Kurdak was sent flying again. His 1.9-meter body landed on the ground and beat up a cloud of dust. The sound alone made the spectators wince.
He still stood up, albeit strugglingly.
His left foot was twisted quite badly. His mail was shredded, links bent in unnatural curves, torn in some places.
Legg wasn't much better off either. His body was littered with cuts and his limbs were starting to shake. One of his ribs poked into the light through a deep tear on his chest.
Half an hour had passed. For its entirety, the two had fought like wild beasts. Both ignored their pain and kept pushing themselves and one another to their limits and beyond.
"Still want to keep going?" Legg asked. The mockery in his voice was gone. This man had earned his respect and he had no reason to not treat him accordingly.
Much like the audience, Legg had not expected the fight to last this long. Normal people would have surrendered long before becoming this injured, but Kurdak just kept going.
"I said I won't surrender. You'll only win if you beat me until I physically can't get up," came the man's answer. His voice, despite his effort, was shaky and sounded tired.
"Kurdak! Kurdak! Kurdak! Kurdak! Kurdak!..."
The audience suddenly started chanting. Victory or defeat didn't matter to them anymore. They just wanted to see how far this muscle-head could go.
Legg looked around.
"Hear that? They're cheering."
"I'm not deaf," Kurdak hissed.
The pain clawed at him, but his exhaustion dulled its claws so it was just a nagging pressure on his consciousness.
"Cheering for the weak... Only your people do something so stupid," Legg sighed, almost as if he pitied Kurdak and his fellow humans, "You humans really are gentile."
"Weak?" Kurdak's eyes twitched. He'd fought with everything he had, but he was still just weakling?
"Yes. You're not my match. I respect your spirit but your strength is lacking, and ultimately strength is all that matters. You can't defeat me, which makes you weak."
Kurdak wiped the blood from his face and smiled weakly.
"Fine. I'm not your match. So what? You remember what I told you?"
"I told you you would have to go see a priest when I'm done!" the man roared and charged again.
Legg started. He didn't think the man could still explode with so much strength despite his wounds.
Leguna stood up anxiously. He thought Kurdak was finally going to throw in the towel, but now he was charging back into the fight. Leguna knew he was already well past his limits. So why was he still pushing himself? Did he really want to kill himself?
A pair of sweaty hands clutched Leguna. He knew it was Vera instinctively.
"Let me stop him," Leguna said, "He will die if he goes on."
Doubt flashed across Vera's eyes, but she wiped away her tears and shook her head resolutely.
"Sis!" Leguna shouted.
"He'd rather die than let someone stop him," Vera sighed, "This is his battle, his chance."
"... Do you mean... he wants to awaken his potential?"
All living beings had potential. Even the weakest humans had unimaginable potential. If they could tap into it and utilize it, even a normal human could outmatch a high-order warrior! There were many ways to force potential out. Balor consumed medicinal concoctions. It was the fastest way, but he paid a dear price for it. The cost of this method was that he ruined his potential for growth beyond what he got from that instant.
Self-destructive training was another method. It had the risk of killing you if it failed, and crippling you even if it was successful, but it didn't have any other side-effects.
Kurdak didn't have a choice. He didn't want to use concoctions, and couldn't afford to even if he wanted to. His only option was to walk the line between life and death to hope he made it through.
"Let him do it," Vera whispered.
Leguna turned his gaze back to Kurdak.
"...Alright. But if Boss is certain to die, I will step in, no matter what anyone says."
On the other end of the arena, Annelotte shifted in her chair, getting ready to unleash a spell at a moment's notice. She would not allow Legg to kill Kurdak, she'd kill him before he had the chance.
"Guaaah!" Kurdak leapt and sent his greatsword at his opponent.
Legg took a few steps back and slammed his shoulder into the sword. It cut another small gash on his skin, but did nothing more. In the same movement he slammed a foot at Kurdak.
Kurdak let go of the sword and ducked. He drew his last remaining dagger and rolled around the barbarian. He used his last energy and plunged it into the barbarian's back.
"Gaaaargh" the barbarian bellowed.
His bellow was met by one from Kurdak and the two chased each other's voice in a bloody chorus. Kurdak pushed his muscles beyond their limit as he kept pushing the dagger and they tore. Legg swung his body around, pulling the dagger from Kurdak's grasp. His massive fist pummeled the man's face into a pancake and moments later his leg shoved the man into the sky.
Kurdak fountained blood out of his mouth as he flew, leaving a trail in the air and then on the ground. He lay, twitching, on the ground, completely paralyzed.
"Kurdak!" Vera cried.
It took her every once or restraint to not dash into the arena to her man's side. Leguna couldn't move either, he couldn't use Shadow Blink during the day and the crowd cornered him between thousands of bodies.
Annelotte, however, could move, and she appeared beside Kurdak a moment after his body came to a halt.
The tournament staff were about to move in and stop the fight, but they didn't when they saw her appear. She was a court magus, she couldn't possibly be trying to cause trouble.
Cracked skull… bruises on 20 percent of the body… two severe muscle tears… erratic heartbeat... the diagnoses flooded the girl's mind. She dictated a few spells to help relieve the pain, stop his bleeding, and stabilize his wounds.
Magi weren't priests, but most were trained in basic healing spells and field dressing. It couldn't heal such severe injuries, but the field-work could stabilize the wounded until they got proper medical care.
Legg had no intention to kill his opponent, but the man was so exhausted that the injuries alone were enough to do the job. If not for the werewolf in his blood, he'd have died before Annelotte could get to him, hell, he might have died minutes earlier already.
Annelotte finished her treatment and communicated with Vera.
[Boss's life isn't in danger. Calm down.] she said through the mental link.
She terminated the link immediately and blinked away, back to the booth.
The staff rushed onto the field the moment she vanished and began prepping the two combatants to be moved to a proper facility.
Annelotte gazed at where she'd seen her former companions. The woman and two girls were still there, preparing to leave, but Leguna was nowhere to be seen.
"Do you know that man? Why'd you help him?" asked Geoffrey.
He was displeased with Annelotte because of their previous exchanges, but he decided not to hold her capriciousness against her. She was young and spoilt, and he was a gentleman, after all.
"I admire his bravery," she said curtly.
Leguna stood by the medical room's entrance, leaning against the wall. Strong footsteps echoed through the door for a few moments before Legg opened the door and stepped into the hallway.
"Waiting for me?" Legg asked.
"You beat up my friend, my good friend," the boy hissed.
"He is a warrior with spirit, but he's weak. I defeated him, so what?" Legg answered, wincing as he spoke. It seemed he'd have to see a priest after all.
Leguna clenched his fists, fighting the impulse to take a swing at the giant.
"You're fighting me next."
"I look forward to it," Legg nodded.
"You'll lose the next round." Leguna spat.
"I hope you'll show your gifts," Legg smirked nonchalantly in answer.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter