It was likely things wouldn’t have gone as smoothly if Barrett wasn’t a part of the Immortal Berserker Sect. Not that it should have many any difference, at least, with the letter from the magistrate in Oseta, but people were more likely to behave as they ought to when you seemed important. However, just because the process was smooth didn’t mean it was quick. It was more than a day before anyone was sent back to Sashor to do anything. If Barrett hadn’t contacted the Immortal Berserker Sect, it was likely every single one of those involved in the incident would have gotten away. As it was, they only managed to catch a handful of those fleeing Oseta, primarily because they couldn’t run as quickly as Immortal Berserkers. Master Owen was lucky enough to catch another member of the Silver Blades, which would make it easier to positively identify at least one of them. Perhaps some of the stronger masters could have caught more, but the situation wasn’t important enough to send the highest ranking members for. The Earthbreaker Sect wasn’t that important in Stredo, and there hadn’t been any high tier Silver Blades in Oseta.
It took several weeks after that for the Silver Blades to be positively identified and to determine unconditionally that the Earthbreaker Sect knew that was who they were working with- and that the Earthbreaker Sect in Oseta was acting on the orders of those in Stredo. Those were good things to determine, but it shouldn’t have taken so long with the resources available in Stredo. It wasn’t like they didn’t know exactly where to look.
Clara and Jack didn’t take too long to settle in to the Immortal Berserker Sect. Farmers weren’t hard to find, but hardworking and trustworthy farmers- at least as verified by Immortal Berserkers- were a bit more rare. The Immortal Berserker Sect wasn’t worried about non-cultivators stealing from them for the most part, but they could still cause trouble if they just let people live at the sect without some assurance they weren’t going to poison the wells or some such. Even though whoever did so would certainly be caught quickly, there were people crazy enough to try for the right amount of money. The Immortal Berserker Sect wasn’t exactly without enemies, even if the Silver Blades were the ones most likely to specifically poison them.
Getting stuck in cultivation was an unpleasant feeling, and one that Barrett had not experienced in a real way up to his current point. However, as he sat at the threshold to fourth tier and becoming a master in terms of energy cultivation, he knew that attempting to cross the threshold would result in failure- and for an Immortal Berserker, that meant death. Individual destructions were of no risk to him, and even if they failed they would merely be setbacks. Crossing from first to second tier and second to third had been difficult, but still with risks. Stepping into the level of being a master was even more difficult, and consequently more deadly. Barrett had the knowledge of many who had achieved success to guide him, as well as personal advice from Master Hykel. That was how he knew he would fail if he tried to make the step now.
It wasn’t a lack of confidence- Master Hykel believed he could succeed given time, and Barrett knew his own limits better than anyone else. It was just that he was missing something. Sometimes that something was combat experience- Barrett had more life-and-death combat experience than most people his age, including Immortal Berserkers, but there wasn’t a set amount that people needed. It was possible he just needed to spend more time practicing energy control- though he’d remained at the threshold for a month now. Or perhaps he needed something else. There was still a chance he could break through to fourth tier by force and survive, but if he did his growth would be hampered and he wouldn’t advance much further. Maybe this was his limit… but Barrett strongly doubted that. While age wasn’t a direct correlation to what could be accomplished, there was nobody who would say his talent was low having reached the threshold of fourth tier at twenty seven years old. Perhaps he was wrong and really was just doubting himself, but he had others he trusted to keep him honest about that.
After another month, Barrett had gone out on several missions for the sect, each of which resulted in battle… but nothing that pushed him to his very limits. Perhaps that was what he needed. He was planning to sign up for the hardest mission available for third tiers, or perhaps he might be able to get a mission for a master… but then the news came.
“Planning to go somewhere, Barrett?” Master Hykel came into his room and saw him looking into his magic bag. “You’ve been in and out a lot lately.”
“You know why. I was thinking maybe I need to push myself more.”
“That may be the case,” Master Hykel nodded, “But first you’ll want to listen to this. The Fourth Eye Seers have made an announcement. The Bicentennial Conflux is about to descend on the region.”
“Sounds like a bunch of fancy crap.” Barrett thought for a moment, trying to remember what it was, “I don’t think I’ve heard of that.”
Master Hykel shook his head, “It’s… a rare event.”
“Let me guess… every two centuries?”
“Not even close. It’s anywhere between 50 and 400 years on average. There have been six in the last millennium. Before that, we don’t have that much information. It also seems to be localized- I’m referring to the event around Stredo, and a few countries in either direction.” Master Hykel shrugged, “Anyway, it results in a disruption of energy and mana… subtle at first, but it prevents breaking through to new levels. Specifically, there is a time of buildup where breaking through to master or grandmaster tier become nearly impossible. Everyone’s been getting a vague feeling of that, though some choose to ignore it. Anyway, just as we got enough information to be sure of what’s happening… the Fourth Eye Seers made that announcement. Currently there are a couple dozen Immortal Berserkers on the threshold, including yourself, Katja, Herman… the list goes on. It only took us so long to notice because everyone takes different amounts of time.”
“So, what, I wait a few years for this whole thing to blow over and then I can break through?”
Master Hykel grinned, “You could… but the proper way to go about it is to use the event itself. It’s a bit risky, but it will result in benefits if you succeed. Of course, I won’t make you- you can wait. It will only be a couple more months, even if you wait for it to be over. However, the Fourth Eye Seers have declared where it will be… so you’ll have the best chance if you want to go.”
“I’m part of the Immortal Berserker Sect, am I not? Of course I’ll take a reasonable risk. Who else is going? And where is it?”
“Quite a few people will be going… third tiers like yourself from the Immortal Berserker Sect and some of our allies… as well as a few potential grandmasters. The one from our Sect is Master Aran Deka. You haven’t met but…”
“I’ve heard the name. I mean, there are only like twenty of you sixth tiers, after all.”
“Indeed. Anyway, the Bicentennial Conflux has been determined to be arriving in Mostrea… South of Ruclua.”
“Great. I’m sure that will go well.”
“Fortunately, others will have their own methods to determine the location, so they won’t have the time or the inclination to bother with Stredo specifically. Besides, they will have fewer sixth tiers than just our allies- to say nothing of Stredo as a whole. Every large sect has at least a handful ready to try to break through- though their chances aren’t that great normally. At least Immortal Berserkers have higher than one third chance of success… though the alternative is death.”
“It does seem to always be that. When do I need to be ready?”
“A few days. We’ll be sending everyone together, for safety- though there could always be danger.”