By the time Barrett’s arm healed, he was beginning to worry about Kail. He had gone off to the Metal Sea to break through to third tier. He should have had plenty of time to do so and return before the tournament. The fact that he hadn’t returned yet was worrying. It was possibly that his training was just going so well he hadn’t bothered to return to Stredo or a city where he could send a message… but it was also possible something had gone wrong.
The first thing Barrett did was try to find Kaylani. She was still in Stredo after the tournament. Because Barrett knew the two of them, he’d introduced them. Kail couldn’t return to his home to train, so going to an area at least nominally controlled by a friendly faction was the best bet. The Leipeka clan controlled one of the sections of the Metal Sea nearest to Stredo, so it was also more convenient. Of course, no faction could actually controlled the area within a few kilometers of the Metal Sea itself. On the way to his training location, Kail had stopped by to visit. While the Anaconi clan was basically wiped out, their existence had been known to the Leipeka clan.
It took a bit of asking around to find the correct inn, but for a city of ten million, only asking a few places was rather quick. Barrett knocked on her door and Kaylani came to answer wearing everyday clothing instead of armor. “Yes? Oh, Barrett.” She looked at his arm. It was still wrapped in bandages, but when he waved she shook her head. “Healed already? I just barely finished, and I had a head start… and not nearly such significant injuries in comparison. Good thing I thought steel guts might be useful after seeing her when we hired her to fight for our clan. Though I suppose if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t have gotten injured at all because the arena would have stopped the attack.” Kaylani shook her head, “But it’s better to be prepared for more situations outside the arena. You’re not just here to show off that you’re healed, right?”
“Not at all. I was wondering if you’d heard anything from Kail.”
Kaylani thought for a few moments, then shook her head. “He stopped by the clan on the way to the Metal Sea, and when I set out he hadn’t come by again. Unless he was being secretive for some reason.”
“That’s worrisome… do you think you could show me where he might have gone?”
“I was about to head back anyway. I’m healed enough to travel, and my other business here in Stredo is done. I’ll be leaving tomorrow, or you can ask at the clan.”
Barrett nodded, “I’ll meet you tomorrow then. It’s better to travel with a friend.”
Though there weren’t that many things that could threaten two third tier cultivators except others from Stredo, Barrett still kept a watch out for anything. Contrary to what some people thought, cultivators didn’t make good bandits. While they might succeed once or twice… sooner or later someone would send a force to wipe them out. If they were capable of taking on third tier cultivators, they could have a much more stable position doing legitimate work of some kind. Even the Heavy Blade mercenaries had been somewhat legitimate. As for the remnants of the Silver Blades, if they were found anywhere near Stredo they would be eliminated, and so Barrett only needed to be worried about them in cities they might be staying in.
Nothing of note happened before they reached the Kaylani clan. It was just a fairly long trip of a couple weeks- and that was because they moved at a swift speed. Kaylani was more of an energy cultivator than a warrior, but she still had decent body training. Even on foot, they made better time than any commonly available mounts. Even the steelhead goats of the Southern Metal Sea weren’t faster over long distances- they could barely keep up with Barrett for a day at second tier, and in subsequent days they would have been exhausted.
After arriving at the Leipeka clan, no further news of Kail had come in, so Kaylani brought Barrett to the section of the coast of the Metal Sea where Kail had mentioned he would be training.
Kaylani breathed slowly and steadily, “I can’t believe you’re able to move about without trouble here. You’re not even from the Metal Sea.”
Barett shrugged, “Immortal Berserkers can grow resistant to pretty much anything. I had a few chances to train here… and then later I had no choice. Now I’m more or less acclimated to the air.”
“Wonderful. According to Kail, the Anaconi clan’s techniques should actually allow them to grow stronger out here,” Kaylani shook her head, “It’s not the right place for me to train though.” Kaylani surveyed the area around them. “I’m not sure how to find him here. There’s a section of the coast here that should be where he trained. I’m not sure how close he planned to get to the sea itself.”
“He should have been fine quite close to the edge. Perhaps we can find some tracks… there is not too much wind here to cover them up.”
The pair spent a day combing the land they finally found some traces. Though the wind around the Metal Sea was not generally strong, over the course of time it would cover up any tracks in the metal sand. Kaylani bent down next to some indentations, “These should be his footprints.” She closed her eyes, “There’s a faint trace of his metal energy… but perhaps that’s just my mind playing tricks on me. It could just be part of the Metal Sea itself.”
Barrett looked at the indentations, “It may not be him… but they are regular enough it was someone passing through here. I don’t know how long ago… but we should follow them. It seem they were heading… northwest. The tracks should be slightly wider towards the front…” Barrett wasn’t an expert tracker, but he’d at least learned the basics. There were no other tracks or any sort of changing terrain to hide these tracks, however, so he had a decent chance… and his eyes were good. If nothing else, they had to see where the tracks went as far as they could.