The match between Master Hykel and the necromancer from the Grasping Hand started off with the necromancer creating an area of swirling red and black around himself. It was like blood mixed with pure darkness, though Barrett didn’t see any actual blood involved. At least, not yet.
It was hard to know what to make of it. Other magic was obvious. Fire magic, water magic, earth magic… even wind magic- all affected things he could see or at least feel. Even the illusionist from the Palace of a Thousand Eyes had mostly manipulated sights and sounds. This, however, was harder to understand. Barrett was only sure that it was dangerous, and well deserving of being called a ‘death field’.
Master Hykel didn’t immediately rush forward, but instead attacked by once again throwing balls of lead. Barrett saw it slow down slightly as it moved through the field, and the necromancer dodged out of the way. That told him two things… first that the field didn’t just affect living things and second that the attacks were still somewhat dangerous. In the second case, it might have been that the necromancer wanted to seem more vulnerable, which was also possible. Dodging a bit to the side wasn’t likely to cause him to leave any large openings.
Then tendrils of the red and black magic reached out toward Master Hykel, as if to grab him. Master Hykel dodge several as well as swinging his axe to cut through some of them. Although they had no physical form, the axe’s swing chopped them back- presumably by severing the connection- though they starting growing outward again immediately.
Master Hykel didn’t just let the necromancer have free rein to attack, occasionally throwing more lead balls when he made a chance. While Barrett didn’t see any direct effect, it must have required some energy to deflect the attacks.
Master Hykel seemed hesitant to run into the field, so the necromancer was mostly safe- though Master Hykel’s ranged attacks still weren’t something he could ignore. Barrett noticed Master Hykel wasn’t moving too far away, however, even though that would give him more room to dodge. That meant he likely wanted to find a chance to move in for an attack, though Barrett didn’t imagine staying for long in that field would be pleasant.
As the fight went on, the necromancer added more and more arms reaching out to grab at Master Hykel. Barrett was impressed by his control, and also by his energy reserves. Even if those attacks didn’t drain much energy when they weren’t being physically resisted, they still had to take some effort to maintain.
Even as more arms appeared, however, Master Hykel dodged all of them. That even included the extra pair that came out from the ground beneath him. The arms surged and twisted, but Master Hykel avoided getting touched. Unfortunately, they managed to form a cage around him, expanding their size to fill up all of the gaps, then pulling in toward each other.
At the same time as that happened, Master Hykel charged forward. He slashed through the area in front of him, creating a small opening- but one that wasn’t large enough to avoid being touched. However, the red and black magic didn’t significantly hinder his movements and he kept running right through it. As he did so, Barrett saw him leave a trail in the magic, which became more red than black. Even if it wasn’t blood, it was clear something had been taken as he passed through- or it passed through him.
Master Hykel ran full speed up to the edge of the main field- some five meters in diameter- but instead of plunging into the field, he flung his axe. He immediately had to dodge back from more grasping tentacles that were forming out from the field, and wasn’t successful at avoiding all of them as one plunged straight through his chest. Barrett saw redness being drawn out and moving back along the arm until Master Hykel pulled away. At the same time, however, his axe continued to fly through the air, covered in a mass of berserk energy. The field barely even slowed it down, and the necromancer had to dive to the side to avoid being chopped in half- though he still he still received a gash along one side.
Before anything else could happen, Master Hykel called out, “I surrender!”
There were a few moments before the red and black energy started receding back into the necromancer. “Hmm. Of course you couldn’t do that before injuring me,” he sighed.
Master Hykel staggered over to his axe, then out of the arena. A few steps outside the arena, he collapsed and Barrett started running towards him. He wasn’t the first one to arrive- several others from the Immortal Berserker Sect got there first. However, before they even arrived he was rolling onto his side and starting to sit up. “I’m fine… or I will be. I’ll recover, anyway.” Even though he said that, he did let Barrett carry him away. Or, half-carry him anyway. Even with just his axe, Barrett found that Master Hykel was still very heavy. The best he could do was lend a shoulder, and even then it wasn’t a trivial task to walk with Master Hykel half-slumped over him. Even so he did his best as an apprentice to make Master Hykel look as good as he could in defeat.
“How bad it is?” He asked once they were away from the arena.
“Oh… not too bad. It might take a month to recover to a good level though. Lifeforce doesn’t recover easily. Well, it’s not so bad. If he wasn’t trying to go by the rules, I could be a lot worse. In terms of lifeforce, I’m probably still better off than you after the volcano incident.”
“How do you even fight that?”
“Be stronger. Be better at ranged attacks. Or, if you absolutely have to fight and win… burn your own lifeforce first and use all the energy you can to immediately overwhelm your opponent. If I was a bit stronger and he was a bit weaker, my berserk energy could have destroyed his attacks before they could do much damage. It’s not good at defending against everything, but those sorts of abilities require sustained contact, and are vulnerable to disruption.” Master Hykel frowned, then nodded, “I think, given practice… maybe I could learn to better hold onto my lifeforce. At the very least, that would make someone like him expend more effort. It will take more than a year or two of Pure Body Tempering though.”