Instead of getting a response, the woman from the Silver Blade turned around and walked to stand against one wall, glaring at the room in general.
“It’s Victoria,” a voice rumbled through Barrett’s body and into his ears. It wasn’t the gentle but powerful whisper of the glowing figure in the center of the room, but someone else. “She proudly declared it moments earlier.”
Barrett nodded, “Well, thank you.” He wasn’t sure if the new voice could see him, but it could at least hear him. He went to find his own wall, across from Victoria. He assumed a similar pose to her because he thought it would probably annoy her.
The next person to arrive was one of Victoria’s companions. From his musculature, he was a warrior- though he didn’t wear heavy armor or carry a weapon. Not long behind him was a more traditional warrior wearing a metal breastplate and carrying a large sword. Finally, there was a spellcaster of some sort- Barrett could feel wisps of mana and perhaps a slight attunement to earth.
All three of them were second tier, but more importantly they came out of the second door. Barrett couldn’t be completely sure, but he had a pretty good idea how things were working.
Barrett wasn’t concerned about anyone attacking him- perhaps if everyone grouped together he would be in danger, but that would only be true if they could attack. Since this place was likely designed to deal with people of at least fifth tier, he wasn’t worried about them breaking through the magical restrictions. Even if they were ancient, he could still feel how strong they were.
An hour later Barrett was surprised to see Reina enter the room. “That was fast,” Barrett remarked.
Reina came over to him and shrugged, “The Immortal Berserker Sect mentioned there was something special in the Tornado Plains. The Order of the Four Winds was particularly interested. We rushed over with the help of some of the masters. So, why are we just standing around here?” Reina looked over at the glowing figure in the center.
“We’re waiting for everyone to finish the trials, apparently. Presumably there’s some time period they have in mind.”
“Correct,” the man in the center of the room acknowledged, “All of the participants have arrived. Once they finish the trials, everything shall be decided.”
People continued to enter the room- many from the Order of Four Winds, from first tier to a single fifth tier master. Those were mixed with some people obviously from the Silver Blades- as well as some people not obviously from them. Barrett had gotten quite good at picking them out- It didn’t matter if they formed different groups or stood on their own. There were also a few members from the Immortal Berserker Sect- including Alnherr.
Alnherr grinned at Barrett, “This is an interesting place you found.”
“By luck, I think. Though it sort of felt like the tornado had a grudge with me then changed its mind. Is Master Hykel coming?”
Alnherr shook his head, “No, he’s… busy. Mistress Abels should be coming, however.”
As he said that, the very person burst out of the fifth door, covered in blood. She looked around, then came over to the area Barrett and the others were standing. Her various wounds were closing even as she did so.
The expressions on the Silver Blades faces were rather grim. They likely thought they were the only ones who knew about this place- and in fact that had been true up until a short time before.
Two arrivals Barrett didn’t expect were Lamont and Shanta. Lamont grinned as he spotted Barrett. “My master picked the best time to come visit, apparently. My wind magic had been getting a bit behind too…” Lamont flopped onto the floor next to Barrett, “How’d you find this place?”
“The Tornado picked me up and happened to be passing by.”
“Of course it did. You survived a volcano, went for a dip in the Metal Sea, then casually get picked up by a tornado. Well, at least lightning should still work on you.” Lamont’s eyes crackled momentarily, then he sighed. “But that trial was hard. I wanted to get through with just wind magic but I had to throw up a barrier for the last part.”
Reina shook her head, “If you were in better physical shape you could have let the wind carry you through unscathed.”
“I’ll never be a real duelist or anything… it’s not like I don’t exercise just because I stop at normal human levels.”
Shanta had come out a minute or two behind Lamont, and had been stitching up several gashes she had obtained- likely from the whirling blades in the final room. Shanta looked around as she approached the group, “Is Nilima here? We’ve got almost our entire Temperpine Forest assassin killing group here. Speaking of which…” she handed a small vial to each of the others. “A combined antidote for several nasty poisons,” her eyes flicked over to some of the Silver Blade members, “Just in case.”
Barrett shook his head, “Nilima probably won’t be back in Stredo until the next tournament.” He looked down at the vial, “This is useful for things outside of the hundred poisons pill?”
Shanta nodded, “Of course. This is made for the expensive stuff. Now, enough of that. There’s enough talking going on, but people might still hear us anyway.”
Mistress Seviren arrived out of the fifth door. Barrett looked around, “What about your master, Lamont?” His eyes turned toward Shanta, “And Stieber?”
“Master Zima brought me here but…” Lamont shrugged, “He’s sixth tier now so he couldn’t actually enter.”
“Oh?” Barrett nodded, “I’ll have to congratulate him on the advancement.”
Shanta shrugged, “Master Stieber said he didn’t care. He’s waiting at the entrance still.”
At that moment, the figure in the middle spoke, “All candidates have passed or failed the trials. No more participants are on their way, so I hereby declare the trials finished.” At the far end of the room, another door appeared. It was likely always there, but just concealed by magic. “Candidates shall, in order of their arrival in this room, pass through this final doorway one at a time. Beyond that, one door shall lead to my legacy, and the other to the exit. Proceed.” Victoria was highlighted by a glow that nobody could miss, and she walked through the door, closing it behind her. A few moments later, Barrett glowed in turn. He wondered what was beyond the door.