The location of the Macaio clan’s headquarters was on top of a mountain. It wasn’t the largest mountain Barrett had ever seen- nor the most dangerous, since that went to the Lightning Mountains and Bittercold Peak. However, the mountains had unique qualities all their own. As one might expect from the area around the Metal Sea, the mountain was quite metallic, making it shine in the sunlight as it stood up from the area around it.
As they approached they could see the walls that stood up around the land, protecting it. It would likely be much harder to breach them than the ones around the Anakoni clan land- specifically because they didn’t know any of the weaknesses. However, that wasn’t Barrett’s concern anyway. Before they approached the walls, he was led away by Einar- and various other people and groups were led to different locations as well. Barrett only took note of Master Hykel who was going up to the main gate.
They moved to the side and around the mountain a way until they were out of direct sight of the walls. Barrett was going to ask what they were doing, but he wasn’t sure whether he would get an answer- or if it would help. Then he heard a hollow ringing beneath his feet. It was deep- through perhaps a meter of metallic ground- but he could hear it nonetheless. Even when he wasn’t specifically enhancing them, his ears could pick up the tiniest sounds… yet weren’t overwhelmed by exceedingly loud sounds either. Barrett started to walk along above the underground tunnel, and Einar didn’t stop him, which indicated they were going the right way. They stopped next to a seemingly normal boulder that Barrett was pretty sure was the exit for the secret tunnel. “Here is where we should wait. I will be a bit further away to better hide my energy and magic.” Left unsaid was that Barrett should hide his magic as well- though perhaps Einar not mentioning meant it didn’t matter. Either way, Barrett did it to the best of his abilities. At least it should be enough that he wasn’t noticed before they stepped out of the secret tunnel… which someone would presumably be coming out of.
Was there anything else? Barrett considered. Could they sense him through a half meter of metal? He couldn’t say for sure that would be any barrier to metal cultivators. It would be better if he felt like metal. Barrett wasn’t sure if he could have gotten the feeling of metal just right without so much of it all around him, but it was fairly easy to copy the boulder he was leaning up against. As long as they didn’t feel around for the exact shape of everything he wouldn’t be noticed. He wasn’t sure how long he would have to wait, but then he heard something. It was a voice he couldn’t fail to recognize. At his level, Master Hykel’s voice could likely be heard at the bottom of the mountain- let alone anywhere near the top. “Macaio clan! We know you harbor Silver Blade criminals! Turn them over to us and we won’t crush you.”
Master Hykel had to know that wouldn’t work. At least, not directly. If there were any Silver Blades worth bothering with the Macaio clan likely couldn’t restrain them… nor would they want to try. However, Master Hykel’s straightforwardness would be acting as a distraction in this case. Without it even being said, it was obvious that someone would be coming out of this secret passage- or more likely this was one of many that people could come out of. Divination wasn’t perfect after all, at least not sought divinations. However, Barrett trusted that with the help of the Fourth Eye Seers they had the best setup they could hope for.
It was only a few minutes before Barrett heard someone coming. He only had a handful of seconds before the boulder burst away from its location followed by a man. Of course, Barrett had been ready for a while. He was only a single step away from them, and he swung down his axe- it was still quite useful as long as he presumed he was fighting Silver Blades and not metal cultivators. Even though there was no warning, the man dodged away almost effortlessly. Barrett wondered if he had been detected… but that didn’t seem to be the case. Was it his killing intent?
Upon having clear access to sense the man, Barrett could feel his energy… a fifth tier cultivator. A younger one too- while in some fields youth might speak of inexperience, as a cultivator it spoke of talent. It was hard to say exactly how old the man was since cultivators aged more slowly, but his youth was good enough. At the very worst, he wasn’t that much older than Barrett would be when he reached fifth tier. He was only early fifth tier- but Barrett wasn’t quite mid fourth tier yet. He could already tell it would be a dangerous fight.
Barrett wasn’t wearing armor- because that was harder to get rid of when fighting a strong metal cultivator than a weapon which could just be tossed into a magic bag. However, that didn’t mean the dagger that sliced towards his neck was completely unhindered. Armor was just an extra layer of defense for an Immortal Berserker. Barrett’s body as a Pure Body Temperer was something that most first tier cultivators couldn’t even dream of damaging- and his fifth tier opponent only managed to cut through the skin and some of the muscle beneath instead of reaching all the way to a vein or his windpipe. He didn’t feel any poison, but as he pulled back he saw his opponent make a move that indicated that subsequent attacks would. A blade couldn’t be constantly poisoned- most poisons would lose their potency when left out, or they may soak into a sheath.
Barrett took a deep breath. He’d failed to win immediately with the element of surprise, which meant this battle would be much harder than it had to. He didn’t feel anyone else around, which meant he had a chance… but it wasn’t going to be easy. That was counting Einar participating as well- but he was still out of sight. Barrett readied himself to shift toughness to wherever it needed to be, at the same time swinging his axe so his opponent didn’t have too much time to prepare more poisons.