Barrett stepped into yet another shop. It was full of various fruits, vegetables, and herbs hanging from nets and set on shelves. He didn’t see any other customers- just a round little man who was likely the proprietor. “Do you have any Vitality Pears?” he asked as he stepped through the haphazard rows of shelves.
The round little man shook his head, which involved shaking much of his neck and his entire body and setting it jiggling slightly. “No no, we do not…” before Barrett could respond, the man had reached to the shelves behind him and pulled out a few boxes with little round pills, “We have many pills with healing properties of a similar strength to the Vitality Pear. This one is a bit more expensive but likewise has no side effects. This kind is cheaper, don’t cultivate energy until you have finished absorbing it.”
Barrett shook his head, “I don’t need pills. I need a Vitality Pear specifically. You’ve heard of it?”
The round man shrugged, “Yes. They are not worth the effort to grow- they’re more difficult than regular medicinal herbs, and no good for eating. Too grainy and not sweet. I believe they sometimes grow in Nospor and Sashor. I don’t know where, specifically. My supplier stopped bringing them decades ago.”
“Thanks,” Barrett nodded and flipped the man a coin for the information. He’d been searching for a few days, and hadn’t found much information. None of the shops had any, at least. Nospor and Sashor made sense, because there wasn’t much magic concentrated in either of those countries. However, knowing an actual location was important. He’d already been asking around about possible locations, but he might be able to narrow his search.
After another week, Barrett had narrowed down the possible locations to just a few- though it was also possible none of them actually had Vitality Pears. The important thing was that the areas in question had no natural mana or energy, but weren’t completely devoid of life- plant life in particular. Usually this came as part of a natural barrier of hills or mountains that kept ambient mana or energy from passing by. Such places were actually more rare than exceptionally magical places- such as the Lightning Mountains or Metal Sea. Perhaps they were more common than they seemed but just went unnoticed- because after all lack of mana and energy meant there was generally nothing interesting to be had. There were some magical things that absorbed all the energy and mana from around them, but that left a place with a very different feeling than just not having any. Most naturally occurring incidents would result in the- usually valuable- source of the absorption being taken by whoever first noticed it, unless the surroundings were especially dangerous in which case the information was sold off instead.
Of the locations he had picked out, only one was nearby. Nospor was close enough, and there was said to be a series of ruins where no magic and energy entered. The compound had been thoroughly searched, but there were gardens that had many wild plants and some mundane orchards that had been left undisturbed. There was some possibility of a Vitality Pear tree being among those in the orchards. It was the best and closest lead he had, anyway.
Nospor was southwest of Stredo- west of Ruclua, but he wouldn’t be going close enough to get noticed, even if anyone knew what he looked like and was still looking for him. Barrett thought of the disciples of the nameless God that were still there- it was their choice to remain. He hoped they were safe, but knew they would likely have many more troubles.
Passage into Nospor was easy- he passed through the guard station with a simple inspection. They weren’t interested in stopping people from Stredo- though Barrett felt eyes on him and could sense cultivators nearby. Nospor didn’t have much to offer but grassy hills, so nobody was much interested in trying to conquer them. Even so, they had a fair number of cultivators- as long as there was food of some sort and land, cultivators could set up a base. While the hills weren’t particularly good for farming, that grains and such could be imported. The hills were good for grazing, which meant there were large numbers of sheep and goats.
The previous times he had passed through Nospor, he had been in more of a hurry, either travelling towards the Bicentennial Conflux or retreating from Ruclua with others. As he passed by herds, he could see the herders watching him- and more likely for predators. Stealing a sheep or a goat wasn’t much use for a cultivator- especially not with the potential consequences.
Barrett made his way further into Nospor, and found that where he was going the terrain became more difficult, and the land less tamed. He was attacked by a number of predators who couldn’t sense how dangerous he was. They were more than just normal wolves and wildcats, but nothing of threat to a master.
He found his way along, using his exceptional vision to find his way from ridgeline to ridgeline. Finally, he sensed the ambient mana and energy decreasing as he approached his destination. There was no visible difference- grasses and plants still grew, and he spotted wild animals roaming the hills and birds flying above- but he could feel both sources of power fading. If he cultivated energy still, he would still be able to use his internal stores- it would only slightly affect his endurance in battle and recovery of energy afterwards. As for magic, he would be more hindered. Magic relied more on external sources, and magic users only stored a portion of what mana they might actually use.
As he reached the top of a rise, he could survey most of the valley he was looking for. There was indeed a series of ruined buildings in the center of the valley. He could also see trees of various sorts that were clearly not native to the area- including some fruit trees that wouldn’t necessarily be so happy in the colder temperatures. He couldn’t see any pears, but it was easy for them to be hidden behind leaves or other trees from where he was- it didn’t matter how good his eyes were or how much he focused to enhance them if things were completely covered. He could also see a number of larger things moving around below, disturbing the tall grasses and leaves of the trees. There might be some creatures that considered this area their territory… but unfortunately for them he needed to pass through.