Finding Kail was easy enough- he spent much of his time around the sect as of late. The reason for that was fairly simple. It was a safe place to cultivate, and he could freely bring out the metal heart he found to cultivate. “Barrett!” Kail grinned, “You’re looking much better. I came to visit after you got back, but you were sort of unconscious. Though for not having a heart I suppose you looked pretty good…” Kail looked to the reflective metal orb near him, “If this thing was a real heart, I wouldn’t have minded giving it to you. You saved my life at least twice, after all. Besides, I know you’d pay me back at some point, and we’d get locked into a vicious cycle of helping each other out.”
Barrett looked around the room, mostly a plain bed, desk, and standing closet. Everything was covered in a metallic sheen, and there were little crystals growing off of the walls and ceiling. “This place sure has changed.”
“The metal heart does it. I remove the crystals off the floor, they’re no fun to step on. So, what do you need?”
“What makes you think I need anything? Maybe I just came to visit.”
“I can tell. Besides, you usually prefer to spend time out at the sparring grounds…” Kail frowned, his golden skin wrinkling on his face. Barrett could feel his hairs standing on end, indicating Kail was assessing him with energy. Barrett couldn’t sense energy beyond his body now, but if it was directly sending him or shortly around him he could feel it now. “What happened to your energy?”
“Oh, you haven’t heard. It’s gone now,” Barrett shrugged.
“That’s… umm… sorry to hear that,” Kail bowed his head.
“Don’t worry about it. It was an indirect consequence of my choices and I don’t regret it. Besides…” Barrett flexed his hand, cracking his knuckles, “I still have more options left to me. I’m now a Pure Body Temperer… for real, instead of just using their techniques with energy to supplement. But… I did come here to ask about something. Have you heard of living metal?”
“Of course. Who hasn’t?” Kail grinned, “I suppose people who didn’t grow up around a metal sea. But no, I don’t know where to get any.” Kail shook his head, “I don’t know if there is even any of it around the southern metal sea. Maybe one of the big clans has some, maybe not. As for actually finding it… that’s harder. Though I bet a metal heart would help. I’d also bet you’d need to be much stronger to find it or at least keep it for long. The Southern Metal Sea hasn’t been doing that well lately… far too few masters. A few generations ago there was a war with the Northern Metal Sea, and we lost a lot of people, inheritances, and equipment. What do you want living metal for?”
“It should go well with Pure Body Tempering… but I hadn’t expected it would be easy to find. Though if it was… it would be better to have it.”
“That’s right. I’d be better off with a full set of adamantine gear,” Kail grinned, “But I’ll have to wait. However, maybe sometime after I’m a master… I could help you look for living metal. Though maybe just being fourth tier wouldn’t be enough. Speaking of which…”
“You want to know how strong I am currently?” Barrett raised an eyebrow, “Why don’t you come find out?”
Barrett didn’t bother wearing armor to fight Kail. Besides the fact that his best armor had shattered into pieces during the Bicentennial Conflux, it wouldn’t do much good against Kail. While he wouldn’t be able to control it from a distance like Kaylani, all of his attacks would be able to basically ignore it- especially since Barrett wouldn’t be able to do anything special to his armor. He couldn’t reinforce it with energy, and his earth element magic wasn’t powerful enough to help there either.
Kail favored a two handed maul as a weapon, and Barrett brought with him… nothing, since his axe had also been destroyed. However, he was a Pure Body Temperer, and even before that had been his exclusive designation he had preferred fighting with fist and foot to any weapon.
Each attack by Kail brought with it a surprising amount of speed and momentum, as the large metal hammer was propelled by both his muscles and metal energy. Barrett ducked and dodged, using his uncomfortably small advantage in speed to the best advantage he had. However, it was enough for him to get in a strike or two of his own. His fist collided with Kail’s breastplate… and though Barrett’s fist didn’t get damaged, he also wouldn’t be able to break through without the aid of berserk energy. He went in for another strike, but Kail’s hammer swung towards him, the haft bending to bring the head closer to Kail’s body.
Barrett caught the head of the hammer with his hand, bending his elbow and allowing the hammer to push him back to dissipate the momentum. Before he’d broken through to fourth tier, his body would have been just on the edge of being able to withstand that blow, but all it did to his current body was numb his hand for a moment.
Barrett considered some alternate ways to attack Kail. He could go for the legs… but while Kail could probably fortify his armor to prevent any damage… it could also result in snapping a knee the wrong way. Kail didn’t recover as fast as an Immortal Berserker, and such an injury could be hard to recover from. Instead there was a better option. Barrett ducked past the maul, which came within a centimeter of his head, and punched towards Kail’s head.
Kail of course ducked out of the way, Barrett’s fist deflecting off his pauldron and metal energy defenses. However, instead of pulling back for another strike, Barrett continued forward, reaching that arm around to grab Kail’s shoulder as his left arm snaked behind Kail’s waist. Immediately Kail’s energy became a repulsive force pushing Barrett away, but Barrett wasn’t a fourth tier Pure Body Temperer for nothing. He got a solid grip on Kail and didn’t let go. His muscles strained, but metal energy wasn’t suited for Kail’s current position. It could keep him from getting damaged, but Barrett shifted his position until he eventually was behind Kail holding both his arms. Kail was strong, having trained his own body to be hard like metal as well as dabbling in some Pure Body Tempering… but he couldn’t do anything to Barrett. Though he could twist and turn his maul to swing at Barrett even without full mobility on his arms, it couldn’t strike hard enough to injure or dislodge Barrett. “Give up?”
“Ugh… yes. I surrender.” Kail slumped to the ground as Barrett let go. “What was that? You got… stronger.” Kail rubbed his shoulder, “You almost ripped my arms off.”
“Don’t be silly, you’re tougher than that. I can control my own strength at least that well. Anyway, I broke through to fourth tier in Pure Body Tempering.”
“Tch. It’s really hard to make up the five years between us. Those muscles are crazy… though honestly you were somewhat scarier with the berserk energy. I don’t know which is worse though… getting beat without really getting injured or being beat up.” Kail frowned, “Should I add some spikes to my armor?”
“It couldn’t hurt. I mean, it could hurt someone, but having more close range options could be good for you. Though you might find it somewhat difficult to damage me anyway.”
“Yeah I know. I saw you eaten by the great worm, then you swam out of the damn metal sea. Now you’re even tougher.” Kail accepted Barrett’s outstretched hand and pulled himself up. “Listen, in four years or so I should be a master… Kaylani too. The Leipeka clan has agreed to help me avenge my clan against the Macaio clan. Will you come with us?”
“What, do you think I’d not be? I already agreed a while ago, remember? Just um… that’s the same year as the next fourth tier tournament. I need to participate in that.”
“Sounds great. Actually, I’d like to participate too if I advance by then. I’ll also be in the third tier tournament in two years. I’d like to see if I can find anyone from the Anakoni clan. A couple have been in contact with me… but I’m hoping more survived.” The two men shook hands, “But, after the tournament we’ll go. I don’t want to say anything good about the whole situation… but at least I met you… and was extremely motivated to grow stronger.”