Before he went to the Anakoni clan, Barrett stopped by the Leipeka clan first. They were closer and they might have different insights for him… and they were still on quite good terms. After the guards verified his identity, Barrett was brought to a very comfortable guest house, and he didn’t have to wait long for Kaylani to arrive. “Barrett, it’s good to see you.”
“You as well. You didn’t need to rush over… I’m sure you have duties to attend to.”
She waved a hand, “There’s not much more important than going to greet a visiting master. Any particular reason for your visit?”
“Hmm… how to explain…” Barrett started by pulling out a pile of metal shards. He wasn’t worried about them scratching up the table- though they were very sharp, without force behind them they wouldn’t damage much… especially not something made of solid metal. There were certainly light and soft metals… but the Kaylani clan wasn’t the sort to make use of anything like that for a table. Tables were for holding things, and needed to be solid. That was good, because in the end Barrett pulled out over a hundred kilograms of metal shards. “I ran across these strange metal shards. They’re very durable, having kept their shape in sustained high speed winds for… I don’t know how long.”
“I see… may I?” Kaylani gestured to the shards, and Barrett nodded. With a wave of her hand, one of the shards about the length of a finger flew up into Kaylani’s hand. She held it point to point between her index finger and thumb. She pressed down hard enough for silvery blood to flow out of her fingers. “Sharp indeed. And quite heavy. These weren’t even formed into this shape intentionally. They have no marks of work… and to be honest, with all these irregularities, it would be a sad smith indeed who did so… not that most people could do anything with this.”
“Right?” Barrett raised an eyebrow. “Anyway, I wanted to figure out what these were, and ask for some insights into metal.”
“Planning to become a smith?” Kaylani asked. “Or a metal mage?”
“Not exactly.” Barrett shook his head, “I’m not that good at magic, but I do want to understand metal more.”
“What about it?” Kaylani asked, “If we go far enough, almost every pure thing is a metal. Though we consider metal to be like this,” Kaylani gestured at the shard in her hand, “It is not necessarily hard or able to be made especially sharp… or even solid in normal circumstances. Take the Metal Sea for example.” Barrett asked questions for a while, though he already knew about some of the core things like how some metals reacted to magnetism and electricity. However, the Leipeka clan was all about external control of metal… so Barrett wasn’t able to get quite the kind of insight he was looking for.
Barrett did stay in the Leipeka clan for a few days as some of the elders looked over the metal shards. After some work, they determined that it was taspum- a naturally forming alloy of metals that was more common around the Eastern Metal Sea. Of course, that didn’t mean it was common there either, just relatively moreso. It wasn’t as valuable as adamantine, though it was nearly as strong. The only issue was it was more difficult to work into any sort of useful shape. It also remained brittle- though that wasn’t much of a concern as very few things could strike hard enough to shatter it regardless. No one in the Leipeka clan was familiar with how to work the metal, but they promised to collaborate with the Immortal Berserker Sect, and if either of them found anything they would share it. For their effort, and as a gesture of friendship, Barrett left the one hundred kilograms of taspum with them. He still had more than half of what he had gathered, even after leaving about a ton with the sect, and perhaps another hundred kilograms with Reina. Though it didn’t help him actually make use of it, at least he had a name now. Perhaps with that, someone in Stredo could give some information- even though they had less specific knowledge than the Metal Sea, there were ten million people in and around Stredo after all, and many libraries with gathered information… though that knowledge might not be shared.
Though he hadn’t accomplished his goal entirely at the Leipeka clan, he would have been continuing to the Anakoni clan to see Kail regardless. After all, he was most of the way there. The Metal Sea wasn’t exactly small, but the remaining days of travel were certainly not that many in comparison. Instead of travelling on the road, Barrett walked next to the Metal Sea. He’d been able to stay nearby when he was early third tier- now that he was a master, he felt almost comfortable right next to the Sea itself. Of course, he still had to filter his lungs… but that actually let him get more familiar with metal. Whether it would be relevant for taspum was a different question… and whether any metal could become living metal was still in question. It might require a specific sort of metal to begin with, but even if that was the case Barrett would learn some useful information.
Directly next to the Metal Sea, nothing came to attack Barrett. The only things that could survive in the Metal Sea itself were the great worms, as far as he knew… but they weren’t that common. Besides, if one attacked him now… Barrett thought he might give it a pretty decent fight. Maybe there weren’t any in the area, they didn’t think Barrett was tasty, or they could sense the danger from him… but either way, none of them bothered Barrett on his trip.
Finding the Anakoni clan while not taking the roads was still actually rather easy. All he had to do was find the right stream that came to the Metal Sea and follow it away. He had a pretty good sense of where he was, so it wasn’t that difficult. Of course, normal people wouldn’t travel next to even one of the rivers- the Anakoni clan only lived where they did with the help of their special techniques.
Most of the guards had seen Barrett when they came to take back the lands- he was one of the masters there, after all, so they remembered him. Of course, he was also Kail’s friend so even those who didn’t know him still had seen his likeness in some form- he was to be welcomed whenever he showed up.
Barrett saw that the repairs had been completed, and that there were many changes still happening. There weren’t enough Anakoni clan members to fill up the whole area on their own anymore, but there were still some members of the Leipeka clan, and there were also guests that Barrett didn’t recognize- though they were obviously from somewhere around the Metal Sea, there were just no distinguishing features like the Anakoni clan’s golden skin or the Leipeka clan’s grown metal hair. While normal residents of the Metal Sea might have metallic looking hair, it was different from the Leipeka clan’s in thickness and style.
Kail wasn’t immediately available, which probably meant something important was happening… but Barrett didn’t sense any danger either. Hopefully it was negotiating with allies or future allies, because the Anakoni clan would definitely need more of those in the future. Barrett was content to wait regardless.