Branwen swiped her wickedly sharp claws down at him. Even though he was aware of her movements, the speed and ferocity of the attack were impossible to ignore. He narrowly slipped sideways to avoid the first strike from the right but found himself on the receiving end of another strike from the left. He claws lashed across his chest tearing a shallow gouge in his flesh.
Like a wild beast, she continued to lash out at him. Blackthorne dodged and twisted around the attacks but found no openings to exploit. Her movements were tight. Precise. He was certain that his stats were higher, but her skill at fighting hand-to-hand was clearly higher than his own.
The worst part of it for him was the fact that he could sense little from her. He could not feel her thoughts to any great extent, unless that thought was a pure desire to tear him apart. He did feel that much from her.
“Stop playing with him!” snapped Dallen.
Branwen never changed her attack rhythm. She was completely devoted to the defeat of her enemy.
Blackthorne was at a loss. He could not get much of a read from her. Initially, he wanted to see if taking out her owner would cause her to stop her attack. He could barely get anything from her, however. Whether it was her race, an item, her stats, or even a skill he could not say. Even so, while she could not stop his attempt to see into her, she could deny him the ability to find anything useful.
There was no helping the situation. She was a slave sent to attack him at the behest of her master, true, but nothing good would come of him refusing to fight back.
He hopped straight upward to avoid a powerful leg sweep then immediately realized the trap. The world seemingly went into slow motion as she transferred the kinetic energy of her leg sweep into a powerful spinning uppercut.
A blow of incredible strength and ferocity, Blackthorne would be feeling it for days. Rather, he should have felt it. Instead the only thing that Branwen’s fist connected with was a mass of pure darkness.
“Wha—?” asked Dallen even as that darkness streamed toward him with great speed.
Branwen looked on dumbfounded for a split-second then realized what had happened. She took off after the incorporeal cloud, but it was too late. Blackthorne completely engulfed her master.
A lashing wave of pure terror washed over the man. Dallen shrieked in a high-pitched manner and fell to the ground. He clawed at his face and rolled around on the ground as the existential nightmare assaulted every facet of his being.
Blackthorne fully intended to use the same trick that he’d used against Girtablilu. However, Branwen had other ideas. She slapped her hands together then thrust their heels forward in a way that opened her palms. A torrent of flame shot from her hands and engulfed the dark mass.
Pain! Blackthorne’s agonized shout rocked the room. The dragon fire scorched his very essence. In his current form, he could not resist that power and it even did extra damage!
He quickly flew to the other side of her master and revealed his shrieking form. Forced to relinquish her flames due to her master’s proximity, she instead chose to run toward her opponent.
Blackthorne reformed into his human shape then frowned at her. He did not have enough time to counter her movements. Once again, he was forced onto the defensive.
This was a true battle of monsters. He knew in that moment that he had no choice. He had to treat her like the enemy combatant that she was, even if it meant the worst for her. Otherwise, she would take him down and then it would be all over for him.
He began to fight back in that moment. She launched a series of attacks, but the moment before she would have hit him, he shifted into shadow form. Before she could recover, he reformed slightly to her left then punched her where her kidneys should be located. One could never tell with a different species, humanoid or not.
Branwen grunted as his unrestrained strength impacted her body with enough force to send her staggering to the side, but she said nothing else. Her eyes seemed to glow slightly, however that was the extent of her admission of pain.
Blackthorne did not need his draconic sight to see that Branwen was accustomed to pain. Given what her owner had claimed, he had even reformed her body to meet his needs. Nothing about her belonged solely to her.
She unleashed a powerful shout that caused Blackthorne to stagger backwards himself. Her aura was embedded in her voice, and their proximity had increased the potency of both tools.
Instinctively, he clutched at his ears. That was all that it took. One instinctive movement to defend his sense of hearing.
Branwen slammed her elbow into his chest to stagger him further then swept his legs out from under him with a powerful kick to his shins. On the way down, she twisted around and grab his head then went with his momentum. She rammed his face into the stone tile of the court room floor with enough force to send a spiderweb of cracks racing out from the point of impact.
No emotion evident in her gaze, she took him by the hair and raised his head up once more. She slammed his face down again. Any normal man would have been broken completely by the force of her blows. They did rattle Blackthorne for a moment, but his ability for self-recovery was the stuff of legend.
The third time she attempted to slam his face into the ground, her fingers clasped only darkness. Immediately, she hopped back and slapped her hands together. This time, however, it was she who failed to defend against the sudden reversal of fate.
He reformed just before she could use her dragon fire and chopped down on her arms with his right arm while grabbing her face. Multi-tasking to the extreme, he simultaneously called out, “Imperious Burn!”
His fire spell could do no damage to someone of her caliber, but there was more to the spell than damage. Fire produced more than heat, it also made light. He unleashed all of that burning light directly against her eyes.
She finally showed a sign of distress as her feminine shrieked rocked the arena. Blackthorne, swept her legs from under her and copied her earlier move. He rammed her face repeatedly into the ground with stone cracking force.
In this battle of monsters, however, such things were damaging but not lethal. She too had a great ability to recover. She also had one ability that Blackthorne had not counted on. Dragon fire erupted from every part of her body.
Scorched and in pain, he was forced back by those potent flames. However, the fire did not die away.
Branwen rose to her feet then turned to him slowly. The fire that wreathed her body shifted. Though she could not turn into a dragon, the flames took on the form of wings and flaming claws. In many ways the effect resembled what happened during his awakening.
She began to walk toward him with powerful steps that radiated deadly intent. The stone beneath her feet began to singe and then to crack with each step she took forward.
Blackthorne eyed her critically, blood sliding down from his nose and the corners of his eyes. “Fine…” he said, as his eyes began to glow brightly. She wanted to play with fire. He would show her just how much it burned.