Barrett concentrated on his surroundings. He was ready to dodge at the first sign of lightning. However, he didn’t realize that was already far too late.
Lightning struck uphill from him, sending sand flying and creating another structure of lightning sand. By the time Barrett even started dodging, the whole thing was over.
The issue he had was that he had seen lightning from a distance and heard it described in books, but he had never experienced it from up close. Watching it from far away and listening to the rumbles it made, it almost seemed like it rolled slowly across the sky… but in actuality it was nearly instantaneous.
Master Hykel shouted towards Barrett- he needed to be heard over the other thunder and the lightning had been close enough to cause temporary hearing trouble. “Remember! As we go higher, you’ll be more of a target! You can’t dodge it after it’s formed, only before!”
Barrett nodded, shouting back, “Okay!” A lightning storm wasn’t the best learning environment, but on the other hand practical experience was one of the fastest ways to get anywhere. It wasn’t even the most dangerous environment Barrett had been in… even with frequent lightning, the Metal Sea was more dangerous, followed by the Metal Sea. The Lightning Mountains were less dangerous, unless you went straight over the peak… which meant they probably would be going that way.
Barrett focused on his surroundings again. He could smell fire and ozone, as well as the wetness of rain up ahead. He definitely couldn’t dodge lightning after he had seen it, which meant there was some way to dodge it before then. Otherwise, this would just be an exercise in not dying to lightning.
The direction of the wind changed and rain started to fall on Barrett. It was distracting as it rolled down his face, and it would make him more of a target for the lightning… but everything else was wet as well. It was just that very little besides him and Master Hykel stuck out from the hillside, and Master Hykel was lower down the mountainside.
Once more, lightning struck uphill from Barrett… but this time it was even closer- only a handful of meters away. He hadn’t quite felt it coming, and the blinding flash threw him off balance. At the same time, something surged up into Barrett from the ground. His muscles twitched uncomfortably, but there was no damage. He’d trained against lightning magic before, so an indirect strike wouldn’t be much danger… though there was a significant difference between the amount of lightning a first or second tier mage could conjure and actual lightning.
As the rain ran down his face, Barrett stopped his journey up the mountain and concentrated on that momentary feeling he’d felt of the lightning. He’d sensed something just before the lightning struck. If he could get that feeling again, maybe he could react. It was so quick, a normal human reaction time wouldn’t have been enough… but as a cultivator he could pull it off.
Lightning struck off in the distance, creating constant booming sounds… and then he felt the slightest sign of something nearby. He immediately dodged to the side… and was struck by lightning. Even activating the magical boots he had received did not help.
The lightning coursed through him, from his head through his chest, down his legs and into the ground. No… was it the other way? Barrett didn’t have much time to consider it as he was sent sprawling to the ground from the shock. There was a slight burn on his shoulder and one foot… but surprisingly most of him was uninjured. Sure, he’d read about how it worked, but it was still surprising how little it damaged him- that was one difference between lightning magic and actual lightning. Lightning magic was focused to intentionally damage a person, while true lightning flowed through people uncaring of whether or not it caused any damage. As an Immortal Berserker, his body could easily withstand it… at least just a single strike.
Barrett stood up. He’d definitely sensed the lightning coming. Had he moved too slowly? He felt like he’d gone a full width of his body to the side… had he just been unlucky and dodged into the one spot the lightning was striking? That was highly improbable. He knew there was something more to it, but it was hard to think with so much going on around him, and he could barely hear or see. His hearing wasn’t actually damaged, but it took it a moment to return to sensing proper sounds.
Master Hykel walked past Barrett, further uphill. He stood there calmly, waiting… then suddenly ducked down and to his left, hanging low to the ground. Far off to his right, lightning struck. Master Hykel straightened back up, then a handful of seconds later, he raised his right arm as lightning struck him.
Barrett watched closely, glad his eyes wouldn’t be permanently damaged from looking almost directly at the lightning. It was still painful, but it stuck in his mind better that way anyway. Master Hykel was obviously showing him something… and that was… well, maybe you couldn’t dodge lightning that was going to get near to you. He’d only tried to avoid the one that was a dozen meters to the side- something that seemed like it would have missed anyway.
That was it then. Reading about lightning was one thing, but remembering every detail for practical knowledge was something else. Lightning searched around it for targets, effectively. The only way to avoid it was to not be in the area- or to have something that drew it in more than you, like lightning rods for buildings.
Barrett followed Master Hykel up the mountain, passing him and stopping just short of a gorge. He could see rushing waters up above, whereas only a small amount of water was flowing at his own feet. However, across the gorge all of the water from the rest of the way up to the peak seemed to be gathering.
Up ahead, lighting was striking much more commonly. Barrett wanted another chance to dodge lightning first. He kept his senses ready, waiting… and he finally felt the area the lightning was planning to strike. He leaned to the side… though maybe he was already outside of the area. Either way, over a dozen meters away, lightning struck the edge of the gorge. Should he continue on? The answer was a resounding ‘of course’. He might have asked what the worst that could happen was… but that would just lead him into being a pessimist who did nothing ever. Master Hykel was with him, and he knew he could do this.