It was two weeks before Barrett was even allowed to do any real exercise. “While it doesn’t completely overlap, the natural healing of your muscles from bodily strain will also be greatly reduced during this time,” Master Hykel explained, “Thus, we can’t push you too far.”
Barrett nodded. He understood the idea, anyway. Plus, he still ached as his body was recovering… well, its ability to heal. Beyond exercise, he also couldn’t train much in terms of the berserk energy, because that would also break down his body some. That left him with little to do… except listen to lectures and read through books. Barrett was surprised at how many books there were… especially for a berserker school.
“That’s the point, kid. Nobody expects it. However, you’ve gotta fight smart. In the end, it all comes down to knowing what you can handle… but to do that, you have to know how things work. Some of that stuff isn’t strictly necessary for you to know… unless you come across a new situation. It’s especially important that you memorize everything in here, though.”
That book was especially strange… and full of many, many figures. Barrett was glad he had time, because it was hard work to remember. As for the contents… it was mostly about the human body, and what it took to destroy it. This included blood loss, suffocation, poisons… and very details lists of damage to organs through different methods. What surprised Barrett the most was how little of some things it took to die. A relatively small amount of force could create a cut in the wrong vein or artery, and someone would probably die. Not quite as quickly as Barrett had thought, however.
All of that information was somewhat terrifying… but the later sections brought things to another level. After all, the first section only considered somewhat normal humans. After that there were various warriors, mages, and other types. Things were generalized by tiers of body training, energy training, and magical defenses. However, for practitioners of the Immortal Berserker Technique, there were much more fine details at every level. Barrett couldn’t help but grimace upon reading about various balancing points- such as the level of certain fires that one could withstand where their flesh burned off and regenerated at approximately the same rate.
Barrett frowned, “Master Hykel… isn’t it dangerous if this information gets out to enemies? It points out all of our weaknesses.”
“Oh?” Master Hykel raised an eyebrow, “And what weaknesses are those, exactly?”
“Well, um…” Barrett tilted his head. In most categories, practitioners of the Immortal Berserker Technique were rated near the top for survivability rate. “Poisons and… Bleeding to death, I guess?”
Master Hykel nodded, “Well, those things can certainly be a pain. However, I should note that many of the poisons listed there can be… prohibitively expensive. It’s still better if any enemies don’t have the details, of course, but the biggest danger doesn’t need it. That is, anyone of significantly superior tier can just attack with overwhelming strength, speed, or magic. That is not to say we have no worries about those on the same tier as us, but that is what our training is for. The best way to avoid bleeding to death from your jugular veins is not to replenish blood more quickly or toughen the skin and vein walls themselves… but to just not let anyone cut your jugular.” Master Hykel nodded seriously, “Remember this- you must know exactly how much damage you can take and survive… and then avoid taking damage at all unless it is a critical moment. Minor injuries can add up, and even if they heal during the battle they will tire you out. Thus, the best way to survive is to just not get injured in the first place.”
“What if it’s something you can’t avoid… like a dragon’s fire breath?”
Master Hykel shrugged. “Get faster. Have something to dodge behind. Then, if you’ve exhausted those possibilities… that’s what page 72- dragon breath- is for. If you can’t survive it, you shouldn’t be fighting them. That’s when you should run away.”
“Oh, don’t be like that. Running away is a perfectly acceptable option in many battles. It’s better to know when not to fight. Of course, if there are stakes such as other people you need to protect… then you have to win the fight even if it’s dangerous. Later, you’ll see another book on monster’s weak points. Comparing that with the book on surviving dangers, you can determine what is the optimal way to kill them before they kill you. Dragons can be particularly weak to significant force to their lower jaw while trying to unleash their breath. Depending on the type, you can have very… interesting results.”
Barrett breathed out slowly. “There sure is a lot to learn.”
“Aren’t you glad you have a lot of free time now?” Master Hykel grinned.
Each week, the physical training stepped up slightly as the healing progressed. Apparently, Barrett’s recovery speed should return nearly linearly, to the point where it would be approximately double the normal rate. Fortunately, this increase in healing speed also applied to subsequent destructions. That is, if he succeeded the next time, it would only take six months to recover… then four, three, and so on. Barrett would actually be able to recover at a “normal” rate after six months. That was still a somewhat distressingly long time, but there was not much to be done about that.
Studies were priority until then, but physical training continued to ramp up. Barrett felt his strength growing, if slowly, and he couldn’t help but feel good about himself, even with the constant muscle pain, and the slowly fading dull pain in his chest. Then, six months after he had gone through his first cycle of destruction, the pain was completely gone. Barrett didn’t bring it up for another week after that, but he finally realized that perhaps this was not the normal way of things. He was worried that something might have gone wrong. Certainly, he was healing from injuries… but he couldn’t say that it was twice as quickly as normal. Perhaps he had somehow just failed to advance, but not lost his ability to heal either. Either way, Master Hykel would know what to do. He always did.