Both combatants were becoming worn down. While Barrett looked fine on the outside, that was true of basically anyone Nilima ever fought. Inside, his muscles and joints and one kidney were all damaged. Nilima, meanwhile, had bloodied hands and feet and a cut dripping down her face. Her wounds were less severe, but her body was also less capable of handling large injuries. Neither combatant was seriously harmed so far, but they would both be just a bit slower and weaker. In addition, their energy was a little less than half depleted.
They stood just out of each other’s reach, waiting for someone to make a move. They had to find an opening or they would just take more damage, and they couldn’t afford to let it keep stacking up. Nilima’s killing intent was strong but well concealed- Barrett had also managed to practice controlling his own killing intent. Neither of them could perfectly predict the other’s moves, so any attack was a risk.
However, neither of the two were worried about risk. Even outside of the arena, they had often fought until one or both of them were bleeding and broken on the floor. As if by mutual agreement, they both stepped forward at the same time to attack.
Barrett swept out his leg, forcing Nilima to jump over. As she did so her right leg kicked out, striking him in the chest. Barrett shifted his heart and lung out of the trajectory of the attack. As she struck Nilima’s energy penetrated through his muscle and bone without causing damage, arriving inside his ribcage. Instead of trying to damage his heart and lung the energy bounced around throughout the whole chest cavity. That made it do less damage to any particular organ but it didn’t miss.
Of course, Barrett didn’t just let himself get hit directly in the chest. As he swept his leg under Nilima from right to left, his right arm came up to try to catch her as she jumped over. If he tried to strike her leg she would just deflect it… but his hand caught around her ankle. As his hand grabbed, he changed his leg sweep into a throw, swinging Nilima up and over himself as his other arm touched the ground for balance.
Her other leg managed to swing back and strike him in the wrist, but not in time to stop her from hitting the ground with a thud. However, she was skilled at redirecting energy and though the impact shook her, she bounced back up to her feet as Barrett was forced to let go- his hand no longer worked, and he didn’t act quickly enough to force it to continue grasping through Pure Body Tempering.
Feeling the internal state of his wrist, Barrett could tell that the bones there were more like a powder than broken bits. Nilimia’s ankle wasn’t unharmed either- he’d gripped tightly as he swung her, and she avoided standing on it with her full weight. Barrett’s chest hurt, each breath laborious and each beat of his heart shooting pain through him… but he could still fight.
Barrett attacked with his good arm, striking out with a punch covered in berserk energy. Instead of dodging, Nilima braced herself and struck his fist with a palm. Both of them had gathered their remaining energy for this attack, and as their attacks connected Nilima was thrown backwards a dozen yards. Both contestants stood looking at each other, then down at their respective arms.
“Stupid…” Nilima looked at her broken arm. The forearm was broken in several places, the wrist was at the wrong angle, and her fingers were mangled and twisted… but still recognizably a hand.
Meanwhile, Barrett’s arm flopped at his side, all sense of solidity lost below the elbow. If the bones in his right wrist were a powder, his left arm was basically a jelly.
Nilima sighed, “Dammit. I just made it harder… to beat you next time…” she fell to one knee, then passed out onto the ground.
Barrett shook his head, “How am I supposed to win the tournament like this, huh?”
As the winner was announced, he walked over to Nilima, gingerly picking her up with his somewhat functional hand and arm and carrying her over to the medical station. The restrictions on the arena hadn’t activated- perhaps because their attacks wouldn’t technically be crippling for the other. Either way, they weren’t deadly… and the match merely ended because Nilima was out of energy. Barrett was too, but he had just enough stamina to get over to the medical tent before his body collapsed.
Barrett woke up with Shanta standing over him, clicking her tongue, “What am I supposed to do with this, huh? I can’t stitch bone back together if there’s no bones left!” She saw Barrett had opened his eyes, “How did you let this happen, huh?”
Barrett started to shrug, but decided to only do that with his right arm after the slightest movement hurt his left. “She never did something like that before. Usually she just damages organs.”
“I know…” Shanta said as she set up a series of splints to hold his left arm still. “Fortunately the arena usually just stops her when she hits someone. Repairing organs is hard.” Shanta shook her head, “Yours are… mostly fine. I sewed up that cut on your kidney, and the rest will heal on its own. I’d be more doubtful if it wasn’t you though. As for this arm…” Shanta shook her head. “I’d start taking bone regrowth medicine and pretend it doesn’t have any bones left. I can’t don’t anything for you except perhaps surgically remove all that bone…”
Barrett shook his head, “Let me see if it heals first.”
Shanta raised an eyebrow, “You gonna use one of the special medicines the Immortal Berserkers have? Because nobody else would bother to try to recover from something like this.”
Barrett stopped himself from shrugging again. He wasn’t sure if he would need it, but they did have something that would probably work. They had all sorts of bone related things, though none of them were made specifically to regrow all the bones in an arm. Or half of an arm, but that was still quite a bit. Perhaps it would be faster to just cut it off… but then he’d have to retrain those muscles, and cutting off limbs wasn’t a good habit to get into. Barrett would think about it more later… when he woke up.