A regal looking woman dressed in flowing robes and jewelry came to see Master Hykel. “Teran. So good to see you. Where’s your student?”
“He’s… missing,” Master Hykel frowned. “Why?”
The woman blinked, “Wait, what day is it?”
“The third day of the third week of winter.”
“Oh…” she held up a fan to her face. “I thought it was… I’ll be back later.”
Master Hykel stared as she walked away, shaking his head. “For a prophetess, she’s rather bad with keeping track of what day it is.” He scratched his chin. “She was looking for Barrett? Well… that means he should be back… though with her timing it’s hard to say when.”
Barrett slammed his head into the bear’s jaw. Or maybe it was a dire bear- he didn’t really care. All he knew was that he was hungry and it had gotten in his way.
A few hours later he found his belly full and his body covered by something resembling a loincloth. It wasn’t properly tanned, but it would do for a few days. At least he would be able to go into a city.
Barrett hadn’t really known how much he’d missed trees and easy firewood until he had been without for so long. He’d also missed good food, or at least properly cooked meat that wasn’t full of strange metals. It was nice to be able to eat without expending effort. It was also very good for his recovery. Having a mostly proper balance of nutrition allowed him to make up for the poor start he’d had. Now he was mostly healthy… though anyone who looked at him might say otherwise. At least he could reliably find food that provided easy energy. That would allow him to run the rest of the way back to the Immortal Berserker Sect, where he could finally take a long rest and actually feel safe.
Katja stood guard outside the Immortal Berserker Sect. Normally that wasn’t a position for third tiers who were certain to advance, but she needed the money. It paid well enough, and she didn’t have to slow down her training to go on a mission. Completing destructions in unsafe territory was an iffy proposition, but in the Sect it was perfectly safe to be weak for a day or two. The rest of the time she would be perfectly functional, and even if there really was trouble- and there was never trouble- she would still heal from any wounds very quickly. After all, her tier 1 immortal body meant she naturally healed as fast as a fifth tier Immortal Berserker. Recovering from destructions still took the same amount of time, but recover from normal injuries was swift. Even a fraction of the speed was still faster than a normal third tier Immortal Berserker.
Another week of guard duty and she would have enough for a new spear… and then she might go out on a mission or two. Practical experience was important too.
The area around the Immortal Berserker Sect was wide and open. Thus, Katja and the other guards saw the wild man running towards them from some distance away. He was alone and unarmed, so it wasn’t a cause for alarm.
As he got within a dozen meters, they called out to him. “Halt! Who goes there?”
The wild man slowed down, but still walked slowly towards them. “I’m a member of the Sect. Don’t you recognize me?” The guards shook their heads and readied their weapons. They certainly didn’t recognize this man who wore a loincloth and was covered in scar tissue. Then they felt something. “See? Berserk energy. I’m Barrett, student of Master Hykel. You know me, Frank. Oh, and Katja!”
“Barrett?” Katja frowned and squinted. “What happened to your face?” In a way, it was as if he didn’t even have a face, or even a normal head. There were only small patches of hair on top of his head, and his skin looked melted.
“Lots of things. May I enter?”
“Your identification?” the head guard asked.
“Ah, it got melted with… everything else.”
“Then, give me your hand.” The guard stepped forward, and Barrett extended his hand. The guard closed his eyes and concentrated. “Hmm, indeed, that’s the Immortal Berserker technique.” The guard squeezed Barrett’s hand until it almost broke his fingers. “Seems to not be an illusion.” He turned back to the guards, “You two, do you recognize him?”
Katja shrugged, “Well, if his face was… less melty…”
Frank nodded, “His voice is… a bit scratchy, but with throat wounds like that…”
The guard captain nodded, “Alright then. I’ll escort him inside. Keep watch here.” He turned to Barrett, “Come with me. I’ll bring you to Master Hykel, he wanted to see you as soon as you got back.”
Barrett nodded and followed after him. “Of course.”
They moved swiftly through the streets of the Immortal Berserker Sect. A few people looked at them as the went by, but a man covered in scars escorted by a guard wasn’t a new sight. Perhaps most people weren’t literally covered from head to toe in scar tissue, but it still wasn’t that novel.
The captain knocked on a door. “Master Hykel!”
A few seconds later the door swung open. “Who is it?” He looked at the two, “Oh, Barrett,” Master Hykel clapped him on the shoulder that looked least injured, “Good to see you back.”
“I see you recognize him…” the guard captain nodded.
“Of course. He’s my student, after all. I’d recognize that build and stance anywhere. Besides, he’s only slightly more scarred than I’d seen him before.”
“I’ll leave you two, then.” The guard captain saluted to them both and retreated.
Master Hykel sighed, “Honestly, Barrett, you had me quite worried. Come in.”
Barrett stepped inside, “I had me worried too. This time though I didn’t jump into danger on purpose. It just came looking for me!”
“I already heard from Kail… a fine young man. He was worried that you’d died, so I told him about you and the volcano!” Master Hykel grinned, “You’ll have to tell me the story though. Your whole journey, really. I heard you killed a dozen Silver Blades! I didn’t have such an opportunity myself… though I did shatter a few femurs. It felt like half the Sect participated, actually. Everyone’s been waiting for an opportunity to get them. I’m glad we didn’t have to lose you for it, and not just because I would have wasted a decade of my life finding you if you did.”