Regardless of whether or not Kail wanted to try to practice the Immortal Berserker Style, he was not in the best environment to attempt it. The first destruction took about a year of recovery time, and that meant recovery would be almost nothing for at least a month, making any wounds sustained many times more serious. That was if everything went well and he passed the destruction… which it was possible he wouldn’t. He was not in such desperate need of strength that he would attempt that when he could more reliably use his own clan’s techniques to grow stronger.
“We’re getting close to Mahne…” Kail noted. “I think. It should be a day’s travel to the northeast.”
Barrett nodded, “Good. We need rest. A week of this was more than enough. Even for you.”
Kail sighed, “Unfortunately, I’m not at the point where I can sustain being this close to the Metal Sea indefinitely. My rate of energy recovery just can’t quite keep up…”
“In other words… a bit more and you can keep it up. That’s something to be proud of. However, everyone needs rest. That’s part of training. We just can’t get enough while not being sure if at any moment we might be attacked by monsters.”
There was very little life near the edge of the Metal Sea, but what there was consisted of some rather annoying enemies. There were burrowing sorts that only rarely had to surface into the corrosive atmosphere, and large lumbering reptiles and arachnids. The second sort could be seen from a distance and avoided, but burrowing creatures were harder to anticipate. The most annoying were the mosquitos, however. They were small, quick, and tough, not succumbing to a simple slap, unless they could be squashed between two hands. They could pierce through even Barrett’s skin in search of nutrients, and while that left them vulnerable… every time Barrett or Kail had to squash one or a dozen of them took a bit more out of them. The mosquitos wouldn’t survive long with Barrett’s blood in them- it was still full of berserk energy- but they could last long enough to fly away if he didn’t do anything.
The area closer to the metal sea was also even hotter than elsewhere. It was harder to find water, what they did find had to be filtered, and they needed more of it.
Everything on its own wasn’t sufficient to cause them trouble, but put together it was a harrowing experience. However, the close they got the the Metal Sea, the harder it was for others to follow them. Unlike the Silver Blades, the Macaio clan had many people available in the immediate area to follow them. They still hadn’t seen them, which was a good sign. Even if they had been on their trail, it would be lost.
In a way, the worst part was that they had to flee at all. Not because it meant they weren’t strong enough- that would come with time- but because it meant the civilization of a city only went so far. When certain groups were strong enough, they became able to ignore the laws of the area- even if everyone else could have easily worked together to enforce justice. They just didn’t.
It had been the same back in Durham and Triridge. Nobody had really looked for who burned down the Ravenclaw estate. Even in Triridge where Melody and Denton were technically the rulers, the city didn’t have to listen to their corrupt orders. Enough people knew who Barrett was but chose to ignore him or even assist with his suppression because he wasn’t in a position of power at that moment. Not enough people did more than look out for themselves- and only in the short term, because long term they would definitely be better off working together to uphold justice.
“Well…” Barrett shrugged, “I guess we should head to Mahne.”
Travelling without landmarks had thrown them off somewhat. They did find the main road a day to the northeast, however, they had gone past Mahne. That required another half day of travel to reach, and they only knew which direction to go because they asked some other travelers. Fortunately, there were many people coming and going.
They walked through the gates undisguised. They were far enough from the Macaio clan’s influence that the city guard shouldn’t have any reason to stop them, especially with the general sense of rivalry between big cities. Even so, they paid close attention to the guard’s reactions, and didn’t see anyone else watching the gate. There were people around, but if they were watching the gate they were subtle.
It wasn’t certain that the Macaio clan would have sent people to Mahne, and even if they did they might not have had enough to watch every gate at all hours of the day. Even so, Barrett and Kail moved down a series of random streets until they were certain they weren’t being followed. Then Kail covered himself in bandages. That was a temporary arrangement to hide his golden skin. If Barrett hadn’t been seen covered in bandages, it would have been a fine disguise. As it was, they might be looking for a pair of two, one of which had bandages. However, they wouldn’t recognize Barrett without bandages. Even Barrett barely recognized himself without bandages. He was even more scarred than when he had been in Crilen, though not much. They would heal up within a week, at least. That sounded amazing until Barrett thought about it as two years of normal healing. At least he didn’t have to use any medicines that would mess up his cultivation.
“Well,” Barrett looked over at Kail, “It’s good enough. You’re smaller, which should help… and we can find some makeup to cover up your skin color later. Then they’ll have trouble recognizing us. Before that, however… we need to find an inn. Something cheap. I wouldn’t mind sleeping on the floor, even. It would be more comfortable than the ground… and just walking around with clear lungs is great.” Barrett took a deep breath. “Even the smell around here isn’t so bad in comparison. At least my nose isn’t bleeding from corrosion.”