Returning to full control of his body took Barrett a few days, not because it was difficult but because he didn’t want to damage anything by overexerting his stamina. After all, he was running entirely off of the power of what his body could now do… which was very little, comparatively.
Everyone wanted to talk to him, now that he was ‘back from the dead’. The first person to really get a chance was Clara. She was no longer a little girl- she hadn’t been a half decade earlier. She was a woman in her thirties, married- but with no children yet. She wasn’t a cultivator, but there were plenty of jobs around the Immortal Berserker Sect that didn’t need cultivation… and in fact, caring for Vitality Pears specifically required no energy or mana. That was related to why she was the first allowed to visit. She held up a pear that looked perfectly normal- maybe larger than average, but not special. “This should help. So I hear, anyway. It’s not something I’ve ever had need of.” She shook her head, “This time, everyone thought you were dead… even though your body was still relatively healthy. People were planning a funeral… they just kept putting it off because your body was still alive. But they said it would have been later this year for certain.”
Barrett shook his head, “I thought the same. Maybe I was even more certain than everyone else. I thought the future was more certain than it really was.” He grinned, “I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not yet.” He took a bite of the vitality pear. He wasn’t sure why he had expected some magical effects… after all, it was specifically not magical. However, as the fruit reached his stomach he felt stamina flowing throughout his body. It wasn’t particularly stronger than anything else, but it felt… easier to use? Barrett didn’t really have any injuries, but he had a lot of work to do building up his body again- all aspects of it had returned to a weaker state.
Reina’s visit was short and to the point. “I’m glad you’re alive. I just can’t cry anymore tears for you in the future.”
Barrett nodded. “Then, I just need to make sure you never have a reason to.”
Reina smiled, “That would be great. I wouldn’t bet on it though, knowing you.”
Barrett had nothing to say to that.
Master Hykel- who was a grandmaster, now- was actually in a worse state than Barrett. He probably could move, but it was easier for Barrett to go to him. Grandmaster Hykel nodded seriously, “This is the part where I scold you for being reckless.” He kept his face stern, “Remember, do as I say, not as I do!”
“Mhm. I’ll consider it.” Barrett grinned. “Will you be alright?”
“Me? Well, unlike a certain other person I know, I didn’t do anything so reckless as to drop down a tier. Or four. I just have to be careful for a while. A few months or so.”
Barrett thought for a moment, “And then we’ll have seven grandmasters. Unless another one popped up while I was… gone?”
Grandmaster Hykel shook his head. “You think grandmasters grow on trees? It’s not that easy. Even I could have been considered freakishly early having reached seventh tier from sixth in just twenty years. Should have been another two to five years, and that would still be considered optimal. Too risky. I’d do it again though. Especially now… since I didn’t even think there was a chance to save you.”
“You really think Einar would go into a battle he could die in?”
“Of course. You remember when he fought you in the tournament? He can’t see his own losses.”
Barrett frowned, “He sounded pretty confident in knowing I would live… but then again, he could have been the one wrong about the prophecy just as easily as me. But he should know that now?” Barrett tilted his head, “Which means maybe I need to thank him for risking his life, or not.”
Kail came to visit next… wearing Barrett’s armor and carrying his spear. He removed his helmet and stood there awkwardly. “I… uh… sorry for taking your stuff, but you were dead. It suited me best so…”
“It does.” Barrett nodded. “Keep it.”
“Are you sure? I can-”
Barrett waved his hand, “It’s not part of me anymore. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to do anything with it for a while.”
“Right.” Kail nodded. “Kaylani would have come too, but I didn’t exactly tell her. Since I didn’t exactly intend to live, I couldn’t risk her and the baby.”
“Hmm?” Barrett tilted his head.
“Oh. Right. You’ve been… well. We’re married now. A union of the Leipeka and Anakoni clans.”
“I see. I hadn’t really expected…”
Kail shook his head, “It was the best choice for the clans. Neither of us had any objections, either. That doesn’t sound right.” Kail paced back and forth for a moment, “Neither of us were really romantics, you know? Nobody could have made us do it, and we could have solidified the alliance of the clans another way. This was just the best choice for everyone, and we’re happy together.”
“You said you didn’t tell Kaylani?”
“You’re going to need that armor when you get back.”
Kail’s face contorted in a despairing grin, “It’s a good thing it’s not easy for others to control.”
Master Alnherr was the second to last of those who had come to rescue Barrett- Mistress Seviren had helped because of her attachment to Reina and Teran Hykel, though she was fond of Barrett as well. Barrett looked over Master Alnherr.
“What?” Master Alhnerr grinned widely, “Why do you look surprised? I told you next time we met I’d be young.”
“So you expected me to die? How mean.”
“When you leave on a final journey acting like you’re going to go die somewhere else?” Barrett nodded. “I did. How did you find me?”
“Coincidence. I was wandering the area- a few days away- and saw that young woman dashing past, muttering to herself about ‘Barrett’. So I stopped her and asked. She reluctantly allowed me to come along.”
“Did she mention she was going to fight a grandmaster?”
Alnherr shrugged, “Might have. I could have pulled out a few good tricks to get a chance, but then all those others showed up… and you were helping from the inside.” Master Alnherr stroked his chin, “I’ve never gotten to use Pure Body Tempering from inside someone else. How is it?”
“Bad. Other people’s bodies are the worst.”
Alnherr nodded sagely. “Hmm, I bet.” He turned to leave, then stopped. “Be nice to the young lady with your heart. She’s more fragile than she feels.” As he stepped out of the room, his arm shot out and grabbed something, then he tossed Nilima into the room. “Whoops, you weren’t supposed to hear that.” His voice indicated he knew she was listening the whole time. “You kids talk things out. Oh, and you-” he pointed to Nilima, “Try not to forget Barrett’s a little easily damaged right now, hmm?” With that, he stepped out the door and shut it behind him.