For all of her joking, Shanta was extremely good at what she did and avoided causing any unnecessary pain for Barrett. “Now then, I need you to restrain your berserk energy. Your body itself is enough to fight off everything given enough time, and I need to be able to watch what is happening in there.”
“It would be easier without berserk energy at all…” Barrett pondered, “But it’s a good chance to exert more control, and I can’t afford to use it all up. I just made some new enemies.”
“Noted. None of this should be so draining as to incapacitate you, unless any of these medicines are actively harmful. Let’s get started.” Shanta held out a vial, close to Barrett but away from herself, and uncapped it. “Just sniff this. It’s airborne.”
Shanta used her energy to keep anything in the vial from flying off where it was not intended to go, and Barrett took a big sniff. He definitely smelled something foul. “How long will this take to-? Oh.”
“Retract your energy, please.” Shanta’s energy was gentle and permeated, much like Nilima’s, but without any intent to harm Barrett’s insides either. “It’s spread enough. Now take this medicine. It should help. Or rather, it’s supposed to.” Shanta handed Barrett a little pellet to swallow, “I have some powder that will help if that doesn’t.”
Barrett had a headache and a slight fever from less than a minute of contamination. He could feel his body fighting against it. Then he took the medicine, which quickly dissipated into his bloodstream. “How is it?”
“Hmm. Marginal, at best. This might be the actual thing diluted to about a tenth and replaced with a similar looking filler. Go ahead and eradicate all of that now.”
All that Barrett had to do was let his berserk energy flow back to all parts of his body, and the sickness left him… somewhat painfully, but quickly. After another minute, he was basically back to normal.
“Oh, after this it will be best not to have too much physical contact with anyone for a day. They probably won’t get the accelerated versions of these, but… some of these could be bad enough.”
“Right. What’s next?”
They went through a dozen more sicknesses and medicines, and most of the medicines were useless- either barely helping or only treating some symptoms. One of the diseases Barrett was given had him starting to cough up blood, though just barely.
“Well…” Barrett said, “At least two of those worked.”
“Oh,” Shanta said, “Those two were my own medicines. I just threw them in there to make sure you weren’t accidentally nullifying the effects of the others.” Shanta reached out to pat Barrett on the back, then withdrew her hand, instead settling for a nod. “Good work. If it had been someone else this could have taken weeks instead of just a day. We can’t have you go out for a bit, so just rest on that bed there while I go make my report.”
Barrett did as suggested, taking the opportunity to eat and recover his stamina. Getting sick and recovering took a lot out of him, even if he only had to go through part of the process. Tightly controlling his berserk energy was hard in a different way. Barrett closed his eyes and started to fall asleep.
Not long after he fell asleep, he was awoken by the door slamming open. Barrett jumped to his feet, ready to fight… but it was just Shanta. “Oh. I thought I was being attacked or something.”
“Not you. There’s an uproar at the magistrate’s. Some prisoners they took earlier are dead and the magistrate’s missing.”
“Dead? How?” Barrett sat up, “Also, this wouldn’t happen to be three debt collectors, would it?”
“It would,” Shanta nodded, “Sounds like you know something about that? Anyway, they were poisoned. Now, I might say that was unrelated to my work… but the type of poison could have been made with some of the actual medicines there should have been.”
“Seems a bit too coincidental. But also stupid. Those men were from the Earthbreaker Sect… They’d just been taken in and so killing them and kidnapping the magistrate seems a bit… much.”
“They also don’t sound like the type to use poisons…” Shanta shook her head. “It also isn’t clear who was behind the medicines I was looking into… but they may not have known about that. We can try to find them at the shop in the morning or… I can just track them down now.” She tapped her nose.
“What are the benefits of waiting?”
Shanta shrugged, “You get to sleep. Depending on the particulars, they might have fewer guards during the day as well- but that’s just speculation.”
Barrett shrugged, “Let’s go now then. I assume you want me to come with you?”
“Of course. I don’t have nearly enough airborne poisons to knock everyone out… and my other poisons won’t leave us with a living magistrate, even if we find him.”
“Sounds good. So how will you find them?”
“They left the smell of poisons behind. It’s not much, but that’s my specialty. I bet you could track down a berserker pretty easily.”
“Anyone can track a berserker easily.”
“Eh, bad example I suppose.”
The two of them passed by the magistrate’s office, where Shanta brought them off into the streets of Oseta. They wandered deep into back alleys, with both of them staying alert for anyone watching them. Barrett saw a few people- but they seemed to be normal humans and not cultivators, likely on the lookout for something or someone else. Even so, they avoided them as best as they could.
“The scent continues around to the left and to the right. Let’s go right first…” Moving in that direction brought them to the end of an alleyway, where there was a small barred window. Shanta put her face up to it, then went back down. “I thought I felt someone. I was right. There are some magic wards on this building, but they’re not much. Just enough to stop casual observers- it didn’t stop their scent from leaking out. The magistrate is in there, chained to the wall. We’ll need to find a way in.”
“Which wall?” Barrett asked, then looked through the bars themselves. “Ah, this should be fine. When do you want to go in?”
“As soon as possible I suppose…”
“Great. Give me a minute.” Barrett put on his armor, pulling each piece out of his magic bag. “Can’t be too careful. Lots of poisons have to get to the bloodstream so…” Barrett lastly pulled out his axe, “Alright, ready to go in?”
Shanta nodded, then started walking out of the alleyway. “We might be able to find a side entrance or something if we’re lucky. Though-” She turned back to see Barrett holding his axe up, covered in berserk energy and ready to swing at the wall. “That’s not just normal brick you know.”
“I know. I just figured we’d rescue the magistrate first. Then we could deal with the rest.”
“Yeah but…” Shanta shook her head. “How confident are you at breaking through?”
As a response, Barrett’s axe chopped through the wall, sparking as it sliced through metal and pulling out chunks of brick. It may have had steel reinforcements in the special magically reinforced bricks- but it wasn’t even as strong as the materials that made up Barrett’s room, let alone the walls of the Immortal Berserker Sect. Another swing opened up a wide enough hole for him to comfortably step through. “They haven’t had long to set this place up. It’s weak.”