Barrett didn’t know what to say. He didn’t really want to leave his fate to luck… “Is there any way to tell who is suited?”
“Without just trying it out?” Master Hykel shook his head, “There’s no way to know your chance of success until you have used the technique for some time. At least, no way that we’ve found. Well, one factor is your affinity for the underlying technique, but we’ve had some excellent candidates die, either on the first step, or sometimes even later because their ratios weren’t good enough.”
“Oh.” Barrett nodded, “I don’t really want to gamble on the future like that… but I know everyone takes risks. Is it possible to practice the base technique to know how suited I am?”
Master Hykel nodded, “It is. We’re not particularly worried about people knowing the basics, because it’s worthless if you just learn it and leave. The real weaknesses of the technique are in the risks during training, and not something people can easily use against us. Especially with just the first part. I would like to remind you that everyone who actually tried showed a decent level of affinity for the technique… and many still died anyway.”
“You’re a whole lot kinder than the front you put on.”
Master Hykel shrugged, “I get grumpy thinking of dying students. I’m still looking for the right one…” He shook his head, “It’s probably not you either, but I’ll give you the chance. At least you have some determination. Now then, to start… you have to get some energy.” Master Hykel stretched his arms out to the side. “Try to pay attention as much as possible. To what you see, hear… and most importantly feel.”
Barrett focused on Master Hykel. It quickly became apparent what he was supposed to pay attention to. He saw a sort of swirling in front of each of his palms. It was a sort of white mist… but it also looked something like a rock causing ripples in a pond… except instead of water it was air. Barrett sort of felt something from that, but he wasn’t sure what. Then, Master Hykel slapped both of his hands together. There was a resounding boom, and Barrett was knocked onto his back. By the time he picked himself up, the ringing in his ears had lessened. “Hmm. I thought it would be red.”
“Hmm?” Master Hykel shook his head, “It doesn’t really look like anything.” He held up a hand, in which was… nothing. “See? It’s only when you start doing something with it that it looks like something.”
Barrett narrowed his eyes as he looked at the nothing. Was it really nothing, or…? He thought he felt the something there, even though he couldn’t say what sense it was with. “Okay. How do I do that?”
“This? You can’t yet. But we can teach you to start.” Master Hykel explained the process of refining the energy, how to move it around inside him, and where he could store it. Some of it would spread out through the body, but most of it would stay in his torso.
“What would happen if you just… put some of it in me?”
“You’d explode.” Master Hykel shrugged, “Well, I have good enough control that I could prevent you exploding, but even just a small amount of energy would cause problems. It is berserk energy after all. Your body has to be strong… though if the energy is yours you can handle it much better. Now then, you have the method of refining the energy, all you need is a source. In this case, we’ll start with anger. It’s the easiest and most suited. So, think of what makes you angry, and refine that anger into energy you can use. Don’t rush it though. It should take some time.”
Barrett nodded. Anger… that was easy. He was angry that his family had died. He didn’t know who or what to be angry at, but he was. There was no way it could have been an accident, or it couldn’t have gotten so bad before he woke up. Who could have caused it then? He had some ideas… but didn’t know why. Barrett already felt like his blood was boiling. He tried to used the method to refine energy, but as he concentrated he lost hold on the anger. Recalling the same thing didn’t have the same effects again right away…
Unfortunately, Barrett had more. His aunt and cousin were some of the worst family anyone could ever have. Making him be a servant, but treating him more like a slave. The stupid work, the beatings… that brought the rage back into his heart. He tried to hold onto it as he refined it, but it slipped away again. Well, there was more. They stopped the bankers from helping him… they made it impossible for him to go anywhere else… Still, it slipped away after some time.
Barrett honestly felt better that the anger went away, but it wasn’t really helping his progress if it did that. His thoughts shifted to the bankers themselves. They wouldn’t even give him his money, and had refused to even see him. That was just because of how he was dressed, and it was only later that he thought they recognized him and forbade him entrance for that. Then there was the church of Ristos that was full of hypocrites. What sort of god of prosperity only helped those who were already prosperous? Sure, there were a few who got food handouts, but not as many as there should have been. Barrett found himself trembling in rage… then he tried the technique again. Then, it slipped away again.
Barrett fell onto his back and started up at the sky. He had so many unpleasant memories going through his mind… and he couldn’t even get angry over them anymore. Instead, he just felt… nothing. Also tired. He hadn’t done much of anything but he was exhausted. He wasn’t even sure if he could sit up. “I think… I might be very bad at this.”
Master Hykel’s voice came from nearby, “Maybe, but we don’t know that yet. This is normal.”
“I thought I was supposed to be refining energy, but instead I’m completely out of energy. Every time I tried to use the technique my anger just slipped away.”
“Yep. That sounds about right. Don’t worry about it.”
So, Barrett didn’t. Mostly because he fell asleep right there on the grass and dirt.