Barrett breathed in the acrid air, tasting it in his mouth and feeling it scratch its way down his throat into his lungs. It wasn’t nearly so bad as when he had first started traveling toward Crilen, which was good because he didn’t have the luxury of moving out of the area to rest. At the moment, his healing was just barely surpassing the rate of damage… which was actually perfect for training. He didn’t even need to fortify his eyes or lungs anymore, which left his stamina free for controlling his legs and repairing his spinal cord.
As far as the healing of his spinal cord was going… Barrett felt confident. It was maybe twenty or thirty percent functional, enough to have feeling and partial movement. Barrett could have tried to speed up the process even more, but he didn’t want to risk making a mistake. That could require him to spend more time fixing the issue… or maybe even make it impossible to recover entirely. Well, he wasn’t sure about the second possibility- especially with Pure Body Tempering as a factor. Alnherr had already grown back teeth on his own without a true immortal body… Barrett could certainly fix his spine even if it became worse. The question was how much longer it might take.
Kail, meanwhile, seemed to feel no discomfort at all. He merely maintained a look of serious concentration on his face at all times. Barrett could sense Kail’s progress as they moved ever closer to the Metal Sea- though not directly toward it. However, they were now close enough to watch the plumes of gas that rose from it even without being up on a hill, with the sea itself being only a mile away. As they approached closer, not only was the air more saturated but also hotter. Finding water became difficult, but they managed, taking as much as the could whenever they chanced across a stream of water. Purifying it took some effort still.
“Kail,” Barrett asked, “How deep can the Macaio clan’s people follow us?”
Kail shook his head, “I’m not sure. They… they now have access to the Anakoni clan techniques. I don’t believe we could have destroyed all of the copies. However, it can take a year to a decade to prepare the body for the body transformation.” Kail gestured to his golden skin. “That said, any cultivator around the metal sea would have no problem five miles away from the Metal Sea, at least for a short time. Third tier cultivators could likewise at least be able to come as deep as we are… though they may require significant energy expenditures or have to leave to rest. There are generally more practical things to do with training time then attempt to survive close to the Metal Sea, so we should be relatively safe.” Kail took a deep breath, in through his nose… then out from his mouth came a white powdery breath. “Though I wouldn’t want to live here.”
“Me neither. I haven’t gotten anything like a full night’s sleep lately. Unfortunately I can’t unconsciously expel all of this… and the way it leave little other air…” Barrett shook his head. “I’m glad monsters around here are rare.” Barrett sighed, though only shortly. “At least we can be fairly certain we’re not being directly tracked. As we reach the northeast area, we can move away from the sea. Even if they send some men to the next big city, they won’t have enough.”
Kail nodded, “Plus, their influence should not stretch so far. At least, it will be less. Though I can’t guarantee the locals won’t just roll over on their backs like they did around Crilen.” Kail spit, producing more of a cloud of white dust then actual liquid. “I’ll have no pity for whoever they come for next. The Macaio clan didn’t even pretend to not be the ones who slaughtered the Anakoni clan.”
“Yet nobody did anything…” Barrett shook his head, “Sadly, that is too much the way of the world. My family… is yet to be avenged completely.” Melody was still in Durham, living it up like a queen. From what Barrett knew, anyway. She had married some man who took over Barrett’s father’s position… or what should have been Barrett’s eventually. He was certainly no less guilty than Melody and Denton. Plus whoever had hidden the circumstances from the king of Ashia… or the king himself, possibly. Barrett had listened for news while he was in Stredo, but Ashia was barely on the radar. It was one of the smaller countries in the Ostain empire, and the least involved with cultivation. “How powerful is the Macaio clan? What are their strongest cultivators?”
“I… can’t believe you hadn’t asked that yet,” Kail shook his head, “You didn’t even know but helped me anyway… but I’ve already spent too much time expressing my thanks so far. Their strongest cultivators should be… fourth tier. I’m not entirely sure how many, but at least a few.”
“Interesting… I might have expected less…” Barrett thought back to the Leipeka clan. They were fairly prominent in their area, but only had a couple dozen third tier cultivators, and no fourth tier cultivators… or perhaps that wasn’t the case. Their fourth tier cultivators may have been secret… in reserve for defending their main clan grounds or out on other important business. With a skilled member like Kaylani already having reached third tier, it was actually more unlikely they had no one at fourth tier. After all, she was almost inevitably going to reach fourth tier- and Barrett could see her going further. She couldn’t be such a huge exception that there were no others who could reach fourth tier- though there was some chance that they had all joined other cultivator groups. In that case, they wouldn’t be able to help the clan immediately, though it was unlikely they would be immediately available either. That made the most sense. Barrett broke himself out of his thoughts, “Well, Kail… the path to revenge won’t be easy, but given fifteen or twenty years, when you reach fourth tier, you can cause them quite a bit of trouble. Unless you give up before then.”
“I won’t give up…” Kail clenched a fist, “But fifteen or twenty years is a bit… optimistic for a lone cultivator.”
“Then don’t be a lone cultivator. Join a sect. If you remain righteous, the Immortal Berserker Sect would not mind having you as an associate… or if you don’t mind risk, you could be an official member.”
“Can I still take revenge that way?”
“Revenge itself is not evil. However, you must take care not to slaughter innocents. If you have any concerns… talk to someone about it.” Barrett folded his arms in front of his chest, “Even if you don’t join us, we’re still interested in you not becoming a murdering psychopath.”
“Right… so, what risks are there for becoming an official member?”
“Just a slight… 10 to 30 percent or higher chance of death. More or less.”