Cultivator cities were built entirely differently from regular cities. Sure, most of them still had the winding streets and poorly planned layouts of normal cities, but the materials were much different. If there was any interest in security, commensurate expenses had to be made for structural integrity. Conversely- in a normal city, walls that were deemed secure were of little use against cultivators of a certain strength.
The wall that Barrett had chopped through was one such thing- it was merely normal brick and stone with slight wards not designed to increase structural integrity. In the short time that Oseta had cultivators living in it, they had not had time to change things much. In the current area, large construction projects would have been suspicious at best.
Shanta shook her head, “Well, I guess we need to hurry now. You get him down from the wall.” She immediately moved over to the door, sprinkling some sort of powder on and around it.
The chains that held the magistrate were the only part of the simple dungeon that had any real substance to them. Barrett started by yanking them out of the walls- they needed to be able to go at any moment- and then started removing the shackles. The magistrate was old and frail, so any amount of berserk energy would be a problem for him. Likewise, chopping through the shackles around his wrists would likely be too much impact for him. Instead, Barrett clamped his fingers onto one shackle, thumbs on the bottom and other fingers on top. He squeezed down and pulled outward. It would have been easier if he could slip his fingers inside the shackles, but they were tight enough around the wrists it would have been dangerous for the magistrate. Barrett wanted him harmed as little as possible. “Shanta. He doesn’t seem to be… entirely healthy.”
Having finished her setup at the door, she rushed over to the magistrate. “Go watch the hole you made.” Shanta looked at the magistrate, opening his eyes and otherwise checking him for problems. “Hmm, I see.” She pulled out a small pill, making his unconscious form swallow it.
“Will that fix whatever happened?” Barrett asked from the hole in the wall. Then he heard retching sounds behind him.
“It’s just a start to clean his system. Magistrate Devon, we came to rescue you. I’ll carry you.”
“Ah… Shanta? I don’t…” the magistrate’s voice was weak, and then he passed out again.
“I can carry him,” Barrett offered.
“I need you to chop through the people coming. From outside. The ones coming through the door will be fine.” Shanta picked up the magistrate in her arms. Though she wasn’t a warrior by any means, she wasn’t weak either- and the magistrate wasn’t exactly heavy.
Barrett nodded. He had heard both groups, “Let’s go.”
At the same moment as people burst through the door into the room, Barrett and Shanta stepped out through the hole he had made. Barrett could feel the aura of two more warriors from the Earthbreaker Sect- stronger than the three he had captured, but not enough to cause him worry.
As they came around the corner, he swung his axe wide, aiming at the one on the right. The two warriors were expecting him as well- gathering berserk energy for an attack wasn’t subtle- but they were not actually prepared for the results. Barrett’s axe sliced through the armor and torso of the man on the right, nearly bisecting him, and then continued towards the outstretched arms of the other warrior, forcing him to retract his heavy hammer and step back or lose his arms. A moment later Barrett’s backswing and a quick step forward caused him to lose his head instead.
Shanta raced past Barrett, and the two of them took off down the winding alleyways. Behind them chased a few figures that Barrett thought seemed vaguely familiar, though he couldn’t see their faces and didn’t recognize their eyes. Then they started coughing up blood, their mask doing little to protect them against whatever Shanta had left for them. Those chasing them started to fall behind. As they ran away, Barrett took one last glance and saw their twin daggers. Silver Blades… or was he just paranoid?
It didn’t take too long for a pair of cultivators to travel to another part of the city, though Shanta couldn’t run at top speed with the magistrate, and if she could it would have been dangerous in his uncertain state. They arrived back at the building Shanta had been using to test the medicines. “I’m fairly certain they used Acro Leaf on him. It’s used as a component of brainwashing. It takes some time to work still- a few weeks at the fastest. With less than a day of effects, recovery should be fairly easy… even for this old fellow. Anyway, that would explain why they risked kidnapping him.”
Barrett nodded, “That’s… good? That he can recover, I mean. It seems the Earthbreaker Sect is working with… well, possibly the Silver Blades.”
“It could be. They certainly know their poisons well enough to kill those three debt collectors. A little blood leaf powder they weren’t expecting still gave them some pause, though. Either way, this will be a big incident. They would have been prepared if the magistrate showed up again in a few weeks saying everything was alright… but it will be hard to cover this up.” The whole time she was talking, Shanta was mixing powders and a few liquids from her magic bag and the cabinets around her. She held up a small vial, looking at its greenish contents. “This should be good enough.” She poured it into the magistrate’s mouth and rubbed his throat to make him swallow it. “Now then, I need to get this man back to where he can make an official declaration of some sort… and you need to go check on your friends. Just in case.”
“Right.” Barrett nodded, “Hopefully they thought leaving them alone would give them some deniability. The Earthbreaker Sect doesn’t use poison themselves, so their men dying could just be something they declare as an attack against them…” Barrett shook his head, “But who knows what they think. I need to be going.” Barrett did just that as he was speaking, stepping out the door and breaking into a quick but sustainable run.