When the great worm swallowed Barrett, Kail wasn’t sure what to do. He expected it to move for him next. It didn’t. Instead it dived under the sand and headed directly for the Metal Sea. Kail thought to chase after it, but it was much faster than him- much faster than it had been at the beginning of the fight, even. All it left behind were a few half-filled holes of sand and a small trail of mercury on the surface.
Kail stood in shocks for several minutes. Was the man who saved him going to die just like that? He moved toward the Metal Sea, but saw no further sign of him. He waited for a whole day… but saw nothing. He didn’t even consider that another great worm might find him a tasty morsel.
Once the next dawn arose, it shook him from his stupor. Barrett was gone. He was the only one who had seen it. For all the help he had received, he couldn’t do any less than let someone know. The Immortal Berserker Sect. They would want to know what happened. Then maybe he could find some other way to pay back what Barrett had done. He still had some old grudges to repay. Kail wasn’t strong enough to help with that yet, but he would be. He was determined enough for that.
Kail’s journey to Stredo went by without any incidents. No bandits wanted to attack a warrior who didn’t seem to carry much wealth, and any wild creatures… Kail didn’t even think about it as he chopped into them. He barely even noticed that he advanced to second tier due to the influence of the Metal Sea. It was the perfect training environment for the Anakoni clan’s technique, but he didn’t care about that at the moment. He would return there later, but first he had obligations to fulfill.
It was impossible to miss Stredo, which loomed across the horizon almost as large as the Metal Sea itself. In a way, it was larger- it reached up into the sky while the Metal Sea lay flat- but it was still possible to see its ends on the horizon, from enough distance.
All that meant was Kail had to travel the long way around- it was a quarter of a day’s travel even at his speed. Along the way he passed within sight of a number of other places outside the walls of Stredo. Various martial sects, by the look of them. Kail knew that the Immortal Berserker Sect was on the far west side of Stredo, so that was where he went.
Kail almost missed it. Despite the fact it was the size of a large city, there were so many more people in the area that it seemed tiny. Kail wondered if there were more people in and around Stredo than around the whole Southern Metal Sea. It was certainly possible. He couldn’t be sure, however, since the cities around the Southern Metal Sea kept their own governments, and thus information on their exact populations wasn’t as easy to come by. He was also new to Stredo, and only knew it by its reputation as the largest city in the world… or at least the world of which he was aware. He’d never traveled more than a few weeks away from his clan before.
Two guards stopped him at the entrance to the Immortal Berserker Sect. They were large and imposing… but probably not all that much stronger than him. On the other hand, they were third tier… and if he was to base them off of Barrett, maybe they were far stronger than him. Still, they didn’t seem so strong as they might have once.
“Do you have a pass?” one of the guards asked.
“Umm… no. I have word about a member of your sect. Barrett, the student of Master Hykel.”
The guards eyes flicked towards each other, then back to Kail. “You may leave the message with us.”
“I want to speak to him personally,” Kail stood up as straight as he could, speaking with confidence. “He’ll want to see me.”
“We’ll see,” one of the guards said. “You say you wish to speak to Master Hykel, with information on Barrett? Is there anything else? We can deliver that message, but you will have to wait here or in town, if he wishes to see you.”
“That’s fine. The message should be good enough.”
“Very well.” The guard knocked on the gate and related the message.
Kail stood outside the gate, waiting. He wasn’t sure how long the message would take to reach Master Hykel. Maybe it wouldn’t, even. Even if he was around, Masters were important. Though he had spoken confidently, he wasn’t actually sure Master Hykel would believe he had something to say.
Then after about ten minutes there was a loud thumping sound of running feet, and the gates flew open. A man dashed through and stopped in front of Kail, “You have news about Barrett?”
“Umm… yes. You’re Master Hykel?” He looked somewhat like the description… but on the other hand, Kail assumed everyone in the Immortal Berserker sect would fit the muscular human part of the description.
“I am. Tell me about Barrett. What do you know?”
“Well, you see…” Kail took a deep breath. Was he just supposed to say Barrett died? It was intimidating to say that directly to Master Hykel’s face, especially with the intense stare he currently had. Instead, Kail started with Barrett’s story of his journey around the Southern Metal Sea as it was told to him, continuing to about halfway where they met. “Then, a few days after the attack… a great worm came. It… it was nearly a hundred meters long, and wider than a man was tall. It… it swallowed him and retreated into the Metal Sea. I’m sorry. Barrett… Barrett is dead.”
“Really? It swallowed him?” Master Hykel look at Kail.
“It did! Really!”
“Oh. That’s even worse than the time he jumped into a volcano.” Master Hykel shrugged, “If he doesn’t survive that I’m going to have a few words with him!”
“Wha- Barrett fell into a volcano?”
“He jumped into it. To kill someone, and not just because he’s reckless.” Master Hykel shook his head, “Maybe he is dead. It’s too late for me to go save him otherwise. I can’t really help much more. We already did our best to ‘distract’ some of the Silver Blades. Sounds like those who still got through got the worse end of that fight. If he died to a great worm… I guess I’ll hunt them to extinction later. But first I’ll wait. You said he was planning to head back here with you?”
“Then he should return.” Master Hykel folded his arms in front of him, “He hasn’t failed me yet.”