Barrett wasn’t sure if August Garnett could legally require him to carry his luggage as a mere captain… but it wasn’t a problem anyway. Not that it didn’t make Barrett annoyed, even angry… but that was actually good training. Carrying a few extra bags, however, was not. In fact, all of the heavy lifting Barrett was made to do on the journey wasn’t useful for training at all… because it was relatively little to Barrett. Not that he let that be known. He pretended to strain, to avoid having more work thrust his way.
“You’re slow!” August called back to Barrett, “Hurry it up!”
Of course, with August being the one on the horse, he didn’t have any right to speak. Barrett didn’t deny he was slow, though. He was intentionally going slower just to look like he was having a bit of trouble. If he wanted to, it wouldn’t be hard to outpace the horse at walking speeds. Even though it was technically true that he was slow, it still made Barrett want to rip off August’s head. He was just so annoying. Barrett hadn’t yet ripped off anyone’s head… and didn’t know if it was even possible, but he was willing to give it a try, if there were no consequences. Unfortunately though, there were consequences… and even though listening to August’s petty commands was demeaning, it wasn’t as bad as working for his cousin… Barrett considered whether he would kill Denton, given the chance… and the answer was probably yes. His aunt Melody as well. Killing people probably wasn’t the best way to solve grievances, but it was the easiest method to think of. It was also very good for training berserk energy.
Along the way he had too much time to think about what he was doing, and whether he should have done differently. Though they’d changed out, there were still soldiers around. Maybe they were trained better than the city guards, maybe not. He didn’t like being in a situation where others had power over him. That was why he had wanted to become strong. On the other hand, could he really kill so many people? In theory he could, but a lucky stab through the heart and he’d be dead. Barrett didn’t like being in a weak position, but he also didn’t like doing things that were wrong… or that he felt were wrong. Killing a group of soldiers enforcing what was technically the law didn’t feel right, even if it would prevent probably unpleasantness down the road. Of course, if they had just tried to kill him it would have been a different story. Right now, though, he was just walking and carrying stuff, heading to a place where many others had little choice but to risk their lives. It wasn’t optimal, but it wasn’t wrong either. Barrett did keep in mind that without August, it wouldn’t have happened at all. He was definitely on the list.
It was only a week of travel before they arrived at a military camp on the northern border. Etron wasn’t that big, and they set a fairly fast pace- no matter how Barrett pretended to be slow. It also happened to be the smallest dimension of the country at around a hundred and fifty kilometers, as it stretched out to the east about five hundred kilometers more. Padrein’s southern border was about half as wide, though the mountains still limited its western edge. That meant Barrett was far from the center of either nation… and he hoped that meant the fighting would be less intense.
When he arrived it was nearly night time. All he could really see were a bunch of tents and campfires, before he was assigned to a squad. After finding a spare space in a tent he went to sleep. He was tired, if not so much from physical exertion as thinking and worry about what was happening. He had vague plans to ask for a change in squad in the morning… both because he didn’t want to be anywhere under August’s command and because he should more properly be in a group with other martial students instead of what appeared to be common foot soldiers.
The first thing Barrett heard in the morning was shouting. It took him a moment to recognize it was words, “Everybody up!”
Maybe if he’d been around for longer it would have made more sense, but everything seemed like chaos to Barrett. He was told to get up, get dressed… put his armor on. He didn’t have armor. Nobody gave him armor. He thought there was probably armor somewhere in one of the buildings at the Immortal Berserker Sect, but he didn’t know where. He hadn’t had a chance to stop by there, and it wouldn’t necessarily fit anyway. Well, in the words of Master Hykel, “You don’t need armor if you don’t get hit.”
That didn’t actually make Barrett feel better as he somehow found his way into a line after being jostled around for some time. He was quite good at dodging, but the statement had been followed up with various reasons armor was absolutely desired on the battlefield. Barrett was going to go say something, but he doubted any officers would listen to him at this point. He didn’t know much about military matters, but he knew that wandering around trying to talk to a commander when a battle seemed just over the horizon was frowned upon.
Then Barrett found himself and everyone else marching out toward the battlefield. It was only when he came to a stop that he realized how good his view was. He was one the front lines. He didn’t think that it was a coincidence, though the battle occurring so soon after his arrival probably was. As he looked at the enemy lines, he sighed. He wasn’t ready for battle yet.
Then, as he stood there… he changed his mind. He wanted to go into battle. Well, maybe not… but it was better than just standing around waiting. How long had it been? Minutes? Hours? The sun had gone up, which indicated it was more of the latter. Leaving his position now would probably be seen as desertion, and there wasn’t much he could do… except hope the battle started before he went crazy… or didn’t happen at all. As time dragged on, he was beginning to gain the hope that the latter would be true… until he heard the sound of a horn from the enemy lines.