Three of the thugs split off towards Barrett’s group. The other half ran in the other direction, presumably to prevent them from all getting caught together. Running in Barrett’s direction where there was only an unarmed worker and a single guard- and the manager, Iokua- seemed like it should have been more optimal than running in the direction with two guards. It was unfortunate for them that the unarmed worker was Barrett.
The lead thug already had a dagger out, and was slightly ahead of the other two who were also drawing theirs. He stabbed it directly into Barrett’s chest, using his momentum to drive it deep and try to bowl past him. However, instead of moving as he expected, he felt as if he tried to stab a wall.
Barrett hooked his ankle behind the first thug’s knee and pushed him backward, then stepped forward to clothesline the other two. None of the moves were optimal for killing… but he didn’t want to do that. Besides the fact that they hadn’t necessarily done anything deserving death… capturing them would be more useful.
All three thugs were prone on the ground, and Barrett sat on them, then removed their daggers from their hands. They couldn’t push him off, even with their combined efforts. At the other end of the alleyway, one of the thugs managed to break past the guards, but the other two were captured.
“Got any rope?” Barrett turned toward Iokua, the manager.
“Yes we- watch out!”
Barrett didn’t even bother turning around as one of the thugs pulled out a second dagger and stabbed him in the back. He reached over and grabbed the hand of the confused thug, then tossed the dagger away. The only visible sign that he had been stabbed were two holes in his shirt, under which could be seen another layer of something that wasn’t skin.
Barrett’s hands were uncovered, and another thug took advantage of that fact. They had several places to hide daggers… and Barrett didn’t care. The dagger’s point depressed the skin on the back of his hand, and the thug barely managed to keep his grip. Barrett shook his head and tossed the other dagger. He knew where they were hiding more but he didn’t care.
“Oh,” Iokua said as he looked at Barrett. “You’re… a warrior?”
“Sure. How else did you think I got so strong?”
“Well… it is possible to get very strong without skin that can resist stabs… that would be especially true for those not native to the Metal Sea. Why work at a warehouse?”
“Money,” Barrett grinned, “Plus I needed a break.” Another thug tried slashing at Barrett’s wrist, to no effect. Barrett’s hand darted out to grab another hand stabbing toward his leg. “Hey! These pants are still good. Don’t ruin the fabric.”
A few minutes later the thugs were all bundled up and ready for the city guard and Kaleo Blacksmith Guild to deal with. They could go about finding who hired them- there was no way they intended to burn down a warehouse for fun, because the city was highly motivated to stop fires. Likewise, anyone with a grudge against the Kaleo Blacksmith Guild would want to avoid retribution and legal action by hiring a third party. Barrett didn’t much care about what happened there.
Iokua laughed, “We’re lucky that you happened to… want a break, as you said.” He started counting out coins, placing them on the table between him and Barrett. “We won’t have it said that the Kaleo Blacksmith Guild doesn’t treat its workers well. It wasn’t your job to discover those men, and you certainly didn’t have to fight… regardless of the actual risk to yourself or lack thereof, you deserve to be paid.” Iokua tapped his fingers on the table, “In relation to that, if you plan to be done with your break a week from now, we could use another escort for a caravan we have going. We already have guards but the current situation implies we might need more.”
Barrett considered for a few moments, “I might be interested.”
“Good… you should be second tier?” Iokua didn’t sound entirely sure. “Your skin easily withstood their daggers.”
“I’m third tier,” Barrett said.
Iokua narrowed his eyes, “Really? You look rather young…”
“Cultivation extends your lifespan.”
“Is that it?” Iokua scratched his chin.
“That’s… uh…” he shook his head, “I don’t personally have any way to judge that… But we do have different pay rates depending on skill level…”
Barrett smiled, “I understand you haven’t really seen me fight. I don’t mind if you have someone assess me. I am third tier.”
“Well, if your actual combat ability is on par with your senses, you should be a great help. Though hopefully we’ll just spend money for nothing. Some might consider it a waste of money to hire guards you don’t need… but not needing them is a good thing in my eyes.”
“I would also like to recommend my friend. He’s nearly second tier.”
“Kail?” Iokua nodded, “He’s a solid worker. Hiring him or just bringing him along wouldn’t be an issue.”
“Are you actually going?”
“Of course. You don’t think I just sit around managing warehouses all the time, do you?”
Barrett shrugged, “Maybe. You have a lot of practice.”
Iokua looked at the guard he had brought over to assess Barrett. “So, how is he?”
The guard raised an eyebrow, panting, “Weren’t you watching? Third tier?” The guard took a few heavy breaths, “If he’s not, then nobody is. He’s almost there on the merit of his body alone.” The guard wiped a small trail of blood off his cheek, “But that energy… dangerous. I wouldn’t want to fight him with a weapon. He’d have even more reach…” The guard looked over at Barrett, “How did you do that trick where it looked like your arm extended?”
Barrett grinned and held his hand out limp in front of him. Then the joints in his fingers dislocated themselves and the skin stretched, “It did extend.” Barrett’s hand snapped back to normal as he willed it.
“Well, that explains it I guess.” The guard looked back at Iokua, “There you have it boss. My official assessment is that he’s solidly into third tier in terms of power with the combat experience to back it up.”
Iokua nodded, “Then, you’re hired! Assuming you still want to be.”
Barrett nodded, “I wouldn’t have come this far if I wasn’t interested. When do we leave?”