Sneaking in and out of cities was a pain. Barrett wondered if he would ever be good enough at earth magic to be able to burrow underground. While he could technically do it at his current level, taking days to go a few hundred meters was not exactly efficient. Besides, most of the digging would be done with his own hands or a shovel at that point- earth magic would only be used for stabilizing the tunnel.
As for learning any other sort of stealth techniques… Barrett doubted they would suit him. Berserk energy didn’t lend itself to sneaking. He supposed he could make his footsteps quiet, but whether it was worth his time to learn real stealth was another question. He didn’t plan to ever need to leap out of hiding and ambush anyone. He also wasn’t going to learn any light or darkness magic.
That said, he was capable of moving quickly enough for it not to be a large problem to sneak past regular people, and since he was leaving Triridge it didn’t even matter if he was spotted.
It only took him a few minutes to be back on the road- metaphorically speaking, since the road wasn’t straight enough for his sake. He found it rather easy to run through uneven terrain at high speed. His progress was much faster than when Master Hykel had taken him along approximately the same path several years earlier. That was to be expected, but it was nice to see the difference between second and third tier in a neutral environment.
The tornado plains once again stood in Barrett’s way. He could go around them- but instead of a single day of travel it would take several days and he would have to travel through some dangerous mountains. On the other hand, Barrett got the feeling the tornado didn’t like him. That was silly, of course, because it just wandered around randomly. Besides, it wasn’t like it would have any reason to not like him… or to feel anything at all. It was just a tornado sustained by extremely powerful magic. With that, Barrett set foot into the Tornado Plains once more.
Two hours later, the tornado came into sight. An hour after that, Barrett was certain it was chasing him. He knew from last time he couldn’t outrun it when it was actually trying. It might still be possible to run back to the east edge of the plains and get away from it that way… but for some reason Barrett didn’t want to do that. He wasn’t going to let it stop him from going where he wanted.
A short while later, the tornado was right on Barrett’s heels. He couldn’t help but turn around to yell at it, “Why are you trying to kill me, you stupid tornado!?”
If anything, that just made the tornado go faster. However, it also made Barrett feel better, so he didn’t care.
The tornado swept him up- there wasn’t anything he could do about that. There was nothing around heavy enough to weigh him down, and he didn’t like his chances of digging a pit to hide in- both because it might not work, and because he felt like it would be giving up. Getting caught by the tornado wasn’t really a better option, though.
Having been caught by it once before, Barrett was better able to control himself as he moved through it. He couldn’t really redirect himself, but he could keep himself from spinning wildly. All it took was some careful control of where his weight was in his body. It may have looked like his arms and legs were flailing wildly, but there was a purpose to it. Finally he managed to stabilize himself so he was consistently facing the same direction. Then a boulder came and knocked him off course.
The second time he stabilized himself he was reading for more larger debris. It only took a bit of effort to push it out of the way or even shatter a boulder, and then it only took a short time to stabilize himself again after the movements.
Finally he found himself both stable and with some time to actually observe things. He whipped around the tornado- there wasn’t much to see in the tornado itself. Just more debris, and in the center where the eye was, nothing. He couldn’t get to the eye, however. Even if he could, it would just catch him again since he couldn’t move as fast as it. Barrett wondered where all the energy came from. Surely it would wear out… except it hadn’t for as long as anyone living was aware. Thus, the chances of it running out in the next few hours were quite low.
Outside the tornado, there wasn’t much either. Just tornado-swept plains. Flat and boring. There were also a few people. Barrett could see them cautiously glancing at the tornado as they moved towards a building in the distance. Wait, a building? There was no way such a thing existed in the Tornado Plains. It wasn’t large, which made it even more unlikely. The tornado would have lifted it up in a second, and that was if it had managed to be constructed at all. It was also strange because someone would have noticed it before. However, it looked completely untouched. Barrett focused more on his eyes, trying to see clearly through the dust and wind. For a moment, he saw it clearly… and then pieces of a dozen swords distracted him for a moment.
The building didn’t seem new, but it also didn’t seem damaged at all. However, the area around it looked freshly dug up. Barrett latched onto a boulder that was coming at him. With his arms and legs wrapped around it, he actually felt more stable, though the bruised ribs weren’t pleasant. As he rotated around to the closest point of the tornado- with the least debris and dust in his way- Barrett concentrated on looking at the figures moving down below. Then he recognized her. That woman.
Barrett didn’t actually know her name. All he knew was that she was one of the Silver Blades. She had been part of the group who tried to kill him in the Southern Metal Sea- the one who ran away at the end while the rest of her companions were dying. Barrett might have called it cowardice, but it probably was the right choice. He probably would have killed her- even if she might have been able to kill him, too. “Stupid tornado! Why are you trying to kill me when you let assassins like her wander around on your property?”