People with average eyes could recognize someone familiar in clear weather perhaps three hundred meters away or more. Someone less familiar might have to be much closer. Cultivators of course had better eyes and memories, so that distance could increase significantly. Looking back towards the city just a few kilometers away, Barrett picked out the captain of the Church of Prosperity he had run into previously. It wasn’t so hard, with one of his eyes covered in a patch. Perhaps they had the means to heal it with magic or medicine, but even if it was being done, it wouldn’t have completed healing yet.
Barretts attempt to intimidate the group only made a few people lag behind- either those guards who weren’t paid well to begin with, or members of the Church who weren’t entirely on board with their agenda. Barrett couldn’t say that the rest of them were stupid- they did have the advantage of numbers, after all. However, those who continued to follow him after noticing the body at his feet would be extremely incautious at best. Then again, everyone who fought with any regularity would end up believing they wouldn’t be the one to fall even if someone was guaranteed to die. That applied to Barrett as well, but he had more than just his past experience not dying to go off of. He was also fourth tier… and none of those he saw were higher than third tier- most being second or first. Even so, instead of moving towards the running group, he continued away from them on the road.
Their different cultivations and speeds would lead to them splitting up- or having no hope of catching him. Of course, they didn’t have any hope of catching him anyway, but he wasn’t going anywhere close to full speed. He just wanted to push the limits of their speed. Barrett was actually somewhat impressed- One-Eye was leading the pack, which meant he hadn’t completely fallen into a routine of living comfortably in a city.
Soon enough Barrett was ten kilometers away from the city, far enough to make reinforcements inconvenient. Over that distance, Barrett had let people catch up to him so that they were merely a hundred meters or so behind him. Now he slowed down, doing his best to appear physically exhausted- something he had much experience with. He made his breathing heavy to help with the illusion. “This time…” he took a deep breath, “there aren’t any… old men… for you to attack…” Barrett coughed once, then put on a placating smile, “Fine guards of Phanapis, I did not mean to cause damage to your city, I was merely running for my life…” He didn’t expect that to convince much of anyone, but it would let him judge reactions… and determine who needed to die.
The man leading the city guard didn’t respond to Barrett’s words except with an order, “Open fire!”
Around him, the handful of guards who had managed to keep up pulled back bows they carried with him, launching a rather small volley of arrows. The arrows took an entire second to reach his location, more than enough for him to step behind a tree. If any of them were specialized archers, Barrett might not have considered the thick oak sufficient cover, but they were not… so their energy faded before the arrows struck the tree, only causing damage based on the momentum and sharpness of the arrows… at most sticking a few centimeters into the 50 centimeter trunk. Not that Barrett actually needed to dodge, but he preferred to have them be the ones to close the distance… because taking out an enemy or two with surprise would save him some effort.
It was unfortunate One-Eye seemed to remember the danger from before, so he wasn’t the very first to move in. He was still the first to die, but that meant it took some mana for Barrett to do it. As One-Eye approached slightly behind a handful of soldiers from the Church of Ristos, Barrett stepped out from behind the tree, a stone pit in his hand. His entire body leaned almost perpendicular to the ground as his arm swung over his head, flinging the stone pit with the most force he could muster. Perhaps the mana was an unnecessary addition, but he didn’t want to worry about potentially not killing people. The stone pit flew straight and true, through One-Eye’s layer of protective energy, his breastplate, his chest, and then the back of his breastplate and the far edge of his protective energy which hadn’t yet registered that One-Eye was dead. In fact, he could probably survive without his heart for a handful of seconds… but his brain didn’t seem to think it should try. His body collapsed in a heap as Barrett pulled the pit back towards him.
The soldiers in front moved to attack Barrett, but he charged past them, using his axe to lop off whatever limb or torso was most convenient at the time. Perhaps their attacks could have touched him if they had been expecting him to be as strong as he was… but they had assumed they had him cornered and tired. That was the fault of One-Eye, who hadn’t properly explained Barrett’s strength, not that he had experienced all of it anyway.
The guard captain- or whatever his rank was- actually managed to bring his spear up to try to impale Barrett. To his credit, he actually pierced through Barrett’s chestplate, even as his body twisted to deflect the impact. Unfortunately, that meant he only ended up leaving a trail of blood on Barrett’s ribs, while Barrett’s axe found its way right through his midsection, bisecting him. The arrows that had been fired by the other guards were inconsequential.
With a spin, Barrett cut down the rest of the handful of guards- merely second tier for the most part. Because he didn’t emit any energy they couldn’t get a handle on his strength and speed… and by the time they realized their mistakes they were dead. Then he doubled back to kill the remaining church soldiers. Overall, the fight only took perhaps a dozen seconds. Barrett shouted towards the rest of those following him, “Next time Phanapis will do better not to attack blindly!”
Barrett left behind the bodies, not because the armor and weapons weren’t at least slightly valuable- except perhaps the pieces that had been bisected- he didn’t have the desire to hang around picking everything up, and he also didn’t want to dump a bunch of bodies into his magic bag. Having seen him quickly take out most of their best soldiers, the rest of those following were hesitant. Many of them turned back towards the city in retreat… though Barrett doubted they would actually change their methods of doing things. Instead, they would just make sure they were stronger when they next tried to kill him. With that, Barrett planned to be gone before they could gather a bigger force after realizing the whole extent of the situation.