Perhaps Kail was particularly suited for Pure Body Tempering… or perhaps desperation resulted in exceptional progress. Either way, by the time he ran out of stamina, Kail had managed to remove a tiny drop of mercury. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that impressive, but Barrett knew well how hard it was to first succeed with the more abstract uses of Pure Body Tempering. Of course, his own guidance had been necessary- but it had still been Kail himself who succeeded.
Barrett couldn’t do anything to help him. He wasn’t adept enough at magic to do anything inside someone else’s body, and if he used energy… well, berserk energy would cause more harm than good. It was good for destroying things, but there wouldn’t be much distinguishment between Kail and what he wanted to destroy.
Barrett was pretty sure it wasn’t going to get worse. If it did… Kail would probably die. However, he was currently resting mostly peacefully. Hopefully that could continue.
That wasn’t the only risk, however. It was possible they would be followed. Crilen itself might or might not get involved in the situation, but the Macaio clan certainly would. Barrett didn’t know much about them, but the one example he had said they were arrogant and used to getting their way. One example wasn’t sufficient to judge a whole group… but it was a good indicator. They were responsible for the upbringing of their members, after all. Likewise, if the guards he had with him had a sense of righteousness they would have stopped him.
The Macaio clan had destroyed the Anakoni clan. That was obvious, and while Barrett had no certainty that the Anakoni clan was good either… it was easy to infer they were not evil. Kail was a good example of that, and those at the recruitment event had not immediately called for guards to come capture Kail upon finding out he was from the clan. Instead, they merely weren’t willing to risk him joining them.
On the matter of being followed… they couldn’t remain where they were for long. It wouldn’t be too hard to track them down. Whether it was traditional tracking by looking for footprints or using animals for scent, Barrett couldn’t disguise either. Perhaps they wouldn’t be able to pick out their scent in town- they hadn’t left anything behind and there were hundreds of people around that could be picked out instead. Even so, if they were a large clan they had to have or be able to hire at least enough trackers to search for something on every major road. Perhaps it would actually give him away more to leave the road- but they couldn’t exactly have taken a stop on the road, and they also couldn’t not stop. Kail needed it… and Barrett needed it too. His spinal cord wasn’t finished healing yet, which meant any running around took stamina to have his legs even know they should run.
Barrett took the time to munch on some trail food. It was terrible in taste and average in nutrition. He could have sped up the digestion process, but that wasn’t good to overuse. It was better to take a proper rest where he could, then use other methods when he couldn’t.
Once he had decided it was too risky to stay longer, Barrett looked around their metaly campsite, surrounded by shiny boulders. The traces of mercury still stood out on the ground. He used a bit of magic to gently guide them into a container. It was valuable… but might also be used to trace them. Not that the metal itself was magically enchanted, as far as he could tell. However, leaving it behind would indicate they’d found the right track. If they were uncertain, they couldn’t devote as many people to their trail.
Kail was still passed out, so Barrett tossed him over his shoulder. He normally wouldn’t do that for someone in bad condition, but Kail wasn’t exactly injured anyway. That sort of treatment wouldn’t make him worse, even if he found it uncomfortable. Barrett almost wished he’d spent even more time training his body and strength. Kail was heavy, and more importantly carrying human shaped things was awkward. Well, Barrett could also consider his current circumstances training.
When Kail awoke, Barrett had him walk. It was clearly difficult for Kail to keep up, but he didn’t complain. “Where are we heading?” Kail asked Barrett.
“Right… but toward where?”
“Don’t you live around here?”
“Well, yes,” Kail nodded, “But I don’t know of anything in this direction. Just… the Metal Sea.”
“Exactly. Nobody wants to go there.”
“That includes us… doesn’t it?”
“Sure. We’ll not get too close, for your sake. However, if we get to a particularly monster infested area we don’t have to worry about people following us.”
“Unless the monsters kill us first.”
“Right, but they won’t. Probably.” Barrett shrugged, “Got a better idea?”
Kail sighed, “Not really.”
Barrett glanced at Kail’s face and handed him some trail rations, “Eat this. You’ll need plenty of food. Work on yourself bit by bit.”
They hadn’t seen any sign of pursuit over the last few days- but if they had, that would have meant the pursuers were already on top of them. Barrett just hoped the pursuers were running into at least as many monsters as they were. If they were lucky, the Macaio clan wouldn’t have sent any third tier cultivators in their direction. If that was the case, they could be having a hard time. Of course they would know that Barrett defeated two third tier cultivators on his own. That meant that no matter what they needed to travel with a larger group than just Barrett and Kail. If they wanted to be safe, they would have at least three third tier cultivators or more than twice that second tier. They would also need to be better caliber than the two guards. A larger group might scare away some monsters- but others would find it more of a challenge to their territory.
Barrett found that scorpions seemed to like small groups. At least, they’d been running into plenty of them recently. About two per day. Most of them were small. Not the size Barrett would have considered normal for scorpions- those would haven’t been even worth looking at. Instead, they were about a meter long, not counting their tail which were slightly longer than the rest of their body. Then there was the one that had just appeared in front of them. It was much closer to two meters in length, and maybe two-thirds of that in width. Its tail was closer to three meters long. Barrett wasn’t sure how bad the poison from that would be… but just the stinger was enough to cause some issues. Well, he couldn’t exactly ask it politely to leave. Barrett readied himself to fight as it scuttled closer- thankfully such large monsters were visible from almost the horizon. “Well, Kail… you wanna join in on this one?”