As he made his way vaguely to the north, Barrett thought over the situation. Would things changes in Phanapis? Perhaps a bit, but that also might be for the worse. The biggest hope for the city actually changing for the better were the followers of the nameless God- or any others like them. People who stayed around to enact change over time- hopefully for the better. While the Church of Ristos would disagree with Barrett on what was ‘better’, Barrett believed he was in the right… more importantly, that there actually was a right side. Maybe he didn’t fully understand it yet, but he knew that trying to make things better for people in general was better than making things exceptionally good for a few- which was what the Church of Ristos practically did. They also worked to deceive into believing they were doing good for people as a whole, while they really only made life slightly better for those more sympathetic people they fed with a small portion of their donations. They were worse than the merchant guilds, who were at least quite honest about the fact that they were lining their higher ranking members pockets with gold.
Then again, Barrett thought the Church of Ristos was wrong even if they only cared about money for their highest ranking members. They could spend more money on encouraging real economic growth, which would then mean whatever portion of money they had would become larger. However, he understood that it was easier to just receive money and speak vague and encouraging platitudes… though he wondered how much money they might be spending to maintain their image.
Barrett had been raised to take over Durham and the surrounding region. Now he knew how small that place was. He’d seen Stredo, which had more population within its borders than all of Ashia, but only took up a very small area. Of course, that was all because it was a city of cultivators… and it had grown to that point over many years. It was just so huge Barrett hadn’t even considered being able to rule anywhere and having it be… relevant. Even though his father had rules in Durham, he had been tossed away callously for… well, not a better ruler, certainly. Someone with connections, then. Even if Barrett ruled all of Ashia, he would still be subject to the control of the Ostain Empire, and even just the Grasping Hand probably held enough sway to remove the king of Ashia. They certainly wouldn’t be the only faction with that much power in the Ostain Empire.
Thus, he hadn’t even considered a leadership position. He had considered perhaps one day being an elder of the Immortal Berserker Sect… but while they certainly had influence to make the world better, there was only so much they could do. In Stredo, there were many powerful factions. Ruclua was weaker than Stredo as a whole, but they were unified under a king. Then there was the emperor of the Ostain empire- when Barrett was young there hadn’t really been much information about cultivators in Ashia, but the emperor was… a mage of some sort? Barrett hadn’t looked into it much, but that was what he remembered. Maybe he was a member of the Grasping Hand- though from what Barrett had heard the emperor didn’t seem to use necromantic magic.
The point was, he was very far from being able to truly influence the fate of a country or even a region… not if others set their minds on it. However, that didn’t mean he would always be so far. He had somehow become a master- it wasn’t that he hadn’t worked hard or had fortunate events help him along, but it was just that he hadn’t even known people could be as powerful as he was now, and he wasn’t even close to the limit- if there really was one.
Barrett wanted to be stronger to control his own destiny… but he knew there were many who couldn’t- either because they didn’t have the opportunity or the aptitude or they were devoted to something else they found more important. Most people were in the first group. Maybe he could provide more control for other people… but if he was providing it, was it just him having control? That did seem to be a contradictory task… so perhaps he could at least make things better and give people a chance to control their own life. All he had to do was become a grandmaster. That just meant cultivating diligently and continuing to not die for… 45 more years, three times as long as he had been cultivating so far. And, while he definitely had the potential for that… even if he never got in another battle, there were three more chances for him to die, with not an insignificant chance of it. Advancing to new tiers as an Immortal Berserker was dangerous… though it was hard to say exactly how now that he wasn’t even using Berserk energy. Maybe he would run into a roadblock nobody knew about… or maybe as he aged his body wouldn’t be able to handle Pure Body Tempering. Alnherr had made an advancement to fifth tier at his age… but with no offense to Alnherr, Barrett had his eyes set higher than that.
Barrett avoided going directly to the Immortal Berserker Sect. Instead, he went through Stredo. It was a handful of kilometers out of the way, but on the chance anyone decided to track him they would lose him there. That didn’t mean he would be perfectly safe, but if he could reduce the risk of trouble to himself and the Immortal Berserker Sect it would be better. The relationship between Stredo and Ruclua couldn’t really get much worse, and Barrett wasn’t going to significantly change that with his actions.
He met up with Shanta and the refugees from Phanapis… except Caprica wasn’t with them. “What happened to Caprica?” Barrett asked.
“Nothing,” Shanta shrugged, “She just moved onto other places. She can’t exactly enter Stredo anyway. She was headed for Ogloni, last I heard.”
“I… see,” Barrett nodded. He understood the implications of that. However, Shanta had nothing negative to say about her, and Caprica had been hidden by the followers of the nameless God, which meant they had been willing to give her a chance. Barrett’s personal opinion towards necromancers and the like wasn’t positive… but he supposed everyone could change. Especially if what was said about Simon was true. Barrett wasn’t sure if he would be able to trust people so easily… but maybe that was a problem with him and not the followers of the nameless God. Then again, it wasn’t like they trusted people instantly in most cases. Barrett just found the idea hard… which was strange, because he at least had a way to protect himself if someone chose to betray him. He just hadn’t personally seen anyone change… not that he’d given anyone a chance.