Thunder rang out almost constantly around the peak. Barrett had almost tuned out the surrounding sounds except when it struck directly next to him- or on him. When it struck him, he channeled it through his body safely. He could have also channeled it around him, but that required him to redirect more of its energy- and it was safe enough on the way through. His armor also redirected some of the lightning… though it made more likely to be struck. Regardless, Barrett wasn’t in danger of dying. Even normal humans sometimes survived lightning strikes- though never more than one per day, and certainly never a few per minute.
Barrett watched the area around him. Master Hykel was also watching, and would most likely spot enemies coming first… but he could always try. Barrett suddenly spotted a shape in the rain- but Master Hykel was already moving down the hill. At another spot, lightning struck the ground, revealing another shape as it crawled up their legs. Both figures were still several hundred meters downhill, and Master Hykel moved to intercept them.
It wasn’t possible to keep watch on both figures- at least not with Barrett current skill. While he could control his eyes individually, actually keeping track of the figures required the effort of both eyes. He kept his eyes on the vague outline he could see in the rain which was the figure that had been struck by lightning indirectly. It wasn’t extremely dangerous for a cultivator, but Barrett was still impressed that they kept their concentration on their invisibility spell during that. Then again, they were higher tier cultivators- if they couldn’t do at least that, they probably wouldn’t have made it to the level they were at.
Barrett remained at the peak- he knew he could handle lightning, but not so much people at a higher tier than himself. Not that he wasn’t confident in himself, but he was just being realistic. Since the enemies were using magic, they probably weren’t warriors- and thus every strike by lightning would consume a moderate amount of their energy or mana to resist. Probably an inconsequential amount in normal circumstances, but with so much lighting about it would be a constant drain on them.
Master Hykel stopped about a hundred meters downhill, ready to face off against the enemies. Barrett considered running down the other side of the mountain, but Master Hykel had brought him to the peak for a reason. The lightning would serve as the best protection possible… and if he went down the other side the enemies could just go around and catch him on the other side. It was also possible they would just leave him alone if Master Hykel went to fight them- unless they were Silver Blades.
Barrett watched as Master Hykel engaged the first of the two enemies. Or rather, he watched as Master Hykel dodged and weaved, occasionally tossing a lead ball in retaliation. That made Barrett presume the enemy was still at range, and using weapons he couldn’t see from where he was… such as needles. Even though the needles used in combat were rather larger, they were still thin, and from a hundred meters away in heavy rain, they were quite well hidden.
There was only the barest hint to Barrett of anything coming towards him. He barely noticed it- and perhaps wouldn’t have been able to react in time. However, at that point lightning decided to strike the metal needle flying towards him. It would have been an exceedingly rare event… except that the lightning was constant. It also sought out the highest thing around- which would be either the people standing or weapons flying through the air.
Barrett saw the lightning strike, and though the needle immediately melted he felt the energy around it scatter- energy that had previously been disguised to be hard to perceive. Barrett had little doubt about the enemies being Silver Blades now- their techniques were far too close, and coming after him was not the best way for them to win the fight… unless they had a personal grudge of some sort.
Master Hykel prevented either of the two invisible figures from moving up the mountain, but he could not be in the way to block or deflect attacks from both of them. Barrett could see that, and he would have to take care of himself. Fortunately, their needles were not meant to travel over a hundred meters in wind and rain. Speed would fall off rapidly over that distance, and though it could be maintained with energy, energy too was not as effective at that range. Even archers needed special techniques to maintain full effectiveness at that range.
Of course, that just meant Barrett actually had a chance to defend himself. When the next attack came a few moments later, he deflected the needle with his bracer coated in berserk energy. Even so, if he had failed to deflect it, the needle had enough power left to go through his armor- and much of him. Even his bracer was dented by just deflecting the needle. Fortunately, his berserk energy managed to disperse the remaining energy on the needle and stop that attack.
The attacks continued, and Barrett also had to deal with lightning at the same time. However, for every handful of needles thrown at him, approximately one of them was also either struck by lightning or the attacker down below was. While they could avoid lightning in much the same way he and Master Hykel did, the lightning through the ground was much more effective against them. Specifically, Barrett saw their control over the energy around needles waver when the lightning struck nearby- and once some of the energy was lost, it couldn’t be regained at that distance.
A needle struck Barrett in the thigh, and he just hoped it didn’t have any poison… or at least not much. Though there was rain, the needles weren’t in the air for that long. Regardless, Barrett didn’t feel any immediate effects- though the needle went at least a handful of centimeters into his thigh, even after penetrating through his armor. It had just barely failed to reach some important nerves, which might have been the actual target. Barrett pulled out the needle so that he could move his leg… and then there was a strange moment where all the lightning stopped and the mountains grew almost quiet. Even the wind had stopped briefly, though the rain continued to pour down.