As they passed through the gates, Barrett saw archers on the walls and guards at the gate… but felt they were rather sparse. “Shouldn’t there be more of them?”
Master Hykel shrugged, “That’s not necessary. There are more guards to be had, but the walls don’t need that many all the time. Especially not on this side.”
“Hmm, fair enough.” Barrett couldn’t tell how strong the gate guards were- except that they were probably higher tier than him. At least third. He knew there had to be stronger ones if they were to be useful- since Master Hykel had mentioned the city guards kept things under control. If they didn’t have stronger guards, they couldn’t handle Master Hykel himself, let alone dozens or hundreds of other at his strength or stronger. Barrett wasn’t sure how many there would be, but if the Immortal Berserker Sect had a “handful” of seventh tier members, there had to be even more at sixth and fifth. They weren’t the only group in the area, either. Apparently there were quite a few other strong factions.
Getting through the gate was easy- Master Hykel just showed his identification and vouched for Barrett and Alnherr. “You two could have gotten in without me, but it would have been a slower process. It’s not like non-citizens aren’t permitted into the city. That’s bad for business.”
Once Barrett passed through the gates and out of the wall, he found himself surrounded by buildings… and people. Well, the people weren’t immediately surrounding him- but he could see huge crowds of them further down the street in front of him. All around him were tall buildings- though he could see a few that were smaller, relatively. Only a handful of stories instead of ten or more.
Barrett squinted, looking down the street. It was wide and straight, until it ran into a building just visible at the edge of his vision. “Is that the arena?”
“That’s right. The main streets lead right to it, for the sake of convenience among other things. It’s one of the few structures that is built off the grid. Well, across it anyway.”
Barrett just nodded as he looked down the side streets they passed. They were all straight, which meant he could see most of the way down them… and see how many buildings there were in each direction. “Does everyone walk?”
“There are far too many people for carriages. They take up too much space, and would just slow things down instead of being faster. A few people use palanquins, but most people go on foot.” Master Hykel pointed off into the distance, and it took Barrett a moment to find what he was pointing at- or who. “Some people fly. Even among magic users, however, it’s not that common an ability. Of course, there’s a big difference between those who can fly and those who can make use of those abilities in combat.”
Barrett nodded. “That makes sense.”
Alnherr sighed, “Ahh… it would be nice to fly.” He flapped his arms, “I don’t think that’s happening though.”
“Seems unlikely,” Barrett agreed. “You still have to contend with physics.”
Master Hykel shrugged, “Not under your own power, but there’s always outside assistance. I’ve heard of devices that allow something like flying, or just magical items. Not that Pure Body Temperers are much into those.”
“It depends,” Alnherr replied, “Though of course anything that allows real flying would be rather expensive, I imagine. I’m a bit light on funds, personally.”
“Expensive enough it’s not practical for fun,” Master Hykel nodded. “Here we are.”
Barrett looked at the building. It looked much like the others. Tall and straight, rather more glass windows than he would have imagined. He suppose glass was cheaper to produce with so many people who could do magic around. It said something about the wealth of the city… but also implied that there wouldn’t be much fighting on the streets. At least, Barrett didn’t see shattered remnants of glass everywhere. The building had a helpful sign, “Stredo East Administrative Offices.”
They entered to find a front desk, behind which were many hallways indicating what was down them. There were many people waiting in chairs placed strategically throughout the room. Master Hykel gestured toward the chairs, “Wait here, you two. I need to go to the top floor to find the right guy. I’d rather spend the least amount of time here possible, and it’s best not to have you two wandering the halls.” Then he ran off at a speed Barrett didn’t expect for indoor use… but he supposed that was because everyone he’d known before couldn’t move both quickly and safely anyway.
Barrett sat in one of the indicated chairs. Simple, wooden, and not terribly comfortable. That would make any waiting less pleasant, but he supposed it also prevented people off the street from coming into to take a break- and the chairs were mostly filled up.
Barrett realized he hadn’t sat still for a long time. In fact, he hadn’t sat in a chair much except at meals for the past four years- and not always at meals. What could he do while waiting? He couldn’t train his muscles or anything. That took more space… and less people around he could accidentally hit. With everyone else sitting peacefully, Barrett didn’t want to bother them. He supposed he could work on some pure body tempering techniques. Those didn’t involve moving… though he didn’t want to push himself too hard either. He didn’t want to stink up the room with sweat.
He started with simple things like increasing and decreasing his heartbeat. He already was quite proficient at that, but more practice wouldn’t hurt. From there, he moved on to more obscure things like increasing the flow of blood in one area. That wasn’t generally useful, but still useful for training.
“Hey! Didn’t you hear me? I said get up! I want your seat.”
Barrett opened his eyes to see a skinny young man. He looked around the room. All the seats were taken. He took a moment to go over what was said, then formulated a response. “So?”