Nilima spent a few days recovering, then she came to visit Barrett. “I’ll be out wandering the world for training. The next fourth tier tournament is in four years… we should be at late fourth tier by then. I won the second tier tournament, for whatever that means, but the timing just wasn’t right for third tier… one of us should win the next fourth tier tournament.”
“Hmm, okay,” Barrett nodded, “In that case, it will be me.”
“Well, you can try,” Nilima shrugged, “But if you don’t work hard enough, you won’t stand a chance against me.” With that, she walked away.
Interactions between Barrett and Nilima had always been like that- though their first interactions involved even less talking and even more fighting. Barrett would be lying if he said there were any friendly feelings towards Nilima in those first days, but after he learned more he realized that was just the way she was. She fought people to grow stronger- because the other choice was not to be stronger, and Barrett understood more and more what that meant. That meant accepting the choices others in power made- and while Barrett didn’t mind some of the choices, there were many more he disagreed with. Stredo managed to maintain peace within itself for the most part, but there could certainly be more attempts to root out corruption.
As for particular things, besides everything that had happened with Ashia, Barrett was also thinking of the Southern Metal Sea. Kail had reached fourth tier as well, just before the tournament. However, instead of participating he had worked on stabilizing his cultivation. That was because there were plans to take action against the Macaio clan. Of course, Kail wouldn’t be doing so alone. There were other members of the Anaconi clan Kail had found, and they wanted to help take revenge. One of them had reached fourth tier as well- though he had been third tier long before. In addition, he had Barrett and Kaylani- and the rest of the Leipeka clan. The Immortal Berserker Sect had also sent a few members… or rather, Kail had convinced them to come. The Immortal Berserker Sect wouldn’t be officially participating, both because they didn’t owe Kail anything and because it was inappropriate for them to take action in that way in another country. However, because the actions of the Macaio clan were deplorable they sent a few members to help- along with the volunteers. Among those volunteers was Master Hykel.
The Macaio clan wasn’t made of pushovers- but they weren’t like the Immortal Berserker Sect either. They didn’t have any grandmasters, or even many masters. At the time they had wiped out the Anaconi clan, they had two masters and two dozen third tier cultivators in the area. Barrett had killed two of their weaker third tiers, two middle aged men who had barely reached third tier. More importantly, he had killed one of their direct members, even though he had only been second tier he had potential. In theory, anyway. Otherwise, Barrett doubted he would have had two third tier guards, even if they weren’t that strong. In the twelve years since then, they now had four masters and around fifty third tier cultivators- plus second and first tier.
However, the Leipeka clan had also grown stronger since that time. Though they hadn’t participated in the struggles with the Macaio clan, Barrett knew they had at least one master protecting their clan during that time- possibly a few. Seven years before the current moment, Kail had given the Leipika clan a metal heart. Barrett wasn’t sure of the exact results, but the Anaconi clan was sending Kaylani, an older master, and two other recent fourth tier cultivators. It was likely they still had several remaining behind. Of course, it wasn’t all due to the metal heart- the spring they had fought for also contributed to their clan’s growth. Even so, they were very grateful to Kail, and they disliked the methods of the Macaio clan as well. The two clans weren’t close enough to have any real conflict- with about a quarter of the Metal Sea in between them- but they came into contact occasionally. Recently the Leipeka clan had been researching the Macaio clan for this very purpose. The Macaio clan might not have suspected anything, though it was likely they would become aware of the army as it marched.
That’s what it was- an army. Any group with ten fourth tier cultivators was an army- in fact, Master Hykel himself could certainly be considered an army. He wouldn’t be participating much in the battle- not because he didn’t want to help, but because it was a matter of the Metal Sea. It wouldn’t do to look like the Immortal Berserker Sect was trying to attack a clan. If that was the case, Crilen- the nearby city- might take action. Then again, Barrett knew they wouldn’t do so without proper incentives… because they didn’t even bother to chastise the Macaio clan for their destruction of the Anakoni clan.
The army marched around the Metal Sea- staying much further away from it than Kail and Barrett had been. Though with their numbers they could easily handle any monsters that came out, it was the corrosive effect of the area there that was the problem. Not even all the metal cultivators would do well there- the Anaconi clan’s technique did well in such an area but the Leipeka clan cultivators focused less on their bodies and more importantly on different sources of metal intake. The Anakoni clan’s land had been next to a river with the same properties as the Metal Sea- though on a much weaker level. The Macaio clan either had a technique that worked there to some extent or had stolen the Anakoni clan’s technique, because they had been doing well there from the information that was gathered. In fact, they had to have known beforehand that they could gain benefits from there… otherwise there was no reason to make the attack. It wasn’t unreasonable for there to be other techniques around the Metal Sea that would use its power to cultivate. In fact, it would be weirder if there weren’t at least a few, even if it was somewhat dangerous. It was the same principles behind the Immortal Berserker Technique- it was dangerous, but it also came with a high likelihood of becoming strong if you survived. Of course, that was just during cultivation for the most part. Barrett knew Kail and the rest of the Anakoni clan members were planning to make sure as many of the Macaio clan members as possible died in battle… though they also wanted to take back their ancestral land.