Berserk energy needed to be stabilized before a breakthrough in the Immortal Berserker Style, but Barrett didn’t have that anymore. All he had was his body… and that stabilized itself on its own just fine. Thus, he only needed to calm his mind and prepare himself for what he was about to do.
He had simulated his next step in his mind many times. He was intimately familiar with the process of a destruction, though even though he had reached the thousandth destruction he hadn’t actually done it that many times. After the first tier they were done in multiples for the most part- a fifth tier berserker couldn’t afford to undergo a destruction every hour to keep up with training. Instead, they were generally in a constant state of recovery from a handful of destructions.
Doing it without energy was… a strange thought. However, Barrett concentrated on the three points within his body anyway. He couldn’t do a half-measure, if they were incompletely destroyed it would at best waste his time… or at worst kill him. This didn’t feel like a regular destruction, either, but like breaking through to fourth tier again… except without the aid of the Bicentennial Conflux it would be difficult. He had to be precise.
Once he’d focused on all the points, he had them break. Pure Body Tempering was about ultimate control over one’s own body, and Barrett had attempted something similar a few times for practice. It was different from removing toughness and letting it break from the pressure of the body around it. Instead, it was like just telling a bone to snap in half. Except with bones the pain hadn’t been so bad.
Barrett didn’t really remember what happened immediately after he’d attempted to break through except the pain. Maybe there had been such pain during the Bicentennial Conflux, but he hadn’t had the mind to notice it. There wasn’t much pain that could cause him to lose consciousness… even tearing out his own heart hadn’t been that bad. It was certainly no higher than the fifth worst pain he’d experienced, with the top spots all being occupied by breaking through to new tiers and first starting Immortal Berserker Training.
It was pretty easy to tell he had succeeded, since he woke up. At least, the worst definitely hadn’t happened. Barrett took stock of his own body and could tell his recovery rate had increased, though if he had been watching actual healing it wouldn’t have been that noticeable. However, he’d had that sense of which destruction he was at before, and now he was even more in tune with his body… and fourth tier in Pure Body Tempering. He doubted an outside observer would be able to tell, but he could feel it. As for what difference it made… well, the immediate increase in strength was actually basically nothing. Perhaps he could store more stamina throughout his body- he wouldn’t know for sure until he fully recovered. However, he knew he would be able to grow stronger, though he couldn’t have explained how with words.
Having only performed a single destruction, it would only be eight hours to a full recovery of his healing ability… and he’d been unconscious for half that time. He showed up to Master Alnherr’s training session like normal. He performed exercised with multisteel weights, lifting them and shifting his own weight and just carrying them on him as he did normal weapons and unarmed training. His performance was only slightly better, but the biggest immediate increase was how efficiently he used his stamina. His body just felt like it moved better, responding to his will even when he didn’t focus much effort to make it do what he wanted.
After training he still wanted to go collapse in a pile on the ground… but that was normal, and the muscle pain was the good kind of pain. However, instead of immediately collapsing he went to dinner where he had arranged to meet Masters Hykel and Alnherr.
Master Hykel looked over Barrett, “How did it go? I carried you back to your room afterwards but I can’t really tell. Obviously you didn’t get the worst case scenario.”
Barrett nodded, “Success… I think. Unless I managed to trick myself, anyway. I broke through to fourth tier in Pure Body Tempering.”
“Ahh…” Master Alnherr nodded, stopping to speak between bites of food, “That makes sense. Your body was attuned to that sort of training by the Immortal Berserker Technique. That could make your Pure Body Tempering path quite different from my own.”
The three men ate quickly, but not messily. It was just that they barely chewed the food before swallowing it, not that they needed to chew many times to break the food up sufficiently. Barrett finished a few bites of the chicken he was eating- a whole roast- and nodded. “I feel like… I started to shift the control of my body away from its connection to berserk energy. It might take a while more to complete the change but it will probably happen.” Barrett frowned, “I don’t mind changing to Pure Body Tempering exclusively, and since it’s my only real course of action if I want to continue cultivating I don’t have that much choice… but I do have some concerns. I can control my own body just fine, but I’ll be shorter on reach in combat… do I just have to learn to deal with that? I can’t extend my reach all the time. I know I can still use weapons but they’ll be more susceptible to outside influences… though I suppose their durability might hold up just as well since I won’t be using berserk energy with them either…”
Master Alnherr grinned, “You’ve started to feel that, have you? You’re right, normal weapons aren’t quite suited for Pure Body Tempering. Nothing is better than the cultivator’s own body… but the rest of my students all use energy as well, augmenting their weapons with it. It works just fine. As for me, I don’t use a weapon… but I would, if I had the right kind. What you want is living metal. All you need is to find some of that, attune it to yourself, and forge it into a weapon.” Master Alnherr laughed, “At least, that’s what I hear. I’ve never seen more than a single bead of it. I’ve heard that grandmaster Pure Body Temperers can refine it from various other metals using their own body.” Master Alnherr took a sip of soup, “But then again, I also heard that a Pure Body Temperer punched a hole through the moon, but nobody seemed to be able to point out where it is.” Master Alnherr shrugged, “So, if living metal exists, it’s rare and hard to find. Though if it’s anywhere, it might be around a Metal Sea. You have some friends from the Southern Metal Sea, correct? Perhaps they might know if it’s real- though I imagine the metal cultivators there would covet it at least as much as you would.”
“I’ve heard the words,” Master Hykel added, “One of the ancestors of the Immortal Berserker Sect had a living metal weapon. It may not be the same thing, but it recovered from damage on its own… quite handy when one uses berserk energy with something. It’s entirely possible that it’s a different thing, however. People do like reusing names. That ancestor went off adventuring, by the way, and the weapon with her. It was over two centuries ago, so she is long dead- she was nearly a century old when she left. Even in exceptional circumstances nobody will make it past two hundred… at least not any Immortal Berserkers.”
“Great. I’ll talk to Kail about living metal. He may have heard of it. If not, I can send a letter to Kaylani. Though, I won’t get my hopes up of actually getting any. My next biggest issue will be dealing with opponents at range.”
“Keep up with your earth magic and you can swim through the ground,” Master Hykel smiled.
“Sure, I’ll just become a master of magic real quick. It’s not like it will take twenty more years at minimum… and that’s if I focus on it exclusively.” Barrett shrugged. He wasn’t concerned about not being great at magic… he had already been given plenty of opportunities to become strong. It just seemed like he always needed to be stronger than he already was.