After the spar with Nilima was over, everything hurt. Well, not quite everything. For example, Barrett’s skin felt just fine- completely unharmed. It was just everything beneath that that hurt. Well, in an hour or so he would be feeling a bit better.
While he couldn’t move his body without making the aches worse, he could gather and train berserk energy. That would actually slow down the healing process… but it would be good for him in the end. Fortunately Barrett had plenty of ways to draw upon anger to convert into berserk energy… the incident with the Silver Blades being the most recent example. Master Hykel had told Barrett not to get too caught up with personal issues- righteous anger for others’ problems was a good starting point for not becoming selfish or unreasonably angry instead of just training berserk energy. Barrett didn’t have much of that sort of thing to think about at the current moment, but he still always kept Master Hykel’s teachings in mind. Being in control of himself was the most important thing, otherwise it didn’t matter how strong he was.
Within a few days Barrett was ready to perform another set of destructions- the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth. It wasn’t a particularly momentous occasion. Most of the others at the Sect had gone through them, and the numbers weren’t particularly special. That didn’t mean he could slack off when performing the destruction, but after that Barrett didn’t have to worry about anything. It was nice not having to worry about regressing, either. The pain wasn’t nice… but Barrett wasn’t really that concerned about it anymore. He was definitely growing more tolerant of pain- but he still kept aware of its existence. Master Hykel had often stated that pain was your body telling you something was wrong, and it shouldn’t be ignored.
The benefits of being at the Sect were obvious. He had more sparring partners and even the option to learn from different teachers. Granted, he only really learned how to use different weapons from them. As Master Hykel’s personal disciple, he could go to him at nearly any time for advice or learning. While he wasn’t necessarily more knowledgeable than the other masters, being able to monopolize Master Hykel’s attention was very useful. Of course, Master Hykel had his own training to do. Barrett avoided interrupting him, though watching him spar was always useful. Even if he didn’t use any sort of amazing technique, seeing his control of berserk energy was enlightening.
Even so, there was only so much Barrett could learn in the Immortal Berserker Sect. That was where its location came in useful. Stredo was very close by, as well as many other groups of people in the vicinity. That gave him many different types of opponents. However, most of the Sects didn’t have such a good relationship with the Immortal Berserker Sect that he could just show up and spar with its disciples whenever he wanted. There were a few scheduled opportunities for that… and then there was the upcoming tournament.
Every two years there was a tournament for second tier cultivators in Stredo. It was an entire month long- plus another month of qualifications before that, for those who weren’t from a group that had guaranteed slots. All told, there could be more than fifty thousand participants. Even though most of the matches were short, that took up an entire month. Having the tournament every two years allowed most cultivators to have two or three chances to participate. In other years that month was filled by alternating tournaments for third and fourth tier, except for every tenth year where there was a tournament for fifth tier cultivators. There weren’t any regular tournaments for sixth tier or higher cultivators, though whenever there were any the stands were full for the few days those particular tournaments lasted.
Though a smaller percentage of people reached later tiers at a quick rate, the tiers covered a wider range of ages, which was how the tournaments for second through fourth tier had approximately the same number of people. At least, it was close enough to still reserve the whole month. Fifth tier cultivators were more rare, but nobody cared if the matches were spread out over more days if it meant they could watch more of them- especially since there were otherwise forty arenas with matches at one time.
Barrett had thought that forty arenas was excessive, but he hadn’t actually comprehended how many people six million was. Even if not all of them were cultivators or interested in joining the tournament, that was still a lot of matches for those that did. Then again, the forty arenas were large enough they could split them into several smaller arenas for the larger tournaments. People at the second tier didn’t need that much room- though they did need some room to maneuver, for the sake of those who used ranged attacks and magic. That meant that the stands would probably be watching four matches at once, but during the early rounds it wasn’t expected to have many particularly interesting fights.
There was no way Barrett wasn’t going to be participating in the tournament. It was an excellent place to test himself against the quality of those in Stredo. Not that he hadn’t experienced some of it but counting old acquaintances, some other Immortal Berserkers, and Simon wasn’t really a complete picture of the city as a whole. Barrett was mid second tier with a higher than average amount of real combat experience, which would put him above most- but there were bound to be decent challenges among so many people. Besides, there would be a lot to learn from fighting over a dozen different people. Maybe up to seventeen different people, depending on how things went. Barrett wasn’t going to say he could certainly win the tournament, but nobody would be so much stronger than him that he didn’t have a chance.