Upon seeing that both guards were dead and Barrett was not, the member of the Macaio clan turned around and started running. However, before he could get more than ten meters away, Barrett pulled out a lead ball, charging it with berserk energy and throwing it. It struck the second tier cultivator straight in the back and exploded with energy, leaving only mangled flesh and bone in an area the size of a palm.
“You alright, Kail?”
Kail took deep breaths and held onto his left forearm with his right hand, “Yeah… I’ll be… fine… We need to… leave. Before more… arrive.”
“That’s always the thing, isn’t it?” Barrett walked over to the bodies- because that was all they were now- and searched them. Neither of the guards had a magic bag, but they still had belts loaded with various sorts of weapons. Barrett took them and tossed them into the crowd of people nearby. As for the Macaio clan cultivator’s magic bag, he tore it open as he threw it, scattering the contents into the crowd. “Have fun!”
Kail suddenly found himself picked up by the waist, being half pulled half carried through the streets at a rapid pace. They ran down side streets seemingly without rhyme or reason before finally coming to a stop, with Barrett setting him down.
“Alright. From here, we walk.”
“Where?” Kail asked.
“Out the gate of course. Running out a gate is suspicious. However, I haven’t heard any calls of alarm here yet, so we should be fine.”
“What if they try to stop us?”
“Then I will politely explain that they can either let us through or die.” Barrett smiled, “There’s only first tier cultivators here anyway.”
“You talk like first tier cultivators are nothing…” Kail lowered his head.
“When you’re first tier at thirty or forty? That’s right. Those two guards were third tier, but they were probably around fifty. Sadly for them, they weren’t adept enough at power control to advance further. Getting stuck at a tier doesn’t give any advantage and just shows they weren’t good enough to make the next step. Or maybe they just thought third tier was good enough and lost the determination to grow better.”
At that point, Barrett stopped talking as they walked close to the gate, and out through it. He kept a measured pace, quicker than normal people would walk but not particularly fast for any sort of body cultivator.
Once they were out of earshot of the gate guards again, Barrett continued, “There’s nothing wrong with being first tier. It’s just staying there that is the problem.”
“Uh huh.” Kail nodded vaguely, “Ugh. I don’t… feel great.”
“How bad is it?”
“My head aches and I feel nauseous.”
“How long until you die?”
“What? I don’t… am I going to die?”
Barrett coughed, “Sorry, I forget most people don’t have a good reference for that. Do you think you’ll be fine until we’re over that hill?”
“… I suppose.”
Barrett nodded, “Good. It’s mercury poisoning, probably. Are you using your energy to remove it?”
“… Trying. It’s hard.”
“Keep it up. We’ll head for a place where we can stop.”
Barrett could feel the mercury in his own system as well. It was rather bothersome. He hadn’t had time to remove it in the middle of combat, and in that time it had started to worm its way into his body. He’d just managed to isolate a large portion of it. Unfortunately it had entered his bloodstream so there was no safe way to eject it… but a little bit of damage to stop a lot of trouble was worthwhile. It only took a small wound to guide most of the mercury out.
The real problem was the rest of it. It was working its way into his body and becoming part of it… but not in a beneficial way like the cultivators in the area might do with other metals, nor was it like minerals normal humans might want. Instead, it was replacing proper minerals and compounds. It hadn’t been long yet, so there wasn’t much damage, but Barrett couldn’t use energy to separate it. Well, he could, but it would result in destruction of the parts it had affected, and likely some of the area around. Berserk energy wasn’t meant for finesse on that level.
Fortunately, Pure Body Tempering allowed the body to do things it shouldn’t. As they crested the hill, Barrett had already forced his body to separate from the mercury and removed the last bit. The real problem would be Kail. Barrett couldn’t sense the entire goings on inside his body, but he had likely been exposed to more mercury… and was less able to combat it. The moment they were out of sight of the gates, Barrett picked Kail up once again and ran off the road. Even if the guards didn’t remember they had gone through, the Macaio clan would likely search along all of the main roads.
They found themselves in an area Barrett would have normally considered rocky. However, with the boulders being more pure metals than the normal sorts of compounds that made up rocks, he was tempted to say it was metaly terrain… except that would apply to everything for hundreds of miles around. Regardless, he set Kail down next to one of the boulders in a group, where they could be hidden from most directions.
Kail was still breathing heavily. “I’ve… isolated most of it.” He pointed to his stomach, “Right there. But I can’t get it out.”
“Don’t panic. Just keep it under control. Do you trust me?” Barrett asked.
“I… suppose so.”
“Good. I’m going to stab you. Direct all the mercury out through there.”
“What? Stab-” Kail didn’t even have time to finish questioning when Barrett did that very thing. Berserk energy didn’t easily make a point without something to conform to, but Barrett didn’t have to worry about that in this case. His target was unmoving and he’d had plenty of time to prepare… and he only needed a small length of sharpness. A small amount of blood flowed out, but Barrett was happy to see mercury as well.
“Very good. How do you feel now?”
“Awful. Still feel… sick. Can’t… get any more out.”
“That’s alright…” Barrett said, “You shouldn’t get… much worse. At least not immediately. So, you train your body and metal type energy, correct?” Kail nodded, then grimaced at the movement. “Good. That should make this next part easier. I’m sure you’ve done breathing exercises. This is a bit like that. You’re going to detach the mercury that remains from you.”
“Can’t. Energy… can’t do it.”
“You’re not going to use energy. Just your body. Now, listen to my instructions.”