As he repaired the basic structure for his forearm, everything else started to put itself back into place. Blood vessels started to flow more freely. The muscles started to connect on their own, though not in a useful manner until he finished the whole forearm. Along with that came the nerves starting to repair themselves… and Barrett realized he hadn’t even been feeling all of the pain in that arm. Most of it was just what his body assumed it would be- the actual pain had been dull and under the surface. As it healed, he felt the real pain… though it also faded on its own as he started to really recover.
By the end of the second day he had a full five centimeters of bone healed, and perhaps the first centimeter of everything around had started to really recover on its own. All it needed was some guidance and something to start healing from.
Every step of the way Barrett compared to his healthy arm. He didn’t know if his arm could possibly heal in such a way that it settled in to a permanently wrong shape, but he didn’t want to find out.
Food and water were important parts of this recovery process, especially since the inside of his arm was losing blood into places it wasn’t supposed to be. On its own, his body had greatly restricted the flow of blood to his arm- such that it was barely staying alive at some parts, with whatever small blood vessels had survived out to his fingertips. As his arm healed, blood flowed more freely and he had to intentionally restrict it to stop his arm from swelling up even more.
For a week, he slept only in short increments, waking up to make sure his body was still healing correctly, not too much blood was being lost, and the rest. Fortunately the healthy parts of his body were capable of producing blood at an astounding rate, and it was also capable of recycling the useless bits he pulled away from his arm- extra calcium from bones that had been overzealous in their regrowing, pieces of dead muscle, and anything else.
After a week, he had a whole arm… if he didn’t count the hand being functional. Technically his thumb had been fine the whole time, just without proper amounts of blood reaching it. The rest of his hand required some more careful work. The hand had more than just two large bones, and he needed to build up the cartilage and all of the various connections of the bones. It took another five days to get everything right… but at the end he had a functional arm. Inside, it was still a mess of scar tissue… but everything was on the right track to heal fully, and all the ligaments and muscles were attached in the right place and at least somewhat functional. Barrett flexed his fingers, the first time he had allowed his arm to move, feeling muscles move all down his forearm. The pain told him it really wasn’t all healed yet… but compared to before, the pain was just a hint that things weren’t right instead of a cacophony of screams.
Barrett hoped Nilima had healed properly, but she had already moved on to whatever wandering she was going to be doing. He supposed that was how things went when you were tied to a mistress who preferred to wander instead of being part of a sect. Barrett preferred to have a specific place to return home to, but Nilima’s method of cultivation was obviously working for her.
He thought back to the fight. After the first few fights when they first met, Barrett and Nilima had been more or less equal in combat. Sometimes one of them would win a handful of times in a row, but it was never a perfect victory. The last time they’d really fought before this was years ago at the second tier tournament. They hadn’t met in the previous third tier tournament partly because it ended up cancelled halfway through with all the Silver Blade issues. Barrett’s main advantage in the past had been his ability to take a few hits from her, but it was clear she had methods to seriously damage him- either something like the ‘stab’ to his heart in the second tier tournament or the final attack in this one. Of course, he didn’t have to worry about the latest situation repeating itself. Nilima probably was having at least as much trouble recovering as he was, and she was unlikely to stake so much on a direct confrontation again. Such an attack also required building up more than a normal amount of energy, and if he put any effort into dodging or deflecting it the impact would be greatly lessened.
Even with those details, Barrett wondered if he needed to train his internals more. His bones were quite resistant to normal breaks, but Nilima’s energy destroyed everything from the inside out. He wouldn’t likely find anyone else who could do that- not that he trusted- but perhaps he could replicate something similar himself. Normally, the damage that berserk energy caused to him was more passive, but he could certainly intentionally use it to train different aspects of bodily toughness.
He didn’t need to hurry- he had eight years before the next tournament he would participate in. There wouldn’t be another third tier tournament for six years- and if he didn’t reach fourth tier in four, everyone he knew including himself would be disappointed in his progress. Of course, becoming a master could have some snags in the road… but even if he got delayed for more than two years, he wouldn’t bother attending the tournament when he could be trying to get past that critical point in his cultivation.
However, Barrett wasn’t much worried. He had plenty of experience with cultivation, both practical and theoretical. He also had the guidance of Master Hykel, and even other masters if he needed specific advice. He had heard that breaking through to fourth tier was a bit different from the others, though not much in the way of specifics. Apparently, it was better to figure most of it out on his own. Before he could worry about that, however, he had to at least get to that threshold. That would be another three and a half years, more or less.