Shortly after his return from Bittercold Peak, Barrett was surprised to receive a letter. Not that he never got communication from anyone, but usually it was a messenger with a direct message. This was just a letter. Barrett wasn’t even sure who he knew who wasn’t near Stredo… and was the type to send a letter. He didn’t spend long guessing because he opened the letter, first checking who it was from. Simon. He was the follower of the nameless God- the one who had given meals to those who needed as much as he could afford- or sometimes more than he could afford.
I do not know if this letter will reach you in time. Stredo is quite some distance away from Triridge. However, you are the only one I know to ask. Brothers and sisters of mine (in the spirit, if not in the flesh) are facing trouble in Ruclua. The Church of Ristos there has taken issue with their denouncements- denouncements you know are justified. They are facing many persecutions- public beatings, imprisonment, and death. They have been praying to the nameless God for deliverance, and I as well. Though I know your doubts about the nameless God, I would ask for whatever assistance you can provide in this matter.
Sincerely, Simon of Triridge.”
Barrett considered the situation. He wanted to help- he still owed Simon for what he had done- but he wasn’t sure what the best method was. The Church of Ristos was larger in Ruclua, and would likely have cultivators working for them. Ruclua was powerful enough Barrett couldn’t just do whatever he wanted there, even as a master. The actions of the Church of Ristos must have been at least tacitly approved by the local authorities.
It wasn’t a question of whether Barrett would go or not. It was a question of what he could do. Barrett considered his skills. Fighting was at the top of the list. Below that were things related to fighting. Delicate political maneuvering was near the bottom, even though he’d been taught some of that when he was young. He also had money, and while money couldn’t buy everything it could help with many things. It could buy food or a place to stay or help with things he couldn’t do on his own.
If an escort was needed while they fled the country, Barrett could do that. If they needed him to fight all of the soldiers of the Church of Ristos… he would try. Barrett owed Simon more than his life- he owed him his sanity. During his time in Triridge, Simon and those with him were one of the few signs of people possibly being good, the only hope that things might get better. On the other hand, even if Barrett had fully paid back what he owed to Simon, he would have wanted to help. That was the thing about friends- you did things for them even if you didn’t owe them anything specific.
Barrett considered if he should bring anyone else with him. The positives of doing so… backup was good. He would be crazy to think he could take on everything himself. However, other people had their own things to do and bringing too many people would be very… unsubtle. With the recent conflict between Stredo and Ruclua, it seemed unlikely they would take well to a large group of people moving through their territory. That said, if they tried to completely prevent the movement of people from Stredo… they would likely face retaliation. They had already gotten off lightly for trying to move an army through Stredo’s territory when they tried to take over Sashor. They didn’t want a full-out war with Stredo… but they wouldn’t mind letting some of their internal factions cause trouble.
Immediately Master Hykel was off the list. It wasn’t just that calling on Master Hykel to solve his own problems felt like a sign he couldn’t do anything on his own, it was also that bringing Master Hykel into Ruclua would be a political incident on its own- and he would definitely be watched, if nothing else. Sixth tier cultivators weren’t a joke. If he really needed to just fight his way into the country, he would ask Master Hykel… but Simon’s methods of contacting the followers of the nameless God indicated he hoped for a more subtle solution.
Reina was out on a mission, Kail was working on his final push towards Fourth Tier, Lamont’s magic was easily recognizable… the first lead that seemed to make sense was Shanta. She was interested in helping people, though Barrett didn’t yet know her opinions on this particular conflict. She was a doctor, and no sensible country would deny doctors with a good record from entering. Not that Barrett expected to be watched too closely. Masters weren’t that common… but they also weren’t that rare. The Immortal Berserker Sect itself had over 200 of them, and while Ruclua wasn’t as big of a cultivator population as Stredo with its ten million that were mostly cultivators… they were a fairly strong nation. The army they had sent had only been intended to fight Stredo- it had only hoped to pass by. If Ruclua’s various factions combined all their forces, they would be a significant threat to Stredo- but such battle wouldn’t be worth the huge losses on either side.
Since Shanta happened to actually be in Stredo- Doctor Stieber was a known wanderer and Shanta often went with him- Barrett decided he might as well ask for her help. He explained the situation to the best of his awareness. He didn’t want to bring her into a situation she didn’t understand and a situation she wasn’t invested in at least a little bit. “The Church of Ristos, you say?” she stroked her chin, “I’ve worked for them a couple times. They’re moneybags who pay huge amounts of money for medical services… for the important members of course. Though they’re touted to have healing magic, the number of them that actually have such abilities are low… and they lie about healing others. Sometimes people just get better on their own.” Shanta shrugged, “Do they actually help people? Sure, sometimes. I worked with one of their healers who had a good heart… but she didn’t seem entirely convinced of their version of prosperity. I’ve never heard of the followers of the nameless God… but if they’re as you say, then I would be glad to help them. I’ll come with you, and reserve judgements with my actions… though I can promise not to work against you.” She grinned, “That would be a bad move even if we weren’t friends, for many reasons.”
“Great. It seems like they needed help as quickly as possible… I’ll also help pay for supplies you need.” Barrett hoped there wouldn’t be any fighting… maybe this time he would be able to make that choice. The followers of the nameless God didn’t disparage violence as being necessary in some cases… but it also wasn’t supposed to be considered as the first and best option. Barrett liked the idea of that, at the very least.