It was amazing how much weight could be gathered in a small area. Why, Barrett was only wearing something about the size of a thick leather coat, and he must have had a full tonne of weight on him. That wasn’t an exaggeration either. Doing pushups alongside Barrett in the small training courtyard were Katja, Herman, and Kail. Very few others stuck with Pure Body Tempering, though there were a few new students and some masters as well.
Herman had been missing an arm when they first met- now, due to his effort over the last several years, that arm was whole again. Unlike Barrett, who had it relatively easy with his true immortal body, Herman had needed Pure Body Tempering to coax it into growing back, a little bit at a time.
In front of the class stood Alnherr, smiling down at them with a mouth full of teeth. If some of the teeth were crooked or the wrong size, it only helped to solidify his image as a crazy old man. “Keep going, or I’ll make you all pile into one stack!”
At this point, no one was actually going to give up before they finished their exercise routine, but the words of ‘encouragement’ helped. After running everyone through a variety of exercises designed to train all of the body’s muscles, they did some sparring- though no one very quickly. With the weights and fatigue, it was basically just a test of doing the actual movements they would need in combat. Nobody used berserk energy, so the only people who went down did so because of their own fatigue- or because someone managed to actually hit them and that toppled them over.
Eventually, everyone was on the ground. Some assistants went around detaching the weights, though they struggled somewhat with some of the heavier ones. While they were mostly first tier warriors, it was still hard to move a half-tonne vest. They also went around with food pills- little one centimeter balls of nutrition that could provide nutrients and calories… and nothing else. Still, it provided enough for the students to get up and go get real food, with taste and substance.
Barrett stayed behind after the lesson to talk to Master Alnherr, “How is everything?”
Alnherr smiled, showing off his teeth like he preferred to do whenever possible, “Not too bad… not too good either though. I’m still old.”
Barrett nodded, “Even so, you were worried about death coming in a few years…” Barrett squinted his eyes, “And you look slightly… less old. Did you… break through to fifth tier?”
Alnherr raised an eyebrow, “Why, do you think that’s even possible for an old man like me?”
“An old man like you?” Barrett shook his head, “I don’t know. Someone with all your circumstances… they would certainly have trouble. But you in particular… I’m absolutely sure you can. That you did, even.”
Alnherr laughed, “As expected of my first student! I did indeed reach fifth tier just recently. Sadly, any youth you see is due to that, and not due to success with reversing aging itself. Each tier generally adds about a decade to the cultivator’s lifespan. I’m about a century old now- not impossible for a normal human to reach… but at this age cultivating is… difficult. My body has been recovering from the long time in captivity… and perhaps I might have another decade or two of puttering around before I meet the grave.”
“Could you reach sixth tier, then? It can be done in fifteen years…”
“Oh, yes sure… it’s possible. For young, talented individuals. But I’m not young.” Alnherr shrugged, “I’ll let others judge me on that second thing. Regardless, I’m just happy to see that my legacy will live on… even if it’s not exactly ‘Pure’ Body Tempering for most of you. There is one kid though…”
“Oh? A new student? They any good?”
Alnherr shrugged, “We’ll see. It’s too early to say if they’ll even stick with it.”
Barrett nodded, “Perhaps they will. I’m sure with your guidance, they have great opportunity ahead of them.”
Barrett ran into Kail on the streets- along with many others of the Sect. “You got called too?”
Kail nodded, his nearly golden hair remaining stiff on his head, “Seems to be… almost everyone. First, second, and third tiers.” The main street was teeming with people heading towards the city square.
“Well, I suppose we’ll find out what it is when we get there. It can’t be an attack or there would be an alarm.” As they got closer to the square, Barrett spotted a figure on the raised platform in the center. “That’s Grandmaster Zhubin. This certainly isn’t a small matter.” Grandmaster Zhubin still managed to keep a well maintained beard, which was surprising with all the berserk energy leaking out of him- and much more that was not.
Whispered speculation flowed throughout the city square as people gathered- whispers Grandmaster Zhubin could no doubt pick out, if he had a mind to. Once people stopped trickling in, he spoke, his voice booming out through the whole square.
“Fellow Immortal Berserkers- and associates- the Immortal Berserker Sect is a righteous sect. We do not just speak those words- we act! Today, we answer a call for aid from those who cannot defend themselves, but must. Sashor is a short journey to the east across the Tornado Plains- or perhaps just The Plains now. On all other sides, they are surrounded by mountains through which they engage in trade with a number of nations. Now, one of them has designs on the fertile ground Sashor has been so carefully and peacefully cultivating.” Barrett thought of Clara and Jack, who had once saved him. “An army from Ruclua, south and west of Stredo, now marches around the mountains to occupy Sashor.” Grandmaster Zhubin frowned, folding his arms in front of him. “Stredo itself has declined to interfere in any way- even though the army will be marching through Stredo’s territory. However, we have been given leave to act as we deem necessary, if we wish to stop them. Ruclua is a large and populous country. The army numbers in the tens of thousands, half of which are not cultivators. The rest are mostly first tier, with some second and third tier cultivators throughout.”
Grandmaster Zhubin looked out at the approximately two thousand Immortal Berserkers gathered in the city square. “We have gathered here those of your who have combat experience, or who have otherwise been deemed ready for battlefield experience. With just us… we can defeat this army, even if they outnumber us ten to one.” Grandmaster Zhubin grinned, his beard shifting with his cheeks, “Of course, that would be a battle hard won. We have also solicited the services of our allies around Stredo. Among them, the Order of Four Winds and the nearby Crystal Peak.” Grandmaster Zhubin looked out over the crowd once more, “None of you will be required to participate. Of those who do, some will die… however, the benefits to your own training and to the cause of righteousness as a whole should outweigh the cost. Just remember- Sashor has no army, nor have they provoked Ruclua, and they need us. You have two days to decide whether to join- more details about the situation are available if you wish. By dusk tomorrow, have your answer in one way or the other. Sooner is better.” With that, Grandmaster Zhubin walked away in a leisurely way- leisurely, yet almost faster than Barrett could run.
Barrett was joining, of course. If not for the country itself, then for Clara and Jack. The previous time he’d been in a war, neither side should have been fighting. This time seemed likely to have much more death… though if they were lucky, they could just frighten the army into retreating.
Barrett looked at Kail, who shrugged, “I don’t know anyone involved… but I’ll look into the details. You know how I feel about homes being invaded…”