When Barrett next woke he could see, more or less. Just light and shapes. His eyes hadn’t finished recovering, and they were somewhat dried out thanks to the damage to his eyelids. He waited, laying on his back. He needed to go somewhere, but where wasn’t clear immediately. He watched the sky as the sun moved along to pick out a direction. Something approaching southwest was good enough.
Barrett struggled to his feet. He barely had the strength to stand. Or rather, he was plenty capable of standing- he would probably be dead before he couldn’t stand- but everything hurt when he moved, and he was much more shaky than he should have been. His skin had started to recover… but there were remnants of mercury and metal sand being healed over. He couldn’t be bothered to deal with it… and he didn’t have the means anyway. He was completely sapped of stamina, and needed to eat to recover.
Barrett took one step at a time, his feet scraping on the metal sand. It was hot and unpleasant on the mostly bare muscle there. Barrett felt this was much worse than the time with the volcano. Of course, he was more mobile and conscious, but that was a byproduct of his body being trained to continue functioning in worse condition. He didn’t enjoy it, but he supposed it was probably better than being dead. Or it would be, once it stopped hurting so much.
As he walked, he wondered if Kail was alright. He hadn’t seen him, but it was possible he was also swallowed by the great worm and ended up in the Metal Sea. If that happened… Barrett couldn’t do anything.
While trying to avoid such depressing thoughts, he continued onward. He wished he had something to eat. He had several days worth of food in his magic bag… but he didn’t have that anymore. He didn’t have anything at the moment. His magic bag, even reinforced as it was, hadn’t made it through. Nor had anything else. That was the second thing Barrett would have to solve, if he wanted to go back to civilization.
He trod on at a pace that even a normal person could walk faster than. Going any faster would wear him out, and he didn’t have any extra effort to spare. He was making his way directly away from the Metal Sea, as far as he could tell. The air was becoming slightly tolerable.
Then a giant scorpion came skittering across the sand toward him. Barrett couldn’t make it out clearly, but that was his best interpretation for the tall thin part sticking up above a wide base. He adjusted his fighting plan accordingly.
The scorpion came toward him and grabbed his left arm and torso with its pincers. His ribs creaked and his elbow was on the verge of snapping. Then its tail stabbed toward his chest.
With his free hand he caught it and directed it into one of the the scorpion’s primary eyes. The tail wasn’t meant to bend in that manner, but he used the tiny bit of stamina and all of his strength to do so. The shock caused the scorpion to release its grip and try to retreat, but Barrett was still holding onto its tail. As it tried to pull away, he used it to leverage himself up onto the scorpion’s back. Then he reached for the base of the tail… and wrapped his arms and legs around it.
The scorpion thrashed wildly, trying to throw him off. Its metallic exoskeleton scraped against Barrett’s exposed flesh, but he held fast. The scorpion couldn’t reach him with its claws, nor could it reach him with its stinger. It continued to thrash around, but it wasn’t made to wildly swing its rear to the side, so it couldn’t produce enough force.
Its thrashing continued for several minutes, but it started slowing down. Barrett wasn’t sure if its poison could affect itself, but the bleeding certainly could. With it continuously moving around, the bleeding wouldn’t stop. However, it didn’t seem to know that. All it was concerned about was removing Barrett. It moved toward boulders and slammed into them, but its own tail usually impacted first. Barrett retained his grip until the scorpion finally went limp.
Barrett waited another minute before testing whether its muscles reacted to him moving, then crawled toward the front of the scorpion. Standing up was a waste of energy. He reached down toward the other of the scorpion’s primary eyes. It took both hands, but he managed to rip and tear until he had a chunk of eye, which he proceeded to eat. It tasted terrible, and the texture was both hard and squishy, but Barrett managed to get some of it down. Then he rolled off of its back and lay in the shade next to it for a nap.
After he awoke again, he had some more of his strength back, and started eating anything he could reach. Mostly, that consisted of more eyes. He tried not to let the unpleasant liquids that spurted out go to waste. He hadn’t seen a real river yet, and needed whatever water he could get. Its blood was salty and acidic, but it helped quench his thirst somewhat.
He had to reach his arm through the eye sockets to find more and wished he had some way to start a fire. Fortunately he could at least digest anything that wasn’t toxic, and the scorpions had already proved themselves edible- if untasty.
Several days later, Barrett found himself finally away from the Metal Sea. He barely even remembered the smell and taste of fresh air, and what it felt like to not have his body corroding. Except he wasn’t quite safe. He still had large amounts of mercury in his system, though as he got more stamina he started to purge that bit by bit. It was amazing what he could get used to. He couldn’t directly blame his current condition on the Silver Blades… but they were at least half responsible and if he ever saw them in a place he could get away with killing them, he knew he would. He hadn’t been the one to start their feud… but he might be the one to end it.