Barrett had known Reina nearly his whole life, and she had been around during the first half of his life. After the fire, they had been separated for a handful of years. When they met again, Reina had become strong. She would be okay without him. Members of the Order of the Four Winds were in the area, and they might already be with her.
Meanwhile, Barrett had met Nilima at the beginning of the second half of his life. The first thing she did was beat him up on the street. Nilima appeared even stronger, able to stand on her own against seemingly all odds. The chance of her needing Barrett’s help weren’t high… but if she did need help there was no one else to do so. She didn’t have a sect to protect her, and Mistress Joshi often left Nilima to her own devices. After being told to act quickly, Barrett’s legs had carried him towards Nilima- he only thought about what it meant afterwards. Even then, he still didn’t really know except that he cared what happened to her… though the same was true of Reina.
As he ran, Barrett felt it. This was the time he could break through to fourth tier. Normally, any attempt to break through in an area with combat was risky- that was even more true for the Immortal Berserker Style. However, with all of the energy in the area Barrett felt he wouldn’t exhaust himself. There was still the issue that he would be destroying his ability to heal- that would still take time to recover. Eight hours, more or less. However, basic recovery ability would take only a minute. He couldn’t recover fast enough in battle to heal wounds anyway. Breaking through would give him access to greater amounts of berserk energy to fight with… and since he felt it was the right time he didn’t hesitate.
From inside himself and all around him Barrett gathered berserk energy, channeling it to destroy his healing ability. Every time he did so it took more energy as his body’s toughness grew stronger… and this time was especially so. He could barely control enough energy all at once to do it and as he did pain coursed through his body. This was what it felt like to die, or at least sit at death’s door. However, pain could be managed. His body stumbled for a moment, then he continued running. As he ran berserk energy came to fill him up like rain pouring in an empty bucket. From nearly out of energy he was filled to an unprecedented level. He could hold more berserk energy now that he was a master… and an additional small portion because of the circumstances.
The reason people didn’t just wait until after the Bicentennial Conflux to avoid the possible danger was because it was beneficial to break through during such an event. Possibly only in a small way, but cultivators liked to take advantage of whatever they could. Barrett felt he would always be able to contain more berserk energy, perhaps just five percent but that could be another average attack.
It took less than a minute before Barrett stumbled across Nilima. He heard her shout- a shout of combat and not pain, so he hopefully wasn’t too late… or wrong. Maybe she would have been fine and he needed to help Reina. Barrett just hoped he didn’t regret anything, but it was already far too late to change his mind.
Barrett couldn’t see anything other than Nilima in the swirling sand, but she moved to dodge, using her energy to deflect something. Magic? It was hard to tell from where Barrett was, all the mana around him making discernment difficult.
As he approached, he felt something attacking him as well. The killing intent didn’t contain any intent for direct physical harm… instead, it was a curse of some sort, carrying with it the feeling of decay. Barrett stepped towards the attack, swinging his axe. Nobody could be very far in this dust storm and target him… and he extended his berserk energy at least a meter beyond the axe itself. He felt contact with something, a magic barrier of some kind, but the curse attack was disrupted. If the opponent hadn’t been invisible, Barrett could have made sure they didn’t do anything again. At least, that was the way he felt. There was just something different about being at fourth tier. Hopefully it wasn’t overconfidence. “Nilima!” Barrett yelled, then tossed a talisman towards her. He had kept up his practice of making anticurse talismans, and though they weren’t all that much to speak of they were at least some protection, though Barrett had also just seen Nilima use her energy to redirect such an attack. The talisman flew through the air and Nilima turned to see it, grabbing it.
“Barrett?” She struck out in front of her, her energy likewise extending far beyond her body. Barrett saw it deflect off another invisible barrier. “Take care of that guy over there!”
“I’m on it!” Barrett was trying to grasp the location of his opponent. It only took a moment to pick them out among the swirling dust. It would take more complicated illusion magic to hide their location completely in such circumstances. While the opponent seemed to be a skilled mage, that wasn’t their area of expertise. Barrett launched himself forward, using the power of his boots to move surprisingly quickly… even to himself, because he also added berserk energy to boost himself forward. He swung at the invisible figure, intending to cleave them in two.
His axe met something both hard and soft. He felt it cutting through something, but not all the way. Then his target became visible, unable to concentrate on both effects. Barrett recognized the black tendrils of energy that the necromancers of the Grasping Hand used. Perhaps others, but they were no further from their home than he was. He supposed it didn’t matter- Barrett wasn’t a fan of necromancers attacking his friends in any case.
It only took a moment for the necromancer to repair the damaged tendril, and Barrett could see they were drawing energy from the air around them- and not just the mana. They could absorb life force, so any sort of free energy also seemed to be helpful. Barrett could recover his energy too, but berserk energy was exhausting to use and control in any case. It would be better to win faster… especially if he was going to help Nilima by doing more than just keeping her fight to a one-on-one.