Barrett took the time to center himself, and concentrate to his very limits. This wasn’t something he could afford to mess up on. Of course, he wasn’t some sort of superhuman who could completely clear his mind… especially not when doing something this dangerous… but given the circumstances he achieved what he thought was the optimal level of calm. He went over the steps in his head. He concentrated on remember the exact points that he needed to destroy. He could still almost feel the energy and damage in Master Hykel.
Once he was ready, he started immediately. Any hesitation would just throw him off. First, he had to wrestle the berserk energy into his control. It was only a tiny amount, and even though the energy belonged to him, it was difficult. Finally, though, he got a strong mental grip on it. Then he directed it. He tried going toward all three points at once, but that was too difficult. Instead, he directed it toward one point- near the heart. Then he held that part of the energy there before moving on to the next parts. Finally, he had everything where it should be. After checking over one more time to make sure he wasn’t off, he detonated the energy.
Barrett woke up later. His entire chest ached. He could only vaguely recall intolerable pain… but he’d passed out, and thus hadn’t felt it for long. This was more of a dull throb. Hopefully, that was good. Well, it didn’t seem like he was dead… but perhaps he was dying. Honestly though, Barrett didn’t think that was the case. He’d felt worse before… especially directly after the fire. Still, he could move… and since he was hungry, he felt it was time to get up. When he stood, there was a brief moment of dizziness, but it passed quickly.
Finally, he found Master Hykel outside. He was cooking again. He seemed to have great timing with such things. “Good… morning?”
Master Hykel turned toward him. “Good morning. How are you feeling?”
“Umm…” Barrett held his hand up to his chest, “Not great, but not like I’m dying.”
Master Hykel nodded, “You seem to have succeeded. Now, all we have to do is wait a year for you to recover.”
Barrett blinked, “What? A year?”
“Sure. Do you think this kind of thing heals quickly? Take note that I heal at ten thousand times normal speed and it took me several minutes to feel better, and that’s not a full recovery.” Master Hykel grinned, “Don’t worry, you’re not going to be sitting around doing nothing. There are many things you need to learn that don’t involve any danger to your health.”
“Okay. What first?”
“Well, let’s start with some basics. Why do we use energy instead of just our body?”
“Because… it’s strong? We need it to train our healing…”
Master Hykel shrugged, “Sure, it’s strong… but you know what else is strong? My physical body.” He stood up and took a stance, then punched the ground. Barrett looked on intently, then frowned. Master Hykel’s arm had sunk up to his wrist… but that was it. Nothing exciting happened. “If this was rock instead of dirt, I could have cracked it… but that doesn’t matter. Here is the point. There is now a hole in the dirt.”
“Okay.” Barrett nodded, and then frowned, “I can see it doesn’t seem the most useful on dirt, but putting a hole in something you were fighting doesn’t seem like a problem.”
“Right. Let’s try something else then. Go stand next to that wall.” Barrett did so. “Now, push it over.”
Barrett looked at it. He didn’t think there was any way to succeed at that, but he knew he should try. He lowered himself and pushed as hard as he could… to basically no results.
“Stop. Look at the ground.”
Barrett looked down. There was nothing particularly exciting… but after a moment he moved his feet. There were slight indents in the soft dirt where he had been standing. “Ah… hmm.”
“This is your first lesson. Even I cannot push down that wall with just my bodily strength… unless I have something to press against. If you press on a wall, or strike something, it presses back on you. Something will give out first. It might not be your body… but perhaps the ground beneath you. If you push straight into the wall, it will push you back instead, and there is even less holding you back.”
Master Hykel took the same stance a step over to the side. This time, Barrett could feel the berserk energy pouring through him. Then his fist came down, and he released the energy. There was a small crater left behind… and Master Hykel flew into the air. Then, he did it a third time… and this time he maintained his position on the ground. The resulting crater of dirt below him was about a meter wide, and perhaps half of that at its deepest point. Barrett noticed that the same amount of energy was used… but the result was very different. In fact, less energy ended up going into the ground- instead it moved upward, damaging nothing. Even so, it kept Master Hykel from flying up, and the energy directed toward the ground all actually arrived where intended.
“Well, it’s like this.” Master Hykel shrugged, “The same thing applies in the other direction. Perhaps eventually you can lift a bull off the ground… but only if you want to sink up to your knees. That is, unless you spread out the weight across a larger area. Perhaps you could do it on stone… but if you’re truly serious about growing strong, you will reach the point where each material progressively grows too weak to handle your relatively tiny form. No matter how strong you grow, you can’t do anything about this with just your body. After all, it’s not that you aren’t strong enough, it’s that everything else is too weak.” Master Hykel grinned, “Including you, right now. I would suggest you don’t punch rocks for… a while. It’s one of the worst ways to break your fingers and wrist.”