Barrett’s knee smashed into a metal breastplate with the horrible sound of metal wrenching. There was also the sound of metal wires snapping as Kalyani’s steel-like hairs broke from the force placed on them by the pulling opposed with Barrett’s knee pushing against the breastplate- and the berserk energy surrounding Barrett’s arm. Kalyani went flying, but at the same time all of her various weapons struck Barrett in the back.
Barrett’s back suddenly resembled a porcupine… and his particular arena went silent. Then came the sound of metal raining onto the stone. First fell the metal orbs, but Barrett brushed his back to dislodge the spikes and blades. He was glad they weren’t barbed… but he supposed that would be outside of the courtesy of a ‘friendly’ tournament.
Barrett walked step by step toward his opponent, who was now sitting up. With a grating sound, he saw the metal of her breastplate wrench itself back into something resembling its former shape. Then she shook her head, “Ah… I surrender.” She stood up shakily, holding out a hand for Barrett to shake. He did so. “I have trained with actual metal… but your body is almost as strong.” She held up some of her hair to look at- much of which was torn and snapped. “Do you have any idea how long this takes to grow?”
“No.” Barrett shook his head, “I imagine it’s not easy.”
“Well, actually… it’s about the same as normal hair. There’s more work involved though.”
“I… see.” Barrett nodded, “That was a good fight. You are quite skilled… and have very strong roots.”
“Of course. No use to having steel hair if using it rips it out of your head. Let me tell you, it’s really not fun.”
Barrett continued to nod regularly, “Oh yeah, training can be very painful.”
“Speaking of which, you’re filled with holes. Are you going to be okay?”
Barrett shrugged, “I’ll be fine. Most of them aren’t too deep.” Barrett could already feel the bandages wrapping around him gently to help with the bleeding. Tomorrow, he would likely have recovered. At least, with more than half a month of effective recovery he wouldn’t have any real issues.
Barrett sighed when he found out who his next opponent was. “Well… I was hoping to perhaps pass the seventh round, but this won’t be an easy one.”
Reina shook her head, “How unfortunate, to be placed against Ruben. It’s his first match, too.”
Ruben was the first seed in the tournament, from the Raging Fire Sect, He was the one with a tier one immortal body and a top second tier cultivation level.
“Giving up already?” Mistress Seviren asked.
“I’m not giving up so much as… recognizing my limits.” Barrett nodded seriously, “I’ll still give it my all, of course, but he’s been training for about a decade longer than me and he can recover during battle. Plus, there’s the whole fire thing.”
Reina nodded, her long black hair shaking with her head, ”Fire is the worst.” Though she hadn’t been so horribly scarred by the fire in which they had both thought they were the only survivor, it was still a traumatic experience.
“The good news is, even if I lose horribly, it still counts as training.”
“Ugh. I’m glad I don’t have to get injured as part of training.” Reina looked over at Mistress Seviren, “…right?”
Mistress Seviren smiled gently, “At no point in your training will you intentionally get injured. It is not of any use for us. Of course, injuries due to failing to correctly perform a technique are something else.”
“That is less assuring than I had hoped.” Reina smiled lightly and shook her head.
Barrett wished he didn’t know who he was going to be fighting against. He could already imagine himself losing. How strong would someone at the top of second tier be? Someone with healing near the level of Master Hykel? What was worse, Ruben would use fire.
Barrett shook his head. Thinking he had lost already… that would get him in big trouble if Master Hykel heard about it. Thinking he would probably lose was acceptable, but conversely that thought brought with it the small chance he would win.
There was no technique that Barrett had learned to calm his mind, so he did something even better. He thought about the fact that Ruben was a decade older. A decade was two and a half times what he had trained for… but they were thrown in the same tournament. That was frustrating… enough to make Barrett angry. Ruben had a first tier immortal body. He was born with healing that would take Barrett thirty years of training to achieve. Was that fair? Probably. Barrett had been born with some measure of wealth- no that wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. It made him angry. At least… a little bit.
All of the duels would happen at the same time for the seventh round. That meant Barrett went up on the dueling platform in the morning, the same as the rest of those in the tournament. He wasn’t completely recovered from his fear, but he had at least managed to turn some of it into a training opportunity.
Barrett flexed his arm and tried not to think about how his arm and back weren’t finished healing yet. They were well enough to fight, but they still ached.
Ruben stepped up onto the stage. Barrett hadn’t known what to expect, but he was slightly surprised. Ruben was big… Barrett wasn’t so small himself, around one hundred eighty centimeters tall and quite muscular, but Ruben was over two meters tall- and very bulky. That did give him some advantage in reach, which was annoying to deal with. Barrett had also expected him to be outfitted similarly to the other from the Raging Fire Sect, but there were some key differences. Ruben still wielded a halberd, but instead of metal armor he wore something that had a different sort of look altogether. Barrett only barely recognized it from some of the books he’d had to study. Dragon scale. That would make the leather that covered his arms and legs dragonhide, which was both flexible and extremely tough. More importantly, it was very expensive. Barrett had excellent equipment of his own… but now he felt it was inadequate.
“May the best man win.” Barrett greeted.
Ruben didn’t even bother to acknowledge him, merely standing lazily with his halberd resting, looking over at the referee. He only seemed to pay attention once the match officially started.