The stone pits from the ancient fruit tree were either not living stone or it was much harder to form a connection with one than Barrett anticipated. Then again, maybe it was just that. After all, if grandmaster Pure Body Temperers were the only ones known to produce living metal, it wouldn’t be strange for it to be difficult to control. Living stone would probably be similar… or it could just be some other sort of special stone and Barrett was too eager to get living metal or something like it.
Regardless, when using magic he was able to control the stone more easily than any other stone of similar mass. This allowed him to have more velocity and tight control over the movements… but with his level of magical training, it would still be less effective than just tossing one of the pits as a weapon. The only advantage was that he would be able to control it from a distance with relatively little drop off in effectiveness.
One other convenient property of the living stone- if it was living stone- was that it was tough but also easily repaired if it was actually damaged somehow. The pieces stuck back together with a little bit of earth magic, and finding them was easy enough because of the magic the emitted. He wouldn’t have tested breaking them on purpose if he had just one, but Barrett had four pits total after all the fruit had been produced. The fruits themselves were of little interest, even after they had been studied further. It looked like the tree would produce more fruit in a few years- perhaps every four or five years after reaching maturity.
When using the pits as a weapon, Barrett could throw them at a velocity that would be dangerous up to about thirty meters. Beyond that, people would have too much time to dodge and they did slow down slightly as they went, though given their density they carried a lot of momentum with them for their size.
Though it would have been convenient if Barrett could stay in the sect as long as he wanted and grow to any strength, that just wasn’t practical. Cultivation slowed down after too much time spent without gathering more combat experience. It wasn’t the same for everyone, but Barrett had to get out and do something every once in a while. This time he wasn’t going far. He would still be within sight of Stredo- though that was a somewhat misleading description. Stredo was huge, ten miles on a side… and with its tall buildings it could be seen from very far away. That was especially true if you were on top of a relatively nearby mountain… except sometimes you couldn’t see Stredo either because clouds were in the way or because you couldn’t see anything at all.
Barrett didn’t have any particular mission except to go to Bittercold Peak. That was where the Crystal Palace was located, but he had never made the trip. As a fourth tier cultivator, the trip wasn’t hard… but even the short trip reminded him of why it was called Bittercold Peak, and it wasn’t even fall yet. However, he needed to arrive early to get used to the area if he wanted any chance of being able to find his way back once the fall and winter and the storms they would bring made it impossible to see. Maybe it wouldn’t help that much, but Barrett wanted some recourse besides running down the mountain.
The Crystal Palace was aptly named, glittering in the sunlight… when there was any. Not that it was actually crystal in the normal sense, but instead was formed from natural ice and magic. The temperature never went above freezing, and even if it had the magic would have kept the structures solid. The entrance to the Crystal Palace was a pair of massive ice gates made of smooth and clear ice. They stood open, leading into the secluded valley where the main structures of the Crystal Palace stood. There were other locations they claimed, but as they raised people from the very beginning of cultivation some sections of the mountain weren’t suitable, even if the area was somewhat warmer.
Not all of the structures were made entirely of clear ice- some privacy was wanted, after all. In those cases there were internal structures made of stone or opaque ice, though even the stone structures were covered with a layer of ice. The floors, meanwhile, were kept clear of ice… or occasionally they were enchanted such that the ice was not slippery. Certain portions were kept in a more natural state for those with more training- they were constantly in actually freezing temperatures and the ice had to be navigated. Barrett didn’t have any trouble with that- his sense of balance was excellent and he could even cheat with Pure Body Tempering techniques if he needed to.
For a few months he trained with some of those from the Crystal Palace, and while he could build up his resistance to cold with ice magic, it wasn’t quite the same as natural cold. It was the difference between fire magic and a volcano… and while a fourth tier fire mage could conjure fire hotter than a standard volcano, it would never be the same sort of all-encompassing heat. Maybe a grandmaster could do that, but grandmasters didn’t have enough free time to help any old person who felt like training their body, even if they were from an allied sect.
After fall began, Barrett went away from the Crystal Palace to train on his own in the wilderness. For that he would need to secure his own food from some of the surrounding animals- fortunately Bittercold Peak was large enough to support a good number of cultivators training in such a way. Grains and fruits were also imported from outside the mountain range, but Barrett wasn’t the only one undergoing the same sort of training… though most people were training ice magic or ice type energy, and very few were training their bodies… though a handful of Immortal Berserkers would do the same as Barrett each year- it was the most convenient place to train cold resistance and it didn’t require spending large amounts of money for magical enchantments. As the days grew colder and the cold started to seep into Barrett’s bones, he wondered exactly how cold it might get in the dead of winter.