After he was able to move around, Barrett went to see Master Alnherr. While he hadn’t yet given up hope of potentially being able to cultivate energy again at some point, it wasn’t something that would come easily. There was no indication that he could regrow anything related to energy cultivation, as it wasn’t really part of a body. Thus, neither True Immortal Body nor Pure Body Tempering would be of much use. Since that was the case… Barrett was left with cultivating Pure Body Tempering. Technically he could still do magic… but he was an entire tier lower and less talented in that area. More than an entire tier, since he was nearly fourth tier in Pure Body Tempering. That was what he came to ask Master Alnherr about. “What do I need to do to reach fourth tier?”
Master Alnherr grinned, his mouth nearly full of teeth now, then shrugged, “No idea.”
“But… you became a master, so you should have some idea.”
“Oh, I know how it worked for me…” Master Alnherr nodded. “Once you reach a certain proficiency, you naturally know how to break through. You’ve been keeping your blood flowing for weeks without a heart… that’s certainly within the level of proficiency I would expect from a master. However, you haven’t exactly been doing Pure Body Tempering, have you?”
“Well…” Barrett shook his head, “You’re right. I have been reliant on berserk energy to train my body.”
“That’s right. Your body has grown used to berserk energy… now without it time must be taken to adjust. That doesn’t mean you’ll naturally discover how to break through, though. It could be years of painstaking work to find what you need to do… or it could be as easy as flipping a lever.”
“Hmm…” Barrett pondered for a moment, “The Immortal Berserker Technique was so… simple. Cultivate berserk energy, undergo destruction, hopefully don’t die.”
“About that,” Master Alnherr scratched his wrinkly chin, “Do you still heal more quickly?”
“I do, actually.”
“Tch. How fortunate. Well… with that, you should have no problem continuing your Pure Body Tempering. It may take some time to adjust and figure out how to break through, but I have a variety of things that might help. We can try some of them over the next weeks.”
“Thank you.” Barrett bowed, “I’m glad we met.”
“Me too, and not just because I’d be dead.” Master Alnherr’s gap-toothed grin was extremely satisfying for some reason.
The gardens were very relaxing, and Barrett could still tend to his tree. It was still growing… and hadn’t yet produced fruit. Well, it was a very strange sort of magic tree and even real fruit trees could take a decade or more at the high end to produce fruit.
Perhaps it was because he didn’t have berserk energy messing with his senses, or perhaps it was an effect of the Bicentennial Conflux, but Barrett was slightly better at sensing mana. This didn’t directly translate into better ability to do magic, but it did let him keep better track of the state the tree was in. Also, without his berserk energy, earth magic was the only way he could sense anything under the ground now. Well, unless it was moving and making noise. His ears were still good, but even enhanced his senses only worked like normal senses… though he wondered if that could be changed. Bats saw without light, using sound… he wondered if he could do the same.
“Hey kid,” Master Hykel caught Barrett as he was returning to his room, “You avoiding me?”
Barrett shrugged, “Not exactly.”
“Yeah? It sure feels like it. How come you don’t come see me?”
“Well… I’m not sure if I should even be a part of the Immortal Berserker Sect anymore.”
“Yeah? You giving up? Just gonna lie down and accept being weak for the rest of your life?” Master Hykel leaned towards Barrett and talked from up close.
“What? No… I just can’t cultivate berserk energy and the Immortal Berserker Style anymore. I can’t really be your disciple then, can I?”
“So you’re saying…” Master Hykel folded his arms in front of him, “That I’m not good enough to teach you anymore? You think I can only do berserk energy training and nothing else?” Master Hykel snorted, “I’ll admit I’m not able to teach you any magic and your level of Pure Body Tempering is at least equal to mine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything helpful. I’ve still got combat knowledge and all sorts of things you could learn from me.”
“…You still want to teach me?”
“What, is your brain broken? You think I’d abandon you over a little thing like not being able to use energy?”
“…How would I know if my brain is broken… if my brain is what I use to think if my brain is broken…” Barrett frowned.
“Oh, that’s easy,” Master Hykel held a fist up over Barrett’s head, “We can just make *sure* it’s broken, then you don’t have to worry about it.”
“I didn’t really think you would give up on me,” Barrett shook his head, “But what will the Sect think about you keeping me as a direct disciple now?”
Master Hykel shrugged, “You think they’ll say anything? There aren’t that many sixth tier people. We can do what we want. Besides, the Immortal Berserker Sect is about more than just being able to do a specific kind of energy training. You know that.”
“… I’m going to blame the fact that I’m still getting over an injury.”
“Hey, getting a little confused once in a while is fine. Just remember, that’s when you should go to the people who care about you. We’re not just here for when you’re doing great.”
“Thanks. Speaking of which… where’s Nilima? I haven’t been able to find her.”
“Oh, I believe she scarpered off shortly after you woke up. She doesn’t tend stay in one place long.”
“Right.” A look of realization flashed on Barrett’s face, “Uh… can Pure Body Temperers enter the tournaments? How do they know what tier I am?”
“They can do tests. Stredo’s not entirely without Pure Body Temperers after all. However, the sect could vouch for you as well.”
“Great,” Barrett nodded, “Then I just need to reach fourth tier by the next tournament. Shouldn’t be too hard… I have six years.”
“Some people would hate you for how easily you said that,” Master Hykel clapped Barrett on the shoulder, “But I believe in your hard work and your talent. I heard you broke through during the Bicentennial Conflux… but I never got to congratulate you on being a master, so you’ll just have to become a master again.” Master Hykel grinned, and Barrett grinned back. Barrett wasn’t sure exactly what he needed to do… but he had plenty of people to help him figure it out.