Leaving Ogloni was a relief. Though Barrett hadn’t been to much of the city, it was altogether unsettling to Barrett. At least Stredo kept their streets free of zombies and curses… though Barrett wondered what it was like beneath the surface. Not necessarily underground, though perhaps that was something to consider as well.
Barrett’s thoughts were interrupted by Master Hykel picking him up and tossing him over his shoulder… and then they were running. Or rather, Master Hykel was. “Why… are… we… running?” Barrett said, speaking in between bumps.
“Someone’s following us. We need to get as far away as we can as quickly as we can.” The terrain sped by as Master Hykel ran, and carrying Barrett barely slowed him down. After all, he routinely carried several bags that weighed more.
Barrett watched behind them- both because that was the only way he could really look, and because he wanted to see who was following. However, he saw no one. Ogloni itself was already a speck on the horizon, and there were no people on the road. At least, not that he could see. That didn’t mean nobody was there.
Focusing on his eyes, Barrett saw occasional clouds of dust and shifting dirt on the road behind them. It was like they were being chased by ghosts… but more likely it was just invisible people. That said, ghosts weren’t entirely out of the picture for Ogloni. The traces of people following fell further and further behind, though not at the rate Barrett would have expected. If he had been running, he would have been perhaps a kilometer away from the city now, instead of more than five. Barrett had never seen Master Hykel go so fast- and perhaps he had never actually done so before. After all, he had only recently advanced to sixth tier.
The fact that the people following could keep up at all was impressive. While Immortal Berserkers couldn’t claim to be the fastest in terms of top speed or dodging attacks, they could keep their top speed for a long time. So far it had only been a little over a minute, but the point was that the people following had to be fifth tier or higher. Barrett couldn’t tell, since they didn’t release any energy to detect and their mana usage for their invisibility was well controlled. “Who is it?”
“My guess?” Master Hykel sighed, “Silver Blades. But possibly someone hired by the people I disrupted to let you get to the unicorn… though that second would seem a bit petty. I didn’t even cripple anyone.”
“Damn. They found us?”
“Well, we’re not exactly masters of stealth. Anyone with a good description could find us in a city after a few days. If they’re Silver Blade, they might have been expecting us but didn’t want to risk doing anything in the city..”
“Yet they’ve definitely succeeded on assassinations in Stredo… is Ogloni somehow better at managing its internal affairs?”
“Since so few things are illegal, they crack down on them much harder.” Master Hykel had only just started to breathe heavily, but Barrett decided not to tax him further by making him talk.
Two hours later, they were approaching the Lightning Mountains, and Master Hykel was soaked in sweat. Along the way, he’d been pulling out waterskin after waterskin. Barrett wished he could contribute somehow, but all he could do was watch behind them. Any signs of those following him were out of eyesight- even with enhanced vision it wasn’t possible to see over the horizon. Well, not without a bit of magic that he didn’t know. Barrett had switched to trying to sense killing intent, and while it was concealed he felt just the slightest trace of it still behind them. Master Hykel was likely using the same to keep vague tabs on them.
Barrett heard the sound of thunder repeating, and the winds blowing. Flashes of lightning reflecting off of things around him became slightly visible. Then the rain came. Suddenly Master Hykel tossed him to the side, just before lightning struck. “Alright, we’re heading to the top! Don’t delay!”
Barrett managed to land on his feet and started running up the slope. Master Hykel didn’t seem to be dodging the lightning at all- instead just letting it hit him. That let Barrett follow behind at Master Hykel’s now much slower pace. However, Barrett had to push himself as he ran up the hill. At the rates of movement he had seen, it would only take a minute or two for the pursuers to catch up to him if he just did a quick jog. Instead, Barrett sprinted up the hill.
Even though Master Hykel was directly taking the lightning strikes, Barrett still had to watch out for them. First, they could shock the ground around him, tripping him up slightly. Second, nothing said they couldn’t strike a bit further downhill. Barrett didn’t quite manage to dodge the first one near him- he was having to suddenly get back into the right state of mind, after all. Even so, he directed it though his body safely.
Lightning strikes grew more frequent as they neared the peak, and Barrett was worried about what they would do. He couldn’t outrun the pursuers- Silver Blade or not- but Master Hykel had him running. Did he need a few moments to rest or…
Master Hykel suddenly stopped, “Alright. We’re taking a break here.”
Barrett looked around, seeing nothing above them. They were at one of the peaks of the Lightning Mountains, looking down on the world around them, which was mostly rain, sand, and lightning glass. “A break… here?”
“Sure. You’re not going to die from a couple lightning strikes now, are you? That curse is gone, you’ll be fine. Besides, you’ve already taken lightning strikes and recovered, so you’re pretty resistant now.”
“Right. Ok. This should be fine, I guess.” Barrett stood there, watching downhill behind them. Perhaps this was a good place. The rain would reveal hidden figures, and the lightning didn’t care whether they could be seen. If they were Silver Blades, they might be able to avoid the lightning in much the same way as he and Master Hykel did… but if they got hit they would not fare so well. Even a groundstrike nearby would cause problems for non-warriors. Not that Barrett expected high tier assassins to die easily, but a direct lightning strike would cause them some trouble.