Another year passed, and it was time for another second tier tournament. Barrett wasn’t going to enter, however. He was still second tier- but barely. He was at the 92nd destruction, which seemed like it was a significant distance away from 100th, but it really wasn’t. In actuality, it was just one big step. He could choose to break through to the 99th level and then the 100th, but he could just as easily do both together. Well, when he did anyway. He had just finished recovering on his way to the 92nd level, so he had to spend some time stabilizing and cultivating berserk energy until it reached an optimal state.
The tournament would be happening during the time he needed for that, but more importantly he didn’t have any real desire to fight. There might be some new contestants, but Nilima wasn’t going to be participating. Not that she didn’t want to maintain her position, but she couldn’t. She had already broken through to third tier, and would have to wait for the next year to enter a tournament. The next would be four years after that. The third tier tournament was much more prestigious than the second tier tournament anyway.
Barrett could enter still, but he didn’t want to win because of just because he was at the very limit of second tier. Since he couldn’t even have a rematch with Nilima there, it just didn’t interest him. Of course, just because of timing his first third tier tournament would have him near the bottom rungs, but he didn’t mind that.
After Barrett broke through to third tier, he planned to go out into the world. Of course, the Silver Blades still wanted to kill him, but at least he would be better able to handle himself. He wasn’t going to announce his departure loudly, however.
Barrett had to make sure everything was perfect for breaking through to third tier. Unlike regular destructions, he actually had a possibility of dying. Even those without true immortal bodies would just regress if they were unlucky with a regular destruction- which was only really a danger for the first few. However, between tiers there was a large change. Large amounts of berserk energy would attack his whole body, and he had to be ready to deal with it. Carelessness could lead to his death, and it would be his own fault.
Barrett set up the incense- it would dull his senses, but also reduce his sense of pain. If the pain overwhelmed him, he wouldn’t be able to do anything at all. While he could withstand large amounts of pain, Barrett knew it could overwhelm him briefly… and a few moments of complete lack of control would be enough for his brain, for example, to be completely ruined.
It was easier to guide the three strands of berserk energy to where they needed to go. He had much more practice, and not just with controlling berserk energy. Pure Body Tempering and its control of the body had helped him with berserk energy control as well.
As he performed the destruction, energy exploded out from all around his body. It was more than last time, but he was also tougher. Starting with his head, he wrestled the energy under control. Though he couldn’t think about it at the time, afterwards he felt it was easier than breaking through to the second tier. However, during the whole process he could only struggle to keep control and prevent his body from exploding.
As he finished, sweat and blood once more soaked the area around him. If he had to fight anything, he would probably have just keeled over dead. It was all he could do to walk over a few steps to his bed before passing out.
After a week of recovery- which was only about a tenth of the way- he could feel the difference not just in his berserk energy, but his body. Berserk energy flowed more easily, but using Pure Body Tempering techniques as well. He couldn’t be considered a third tier Pure Body Temperer, but he would at least be in the middle of the second tier.
Even at his current level of recovery, his was still healing ten times as fast as a normal person would. He was still going to spend another week to stabilize, then he planned to go on a mission. If it was closeby, he might wait longer, but if there were more travel he could heal on the road. He would already be in a better state than before he broke through to third tier, though his healing itself would be somewhat slower.
Barrett looked through the missions available. Some requests were duplicate copies of those posted in Stredo, while others were exclusive requests for the Immortal Berserker Sect- some from the Sect itself. In total, there were few dozen missions in the range that a late second tier or early third tier cultivator might take on. The Immortal Berserker Sect did their best to get an accurate estimate, designed to challenge the mission taker without too much risk of death. There were magical beasts to kill, bandits, and materials to collect. While Stredo would send the city guard to deal with immediate threats, they also contracted some of the less urgent requests to various other groups.
Since this was the Immortal Berserker Sect, all of the requests would likely involve combat. At minimum, they would be used as a threat to prevent combat from taking place.
After looking through all of the mission, one caught Barrett’s eye. It was a request to help protect a clan from their enemies. That wasn’t of much interest by itself, but the location sparked Barrett’s attention. The Southern Metal Sea. He’d heard of it, and really wanted to see what it was like. Could a sea really be made out of metal? Seas made of water were already impressive enough. From what Barrett knew, it wasn’t even a hyperbole. It really was a sea- or perhaps a massive lake. Either way, it would certainly be an interesting sight. It would take over a month to arrive there… so he would be able to be near peak form. Finding no other mission of interest, Barrett decided on that one. All he had to do was get it approved, and probably get some help from the Sect to leave the area without the Silver Blades knowing where he went.