Barrett bashed “ugly face” over the back of the head with the haft of the axe once they came in sight of the bandit’s tents. Ugly face had already shouted out for help, but Barrett didn’t care about that. He just didn’t want someone around to stab him in the back.
Almost immediately Barrett saw arrows flying at him. Somehow, they felt very slow. Maybe he was just too used to fighting second tier cultivators. It only took one step to avoid a handful of arrows. They had been aimed quite accurately, but that just meant they all missed him going toward the same area.
Barrett’s feet and legs still hurt when he ran, so he didn’t run. Instead he advanced forward slowly. The first bandit was too stupid to run away, and for that he got an axe to the chest. The next ones were a bit smarter and took out their melee weapons. That meant they died a fraction of a second slower as Barrett had to do some footwork to dodge.
By this point there were more bandits pouring out of the tents. An extra large man stepped out, carrying an axe even Barrett felt was oversized. “What the hell are you doin’ here, eh?”
“Killing bandits. Obviously.” Barrett shook his head. He wasn’t going to say he was here to rescue Clara- that would just weaken his position.
“Hah! I’ve never seen a one-armed bounty hunter before! With all those scars… looks like you don’t know how to duck! Get him, men!”
The men in question were already moving… and then shortly thereafter getting chopped down by Barrett. A head, an arm, a chest… Barrett didn’t discriminate and chopped everything. The axe was starting to go dull but that just meant Barrett had to swing a little bit harder.
The large man roared and charged toward Barrett… who stepped to the side and felled another bandit. Barrett could tell the large man was much stronger than any of the rest. At the very least he would count as a first tier warrior somewhere. He couldn’t afford to fight him and other enemies in his current state.
A bandit slashed his sword across Barrett’s chest. Barrett stepped back some but not far enough. A line of blood appeared across his chest… but that was all. It wasn’t more than skin deep- where there was skin.
One at a time, Barrett killed the remaining bandits, dodging the big man until he was left facing off against one large, panting figure. Unfortunately, while Barrett hadn’t taken any serious wounds during the fight, he was tired. His old injuries were also aching, almost opening up. Barrett chopped down, only to have his attack blocked by the large man, catching the handle of Barrett’s wood-chopping axe on his own greataxe’s handle.
The man was strong, and the rebound force let Barrett know he had some measure of control of energy. Possibly a berserk energy, possibly something else. Barrett found that he had slowed down, and was barely able to avoid the man’s attacks. He was breathing heavily, his lungs not yet recovered fully- if they ever could.
He didn’t know if he could win. His muscle power was decent, and his training was better… but his opponent was also very strong and had energy to rely on. He was probably somewhere in the late first tier, and Barrett was a cripple. He needed berserk energy to break through the man’s defenses, or some sort of miracle.
“Big brother!” Barrett heard Clara yell from in a tent. Barrett frowned.
“Big brother?” The large man started to back up, “That little girl is your little sister, huh? I bet you want her to live…” He continued backing toward that tent, keeping alert for any moves from Barrett.
Barrett glared and breathed out slowly. With the man still on guard Barrett couldn’t kill him before he could get to Clara… and she was so small it would be easy to hurt or kill her. That thought was enough.
Barrett roared and swung his axe. It collided with the large man’s bigger axe… and shattered. That didn’t stop Barrett as he punched forward, gathering more Berserk energy… and his fist sunk into the man’s chest- after shattering the arm he moved to block. The big man’s eyes grew round as he coughed twice, then fell on his face. Barrett stomped on his head. “Don’t threaten people I like.”
Barrett quickly released the handful of other captives the bandits had before taking Clara back to her home.
“Daddy!” Clara ran inside and hugged her father.
“Clara?” Jack just held onto her, tears streaming down his face, “You’re alright!” Then he leaned over to see Barrett standing near the door, “You… actually managed to bring her back.”
“Told ya. Oh…” Barrett gestured with the axe in his hand, “Your axe broke, I got you a different one but it’s not really for chopping wood.”
“My axe broke?” Jack blinked a few times, “My axe broke?” Then he broke into a fit of laughter… then stopped, wincing from the pain in his chest. “It was old anyway.”
Barrett stayed to help until Jack’s wound was healed. It wasn’t life-threatening… but it would prevent him from working. The two-person family couldn’t afford that.
“You really have to go, big brother?”
Barrett rubbed Clara’s head. “I do. Thank you for everything, but I don’t belong here.”
Jack nodded seriously, “Thank you for saving my little girl. She… she’s all I have left.”
“Don’t mention it. You saved me first, remember?”
Jack shrugged, “Maybe. To be honest, I’m not even sure you can die.”
Barrett held his chin for a moment, thinking, “Nah, I may be from the Immortal Berserker Sect… but I can definitely die. Everyone can die. I just haven’t yet.”
“Are you sure we can’t give you money for the road?” Jack held up the pouch from below the third floorboard.
Barrett shook his head, “Keep it. If I’m hungry or cold, I’ll just kill a bear or something.” Then Barrett turned and walked off. He couldn’t help but speaking to himself, “Boy… Master Hykel is going to be so mad. I’ve missed months of training already…”