Barrett found that he just walked right out of the city. He didn’t even know if he needed Simon’s distractions or not. There were so many people, and the guards only did cursory checks. They barely even glanced at him as he went past. Was a change of clothes and just not looking like what they expected really enough?
There was nobody to ask about that. Simon was still inside the gate, and Barrett waved goodbye to him. Barrett didn’t know how to thank him. He’d heard the soldiers going through the city, asking about him. They didn’t quite raid houses, but they certainly combed the city for him. They even offered a reward for information leading to his capture, as if he were some sort of mass murdering bandit. It was a very generous reward as well. However, Simon and his wife kept him safe, and didn’t even seem slightly tempted. There were a large number of accusations made against him, but they took his word. Of course, all the crimes he was accused of were false, but even so he was grateful that they trusted him. They were good people, and remained that way, which seemed rare enough.
Barrett thought he would have to think of some way to pay them back in the future. Money was no good, since no amount of money could compare to the help and kindness they gave. On the other hand, what else could he give? They didn’t really need anything. Still, he added their names to a much smaller and nicer list than his other one.
Barrett was overwhelmed by what he saw at the recruitment event. There was a large variety of people, both those recruiting and those hoping to be chosen. Each group had a certain area assigned to them. At the edge of the event were archers, because they needed more space to display their skills. Barrett saw someone hit the bullseye of a target from one hundred meters. He thought it was an impressive display, and the person who did it also seemed to think that, but the recruiter just shook their head. Then, they moved to a position twice as far from the target. In one smooth motion they pulled an arrow from their quiver, pulled it back, and fired. The arrow flew through the air, not straight, but almost as if it were wandering back and forth. Yet, it still ended up at its target. Not just the bullseye, but splitting the arrow. Was that even possible? Barrett had seen soldiers try such a feat- from a lesser distance- and the first arrow always deflected the second. Besides, they were usually not sharp enough to do so- and the arrow fired here was no different.
The mages and wizards and other magical people were even more astounding. Barrett didn’t know much about magic. He only knew his bandages were magical because there was no other way to have a roll that never ran out. That had to be magic. The bandages probably had a limit, they just hadn’t reached it yet, and kept their appearance. They were still amazing, and practical… but not flashy. The magic users for the recruitment drive were definitely flashy. Their tents glowed, and some of them floated off the ground. They demonstrated fireballs, and lightning. Some even made illusions of giant beasts. Not that they felt like illusions when they roared and swung their claws at people. Barrett was glad he wasn’t one of those standing up close.
The various types of warriors were also impressive in their own way, swinging around giant weapons, crushing boulders… Some had skin that couldn’t be pierced by weapons, and there were sparring matches that made the ground tremble. Barrett appreciated their straightforwardness. He could understand what they were doing, even if he wasn’t nearly strong enough to do it himself. If he had been… things would have been different.
Barrett toured around the whole event, taking in everything. It took several hours just to see the whole thing, and read the name of every group. He could tell that some of the groups were more prestigious than others. Their recruiters were more impressive, and they had many people clamoring to join them. Barrett wasn’t sure what to try first. He wasn’t going to overestimate himself and say he had a chance to get into something top quality, but he supposed that depended on their criteria. He certainly didn’t have large amounts of muscle…
Then, Barrett noticed one last place. He’d thought it was an empty lot between two tents, but it turned out to not be the case. Instead, taking the place of a large tent or sparring field, there was a single table and chair. At the table was a large man, rippling with muscle… though compared to some Barrett had seen, he actually looked almost skinny. He was leaning back in the chair, hands behind his head, feet up on the table, eyes closed like he was napping. A wooden sign leaned up against the table, with the words “Immortal Berserker Sect” scrawled on it. It was odd, and made the whole thing stand out.
Crowds of people were standing around, lining up to try out for the groups on either side, but everyone seemed to ignore the man at the table. Barrett had some ideas about what that meant, but he couldn’t be sure. Regardless, he was intrigued.
Barrett walked up to the table. “The Immortal Berserker Sect? Can I join?”
The man lazily opened one eye. “Why?”
“Because I want to be strong, so that nobody can tell me what to do.”
The man’s eye looked up and down over Barrett. “Nope. Not good enough.” Then he closed his eye, and went back to his relaxed state.
“Not good enough? Why?” Barrett got no response. “If you tell me what isn’t good enough, I can improve. Isn’t that the point of a teacher? If the people you got here were good enough, they wouldn’t need to join.” Still no response came. Short of prying the man’s eyes open, Barrett didn’t know how to get his attention. He wasn’t going to try that… as the man was much bigger than him, and more importantly it wouldn’t leave a good impression anyway. Barrett sighed. He felt he had just missed one of the best opportunities. A sect with no competition… yet strong. They should have been strong. On the other hand, maybe Barrett’s instincts were wrong. Well, he could always try another place… even if he wasn’t filled with confidence in standing out enough to be selected.