The Immortal Berserker Sect had many alchemists, but few who produced poisons of any kind. They were more interested in producing pills to heal people, and poisons were quite the opposite of that. While it could be useful to train immunity, just having the poisons would shed a bad light on them. The same was true all around Stredo, so it was hard to build up an immunity to poisons- and there were so many kinds. An immunity to one poison might help resist another- or it might do absolutely nothing. The hundred poisons pill had let Barrett build an immunity to some poisons, but with each flick of his opponent’s wrist there seemed to be a new poison. He couldn’t even remove the poisons from his body quickly since he needed to concentrate on one type at a time. He also had to continue fighting.
The Silver Blade cultivator kept dodging around Barrett, but it was not like he was completely untouched. However, Barrett hadn’t managed a proper hit yet. At best his attacks had been deflected off of the man’s energy, turning into a miss or just grazing him. Even his stone pits were easily avoided. In return, he tossed poisons into the air or used needles or daggers to administer them. Barrett avoided many of the attacks, but he couldn’t completely avoid all of them. Just a little scrape could be enough to let poison in, and he couldn’t control his blood flow at every single location anymore.
His opponent was fifth tier- he’d encountered fifth tier cultivators from the Silver Blade before on the way back from Ogloni, but he hadn’t fought them directly. Master Hykel had fought them and one had just attacked Barrett from a long distance away. He was stronger now, of course, but being up close meant they were better able to damage him. If he could get a solid blow he could turn the battle… but until that point he was losing and needed Einar to help. However, he was nowhere to be found. Barrett hoped it was due to some plan instead of just unwillingness to fight, but his heart couldn’t help but lean towards the second option.
Suddenly Barrett’s right arm stopped listening to him. He wasn’t sure if it was poison or some unnoticed damage- he couldn’t feel it anymore. However, just because his arm didn’t work didn’t mean he couldn’t make it. Pure Body Tempering was all about that. He held his axe in just his left hand, letting his right arm go limp as he did so, and as was likely expected. As he thought, the Silver Blade man moved to his right to take advantage of his unworking arm. Barrett swung the axe- though it was meant for two hands that didn’t mean he was incapable of swinging it with one. His attack just led his opponent to step in closer to Barrett’s right side, stabbing one dagger towards his spine and one under his armpit.
Barrett wasn’t able to avoid the attack, but that just made his deception more convincing. The damage to his armpit was minimal- the blade went perhaps a centimeter deep into the muscle, though he could tell it was coated in poison. The stab into his lower back went deeper… as it scraped along the side of Barrett’s spine which was now in a different spot than it had been. Moving his spine involved stretching the bones and nerves inside it… but that was something he could do.
At the same time as the attacks, his right arm came up into the right armpit of his enemy, grabbing on just below the shoulder. His arm wasn’t receiving signals to the muscles like it should have, but Barrett didn’t know of anything that could stop him from telling his body what to do regardless. It was obviously better if his nerves could do their job, but a little bit of extra expenditure of stamina was a small price to pay for the results he got.
The other man’s energy acted as a cushion trying to keep him from getting a grip. His fingers couldn’t reach around the whole arm surrounded by the layer of energy… but he could lengthen his fingers as well. For the moment he couldn’t really lengthen the bones, but he could dislocate his joints and still retain grabbing power. His hand was going to complain massively once he could feel it again, but that was what he had to do.
He grabbed on and held the man at arm’s length, but of course his opponent didn’t just do nothing. His right arm wasn’t any longer than Barrett’s so he couldn’t reach Barrett’s neck, but he could attack the arm itself. One of the daggers stabbed into the back of his elbow, while the other went for his wrist. However, because it was the only thing his opponent could reach… Barrett concentrated all of himself into that arm. The attacks met a nearly unbreakable arm… though poison started to run rampant throughout the rest of Barrett’s body.
His right arm could only maintain its grip, but his left arm still had the axe. It swung at the man’s ribs, but didn’t manage to break through his energy. That was what the advantage of a tier brought… but the concentration of his energy on his shoulder and ribs left him open elsewhere. Two stone pits flew out towards his knees from next to Barrett. He tried to dodge, of course, but he didn’t sense them in time- Barrett had previously been using magic to control them, but up close he could command them as part of himself. It wasn’t quite as good as accelerating them with mana, but knees that were only half-protected by energy were breakable enough.
Everything happened in a moment, and though he felt his grip was secure the energy under his hand twisted and the man pulled away. Only one knee was broken, the other merely bruised. Even if he wasn’t a body temperer, any fifth tier cultivator could fight with a somewhat broken body to at least some extent- he could move himself around with energy as a crutch.
Barrett readied himself for the next attack, but the man just stopped. Barrett took a moment to return his hand to how it should be, though he would need to feel it out to make sure he hadn’t messed anything up. He casually sent his stone pits forward to keep his opponent busy, but was surprised when they directly impacted his chest. Was it an illusion? A fake? It shouldn’t have been so easy… but as the man fell forward, Barrett saw Einar standing behind him with a bloody dagger pointed at where his neck had been. “Finding an opening was extremely difficult.” Einar’s eyes- all four of them- looked around the scene, then back at Barrett. Barrett wasn’t quite sure how he talked without a mouth… but then again, it would make more sense if his other facial features were really still there and the extra eyes were an image. “Will you live?”
“Shouldn’t you know that?” Barrett started taking stock of his body.
“You think I can know everything?” Einar shook his head, “I was merely aware that we were the optimal people to place here. That did not mean we would survive or even guarantee that someone else would take out this foe. But you are not listening anyway.”
He was right, of course. Barrett had no time for talking. His body was full of poisons, both in his lungs and some that went directly to his bloodstream from needles or daggers. The physical damage to his body was inconsequential- he wouldn’t bleed to death even if he did nothing. However, his entire body was going fuzzy… or more accurately, his brain was losing touch with everything. First he started with clearing his brain.
Fortunately even his brain had been included in toughness training, so it wasn’t completely destroyed by the poisons. However, as it felt to Barrett, it was clogged up with all sorts of things- and that was just the metaphorical. His blood was also physically sluggish, as if trying to turn into a gel instead of a liquid. Barrett felt his consciousness fading. He hadn’t paid enough attention to the poisons because they hadn’t been inhibiting his ability to fight. He was only just barely able to squeeze some blood flow back into his brain, but there were still so many problems to clear up and his stamina was half exhausted from the fight.