During the whole debacle with the Silver Blades, Barrett had receive only two useful items. One was a set of light armor that could go under normal clothes. It had taken some adjustments to fit him, but it was worth the effort. The other was a magic bag. It was barely enough to fit his armor- his real armor, but it did fit. It even reduced the weight by a good margin. So, of course, Barrett wouldn’t be using it to store his armor most of the time. Wearing the armor was much better for his training.
However, the magic bag was still useful. He could store other things in it, and when necessary his armor. He needed to be able to do that, because the mission required him to be able to face off against late second tier opponents without any weapons or armor- or at least without metal weapons or armor. Given the location was the Southern Metal Sea, that made sense. If his weapons and armor could be used against him, it would be worse to have them.
Right now Barrett was riding out of the Immortal Berserker Sect with Mistress Abels. Master Hykel had already left in a different direction with someone of similar build and looks to Barrett. Normally Barrett wouldn’t have been worth the time of two masters- his own being an exception- but this was related to the sect. He had become a target of the Silver Blades because of grudges between their groups. In causing them trouble, he had been put in danger. If it was a personal grudge, he would have had to handle it on his own, or at most with Master Hykel’s assistance. Since it was related to the Sect, taking a mistress’ time for an afternoon wasn’t a big deal.
Not that they expected anything to happen. Mistress Abels was only there in case something went wrong. Whoever the Silver Blades had watching the Sect for him- and they would have someone watching, even though it had been two years- would likely not act anywhere near Stredo. They had very good ways to investigate incidents happening nearby. They would still take note of where ‘Barrett’ went, however. If they followed his path away from Stredo, they would guess which city he was going to next… and not find him there, because ‘Barrett’ would be back in the Sect.
Mistress Abels was going with Barrett just in case they had someone else watching and they decided to attack near the city. She would at least be able to tell him if he had to be worried about someone following him. However, even if they took note of where he went, they likely wouldn’t follow him for long since he didn’t currently look much like himself. Even though the Silver Blades also had a grudge against the Immortal Berserker Sect as a whole, they didn’t have the manpower to spare to cause problems for every single member that left the Sect, nor would the be willing to risk too many incidents. If they got caught by Stredo even once, they would be in much more trouble than just having some trading sanctions and being banned from the tournaments. They could even face annihilation.
Thus, Barrett was probably safe. Likewise, the stand-in for him would be returning to the sect quickly. Within a few hours Barrett found himself northeast of Stredo, far enough that he could barely see it even though it was fifteen kilometers across and full of exceedingly tall buildings.
“You should be safe,” Mistress Abels nodded, “But perhaps it’s best not to mention you’re from the Immortal Berserker Sect until you get a city or two away, just in case.”
Barrett nodded, “Thank you. I just wish I was strong enough to handle all of this on my own.”
“Well, if you find anyone who can actually solve all their problems on their own… let us know! We could use someone special like that. For now, however, we have to rely on each other.” Mistress Abels grinned, “You knocked a few teeth out of one of our bigger enemies. I’m glad to help.”
Barrett was heading to the northeast to get to the Southern Metal Sea because all of the metal seas were to the north, approximately. All of the ones he knew about, which were four areas vaguely located in cardinal directions from a central point. The Southern Metal Sea just happened to also not be to the south of his current location. There weren’t any places that would always be to your south, no matter where you were. Except the south pole… and maybe some mysterious danger zones he’d heard mentioned that may or may not actually have been real.
A few days after leaving the Stredo area, he arrived in Yudale. There was nothing special about Yudale in particular. It was just a cozy little town with a lot of farmers and ranchers and a few inns for people passing through. It was those passers through that Barrett was interested in. Travelling alone was boring… and suspicious. Not that there weren’t people traveling alone, but being part of a group made one stand out less.
Barrett found a small group to travel with as a guard. The pay was basically irrelevant to him. The only point in his life where a handful of coins would have been relevant was when he was living under his cousin and aunt’s oppressive authority.
By ‘a small group’ Barrett actually meant a single wagon. There was a mother and her two children, though they were still young adults like Barrett, a son and daughter. They were transporting a wagon of alcohol as well as some other odds and ends they had picked up like wool. Normally, their journey would be safe and they would go without guards, but this time they heard there were bandits nearby and thought it wise to hire a guard. That was usually enough to deter bandits- they usually preferred unguarded merchants who would hand over a part of their goods or some money in exchange for their life. If there was to be actual conflict, they couldn’t be sure none of them would die. Thus, a cheap guard was enough… and Barrett had armor and a weapon, which made him look like a guard. They didn’t really care if he could fight.