Kail’s unexpected rise provoked the attention of two of the Heavy Blades, who turned to attack him. That gave Barrett an opening to step in and attack them from behind. In a single swing, he swung his axe through the neck of one down at an angle into the torso of the second, tearing through the armor. Barrett couldn’t afford to conserve energy, so killing them in a single attack was a must. The faster he killed the attackers, the fewer people he had to face at once.
Of course, their companions didn’t stand around and watch Barrett kill them. Those on either side of them attacked him. He dodged the swing at his neck as well as the ones targeting his legs, but he couldn’t avoid those and the attack directed at his torso. To the credit of the Heavy Blade who did so, the attack even cut through his under armor and even into his flesh… just a small amount, but enough to truly be considered a wound. The other Heavy Blades moved to encircle Barrett, and he found himself with over warriors around him. For a brief moment, anyway, as Kail managed to divert the attention of four of them.
Even with the effect of the corrosive air on the enemies he was facing, Barrett still had trouble avoiding the attacks of so many. It was only with utmost concentration that he manage to dodge and deflect most of the attacks, and even then he was having trouble finding an opening to attack on his own. Since that was the case, he had to make one.
Barrett stomped into the sand at his feet, using a combination of berserk energy and the last of his admittedly small reserves of mana to send it flying up in all directions. That gave him a single second to move toward one side of the encirclement and chop down two more foes. His remaining berserk energy was starting to become a concern, but he was prepared to overdraft himself when necessary. After all, that was much preferable to dying. That was the same for his opponents, but most of them couldn’t control enough energy at once to stand up to a single attack. In such a case, overdrafting did them little good… if they could even react.
Finally Barrett could count his opponents on two hands, and he planned to cut that down again as quickly as possible. It was possible that not all of the people he had struck down were actually dead… but they would be in the near future, whether or not Barrett survived. There had to be a very large reward on his head… and they also had to still believe they could beat him.
As they moved along with him to surround him, Barrett wasn’t completely sure they were wrong. Still, all he had to do was continue until there were none of them left… he got a slight opening and moved in to chop through the shield of one of them. At the same time, he got a slice along the back of his neck… and a knife in his gut. It was the second tier Silver Blade, and they stabbed right where the axe had gone through earlier. Even so, the dagger only penetrated about two inches into his side, and Barrett retaliated with a backhand swing of his fist, striking their torso and sending them flying.
Barrett had become more sensitive to the state of his own body the more he practiced energy, but that was even more true with relation to Pure Body Tempering. Immediately he could tell the daggers had been poisoned- freshly, unlike the needles. That would pose a problem, since it was a new poison he hadn’t experienced before. Those were always the worst.
Nearby, Kail faced off against several other warriors. Two were first tier and two were second tier. Normally that would have been hopeless odds for Kail, but he was relatively fresh… and his opponents looked as if they could collapse at any moment. Of course, that was only appearances. They were still quite capable of swinging their long handled axes to try to cut him to pieces. It might have already worked, but his body was well trained and he avoided taking any direct hits. He still ended up with several deep cuts around his body, but he’d managed not to die. Then he finally got his chance. He had maneuvered around the boulder and finally got one opponent mostly alone, with his weapon hand toward the boulder. His stolen axe came down, striking the man on the helmet and cleaving it open with the ringing sound of metal on metal.
Barrett sliced across the front of one man’s chest while kicking another in the knee. Then he was faced with merely a handful of opponents. As that suddenly dawned on them, they turned to flee. Most of their mounts were nearby, but Barrett wasn’t planning to let them run. First, however, he went to assist Kail, chopping down one of them while Kail managed to take out the other two.
“Watch out for the last assassin!” Barrett declared to Kail as he chased after the fleeing riders. They had just barely managed to mount up when Barrett started charging toward them. They spurred the steelhead goats as fast as they could… but even if they were fine examples of their species, they were still only so fast. Barrett caught up to them one by one, chopping down the fleeing riders in less than a minute. Then he returned to where Kail was and set to the task of dealing with the bodies.
In fact, more than a quarter of the attackers weren’t yet dead. They didn’t stay alive for long, however. Barrett finished them off… but even if he hadn’t, the corrosive air would have done so as it seeped into their wounds and dissolved them from the inside. That was especially true with their protection fading. Barrett surmised they had another application of it or they wouldn’t have chased so far… but he would search their bags to verify that later. First, he took a steelhead goat and started cutting it up, tossing the meat into the nearby ocean.
Kail sat nearby. “Is it always like this?”
Barrett shook his head, “Of course not. Otherwise there would be no higher tier cultivators. We’re lucky they chose to fight us in a place so disadvantageous to them… though they might have assumed we used the same method as them to resist the corrosion. Then we would have been worse off than they were.”
“Right. But they’re all dead now…”
“Not all of them,” Barrett looked around, “There’s still a third tier assassin. The leader of the Silver Blades. Took off with one of the goats, apparently.”
“Didn’t like their odds of accidentally dying, maybe.” Barrett turned to the side and threw up a mouthful of red and black blood. “Damn poison. Anyway, we’ll have to watch out for her. But we also have to eat,” he fished out some boiled goat meat, taking a bite. “Salty… but tolerable.” He tossed some to Kail, “Eat it before you fall over.”