Tiburcio was used to breaking his way through enemy lines, not waiting for the enemy. It was a strange feeling, but it was what he had to do. That was how Commander Jordan’s plan went, and those plans hadn’t gotten Tiburcio killed yet so they seemed to be pretty good.
Granted, many of the plans got him almost killed, but they worked out. Then there were the rest of them that went off without a hitch. This time, though, he wasn’t so sure.
He was supposed to face off against a lord- a real lord, one of the strong ones. As far as he knew, that was the whole plan. There wasn’t anything else to it… just “keep him busy”. Tiburcio knew he couldn’t beat someone near the level of the Eternal King- he’d sparred against the Eternal King, after all. But… he didn’t have to win. He just had to last as long as possible. After that… he wasn’t sure what would happen. Maybe after he died, someone else would take over. He didn’t have any time to ask, because the lord had just arrived… just about when he had been told.
Tiburcio trusted the allies at his side to deal with everyone else as he charged forward toward the lord. Tiburcio started with an overhead swing, bringing his warhammer down toward the lord’s head. If he got through the helmet, the lord would be just as dead as anyone else with a crushed head. He hadn’t expected it to work, so he wasn’t surprised when the lord blocked the swing with his own weapon. It was a lucerne hammer, basically just a warhammer like Tiburcio’s made into a polearm.
Tiburcio was forced to step back to not lose his grip on his weapon, and that brought him into the proper striking range for his enemy. The hammer swung around from his left, the same side as his shield- so all he had to do was contort his arm awkwardly and lean so that the hammer skipped off his shield and over his head. Even the angled force almost knocked him off his feet, and he was glad he didn’t block it head on. He would have ended up with a broken arm- at best.
The enemy lord was too quick and too strong. Tiburcio couldn’t get a hit on him, and could barely manage to protect himself. He found himself constantly getting forced back… but he couldn’t lose yet. It hadn’t even been a minute.
Then the lord started chanting. It wasn’t any sort of chant Tiburcio had heard before. Usually they started off with some sort of fancy word meaning something like lightning or fire or dirt or something. Tiburcio didn’t remember the words, but it didn’t really matter. He could see what the magic was going to do and then he would avoid it- or just hit the person using magic.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t even find an opening while the lord was distracted by using magic. To make matters worse… Tiburcio couldn’t even tell what the magic was. The mana was moving around but it didn’t look like it was going to become anything. He didn’t know how to defend against it- but he had seen it before. The same lord had used it on the way over. Weird magic… and then *pop*- his opponent would die. Tiburcio wasn’t great at ki cultivation, but the King had made him practice it, and had even mentioned the enemy lords could do something like that.
All Tiburcio could do was gather everything he could do defend… then he felt himself being torn apart. He had suffered all sorts of injuries, broken arms, torn muscles, cuts, stabs, and almost everything else- but this was worse. He was being torn apart from the inside, and it was agonizing… but he held together.
Tiburcio was sure he hadn’t been physically injured by the attack, but he felt himself vomiting up a mouthful of blood anyway. He could barely keep on his feet or see, and it was mostly by luck that he managed to bring his shield up in time to block a blow that sent him flying… and broke his arm, just like he thought it would.
How long had it been? A minute? Two minutes? Tiburcio wasn’t sure, but it wasn’t really that long yet. He pushed himself up off the ground with his good hand, sinking the warhammer into the dirt as he did so. He couldn’t lose… at least not just yet.
The enemy lord walked toward Tiburcio, almost casually. He wasn’t injured at all, and Tiburcio couldn’t even tell if he was breathing hard… but what did that matter?
Tiburcio couldn’t let him keep the initiative. He charged forward again, but he was blocked once again. The shaft of the lucerne hammer thrust against the neck of his warhammer- threatening to pull it out of his grip and then actually doing so. His warhammer went flying, and the lord prepared to swing his polearm around to finish off Tiburcio.
People said that you couldn’t block with a broken arm, but they were wrong. It just hurt like hell. What hurt even more was swinging a broken arm with a shield still attached. Even so, it had to be done. Hitting someone with a shield wasn’t an especially great idea. If you kept it facing toward them, you basically just pushed them but with your arm not getting the best possible force. A real shield bash used the edge, but that did little good against armor. However, armor wasn’t always an issue. Though the enemy lord was covered in it head to toe, it couldn’t protect everything perfectly. The shield came up from below, behind the crossed polearm- and into the enemy lord’s jaw.
The enemy lord’s head snapped back with a loud cracking sound, and he staggered away. Tiburcio frowned. He had hoped that would break his neck, even if he hadn’t really expected it. Still, at least it had done something. A mark to remember him by- and a broken jaw was a pretty good mark.
Tiburcio supposed he didn’t really need to be remembered- he wasn’t done just yet, even if his left arm was- but things seemed to be going that way. He scrambled around for a weapon, but couldn’t find his warhammer. He settled on a mace- since it was what he found first.
He looked up to see the enemy lord had steadied himself… and could see and hear he was using magic again. His voice was raspy and weird… but magic was definitely happening. Tiburcio’s heart sank. People weren’t supposed to be able to use magic with a broken jaw. Maybe he hadn’t done a good enough job. He wasn’t sure if he could stop the spell- but it was the same one again. He already felt his life was tenuous, and he knew he wouldn’t survive a second one. What was it now… two and a half minutes? He had to do better than that.