The second time, Barrett was faster. He knew the route that he wanted to ‘climb’. He’d looked to see where he wanted to go before his first try, but actual experience led him to change a few things. First, it was fine if he went a little slower as long as he had a secure hold on the ground. He just needed to be able to avoid attacks at any time.
Barrett kept most of his weight in his hands and feet- they were at the lowest point with respect to gravity. That made the wind affect him somewhat less. Barrett considered trying to reduce his friction with the wind, but that would require removing his armor. There were multiple reasons not to do that with time being one of them. Instead, he just kept himself as low as possible. It helped to be able to bend his arms in whatever way he wanted so that he didn’t ever need to push away from the floor.
He kept one eye on the floor and one eye on the woman from the Silver Blade. For some people that would be hyperbole, but with his head tilted at the right angle he could do just that. Having both eyes locked one one target would be better, but he needed to see both. Though he’d dodged the first attack by virtue of sensing the killing intent, he didn’t want to miss an attack by relying only on that sense. Barrett was fairly certain the woman could hide her killing intent to some extent. He still sensed for it as well as watching her and the floor, putting one arm in front of the other and one leg in front of the other as he ‘climbed’.
He was reminded of his final ‘test’ for Master Hykel accepting him as a student. He’d barely managed to make it up a cliff- not a small cliff, but not one that was extremely difficult either. His hands had bled and he’d been too afraid to look down, and in the end he had been saved by Master Hykel at the last step. Now, he was easily able to ‘climb’ in harder circumstances, and could even do it while being attacked. After all, he had no fear of failing. One attack wouldn’t kill him unless he got extremely careless, and the fall would be inconsequential. Barrett frowned momentarily. He’d earned that security… but it seemed like that very same knowledge of his safety made him less determined. Unless he was being swallowed by a giant worm or fighting to death in a volcano… Obviously, he couldn’t afford to risk his life all the time, but his day to day training could use some more of something. On the other side, he was a little bit too unafraid of death in combat as well. Confidence was fine, but if he missed the upcoming needle that wanted to go into his eye and possibly his brain, there could be problems.
Of course, Barrett was paying attention to the needle. He didn’t feel like being poisoned by new, exotic poisons- and the needle probably had a least one of those. Instead of dodging, Barrett just used one hand to swat away the needle- and a bit of berserk energy shattered it as well as the Silver Blade’s control over it. Barrett had felt less killing intent that time, but the needle couldn’t just fly out on his own. Barrett had seen the movement to throw it as well as the energy keeping it from veering wildly off course.
Barrett picked up his climbing pace. The climbing itself wasn’t a problem, even with occasional gusts of wind. The stone itself was quite solid, so he didn’t have to worry about it giving way- in fact, it was more than that. Regular rock he could have dug out with his hands with some effort but this was reinforced with magic.
Barrett barely had to move to dodge the next needle, as it actually wavered in its course and almost missed him on its own. Then another one bounced off the armor on his shoulder. He hadn’t seen it or felt the killing intent- in fact, he still didn’t see it even after it bounced off. He only heard the slight plinking sound as it bounced off as well as seeing the dent it left behind. It was nearly strong enough to penetrate his armor- it had probably been aimed at his head instead of his shoulder, but controlling two needles somewhat believably at the same time would be more difficult. Especially with one of them being invisible. That had been her best chance to seriously injure him… but it wasn’t the best circumstances to attack him in.
Unfortunately for Barrett, she continued climbing and managed to get to the safe zone before he could catch up. However, instead of staying to harass him, she threw several more needles before moving through the next door.
As he climbed to catch up to her, Barrett wondered what she was here for. Obviously she had heard about this place somehow- and that meant there must be something she wanted out of this place. Perhaps a treasure or… something. Barrett wasn’t sure, but it was clearly a series of trials designed to challenge people. Not to kill them- because if that was the case they could just focus a small portion of the power Barrett felt around him to do that. There would be no need to have wind constantly blowing and wasting mana. Even if no one was actively controlling it, that would be more efficient.
Without anyone throwing needles at him, the last part of the ‘climb’ was easy enough for Barrett to do. In the safe zone at the end, he took a few moments to rest, digesting a small food pellet to restore some of his used stamina. Then he stepped into the next room.
It was a smaller area than all the rest, and decidedly more dangerous looking. Instead of a longer room, it was nearly square. There were just small safe zones on either side… and a whirlwind of spikes and blades in the center. Barrett didn’t see any signs of the Silver Blade who had come before him.