- Rune Breaker: Chapter 13 – Tales of the Rune Breaker
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 14 – Another’s Darkness
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 15 – The Tenth
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 16 – Daire City
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 17 – The Flaw in the Myth
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 18 – The Trinigon Arena
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 19 – Citadel
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 20 – Audience
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 21 – Sparring Sessions
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 22 – Grace From Outside
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 23 – Old Soldier
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 24 – Bones of the Earth
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 25 – Matasume the Wind
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 26 – Devices
- Rune Breaker: Chapter 27 – Ashes of The Dawn
“I fear I’ve been disrespecting your talents, Brin.” His voice was smooth and friendly, even while winded. “But it was necessary to give the good priests their show. What do you say both of use stop holding back?”
“Who’s to say I’m holding back?” She was less winded than he, but was silently thanking him for this pause to regain equilibrium.
Issacor smiled an enigmatic smile. “Because it was you who made this match ‘no rules’.” Without further commentary, he took a step back and raised the sword on front of him, but not in a striking position. Some circles called it the ‘honor’ stance; both hands on the hilt, guard level with the chest, the flat of the blade presented toward the opponent.
He spoke not a word, but suddenly, the blade split in half, from tip the guard and fell off to either side. Beneath was another blade of polished steel. It was still exceptionally huge, with its length nearly the same, but now the blade was only half as wide and serrated on one side with a sharp tip. There were five circular, bronze seals in a line running a third of its length, starting from the guard. Three were tarnished, but the first and fourth shone brightly under the sun.
The downward stroke Issacor cut to drop into a ready stance was anything but ponderous. Sword, though large, was light in his hands and it showed. “My sword is unsheathed.” He informed Brin please don’t shame me by making me fight someone that’s still fettering themselves.”
A coy grin came to Brin’s face. “Swing that sword at me and see how fettered I am.”
“If you insist.” The blade disciple pushed hard off the ground and charged, whipping his sword around in a powerful horizontal strike.
Brin saw it coming and looked unconcerned. “Reflair!” Her shout bounced around the courtyard in the same way Dactus’s did, but it wasn’t due to a spell, it was the side effect of invoking her power. The bauble on her necklace became filled with light, which raced out of the miniature, glass amphora like mist to become something like a ball lightening.
It raced to her side and into the path of the oncoming attack, taking on the general shape of a tall, woman in regal robes, the protruding, pointed ears marked her as an elf, or what was left of one. The specter seemed to be carrying a spear exactly like the Barratta, but she didn’t use it, instead holding up a bare hand to intercept Issacor’s Faith-Be-Forgiven.
The collision was spectacular, slamming Issacor to a dead stop, but the spectral elf was unmoved as she pushed the sword back from her with enough force to make the blade disciple stumble. Then she turned to Brin. After a moment of non-verbal communication, the specter dissolved into mist and surrounded Brin, visible only as a dim illumination around her and in tiny contrails as she moved.
Watching from the sidelines, Taylin was almost startled out of her wits when Kaiel clapped his hands together loudly. “Ha! That’s why I sensed discarnate energy from her, she’s a sublime docent.” It took him a beat to realize he was talking to someone who wouldn’t understand. “They’re practitioners that use the same power source as we do at the College. They’re not organized like we are though, so there’s not a lot known about just what they’re capable of. What an opportunity; I’m sure even Master Gherin would be impressed with a comprehensive treatise on sublime docents.”
Taylin was watching the proceedings with rapt interest and the link told her that she wasn’t alone in that. “So this is something even you don’t understand?”
“You’ve just gotten lucky thus far, Taylin; I’m not yet even a first rank loreman, there are libraries of information I don’t know. Right now, we’ll both have to watch and learn.”
Issacor got over the initial shock well, his face remaining friendly even as he charged once more with an overhead strike. “Now that I wasn’t expecting. I know ghost-talkers are fairly common east of the strait of Nivia, but here you’re a rare treat to fight. Fortunately, I’ve already learned from being defeated by one, or you’d have me at a complete disadvantage.”
Catching the attack on the Barratta’s haft, Brin pushed away to make room to thrust. “I doubt that person had anyone like Reflair on their side.” She went for the thrust, telegraphing it the whole way. Issacor stepped back out of range.
But the spear didn’t stop where it should have. Instead, its momentum carried it forward, the haft sliding through Brin’s grip as if there were no friction that. It slammed his shoulder hard, turning his body. Brin brought her arm back and the mass of the weighted butt allowed the Barratta to slide back just as easily so she could thrust again in the same way. The luminous mist curled around the weapon as she repeated the process again and again, striking Issacor about the shoulders and chest in impossibly rapid succession.
After a few seconds of being bombarded by the aptly named ‘thousand strikes’ spear, the blade disciple adjusted, first blocking the strikes, then slamming them aside to execute a thrust of his own, which forced Brin to interrupt her rhythm to block.
Suddenly, she reversed tactics and span the spear so that its butt battered the armor over his ribs. On the rebound, she brought it around to thrust for his face. Issacor took one hand off his sword to bat the threat aside with a forearm before aiming a slash at her own ribs.
Brin had a flash of inspiration and stepped into the blow, bringing down her arm to trap the blade in her armpit. In a real battle, it would have been a fatal move, in a ‘points’ match in the Trinigon Arena, it would have lost her the match. But under the protection of the circle of the invincible, in a no rules match, it was a master stroke.
Baring an almost feral smile, she shifted the Barratta so she was holding it one handed at the center and span it so as to swing for Issacor’s head again. If he wanted to avoid being knocked cold, he would have to relinquish his grip.
Or so she thought. Instead, the blade disciple lunged forward, ducking his head under the braining strike and rocking her back on her heals. In the next instant, he pulled back, all the way back, allowing himself to tip over. With Faith-Be-Forgiven caught under her arm, Brin was pulled along with him. Halfway to the ground, he bend his leg and got his knee against her stomach, so that when they hit, he rocked on his shoulders and kicked, sending her tumbling over him—and toward the circle’s edge.
Reflair coalesced around Brin’s arm and the Barratta, driving it downward as Brin went over Issacor’s head. The incredibly sharp weapon bit into the hard ground and stuck, resiting Brin’s body as Reflair forced her to hold on tightly.
It bought Brin a precious moment of clarity to see what her spirit companion was doing. But there was only so much Reflair could do on her own without Brin actively channeling. With no time to do so, it was all up to her physically as the force of Issacor’s throw against the pivot created by the Barratta being thrust into the ground vaulted her higher. She tightened her grip and twisted.
Her body arched against the direction of her momentum and she pushed off against the Barratta. For a surreal second, Brin found herself parallel to the ground, held there by her muscles alone. In the next moment, the Barratta’s shaft flexed and sprang back. She kicked up and over, coming back down inside the circle, if only just.
The cheering and shouts of the crowd cut off short as folks who thought they were going to make some money in that second and those who thought they were going to lose the same exchanged moods. Then the collective roar returned and redoubled.
Brin pulled the Barratta out of the ground in time to block a sudden flurry of slashes from Issacor. She almost stepped back, only to realize that she didn’t have a step left before she would be outside the arena. Evidently, he saw it too, as he stopped slashing to match his blade against the haft of the Barratta.
“If I weren’t a strong believer into putting my all into a fight, I would have conceded after that spectacle.” He said over the crossed weapons. “You have my utmost respect, Brin.”
“And you mine, Issacor. But I worry…”
“If your respect will weather this.” She pivoted on her heal, lifting her rearmost foot so it wouldn’t land outside the circle. At the same time, she twisted the Barratta, which thanks to Reflair, became suddenly frictionless, allowing Faith-Be-Forgiven and the man pressing all his weight against it, to stumble past.
Her self satisfaction fled when the blade disciple’s shoulder slammed her own in passing, and her raised foot came down reflexively to save her from a fall.