In the end, Barrett wasted a few hours trying to find a sparring partner before giving up. As he left Verton, he was stopped at the city gates by the guards. “Are you Barrett?”
“That is my name, yes.”
“Come with us, please.”
“We need to talk to you inside.”
Barrett frowned though it wasn’t easily visible under his bandages, “Why can’t you talk with me out here?”
“Just come with us.” The tipped their spears forward toward him threateningly.
“Am I under arrest? If so, you have to produce a warrant.” If he wasn’t a disciple of a martial school, they could have arrested him more easily. One guard nodded to the other, who went into the guard station. “What’s he doing?”
“Getting the warrant, of course.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
Before the guard could respond, a dozen more guards came out of the station. Among them was one who appeared to be the captain, based on his insignia. Surprisingly, there was also a young man not dressed in guard clothes, and he spoke first. “Dodging the draft is a pretty serious crime. Men, bring him in.”
“I’m a member of the Immortal Berserker Sect, and have an exception from the draft.”
“Times have changed.” The young man turned to the guards, “Well?”
Two of them moved forward. Barrett reached back for his axe, “If any of you touch me I’ll have to assume you’re bandits disguised as guards and kill all of you.” At the same time, Barrett released a cloud of berserk energy. It was very thin, but it gave an impressive atmosphere good for intimidation. That was of little good if Barrett had no confidence in his voice, but he was confident. City guards weren’t trained for real combat- in most cases the worst they had to deal with was a violent drunk. Even their captain would only be equivalent to someone at the mid first tier in terms of martial standards.
The two guards who had moved toward him exchanged glances, then looked toward, not the captain, but the young man again. Barrett actually recognized the young man now. He had sparred with him before, and the young man was one of the sore loser types. “Another crime to add to your list.” He pulled out a small roll of paper. “The documentation is here. Now if we can get on with this…”
“You expect me to trust that piece of paper says anything? You have to show me.”
“Oh?” The young man raised an eyebrow, “What good would that do you? Can someone like you even read?”
“I can read… and even if I couldn’t you would have to show it to me anyway.”
“Fine. Here.” The young man tossed the document to Barrett.
Upon reading it, he was disappointed to find that it was real… or at least, as far as he could tell. He wasn’t an expert in forgeries, but the letter had the seal of the council on it which was genuine, at least as far as he knew. “By order of the council of Etron, Barrett Ravenhall of the Immortal Berserker Sect is no longer exempt from the draft.” It was pretty clear… and confirmed something for Barrett. It called him out specifically, instead of mentioning the students of the sect. While it was not really different in practical terms because he was the only one, it mattered. It meant he was specifically targeted… and it also meant that even if he killed everyone here so there would be no witnesses, he would be the primary suspect. Barrett considered doing it anyway, but what really stopped him was… it was legal. He didn’t like it, but being drafted wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. “Fine. You can draft me.”
The young man rolled his eyes. “Finally. Now, arrest him.”
“Stop right there. You still have no basis to arrest me on.”
“I told you, dodging the draft. Since you admit you can be drafted… Well, there’s also resisting arrest.”
“I haven’t dodged the draft. Until now I hadn’t been informed of my eligibility… and I still haven’t been served with a draft order. Since you also have no legitimacy to arrest me, you can’t add resting arrest onto the list either.”
The young man shrugged. “Fine. I captain, August Garnett of the Etron army, I hereby draft Barrett Ravenhall, according to the powers vested in me.”
Barrett grimaced slightly. The young man… August was too young to be a captain. That said, Barrett didn’t doubt it. After all, he was related to the head councilor. Barrett didn’t know August’s name, but he knew that the head councilor’s surname was Garnett. Whether this was his son or nephew or something else, it didn’t matter much. That gave Barrett even less reason to suddenly start killing people, based on the consequences. Besides, he didn’t really have that deep of grudges with August… yet. He remembered their first spar… back when he had just started training. August had broken his leg- which should have ended the spar, but then he kicked Barrett in the ribs when he fell down. For that, Barrett had come back later and defeated him, breaking his arm in the process.
Was that enough reason for August to seek revenge? Possibly. Barrett knew how petty people could be. That made him angry… but having never actually killed people, Barrett didn’t intend to start now. Not to prevent something unknown, no matter what Barrett could imagine. No, even though he might deserve it, Barrett had no real surety that August should die. Maybe have his face broken for his pettiness, but not killed. Still, Barrett decided not to take that option off the table entirely. He would have to accept the current disadvantageous decision to avoid having the country come after him. Depending on how things went, Barrett wasn’t against running away, even if he had to flee the country or go live in the wilderness. Unfortunately, he would have no idea how to explain what happened to Master Hykel… and it would probably be the end of his training. He didn’t want that, but he supposed he could always continue on as he was without additional instruction. For now, though, he would have to deal with a petty little brat- who just so happened to be older than him.