After a few weeks, Barrett understood why Pure Body Tempering was called that… and why they would forgo the use of energy. At least, sort of. With his ability to use energy removed the training became much harder. Sure, he was capable of performing various techniques just fine… but training his body for strength and toughness was harder. For more than a dozen years, berserk energy had been constantly throughout his body, tempering its toughness whether he wanted it to or not.
Though he found the lack of energy troublesome, Barrett realized he was still in a very advantageous position. After all, his body up to that point had received many advantages… most significant of which was his healing rate. While he didn’t have any berserk energy, he still healed at one thousand times the normal rate from having reached fourth tier as an immortal berserker… no matter how briefly that was. Not that there would have been much difference from nine hundred and ninety nine times anyway. Barrett wasn’t really in a situation to complain with that sort of advantage.
The only problem was how to continue his training. He could still increase bodily toughness via means of injuries, as his body was already adjusted to that. However, that was more specific… whereas berserk energy had previously been constant throughout his body. No one place would fall behind significantly. He did have an idea of what he could do, but he discussed with Master Hykel and Master Alnherr first.
“That’s insane,” Master Alnher replied to Barrett’s explanation.
“That… sounds very in keeping with the Immortal Berserker Style,” Master Hykel nodded, “It could work.”
Master Alnherr sighed, “Let me say… I would absolutely not allow any student to even attempt that… unless they were like you. A True Immortal Body means if you mess up… you probably won’t ruin your body forever. Before you try it, we should go over what you intend to attempt in detail.” Master Alnherr blew out a breath of air, then breathed in again. “You intend to reduce your body’s toughness down to the point that the pressure from your blood vessels causes damage to you… at which point you will let the natural toughness return and your body will repair itself?”
Barrett nodded. “That’s right. I was thinking… what is all throughout the body? Blood is the only thing, going into every nook and cranny. I even have… fairly proficient control of my blood.”
“I’ve never really intentionally reduced toughness…” Master Hykel pondered, “I’ve shifted some from one part of my body to another, but that’s not the same. I definitely haven’t reduced it to the level blood flowing could cause damage. It would take… quite some precision to get that right. Too little and you get nothing, too much and… you cause more damage than intended.”
Master Alnherr also provided his opinion, “I’d start with skin, possibly the tip of a finger… if you explode that, you can grow it back.”
Barrett nodded, “I did plan to start small. Also, right now my heart is a little… new? Since I had to completely regrow it it’s not much better than a normal heart. I’m having trouble keeping up with my normal level of exercise for long, but the blood flow is also weak enough that it shouldn’t cause too many problems when practicing for this. Err… relatively, anyway. So… what do you think?”
“I think you’re going to do it anyway,” Master Hykel shrugged.
“Even if you can’t technically be called a master now, you’ve shown you have that capability,” Master Alnherr grinned, “You know enough to make your own decisions.”
“Well, I was wondering if either of you two would point out a significant flaw. There could have been something I overlooked.” Barrett stood up from his chair, starting to leave. “Thank you for your time.”
Master Hykel laughed, “Hey, you’re still my disciple… even if I can’t tell you how to do this particular thing.”
Barrett concentrated on his left hand. That wasn’t as important as his right. But which finger? Thumbs were important, index and middle fingers… pinkeys sort of completed the set. His ring finger seemed least important. Hopefully, it didn’t matter. He focused in on the very tip, inside of himself. He very gradually started to reduce its toughness. It probably wouldn’t hurt much unless he messed up… but now that he didn’t have berserk energy in him all the time, he would actually be able to discern that small pain.
He continued reducing the toughness bit by bit until… the blood vessels burst. At that point, it was too late to go back. It wasn’t a big deal- it was just a bruise- but it did give him some useful information. After waiting about fifteen minutes for his finger to fully recover, he tried again… but left a bit more toughness in the vessels themselves. That was difficult, and if he had been working on a larger scale probably impossible at the moment. Now, they might have been tougher than the rest of his finger because they had just healed… but that didn’t matter when he was removing their toughness anyway. It was all about how much toughness he left behind.
It took a full day of unsuccessful attempts before Barrett could say he did it ‘right’. He could cause a minor amount of damage and have it heal up. However, it took several more days of practice before he could extend that to a full finger. At that point, he decided he would cover each part of his body a bit at a time instead of trying for any larger area at the moment. It would be slower, but it would also come with less risk. Even if he damaged part of an organ, he could recover from that. The only area he stayed away from was his brain. While his brain could and had taken a beating from various things in the past, removing toughness from it would mean if he messed up and lost consciousness… well, he couldn’t be sure what would happen.
As he trained, his heart rapidly caught back up with the rest of his body and his proficiency in his new training method grew as well. He spent less time reducing toughness to the proper point without risking going past it. His overall skill in Pure Body Tempering improved as well… but he still wasn’t sure how to break through to fourth tier even though he could feel he was just one tiny step away.