Berserk energy flowed through Barrett as he got into the rhythm of combat. Cut, parry, chop, slash, dodge, slice. His opponent matched him at every turn, blocking with tendrils of darkness and forcing him to defend himself from both tendrils and an occasional bolt of blackness- some sort of curse Barrett wanted no part of. If he had to take a hit, he much preferred the tendrils. At most they would bruise him and try to drain his life force… but he had a firm grip on that with his Pure Body Tempering. He wasn’t fourth tier as a body temperer but it still allowed him to resist his opponent as long as he didn’t allow them to do as they pleased.
His opponent of course was likewise fourth tier, recently broken through as a master. Barrett could feel it in the way their magic fluctuated slightly. It wasn’t a lack of control but rather a sudden increase in it, moments where a tendril moved to block something that it shouldn’t have been able to… that sort of thing.
Winning quickly seemed important… not just because of the warning from Einar, but because of the particular attributes of these opponents. Nilima excelled in fighting opponents she could reach directly, more or less. Armor or thin barriers did little to stop her but if she could be kept from approaching then she couldn’t do any real damage. The tendrils of darkness the necromancers used didn’t have any vital organs inside them, so she would have to expend more energy than normal to cause any real damage. Perhaps she could reach through to hit the necromancer behind… she often surprised Barrett with her skill. Maybe she would have been fine without him… in which case Barrett needed to win even more quickly. Perhaps it was Reina in trouble and he wouldn’t be too late.
Just as Barrett was starting to build up momentum sand monsters started popping up from the ground. Though they were not particularly dangerous or hard to defeat, the various humanoid or animal shaped figures got in the way of everything. Barrett couldn’t completely ignore them, so he had to chop a few of them down which gave the necromancer a chance to breathe.
Meanwhile, the necromancer seemed to find no issue pulling energy and mana out of things that were animated as well as the atmosphere itself, so each flick of a tendril collapsed a sand creature and gave their mass of tendrils just a bit more power. Barrett could see the number, size, and reach of the tendrils increasing… he couldn’t let the battle drag on.
He had wanted to conserve some energy for helping Nilima, but he couldn’t afford to think about the next battle just yet. Barrett had to win now… and to do that he needed more energy more quickly. Instead of properly refining the berserk energy from the around him, he could more loosely control it. That meant it would almost certainly damage him as well as causing even more damage to his axe which had been holding up admirably so far. Still, if he could call upon enough at once he could break through the necromancer’s defenses.
Barrett chopped and slashed and cut and sliced and pressed forward. Dodging and parrying wouldn’t matter if his opponent couldn’t take the chance to attack him. It didn’t work entirely that way but Barrett managed to move into a favorable position with only a few hits taken. Berserk energy crackled around him, pulverizing even the dust… along with himself. His body could handle it, but he had taken at least as much damage from the berserk energy he was channeling as the opponent had done to him. The form of the berserk energy around his axe wasn’t a distinct shape, but all parts of it were sharp and deadly as it chopped into a dark tendril, severing it and others next to it. The momentum of Barrett’s axe didn’t stop as he chopped again and again, not giving his opponent time to steady himself. Then there was a perfect opening and his axe sliced through the man vertically, if slightly unevenly.
Even with that, Barrett wasn’t done. He chopped out once again, his axe slicing at the fleeing spirit that appeared a moment later. His head was filled with a mental scream as he sliced through the hazy figure that fell to pieces. Then he heard a physical scream from behind him. It was a scream of pain and rage.
Barrett turned to see Nilima. She dodged and weaved her way among the tendrils of the necromancer she was facing, trying to find a chance to attack. The tendrils slid past her, alternately because of her movements and her deflecting them with her energy. Barrett didn’t see any immediate injuries on her except a couple bruised looking spots where her deflections possibly hadn’t been enough. However, he didn’t waste time trying to figure out more.
He moved in behind the necromancer, not entirely surprised that his attack was blocked even from behind. While he could disguise his killing intent, the amount of berserk energy he was pouring into his attacks couldn’t be hidden even among all the other energy in the area. At least his attack forced the necromancer to duck away and try to turn to face both combatants at once.
Nilima and Barrett circled around the single necromancer, attacking from both sides. Barrett chopped at the tendrils and while the necromancer focused on protecting against those Nilima attacked from the other side. Her energy was adept at traveling through defenses but the tendrils of darkness could at least diminish the effect. Since she couldn’t get close, the distance also caused the power of her attacks to drop off. Most of her attacks just caused slight cuts to appear on the necromancer instead of penetrating inside and destroying his organs.
If they could just keep up their pace they would be able to wear the necromancer down… but that didn’t seem to be an option. Barrett wasn’t sure about Nilima but he personally wasn’t able to keep up with his level of energy expenditure, even with the berserk energy flowing through and around him constantly. The calm face of the necromancer he was fighting didn’t betray any sense of tiredness, though that could have been a bluff. Even so, Barrett was just about empty.
Then something happened to make up Barrett’s mind about how he would act next. Nilima failed to completely slip past a tendril that wrapped around her leg. It solidly caught on for several moments. A giant tendril slammed towards her and she took the hit from it directly. She used the momentum from the hit to pull away but Barrett saw her leg was injured, blackened and unpleasant looking. She looked like she could barely even stand.
It had been some time since Barrett had to overdraft his energy reserves. He knew it was a terrible idea to do just after breaking through, more than usual anyway. However, it wouldn’t do much good if he failed to help Nilima. Barrett reached down inside himself and pulled out berserk energy that he did not yet have as well as what formed the basis of his energy cultivation. At this point, he wasn’t even really thinking about the consequences… or anything.
Immortal Berserkers were supposed to be different. They were supposed to think about things before they acted and use their control over berserk energy to achieve victory. However, it didn’t matter how much control he had if he didn’t have energy. As the berserk energy from deep inside him mixed with all the energies of the Bicentennial Conflux around him, Barrett just pulled on any source of power he could. His muscles and bones ached from the barely controlled berserk energy passing through him and his armor shattered. His axe managed to hold together for another attack, chopping towards the necromancer in front of him.
All of the tendrils formed together into a solid mass on the side Barrett was attacking. Though he would have liked to change trajectories it was too late. Even so, his axe chopped through the entire set of black tendrils… exploding from the collision and sending shards of metal covered in berserk energy into the necromancer’s chest. The necromancer coughed up a mouthful of blood… and then a spirit flew out of them. Barrett had no more weapon, but he swung out with his bare hand, claws of berserk energy extending from his fingertips and slicing through the spirit… but not completely dissipating it as it flew away into the sandy air and out of sight. Then Barrett turned to look at Nilima. She was sitting on the ground clutching her chest. He immediately rushed over.