Barrett wasn’t the type to go shouting about having an immortal body, but he supposed it didn’t exactly need to be kept secret. Especially in the Immortal Berserker Sect, everyone was supposed to be allies. “Oh, wonderful!” Barrett couldn’t think of anything more intelligent to declare to this woman’s loud declaration. Katja, he thought she’d said?
Katja clapped her hands together, smiling, “Why don’t you go put on some training armor over there? By the time you’re done I’ll probably be ready to spar.”
As Barrett put on the padding, he realized it would be possible to almost completely eliminate injuries during sparring, with training weapons weapons and real armor… but it intentionally wasn’t that way. After all, part of the Immortal Berserker training methods required getting injured and healing to train toughness. However, there was still heavy padding and such because it also wouldn’t do to be too injured. More importantly, not everyone could know everyone else’s exact level of strength, so mistakes could happen. Barrett knew that nobody wanted to lose more trainees than strictly necessary, and the initial death rates were already high enough.
Barrett walked out with a training axe. It was his most familiar weapon because it was Master Hykel’s specialty, but he planned to try out some more weapons. Another time.
As he walked out, Katja stood up and waved, “Alright, over here!” She had already retrieved a new training spear.
The two of them went over the basic rules, just because it was Barrett’s first time sparring at the sect. Not that the rules were difficult. Don’t aim for the eyes or any other weak points- or be prepared to stop your attack short. Only a limited amount of berserk energy was allowed in attacks. They weren’t enemies, after all.
Katja had already achieved third tier, past 100 destructions. That meant she would be stronger, unless she had been slacking off in training. Either way, they would start slow and Katja would try to match Barrett’s strength.
Barrett immediately found how hard it was to deal with a spear. The Raging Fire Sect had used halberds, but he felt they relied more on strength and their fire energy than on technique. Meanwhile, Katja had plenty of strength and good technique. Barrett couldn’t take a step forward without getting at least a potential bruise on his ribs. He could choose to not move closer, but then he wouldn’t even have a chance to attack.
Barrett managed to knock aside her spearhead- she couldn’t put as much force on the far end as he could. That was his chance to step in… but then the haft of the spear was swinging towards him. He only avoided it because he had seen her do it before. All he managed was a slight hit to her leg as he had to swing while retreating.
He considered that he could probably break the spear, but that wasn’t the point of the spar. Besides, feeling the weight of the bronzewood he knew it was much tougher than it had looked like when Katja broke her previous spear.
Barrett tried to focus on predicting her motions. A stab with a spear seemed simple, but a small movement on her end could make it end up in any number of places. If Barrett predicted it, he could find another opening, and hopefully he would be more successful in his attacks.
He concentrated, watching her movements and trying to sense that elusive feeling of killing intent. As Master Hykel had said, it wasn’t always related to killing, but rather just to the attacks. It could be faked or hidden, but if properly distinguished it could help predict attacks.
He thought he could sense something, but it was faint. Unlike the attacks from the old hag which were extremely threatening and filled with hatred.
Barrett almost wanted to close his eyes, but that would give him only a single chance to succeed. Then, he felt it. It started with gathering of berserk energy. There was nothing subtle about it, like shouting out that an attack was coming. It was just where the attack was coming that was a bit harder to discern. Even so, he felt it.
At the same time as Katja thrust, Barrett swayed to his left and dashed inward. His axe came down and onto her upper arm. Then Barrett felt the pain on his side as they both stepped back from the engagement.
Barrett looked down at his right side. There was a streak of blood- which was rather exceptional, considering the spear was not sharp and so much padding and armor had been in the way. Even Katja’s berserk energy hadn’t been sharp so much as blunt, but the force of it moving along his ribs had been sufficient to cause tearing… and probably a couple broken ribs.
Meanwhile, Katja was cradling her upper right arm. “Haha! That was a good one! We should go again when you heal.”
Barrett nodded, “That was an excellent spar. Tomorrow, then?”
“Huh?” Katja tilted her head. Then she pressed on her arm, and Barrett heard it snap back into place- a sound he was too familiar with. “Why do we have to wait that long?”
“Well, I still need to heal, so…”
Katja frowned, “But don’t you have an immortal body too?”
“I do, but… ah.” Barrett shook his head, “I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I have a different type that helps with smoothly healing tougher wounds, not healing speed.” Barrett could have said he had a ‘true immortal body’, but that would definitely have sounded like bragging. While a little bit of bragging here or there wasn’t terrible, Barrett thought it should be about what one had actually accomplished instead of advantages one was born with. Saying he was the type of person the Immortal Berserker Style was made for would definitely be bragging- especially since he had only barely tied in a spar where she was holding back. Sure, Katja was probably a bit older than him, but not that much.
“Oh.” Katja looked a bit disappointed, then brightened back up, “Well, next time then! You seem to have pretty good combat experience. Not that I’d expect differently from someone who got into a deathmatch on their first day in the Stredo.”
Barrett shrugged, “That was only like… half my fault, at most. I also hadn’t really intended for it to go that far.”