“So how are you going to take a cave?” Reina asked.
“Oh, I’ll come back later. It can stand up to all these shards for a long time, so it should be pretty valuable.” Barrett took a stance, then punched the wall. There was a horrible snap, and he held up his limp arm, “Yes, indeed… I’ll return later.”
Reina winced as he straightened his arm out. “Why do you do that?”
“How can I really know the material strength of something if I don’t test it against something I know?” Barrett shrugged, “I’m the most durable thing I know of here. Should we go?”
“Let’s wait for your arm to heal more. I don’t think it would be… pleasant… in the wind outside.”
“A fair point,” Barrett nodded. He sat down and reached into his bag, then leaned over, sticking his whole arm inside before finally pulling out a hunk of dried meat. “I think I put in too many metal shards.” With all of them put together, they had to weigh at least a ton. No, more like two or three. Because of their shapes, they took up quite a bit of space as well. Barrett ate and concentrated on healing his arm. In the end, the pair spent a half hour returning to peak condition, since they hadn’t really rested after going through the metal shards the first time. Barrett’s healing didn’t take that long, but he was still covered in new scars. However, recovering stamina in a sustainable fashion took a bit longer. He could have forced out more speed, but it wasn’t like they were in a hurry.
The trek back to the beginning of the valley was actually easier. Going with the wind without being blown away wasn’t necessarily easier than going against it, but Barrett was now weighed down by a large amount of material. He actually weighed much more than one would expect, but the metal shards still outweighed him many times.
The wind valley was nearly devoid of plants- few things could stand up to constant wind, and even if they could they would need soil to survive. However, at the end of the valley the wind settled down- and the soil brought there allowed plants to grow abundantly. The trip back to the entrance took another several hours, since they wanted to keep themselves steady.
“Hmm…” Barrett frowned as he saw several approaching figures, “Recognize any of them?”
Reina looked off towards them, concentrating for a moment. “Wind… but definitely not from the Order of Four Winds. It feels more like… ugh. Blossoms.”
“Blossoms?” Barrett searched through his head for that name.
Before Barrett could come up with it, Reina rolled her eyes. “The Order of Blossoms Floating Gracefully on the Breeze.”
“Ohh, them,” Barrett nodded. “So what do you think, coincidence? Any particular grievances.”
“Nothing important…” Reina shook her head, “Though I wouldn’t say we get along. Let’s just go.”
The pair continued along their former path, content to let the group pass them, but soon enough four women came into view, obviously heading for them. They all wore clothes that seemed overly flowy, though Barrett figured they were still just barely practical. The leader- not the oldest among them but instead a woman around a similar age to Barrett and Reina- stepped slightly forward. “Why, what a coincidence meeting you here, Reina.”
“Is it, Suvi?” Reina raised an eyebrow, “It might reasonably be expected for a wind cultivator to be in a wind valley.”
Suvi pulled a fan out of her sleeve, waving it at herself. “There’s no need to be like that. You do indeed fit in here, but one might wonder what you brought this man all the way out here with you.” Suvi smiled, “You are Barrett Ravenhall, of the Immortal Berserker Sect, are you not?”
Barrett nodded. As he did so, he felt his body filling with heat, and quickly became aware it wasn’t natural. That said, he hadn’t detected any poisons in the air… but then he realized his mistake. Not all poisons were the same… and some were completely benign in origin. “I am,” Barrett kept his face neutral as he tried to filter out the pollen entering his nose and lungs. He didn’t sense killing intent or any real hostility, but he was prepared to fight at any moment.
Reina took half a step forward, and Barrett felt a breeze blowing over him. “Unlike you, I am not ashamed of my actions. If we were together in that way, someone would have heard us already.”
“Is that so?” Suvi stepped past Reina towards Barrett, “It must have been a pretty boring trip then. Men have their desires after all… don’t they?” Suvi reached a finger towards Barrett’s chin… and the moment it touched him she found herself tumbling end over end.
Barrett had his own principles. He wasn’t going to cause real harm to someone who didn’t intend to fight, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t embarrassing to be sent flying. “Not interested.” Barrett brushed past the other three who were not sure how to react, and Reina came with him, grinning.
“How are you feeling?” Reina asked as they got further away.
“Hmm, if I’m to be honest… I’m feeling like it sounds like a good idea. The two of us, that is. However, giving into pollen would be rather embarrassing. Could you watch me for five minutes?” Barrett sat down.
“Sure,” Reina nodded.
Though he’d already removed the pollen, the effects were still around. While he could force his body into a different state, it was better if things happened somewhat naturally. Instead, he gathered his stamina throughout his body… to a few separate points. There was a popping and cracking sound as he underwent a destruction… and because his body would be exhausted, only essential functions would continue. Though it took hours for him to be able to get out of bed after the first destruction, a handful of minutes was enough for him to be at some level of functionality now, after multiple destructions simultaneously. As he opened his eyes, he saw Reina watching… just as he’d asked, he supposed. “So… what are your opinions on the matter?”
Reina shrugged, “Right now, it sounds like a good idea to establish dominance.” Then she grinned, “I certainly wouldn’t mind… but I don’t know if I can keep up with your pace.”
“What do you mean?” Barrett tilted his head, “You certainly are keeping up with cultivation.”
Reina shook her head, “I just don’t like seeing you hurt. But it happens a lot. And I can’t help but wonder… would you have torn out your heart for me?”
Barrett put his hand on his chest, “Without hesitation.”
Reina smiled, “That’s good to hear. But that makes me think… would you do that for any of your close friends? You don’t need to answer that.” Reina sighed, “Cultivation doesn’t really make anything easier, does it?”
Barrett shook his head, “Only fighting. People are still… people. I don’t think anyone knows how they work, beyond the superficial body.”
Reina laughed, “It’s funny to hear a Pure Body Temperer call a body superficial.” Reina held out her hand, “You gonna stand up?”
Barrett took her hand, though she couldn’t actually do anything to help pull him up. Then the two of them set off back towards Stredo.