The fireball was flung off course by the winds around Aurelia, but it curved itself around to try to still hit its intended target. Aurelia dodged out of the way at the last moment, letting it fly off behind her and then fizzle out. There was something much more elegant when a member of the Order of Four Winds dodged and the floating grace they moved with… especially when comparing the lightness of their steps to Barrett. The end result was often effectively the same, however.
Barrett looked through the swirling sand to see a humanoid shape formed entirely of fire. Outside of specific places, elementals like the fire elemental couldn’t maintain their form. After all, it took the right attribute of energy or mana to power them. It just so happened that the Bicentennial Conflux was the perfect location for elementals to show up- though with the surroundings being desert Barrett wouldn’t imagine there would be water elementals. He couldn’t tell for sure, but it seemed the fire and earth energy was a bit stronger and the water weaker- but that could have just been his imagination because he was only really attuned to feeling berserk energy.
As the fire elemental approached, its form stretched out with trails of flame stretching out in the direction of the wind. However, at the current strength of Aurelia’s wind barrier it seemed to be just an annoyance. Even so, it seemed determined to enter the center of the area. Because of that, Barrett moved up to attack. If it was even slightly weaker in the wall of wind, it would be best to fight it there. Fire was well down the list of things that frightened Barrett… but quite near the bottom of the list of things he liked as well.
Barrett swung his axe at the fire elemental, berserk energy crackling on its surface. As he swung from right to left his axe moved in tandem with the wind. Even so, the fire elemental merely leaned backwards, not needing to balance on its feet. Still, the fact that it dodged at all meant it sensed some danger from Barrett’s attack. On the backswing, Barrett’s attack was slightly hampered by the wind instead. Not much, but as he stepped in the fire elemental had an extra moment to step back to avoid his slash at its ‘legs’.
The fire elemental didn’t just stand there letting him attack. It retaliated by launching balls of fire from… pretty much any point on its body. Barrett dodged most of them, though once or twice they hit him and splattered over his armor. The heat seeped in through his armor and the earlier gaps that had been cut on his arms. It was unpleasant but casual attacks from the fire elemental wouldn’t be enough.
Behind Barrett, Aurelia was concentrating on her control of the wind barrier. This included pushing Barrett or the fire elemental at opportune time, helping Barrett to dodge or to constrain the fire elemental’s movements. As she did so, Barrett’s axe finally found purchase, slicing open a part of the fire elemental’s chest. Flames poured out but then resolidified in a few moments, keeping the form of the elemental.
Seeing that its smaller attacks had no effect, the fire elemental changed tactics. After dodging another attack, it moved forward while Barrett was slowed by swinging against the wind. It attempted to cover him, flowing over his body. Barrett let it do so… but pulled back the berserk energy he was gathering on his axe to cover himself. The fire burned him but at the same time his berserk energy tore it apart from the inside. It still managed to maintain its form until Barrett pushed the berserk energy out and through it.
He took a few deep breaths. The battle hadn’t been all that hard, but it was just one of many he still needed to go through. In addition to that, the fire elemental didn’t have any concentrated berserk energy so Barrett had to slowly gather some from what was around.
Barrett and Aurelia went through an entire day of fighting from afternoon to afternoon of the next day. They weren’t constantly fighting, but they didn’t get breaks of much longer than a quarter hours at any point. Most of the fights weren’t extremely taxing but it was starting to wear on them. If there wasn’t a nearly endless amount of energy and mana in the atmosphere they would have been drained dry long before… but then again, in that case they wouldn’t have needed to fight or even be where they were at all. Throughout that time they ran into several other groups- some of which had realized that pairs were able to stay together for some reason.
During the time between battles, they would sit and rest as much as they could. Barrett admired Aurelia’s ability to keep up the wind barrier. Though she didn’t have to call on large personal reserves of energy and mana, being able to maintain control of it for such a long time was a much bigger accomplishment than if someone merely had high capacity. It wasn’t extremely strong defensively but it did provide an area where they could both fight more effectively.
As he meditated to gather and tame more berserk energy, Barrett considered breaking through to fourth tier. He would have to do it at some point… and there was certainly enough energy around. However, he would be out of commission afterwards. While Aurelia could defend him he didn’t want to burden her with that. In addition, he felt something building up and he might be able to do something even better… waiting wouldn’t be bad for him.
Then blood splashed on his face. He’d felt the slightest bit of killing intent from something… and then some from Aurelia, directed at that barely felt figure. All he saw in front of him was her sword covered in blood… as well as blood dripping down an invisible figure that had pulled away. An air elemental? No, they would not bleed. Besides, they would be visible from kicking up dust all around them.
Aurelia sighed, “I thought I would get him…”
Barrett was already on his feet, ready to fight the unseen figure. All he had to do was guess how it might attack… but to do that he would have to figure out how they would fight. He threw a lead ball at the area where blood was appearing and falling to the ground, though he was fairly certain most of the explosion of shrapnel didn’t hit the target.
Barrett saw a hint of something in the air… poison? That narrowed down the possibilities. Silver Blades were an option, but it could also be any sort of other assassin. As for what other assassins would be after them… Ruclua was the most likely subject, though they would have had some difficulty getting through all the higher tier cultivators- just because Barrett couldn’t sense much didn’t mean they couldn’t. Then again, the dust storm and abundance of energy could balance it out the higher tier cultivator’s likely stronger senses and make it much easier for a skilled assassin to slip past.