Barrett knew that delaying could be a problem… but his opponent was also covering himself in a flame aura. That meant he was expending energy. He decided to keep his ready stance, and wait for his opponent to move forward first. He wasn’t the best at taunting… but he gave it a shot. “What, are you afraid? Come on!”
He saw a slight grin under the man’s helmet. “I thought I might give you a chance, but I don’t mind you giving it up.” The man took a step forward and swung his halberd. Flames covered it, and Barrett could feel how hot they were even as he deflected it.
Barrett took a step forward, trying to get inside the man’s reach… but his opponent stepped back at the same time, while thrusting toward Barrett. That caused Barrett to have to dodge, and he ended up at the same distance away.
Occasionally, the man’s halberd would connect with Barrett’s armor. He wasn’t able to perfectly dodge. However, Barrett found that his armor held up. Maybe he didn’t need to be so cautious. He was starting to sweat everywhere… but that was it.
He was uncomfortably hot… but the flame his opponent could conjure could only do so much. Barrett found it merely uncomfortable compared to being directly adjacent to lava. He didn’t feel anything resembling burns, although he did smell a bit of singed hair. In the end, the fire just wasn’t intimidating.
Barrett hoped that his armor was as good as Master Hykel had said, and rushed forward. For that, he took the spear point of the halberd to his left chest. It scraped across his armor, but didn’t penetrate. The force of the blow still twisted Barrett, but he kept some of his forward momentum and pressed forward. Berserk energy and muscle power drove his axe into the man’s arm… and through his armor. The cut didn’t end up being deep, but the fact that Barrett was able to cut through some of it in a single attack was sufficient.
The man rapidly backed off, but Barrett tried to press his advantage. His subsequent attacks were met with more difficulty, as the man had previously thought his armor would be sufficient. Barrett couldn’t get another straight hit, though he a few grazing blows that sliced gouges into the man’s armor- and created small wounds all over him. In return, the man flared with more powerful fire, and Barrett felt burns for the first time as the man struck a solid blow on his chest, knocking him back.
The two took a moment to gather themselves. Barrett took stock of his own state. While his armor was still in nearly pristine condition, it couldn’t negate the force of the blow. He wasn’t bleeding, but his body had still been shaken around. He would probably be bruised all over his chest, but that was better than having a hole through his heart or something similar. He felt some slight burns… but he could almost discount those. The bigger problem was the drain on his own energy. It wasn’t easy to chop into the other man’s armor, even with an adamantine axe. Barrett also wasn’t sure if there would be more enemies to face afterwards…
His opponent was bleeding from a number of wounds. He also didn’t seem to find the fight easy. Barrett was a bit worried about how his attacks were now targeting the weak points in his armor… it meant he had to put more effort into dodging. In their exchanges, he’d had trouble reading his opponent’s attacks. That was expected. His opponent was a higher tier, and his experience allowed him to leverage his power, even with Barrett’s superior equipment.
With all of that said, however, Barrett thought he could win. His opponent certainly wasn’t invincible, and he wasn’t so much more skilled as to make the battle impossible. Barrett had already proved that with the series of wounds, even if none of them were serious by themselves.
Barrett moved forward once again. His opponent thrust the spearhead of the halberd. Barrett knew it would be going for his throat, or the gap between his armor and helmet. He could probably dodge it… but instead he swung his axe.
A slight grin appeared on his opponent’s face. Barrett wasn’t close enough to hit him with his attack, and if he didn’t dodge he might get killed. Then the smile faded when Barrett’s axe chopped through the metal haft of his halberd.
Barrett continued to move forward, swinging his axe again. Now his opponent had only a broken weapon to face him with, and had lost the advantage of reach. He didn’t care that the man seemed to have summoned a raging inferno around him as he chopped toward the man’s torso. His axe sunk in… and the flames that washed over Barrett only served to remind him of how much he had grown.
Barrett breathed out heavily, looking down at his opponent. The wound was deep enough to cut through ribs, and the relatively short flow of blood told Barrett all he needed to know. That was true, even if he didn’t sense the man’s fiery energy dying down from a raging inferno to a campfire… until it was merely a single spark that faded out of existence.
Barrett looked back. The old man already had Jack under one arm, and Clara under his bad arm. “That was alright. I’ve seen better. We should probably get moving.”
Barrett nodded. “Right.” He started past the remaining cells, but then he heard the sound of heavy steps on the stairs. He took a deep breath and readied himself. He just hoped they were weaker than the man he just killed. Barrett couldn’t afford much more.
An armored figure covered in blood stepped into the dim torchlight, surveying the scene before him. Then he nodded, “Not bad.”
“Master Hykel? I thought you were out fighting the leaders of the Raging Fire Sect?”
Master Hykel nodded, “Yep. Just finished taking out everyone.”
“Oh.” Barrett blinked, “Wait, everyone? If you can do that… why am I here?”
Master Hykel grinned, “It’s good for you! Besides, securing their safety is important.”
“Did you really defeat everyone?”
“Darn right. How much were you there for?”
“Just the beginning.”
“Alright. We catch up on how things went… though this isn’t a great place to converse.”