Barrett returned to the safehouse of the followers of the nameless God only after he was certain he wasn’t being followed. The watchers hadn’t smelled like they were from the Church of Ristos- expensive oils and perfumes- but that didn’t mean they weren’t working with some allied faction or the city guard or something like that. Even with all his wandering paths Barrett didn’t arrive much later than Wilt- Barrett moved much faster alone than if he was walking with someone.
The first thing he did was deliver the food, then talk to Charlotte about what he had done. “Because of that, I’m not sure if I might be recognized in public and cause trouble for you.”
“Hmm… normally we would allow anyone who needs help to stay with us, no matter what potential trouble they were in. However, you don’t really need our help, do you?” Charlotte shook her head, “I won’t say you can’t stay with us, but it indeed might be dangerous for us if you stay. However, if you want to help we do still have something you can do. Some people have been talking about leaving the city, and we have finally decided it would be for the best.”
“You’re leaving the city? Good, that makes the most sense if you wish to avoid conflict.”
“Ah, I think you slightly misunderstand. We’re not all leaving. This is our city, after all. We couldn’t just leave the people here alone. However… there are also many who don’t wish to stay here any longer. They might be recognized at the gates or run into trouble on the road. With you, Caprica, and Shanta, you should be able to keep them safe. We just need a good way to get everyone out of the city… preferably without anyone getting caught or ending up in a huge battle with the city guard.”
“It depends on how long you want to wait…” Barrett scratched his chin, “I could dig a way out of the city but that would take days or more, mostly because of disposing of all the dirt. Then of course the tunnel would lead back to wherever it started. We could just force our way through the gates or break down a section of wall. Or we could try to sneak past the guards during the day, though one large group would cause complications and many small groups would risk too many chances to get noticed.”
“Cultivators allow so many… options,” Charlotte half-smiled. “We will have to determine how many people are leaving and figure out the best method.”
Over the next few days Barrett moved around Phanapis in disguise. It wasn’t a very complicated disguise- he merely put on his armor. There were enough cultivators that someone walking around in armor wasn’t strange. As long as he didn’t go through any checkpoints and have to remove his helmet, he wouldn’t be easily recognized. Of course, he also had to keep his mana restrained… it was odd to have a mage in heavy armor- though not impossible, depending on the sort of mage in question.
Barrett noticed the city seemed to be on alert. He couldn’t say it was unrelated to his actions. In fact, he saw wanted posters that vaguely fit his looks. The wanted posters couldn’t or didn’t say what he had done or even mention a reward, which resulted in some scoffing from the general populace. His actions had been public enough for many people to know what really happened, or at least some idea of it. Barrett hadn’t even directly attacked anyone, nobody died, and while only a few dozen people at most saw the battle, many more had heard of it. The Church of Ristos wasn’t the only power in the city, and the city guard was receiving flak for favoring them so strongly.
With the embarrassment of what had happened, the Church of Ristos was both on the alert but not willing to take any actions for the moment. Overall, it wouldn’t be much easier or harder to leave the city.
“I see why you wanted to help these people,” Shanta remarked to Barrett, “They’re good people.”
“You are too, you know,” Barrett responded.
“I appreciate the sentiment, but while I care about certain people… they care about everyone.” Shanta shook her head, “Not that they wouldn’t kill people if necessary, but they think about all the people who might die slightly innocently, guards and regular soldiers. They even believe everyone should have a chance at redemption- though Charlotte admitted that it’s very hard to actually go through with that. However, a handful of the people hiding here were members of the Church of Ristos who denounced their practices upon finding out what they really did… or even after having a change of heart. That Simon you mentioned… he was an inquisitor of the Church of Ristos once.”
“The Simon I know? The middle aged, portly fellow?”
“The very same one. It took… some time for the followers of the nameless God to accept him. There are reasons he ended up all the way in Ashia. And Caprica… well, she has her own story.” Shanta shrugged, “The plan to get out is pretty simple. I’ll knock out the guards at the gate, then we’ll travel north towards Stredo. Most of the non-cultivators will likely end up settling in Sashor. Either way, we’ll give them a chance to settle elsewhere.”
The total number of people Shanta brought with her was about two dozen in size. There were a handful of first and second tier cultivators, with Caprica being the only third tier cultivator in the bunch. They headed for the west gate- the guards had a chance to remember activity nearby, and so going through the north gate would reveal the ultimate direction they were headed. South led deeper into Ruclua, so it might lead on that they were going the opposite direction. The gates weren’t exactly laid out on compass directions- the west gate was more to the northwest of the city. West led towards Nospor, which was a sensible enough place for people to go. It would still be possible to track them through various means, but at least they might slow down pursuit slightly with their diversion.
The western gates were closed, Shanta walked up to them, turning sharply as she neared the wall. Powder floated up to the guard towers carried by her energy, and within a minute Shanta had circled back around… the heads of the guards in the tower already drooping.
Shanta jumped up and grabbed onto the wall of one of the towers- they might have been high enough to do some good against lower tier cultivators, but Phanapis was certainly not intending to resist a siege against masters- or even large numbers of third tier cultivators. It was nowhere near the largest city in Ruclua, and had nothing on the size of Stredo itself. She climbed the rest of the way onto the wall and inside the gatehouse. Once inside, she rotated the wheel to open the gates- it was supposed to require multiple people, though that was with the intention of them being first or second tier cultivators at most. While Shanta wasn’t extremely strong in body training, her energy helped provide sufficient leverage. Once everyone was through, she returned the gates to their closed position and jumped off the wall. The group hurried along to cover so they could avoid the gaze of the other guards in different sections of the wall. Meanwhile, Barrett was elsewhere, hopefully causing a worthwhile distraction.