run into an Immortal Berserker as an opponent since a handful of their members had made it to the eighth round along with him.
His opponent was Katja, and she would be a difficult fight. She had trained for a couple years longer than him, and she was in the late third tier. On top of that, she had a tier 1 immortal body. She had the advantage, but that didn’t mean Barrett couldn’t win. If fights only went to whoever had the advantage, nobody would bother fighting.
It wasn’t like Barrett had nothing going for himself either, but a true immortal body was of limited use in combat. Perhaps later when he could heal at ten thousand or more times normal speed, but currently it didn’t matter what he could recover from if he couldn’t recover it in battle.
When the match started, Barrett didn’t bother charging towards her. She didn’t have any advantage against him at range, and if he rushed towards her he would risk being impaled on her spear. Against many others, Barrett wouldn’t worry… but he couldn’t just rely on his armor to protect him against her. Berserk energy wasn’t kind to armor, and her spear wasn’t shabby either.
Barrett approached cautiously, considering his options. Then he flicked his wrist, sending a compressed lead ball flying at Katja while he was still a half-dozen meters away. The ball struck her arm, exploding from the impact and the release of berserk energy, denting the bracer on her right arm but causing no serious damage. Barrett followed up with another throw, but Katja was ready, tilting the tip of her spear to catch the lead ball, causing it to detonate harmlessly. The lead balls couldn’t contain enough berserk energy to damage Katja’s spear and Barrett had nothing more durable- most more durable options would also be many times more expensive and probably not worth the effort and cost… though perhaps having one or two would be good for the future.
Barrett stepped closer, stepping cautiously in a circle around Katja. She held her spear ready to face him at all times, turning with him. One of them needed to find an opening to attack. Then, almost at the same time, they both moved. Barrett read her killing intent, a skill he’d been getting far too much practice with in real battles. While they wouldn’t actually try to kill each other… since the arena would prevent that from happening their attacks were exactly the same as if they truly wanted to kill the other.
Barrett deflected Katja’s thrust with his axe, but couldn’t do so completely. Her spear still struck against his chest, but down and to the side instead of around his lungs and heart. With the slight change in angles, it also deflected off the armor slightly more… but not enough to prevent penetration. Berserk energy was extremely useful for attacking and not so much for defending and Barrett ended up with a bleeding wound in his side.
In return, he continued forward, striking at Katja’s neck. That was the only weakness in her armor that he could aim for as he also deflected the spear to the side. Katja leaned with the pull of her spear, causing Barrett swing to only graze her- still tearing through some of the armor and slightly into her neck.
Blood dripped down both of the Immortal Berserkers, but from their perspectives it was barely anything. They were wounded, but not badly. They also didn’t have to worry about some of the aftereffects of berserk energy- their bodies were already trained to resist any lingering damage from it, whether it was their own or others.
Not letting Katja take the initiative, Barrett stepped forward to stay inside her range, swinging back towards her. The steely butt of her spear came up into his side, breaking a rib on the opposite side of where he had been stabbed. At the same time, his axe slashed across her upper arm.
The momentum of battle took over, each of them exchanging wounds- not intentionally, but just because they couldn’t completely avoid the other while still maintaining their own attacks. Nobody had a strong advantage- Barrett controlled some of the momentum of the fight, but Katja had somewhat stronger berserk energy.
Each of them started pulling strange moves that required pure body tempering to keep their balance or to strike with force from an odd angle. Soon enough, both of them were covered in wounds- mostly minor, some enough to incapacitate normal warriors… but both of them were still standing.
Barrett saw the first wound on Katja’s neck was healed- and many of the others were as well. Not healing, but fully healed. It had been only a minute, and some of the wounds should have been still in the process of healing. Somehow, she was healing more quickly than even her tier 1 immortal body would suggest- and not through pure body tempering, because every wound was healing quickly. That was bad for Barrett because she wouldn’t be hindered by the wounds… but good for him because no matter how quickly she healed, it always took stamina. Even if she had more stamina than him, she wouldn’t have an infinite amount.
Even so, Barrett was finding himself on the back foot. At best some of his wounds had stopped bleeding- no significant healing had taken place. Katja was more trained in berserk energy and had more than Barrett, enough that he was starting to run out. It was a good fight, but she would be the winner.
Barrett wasn’t going to give up- even though this wasn’t a matter of life or death, it would actually be of benefit to both of them to fight until the end. He was just becoming resigned to his loss… until he saw her out of the corner of his eye, watching from the stands. Or maybe it was just his imagination, he definitely didn’t have the time to check. Before he even knew what he was doing, Barrett’s mind was filled with the thought that he had to win, and his body moved on its own.
He raised up his axe over his head for a strike, gathering the remaining amount of his berserk energy. Katja had more, but the overall amount she could control at once was only slightly more than Barrett. His axe came down towards her… but his swing left him open. Her spear, coated in berserk energy, stabbed straight through the chest of his armor, tearing the metal like paper. Then it continued deeper, stabbing into his sternum and deep into his chest… before coming out of his back.
Then the restrictions on the arena stopped the battle with Barrett’s axe resting atop Katja’s head. There was silence for a few moments before the match referee shouted, “Winner, the Immortal Berserker Sect’s Barrett Ravenhall!”
“What?” Katja blinked in confusion. The magic of the arena pulled the two of them apart, Katja’s spear pulling out of Barrett’s chest. “Whaaaat?” This time she was staring at the hole in his chest. “That’s crazy.” Then she laughed, and she kept laughing until Barrett fell forward onto the arena, a moderate amount of blood coming out of his chest. “Oh crap are you okay?” She bent down to him, looking at the hole in his chest, first from the back. “Okay, spine is back in place…” she flipped him over to see his chest, “Heart and lungs back in place.” She patted Barrett on the head, “Nice one. Probably stupid in a real battle though.” Even as she said that, Katja couldn’t help but think about how moving around her organs might be useful in battle. Then she decided she wasn’t quite that crazy.