Tyler watched the Aztecah lines for any reaction. Their ranks were silent. Then another champion walked to the bridge. The mage looked carefully at the approaching figure. In contrast to the gaudy ornaments and body size of Metlatl, the approaching warrior was smaller and appeared to have a lithe figure. All he wore was a similar loincloth, a gold-colored quilted vest, and two golden bracers. Two long crystal blades completed his warrior's attire.
Obsidian. Magically treated, though Tyler. He could see the wisps of magic flowing around the sharp daggers and thought about the champion’s appearance. Shit. A fast mover. Tyndur will find it difficult to deal with this one.
“Tyndur!” he shouted. “Let Astrid handle this one. This champion relies on speed!”
At the mention of her name, Astrid immediately walked at a fast clip towards Tyndur’s position. Tyndur, on the other hand, hauled the former champion’s corpse and pushed it off the bridge. He also picked up Metlatl’s club and threw it into the ravine. Then he walked backward, his face still towards the enemy. Only when the two companions passed each other did he turn his back and went to Tyler’s side.
“Had to clear the stage for the next contestants. Speed, sire?” he asked as he took cover behind the stone wall.
“Yes, and congratulations. The next one has few adornments, is smaller in stature, no heavy armor, only two blades. Look at how he moves.”
Tyndur turned his attention to the champion.
“You’re right. That one does rely on swiftness. Also has magically prepared blades,” commented Tyndur.
Could he see the energy of the blades? thought Tyler. Certainly not your usual einherjar.
“I don’t know how fast he is but would have been a problem for me. Thanks, sire. But it would have been an interesting match,” continued the einherjar.
“Astrid is also a warrior who relies on speed and agility. I just hope her swiftness is enough. Unlike her ability, I believe that champion’s quickness is an artificial one. Though of magical origin.”
“I wouldn’t worry about Astrid, sire. She has her tricks.”
Tyler didn’t answer and continued watching the field. He saw that the champion was moving at a regular pace. A ruse or a means to conceal his speed, observed the mage. Astrid was already nearing the bridge. He thought what would happen after the challenge fights.
I doubt if they’ll all go away after the individual battles. Even assuming we win all of them, what then?
At the back of his mind, he quickly ran through his available abilities. He discarded the spells of individual application and focused on area-of-effect ones. But each skill that came to mind was swiftly rejected when he thought about the abilities of Yayauhqui. The witch will have more surprises up her sleeve. He won’t underestimate her again.
“Guys? How’s the healing going?”
“You’re healed, Elder, though the affected muscles are still raw. We are still analyzing the corruption we have discovered.”
“Thanks, X, but we have an immediate problem here. An extremely powerful witch, lots of mages, and a few thousand warriors. No biggie.”
“Sarcasm again, Elder? You’re becoming fond of it,” observed Hal.
“Well, I can’t just tell them my heart and blood are available for their festivities.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t recommend a course of action. We lack information on the abilities of that Aztecah demigoddess,” clarified X.
“I really don’t like it when you guys start a sentence with ‘unfortunately.’”
The two kept quiet. Shit. I am on my own. What to do? What to do? I think I am starting to panic.
On the bridge, the Aztecah champion had finally arrived, though he didn’t step into the pavement yet. The two warriors eyed each other warily. Astrid had her xiphoi out and was holding it in her hands, downwards and away from her body. The Aztecah slowly adopted a fighting pose, his hands gripping his blades aloft.
“I am Pipiyolti! The wild bee of the Empire! Feel my sting, nextltaoalli! You may be a woman. You may still serve as a fitting sacrifice when your head rolls down the temple steps! Name, chontalli?” shouted the champion.
Astrid was quiet for a while. Pipiyolti slowly advanced and was soon on the bridge.
“Call me Kaneis, gaidaros. The nephew of the neighbor of the second cousin of Saruman over there,” replied Astrid, continuing Tyndur’s joke. “And I am the one who is going to “Opa!” your tepolli.”
Tyler saw that the Aztecah champion stopped upon hearing Astrid’s retort. The mage surmised that either the Greek terms Astrid used didn’t translate well through Viracocha’s ring of language or the champion didn’t expect such insults from a woman.
Then the image of Astrid blurred, the figure of the champion instantly followed.
Shit. Won’t be able to see a thing. I was right about the speed though.
The two became visible in a second. Now on opposite sides of the bridge. Pipiyolti was bleeding from a large gash across his chest. He tore away the ruined vest. Astrid appeared unhurt. The images of the two again shimmered and they went back to their original positions. This time, the Aztecah champion was crouching. Tyler could see several small wounds had appeared on the torso and thighs of the man. His own blood covered the man's body. Astrid was lazily standing, slightly moving the now red xiphoi in circles.
Then Tyler heard Yayauhqui shout to the champion.
Immediately, Pipiyolti charged. His speed had lessened as Tyler could see his figure moving to attack Astrid. It was still fast and would have been invisible to ordinary eyes. On the other hand, he couldn’t make out Astrid. The mage could discern the champion’s desperate lunges and movements as the man tried to avoid the Valkyrie’s counter-strikes. Pipiyolti was very skilled, Tyler observed. His acrobatic display, marked at times with desperation, was impressive. The champion could jump high and had quick snake-like actions when attacking or defending on his feet. A final burst of speed from Pipiyolti and the two were again on the opposite sides of the bridge. This time the champion was clearly on his last legs. He was breathing heavily. His back, as well as his thighs, sported several long diagonal slashes. Blood was flowing from the wounds.
Tyler noticed Asem had moved out of cover. Then as Astrid brought her xiphoi into attack position, he saw it.
A thin green and black beam suddenly spurted from Yayauhqui. It hit Astrid’s back.