Bartholomew dashed at Ichaival, delivering an uppercut with his steel studded knuckles. Ichaival evaded, sliding down to strike at his knees. Bartholomew leaped over his opponent, landing behind the false archer. He swung his fist, striking a wall of knives instead of Ichaival, falling downward. The false archer was going all out.
Ichaival manifested two portals, sandwiching the feline hero between them, striking him with dozens of knives. Lionel’s protégé stumbled and spat out a large fur ball. It exploded, fragments of it landing in Ichaival’s eyes. The false archer grasped at his eyes, blinded by the attack. Bartholomew yelped and all the knives vanished from his body. He then slammed Ichaival to the ground, scratching his face, leaving a bloody line across his cheek. Ichaival generated a portal, sucking Bartholomew in, transporting him to the other side of the field.
Ichaival cleared his eyes of the fur and dashed at Bartholomew. The man summoned his cat minions, directing them to strike at the false archer. Ichaival summoned his portals, but the cats all leaped in, jamming them like the last fight. I heard loud screeches as knives protruded out from the portal, stabbing into the felines. Damn, how brutal. Still, it cleared up the portal. Bartholomew clicked his tongue, dodging a slash from Ichaival.
“Oh, he learned. Good job,” Shan complimented.
Ichaival created a portal behind Bartholomew and the feline hero immediately jammed it with cats. But, it was a feint. Ichaival created another one in front of it, vacuuming up the cats. He launched each one back at their owner. Bartholomew weaved, avoiding direct contact. While he was preoccupied, Ichaival teleported beneath him, pulling the man downward. For a few seconds, they vanished. Then, Ichaival reappeared and Bartholomew plummeted from the ceiling. He struck the ground hard. I didn’t know if his bones were damaged, but even his feline agility couldn’t save him from such a high fall.
“Gotta give him credit. He’s doing a good job,” Shan complimented.
“Of course! He’ll win for sure!” Felicity agreed.
Bartholomew remained on the ground, not moving. Ichaival launched a flurry of knifes. The hero somehow rose up, covered in sharp projectiles, and a yellow glow emanated from him. The knives puncturing his body dropped out and his wounds healed. He slammed his steel knuckles against each other, snarling with anger.
“What just happened? Bartholomew doesn’t have regenerative abilities,” I inquired.
“It’s his ability, a powerful one. Cats have nine lives, as the saying goes. After sustaining critical damage, his wounds heal, and he gains increased strength. But, it only occurs once,” Tess explained, appearing next to me.
He delivered a strong punch to Ichaival’s jaw. Spit flew out of the man’s mouth and blood dripped down from his nose. Ichaival formed a portal, but Bartholomew delivered rapid punches, before it appeared. When Ichaival finally teleported away, his stomach was exposed, several gashes across it.
Ichaival went on the defensive, teleporting away from Bartholomew each time. Finally, one of the feline hero’s punches slowed down, and Ichaival capitalized. The false archer relieved him of his steel knuckles. Ichaival then stabbed a knife through Bartholomew’s exposed hand. Lionel’s protégé howled in pain. Ichaival swung an uppercut, knocking his foe to the ground.
“Come on! Let’s go!” Felicity shouted.
Ichaival donned Bartholomew’s knuckles with a confident smile. Bartholomew never saw the attack coming. Ichaival punched him in the back, piercing through his clothing. Ichaival aimed at his legs, but Bartholomew rolled away. He then bounded upward, spinning around, smacking Ichaival in the face with a…. tail? Bartholomew continued the assault, striking Ichaival’s face each time, never giving him a chance to form a portal. Ichaival appeared dazed, stumbling around with no sense of direction.
“A tail, really?” I looked over at Tess.
“It is part of his powers,” Tess simply responded.
Bartholomew’s ear twitched, rushing over to a random spot. I noticed the faint glow of a portal. He dove in without hesitation, landing on top of Ichaival, pummeling him with punches. The false archer finally kicked the man off, free to use his portals. He sent Bartholomew up into the air, dropping him down from a greater height than before. Bartholomew struggled, eventually landing on his right arm with a sickening crunch.
“Let’s go! Let’s go!” Felicity cheered.
Ichaival aimed for Bartholomew’s eyes with his blade, but missed after the feline user whipped his tail. Still, Ichaival managed to slash at the man’s face instead, inflicting a gash across his left cheek. The man stared at Bartholomew’s tail, generating a dummy portal. Caught off guard, Bartholomew spun around, his tail facing the false archer. Ichaival shot knives at the tail, pinning it to the ground.
“Good, he’s learning,” Shan said, an impressed look on his face.
Ichaival charged in, slashing at the pinned tail multiple times, before the appendage vanished. Bartholomew’s breathing turned heavy now but he wasn’t quitting. The feline hero snarled, fangs appearing. He knocked down Ichaival with incredible speed and bared his sharp teeth. He missed Ichaival’s neck, puncturing his upper chest instead.
“This is actually one of the best matches I’ve seen from Ichaival,” I commented, surprised by the resourcefulness displayed.
“It’s what he’s capable of. It’ s just things don’t always go his way,” Shan responded.
Bartholomew pushed Ichaival down again, decimating his right arm. Tess folded her arms, her eyes turning serious, more so than usual. Bartholomew lunged, grasping Ichaival’s right arm. He snarled, throwing him down to the ground, attempting to maul the man. Ichaival kicked upward, knocking Bartholomew away, and stabbed him in the right elbow.
“He’s nearing his portal limit. They will be soon reduced to pure fighting without any use of powers,” Tess informed us.
Ichaival fell to the ground, clutching his chest in pain. Bartholomew kept his distance, wincing with each movement. A small portal formed near the feline hero. Bartholomew punched it with his non-injured fist and knives pierced into his knuckles. Ichaival rushed over, tackling him to the ground. They rolled around and Ichaival smacked the man. Bartholomew eventually parried his strikes, clutching Ichaival’s left wrist and twisted it. Ichaival groaned in pain.
“Who wins is determined here,” Tess declared, taking out her notebook.
Both men stood up, obvious pain on their faces. Ichaival could no longer effectively wield a knife with his right hand. Bartholomew struggled, unable to claw at his opponent. Without his fangs and knuckles, Bartholomew lacked any strong offense. It was painful to watch as they missed attacks. Ichaival finally discovered an opening, punching him in the jaw. Bartholomew crumpled to the ground. Ichaival materialized one more knife in his hand. He aimed for his opponent’s neck but only grazed it. The feline hero coughed up blood. Tess leaped down to the field. Ichaival wobbled and fell face first into the ground.
“The match is over. Bartholomew is unable to continue. Ichaival Darryl wins,” Tess announced, pointing at Ichaival.
“Yes! I knew it! I knew….,” Felicity shouted with joy and then the entire area darkened.
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