Barrett mostly just lay on his bed for days. He only got up when he was hungry, and then he would plop back down. Other than that, his thoughts wandered to unpleasant places. How long would it be before soldiers came to arrest him, or kill him? Surely they would know where he came from. On the other hand, any paperwork on him was sort of rushed, and August was dead, so they might take a bit longer. Barrett had no doubt they would find him though.
The only question was what would come first… him getting arrested or killed, or him getting expelled or killed by Master Hykel. Master Hykel wouldn’t want a criminal to taint the school’s reputation. Expelling him wouldn’t be unreasonable. Master Hykel probably wouldn’t actually kill him, but when he was expelled Barrett would have nowhere else to go. He would have to flee the country… but to where? Padrein wouldn’t likely take a deserter, and he didn’t want to go back to Ashia. What would he do?
Almost unknowingly, Barrett had mostly finished recovering from his injuries. It had been more than a week since the battle, and that was more than two months of recovery time. Even though he’d been moving near the beginning, it had merely slowed the recovery of his wounds. Since he’d come back to the Immortal Berserker Sect he’d only rested, and everything seemed to be healing smoothly. He knew he could move around without making things any worse. When the soldiers came for him, he wasn’t going to go easily. Even if that made his crimes worse, he wasn’t just going to surrender himself to death.
Then he heard it. Heavy footsteps outside. It was finally time. Barrett stood up and prepared himself. He’d gotten another axe from the storeroom. Some parts of it were locked off, but cheaper weapons like he used weren’t. He wondered what stopped others from just taking them… besides the trek up the mountain and the threat of Master Hykel. Barrett shook his head. That didn’t even matter. He stepped out the door to face his fate.
“… Master Hykel.”
“Barrett.” Master Hykel nodded. “I heard what happened.”
“Ah… I can explain!” Barrett hurriedly began to tell the story. “It all started when August Garnett found me down in Verton. He planned to arrest me for dodging the draft- Of course I told him I couldn’t be drafted but then he pulled out some papers with the official council seal… Oh right, before that, we’d sparred twice. The first time he beat me… then kicked me in the ribs while I was down. After I got stronger I challenged him again. I just broke his arm… but I think he held a grudge.” Master Hykel just passively listened to the explanation, “Anyway, with the papers and soldiers and stuff, I didn’t have much choice but to let him draft me. Then I didn’t even get placed with the right squads at the battlefield… and the very morning after we got there, before I could do anything, we were in a battle.” Barrett sighed, “Then I had to kill enemy soldiers. I didn’t really have anything against them. Anyway, during the battle one of August’s guards stabbed me in the back with a spear! “ Barrett took a breath, “Then I woke up in the medical tent. August was outside harassing a woman and he had already tried to get me killed like twice… I wasn’t just going to let him kill me or let that happen… so I killed him. Then I ran away and now I’m here. I just needed a place to rest for a while.” Barrett took another breath, “So… please don’t be too angry. I understand you’ll have to expel me, but I want you to know my side of the story. I won’t ask you to hide me from the authorities or anything…”
Master Hykel nodded, “I hadn’t heard all the details, but I’d heard enough.” Master Hykel crossed his arms in front of him and nodded seriously, “I have certain standards that I must hold my students to.”
Barrett nodded, “I know. I’ll go now. Thank you for everything.”
“Ah?” Master Hykel grabbed Barrett’s arm, “Who said you could go? You’re not done here yet.” Barrett frowned, and put his head down. “You’re my only student, you know? I haven’t even gone to recruit anyone for the last two years. There’s no way I’m letting you waste my effort so far.” Master Hykel stuck his finger directly on Barrett’s forehead, “You don’t get to leave even if you want to! Where else am I going to find such a dedicated student? That whole thing where you killed someone and deserted the army-” Master Hykel waved his hand dismissively, “I’ve already dealt with that anyway. You were just defending yourself, and hadn’t done anything excessive to warrant that kind of response. Plus…” Master Hykel cracked his knuckles and glared off into the distance. Barrett started trembling as he felt anger flood over him, “You being drafted broke the deal with me, which meant it was illegal, as far as I’m concerned. You had to run away to not get murdered and protected a pretty girl while you were at it.”
“Uh… so… I’m not expelled?”
“Of course not.” Master Hykel leaned in close, “So, I heard you got stabbed by no less than two spears and a handful of arrows? All that before trekking back here. How are you healing up?”
“Oh… I’m actually mostly recovered now.” Barrett thumped his chest with his fist and grinned. “That’s all your training at work.”
“That’s good. No problems? I have more pills if you need them.”
“No, that’s okay. I have plenty.”
“Alright, well if you need more let me know. Can’t afford to have any lingering injuries. It’s only about five months until that special training thing I was talking about. Maybe before then you can break through the 10th destruction and be a tier 2 berserker!”
Barrett nodded, “Umm… can I still go spar with people in Verton? There’s still probably warrants out for me and stuff…”
Master Hykel nodded, “It’s fine, it’s taken care of. Well, it might take a few days for news to travel properly, so stay up here for now. Once you finish recovering, I’d bet you can go through the eighth destruction!”
Barrett put on a half grin. It was great to advance, but he was worried about regressing… and it always hurt either way.