Immediately after Nilima attempted to make the berserk energy and her gentle energy work together she could see how difficult it would be. Her gentle energy listened to her just fine, but the berserk energy had to be wrestled into place and even then it tried to eat away at everything… including her gentle energy. At least when generally in the area of her gentle energy the berserk energy didn’t do that much damage to her body. It couldn’t afford much more.
Though it was difficult… she saw tiny bits of progress. It wasn’t like she’d been completely in control of her own energy when she first learned to how to use it, combining her own energy and the berserk energy would be at least that hard. Except, it wasn’t just berserk energy. It was her berserk energy. Much as she didn’t want to admit it, it was being produced in her own body and vaguely fell under her control. Sure, it all originated with Barrett’s heart… but she would be hard pressed to say the heart wasn’t part of her now.
Recognizing the berserk energy was also hers might have been a significant mental step towards the right direction… but it didn’t really help the berserk energy be under control. Only practice was doing that. After a day… Nilima had what remained of her two energies vaguely flowing together around her body. The gentle energy was sort of wrapped around a flow of berserk energy… which at least kept it from causing too much trouble. They had currently reached a stable equilibrium where they were replaced about as fast as they were moved up. That wasn’t great, because it was maybe a quarter of what her total energy reserves should have been… but it was something. At the very least, it gave her body a chance to rest and heal.
That only lasted until she slept and had to wrangle her newly recovered energy back into place, but at least she was quicker at it. After that, she moved to explore the Valley of All Souls. She wanted to see if her gentle energy would just collapse as it was damaged from inside and outside… which was a possibility but she would at least have long enough to flee out of the area. As she stepped into the area she felt the death energy… but also the slight traces of everything else, if she concentrated.
As for the actual effectiveness of her energy… she was happy to find that there was no immediate collapse. Her gentle energy held up… at least for a time. There was at least some hope of her being able to properly function, though she didn’t last as long as she would have with just her gentle energy.
Days passed, and Nilima worked out a system that worked well enough. She was able to get to about half of her full energy capacity, the berserk energy and gentle energy conflicting less. Any significant improvement beyond that point would probably take months or years of practice. Though her energy was less effective overall at least now her body was able to recover instead of being constantly damaged. Her berserk energy flowed with the momentum of her gentle energy throughout her body without ruining everything… which was an improvement.
Nilima was able to go deeper and deeper into the Valley of All Souls, partly because of her improved efficiency in energy usage but also because she just ran until about half her energy was depleted and she didn’t have to stop and look for anything- because really, there was nothing to see. She moved around the perimeter of the valley so that she could feasibly explore most of it. If she made it to the middle from every side, that would be enough. Thus, after another week she was reasonably satisfied that… there was nothing she could find here. She saw Master Hykel and Reina occasionally, depending on whether the various rises in the valley got between them or not. Apparently they hadn’t found it either. Nilima didn’t want to be the first to give up… but she liked to think she was practical.
Mistress Joshi had said she would meet Nilima in Stredo, after she became a master. That didn’t mean soon- it could be another year, even. Mistress Joshi would show up eventually, in any case. For the time being, Nilima returned to the Immortal Berserker Sect. Maybe Barrett was already recovering… or perhaps he had already died. She didn’t really like that idea but it was a reasonable possibility. Someone would have come to notify Master Hykel, but maybe they missed each other on the road- or where there weren’t roads.
She was relieved to see that he was still alive. Doctor Stieber seemed to be checking up on him a couple times every day. However, still alive was about the best that could be said. He was apparently weakening still, not unexpected… but he wouldn’t last more than another week or two.
Seeing him herself, Nilima couldn’t tell much difference. After all, his body was fairly healthy and he wasn’t using energy. Just weird body tempering stuff. She wondered what happened to his berserk energy. It should have recovered by now… and there was no way it all originated in the heart. Yet he was empty of berserk energy… at least almost. As her senses swept over him, she detected slight traces of berserk energy. Then again, there was a little bit of everything. Outside of the Valley of All Souls, she had realized that there were always bits and pieces of practically every sort of energy… they just were so mixed up they couldn’t really be sensed.
Inside Barrett, there was a trace of ‘natural’ berserk energy like in the atmosphere in general. Then there was an even tinier amount of his own energy. It was constantly being destroyed and replaced… and it seemed as if it was fighting with his own body. She didn’t see anything for it to be fighting against but that was just the nature of berserk energy. It didn’t even seem vaguely controlled… as if he was over his capacity. That didn’t make sense because he’d broken through to fourth tier… and even at the very beginning of first tier he would have had more energy than this.
But… that was in normal circumstances. She hadn’t been able to watch him clearly during the battle but she had felt his berserk energy. There had been a lot of it… he was probably overdrafting himself quite significantly. He seemed to have just broken through as well… which could be problematic. If she were to sense him and guess his tier now, without taking account of his physical body, she would have guessed he was a normal person. That meant there shouldn’t have been any energy at all.
Nilima thought about the situation. He already wasn’t doing well. She had an idea that might ruin everything for him and make him hate her with only the possibility that it would actually help… but then again, he might die anyway. Perhaps she should just wait for Master Hykel or Reina to come back from the Valley of All Souls with the solution… but she could also do something right now. No one was watching… so she reached over towards Barrett and began to eradicate any traces of energy inside him.