Barrett could see why nobody lived right next to the Metal Sea itself… and why nobody harvested the valuable metals it contained. There were already corrosive fumes miles away from the Metal Sea, and they only got thicker as he got closer. Even if a body could filter out all the contaminants from the air, at some point there would not be enough other air per breath to function.
A good portion of the air itself was actually corrosive. Barrett felt it burning away at his skin, eyes, and the inside of his lungs. If it wasn’t for training the toughness of all parts of his body, he wouldn’t have lasted more than a few minutes. As it was, he had to filter out as much as he could as well as reduce the amount of air he used. Combined with every step taking concentration to make his legs move at all, he was barely able to keep up. At least he was confident most people wouldn’t be able to follow him.
Though the area around the Metal Sea was hostile to normal life, the particular zone he was in didn’t even support the peculiar sorts of life that lived around the Metal Sea. Apparently further in there were actually extremely strange monsters that somehow survived, but in the sort of middle zone he was in nothing lived.
Barrett took a small break as he reached the top of a hill. The air was slightly more pleasant, since the worst parts of the air were heavier. However, that didn’t mean the air was pure- just relatively less contaminated. He looked down from the top of the hill he was on. The landscape was completely white, as if covered in salt or flour. The air itself was hazy and whitish grey. Down below, Barrett could just barely make out the sea, where jets of air spurted out from near-boiling water.
It was an interesting sight… though Barrett could have never called it pretty. It was too dead and lifeless. Like he would be, if he stayed too long. He had to get back away before it was time to sleep. However, moving toward and away from the Metal Sea each day would keep him from being followed. Whether or not the Silver Blades had any method to track him down, they simply couldn’t follow him. While they might build up resistance to poisons, the air was something else entirely.
He couldn’t be sure that he would be followed. It was possible he had thrown them off to go some other direction. Even if they guessed he was near the Metal Sea they would have to pick the correct direction to circle around and exactly the right distance to even notice his tracks. However, he didn’t think it was overkill to keep doing the same thing. If they sent a fourth tier- or especially fifth tier- member after him, he might not survive if they found him. While the Immortal Berserker Sect might take revenge for him, it didn’t mean much if he was dead.
It was possible for him to fight a fourth tier person at the top of his form… but since he had to constantly devote a portion of his concentration to moving his legs, he certainly wasn’t at the top.
However, even if he wasn’t being followed, Barrett had a good reason to continue with the very unpleasant journey. It was good training. Constant corrosion at a rate near to what he could recover from was fantastic training for his skin, eyes, and lungs. He definitely needed the time away while he slept to recover and expel the remaining contaminants from his lungs… but the harsher the environment that he survived and could recover from, the better the training. Likewise, it helped train Pure Body Tempering… and splitting his attention, since he needed to filter his lungs and fortify his eyes as well as allowing his legs to walk.
If Barrett had been asked seven years earlier what the most painful thing he could think of was… he wouldn’t have even been close to guessing at his current circumstances. Or even most things he had been subject to since then. The pain itself wasn’t so bad. Its intensity wasn’t great… but it never faded and only grew worse throughout the day, and it was everywhere. At least, everywhere on the outside and many places on the inside. His mouth, nostrils, throat, and lungs all burned continuously to the point they bled… at least the first few days. For the last week he hadn’t bled at all, but that didn’t make the process much more pleasant.
Barrett was just glad nobody else was around. If they were, they would have seen a crazy naked man walking around. There wasn’t much to be done about that. Either he wore clothes and let them dissolve, or didn’t wear them to begin with. He was lucky the magic bag he had was magically strengthened and self-repairing. Barrett had actually considered going a bit deeper, but couldn’t because the magic bag needed time to repair itself as well. He was glad Master Hykel had insisted he add those enchantments. As long as it didn’t take too much damage all at once, it would survive. Though considering what he got up to… it needed some upgrade to keep up with him.
Technically his armor could have survived just fine, but the padding beneath could not have… and that would have been very uncomfortable and not as protective as it should have been.
Soon enough Barrett would arrive at the northern side of the Southern Metal Sea. There was a large city there, and he could find a place to stay. He would spend some time there working on recovery, though he would need to earn some money as well. He hadn’t collected much, and he still needed to buy food and pay for lodgings. The food was the bigger part, because he could eat a very large amount, and he needed it to be very nutritious. Around the Southern Metal Sea, it also took a bit more effort to get food best suited to ‘normal’ humans like Barrett.