Warm blood once again pumped through Barrett’s veins. In his dug out shelter, the barely-freezing temperatures couldn’t even penetrate his skin. It was actually quite cozy, even without the fire. Over the last couple of days his body had recovered to its peak, first recovering from the wounds and then the fatigue that had built up over the entire time training on Bittercold Peak.
After the encounter with the ice wraiths, Barrett had needed to fully recover to feel safe. While he now had a way to attack them, he hadn’t known when another group might appear, and there was no guarantee they couldn’t find him in his cave.
He also took time to digest his new technique. While it sounded quite useful to be able to attack someone’s soul with Pure Body Tempering… usually that wouldn’t be necessary. That was because to do it he already had to have a hand inside them and thus he could have already killed them before that point. Actually, he couldn’t be entirely sure it would work on corporeal creatures- maybe having a hand in someone’s chest wouldn’t provide enough overlap since technically their body would be in a different place than his still. Either way, it seemed like Pure Body Tempering would be the least efficient way to attack a soul. Energy and mana would do it better… but Barrett couldn’t use energy and wasn’t as good at controlling mana- and had no training in the right area.
Barrett could certainly improve his technique to be better, but he doubted he could have accomplished it at all before becoming a master. Meanwhile, curses could be done very early by those who learned them, and Barrett had seen numerous third tier cultivators perform curses that could affect the soul. As for energy… he hadn’t really met anyone who trained in the right sorts of energy to affect the soul, at least not more effectively than attacking the body.
As Barrett finished recovering and left his cave, he felt it was warmer out. He wasn’t sure at first if that was just his resistance or if it was actually warmer- it took some time to become used to such changes in his body. However, he eventually settled on it being warmer. That was likely partly due to it not being a blizzard at the moment, but it was also likely getting towards the end of the cold seasons. Not that Bittercold Peak ever grew warm, but it did warm up to almost sensible temperatures during the summer.
While Barrett found his training to resist cold slower than other forms of training, it was also safer and more thorough. Currently his greatest training against fire came when he threw himself into a volcano without the intent to survive, which wasn’t exactly even in its effects on his body. The Metal Sea was much the same, and the Lightning Mountains training wasn’t exactly thorough, but at least it was controlled. Here, he had developed his resistance to cold all through his body quite intentionally… and without nearly as much risk of dying. Sure, there had been some danger when fighting the ice wraiths… but only because he stayed to fight them instead of just running away when he had plenty of stamina left. He was still nowhere as close to dying as he had been at the volcano and the Metal Sea. As things stood, Barrett’s fire resistance was probably lagging behind- though elementalists used fire often enough for him to have kept up with training.
When the ice wraiths returned, Barrett felt them coming. He knew what he was looking for… though it was hard to say if these were actually the same group. He wasn’t sure if ice wraiths would even be interested in revenge. Either way, they weren’t prepared for what he could do now. As their shards of ice tried to cut into him, Barrett started out with his attacks. He hadn’t taken their attacks everywhere, so he was taking similar amounts of damage… small cuts, freezing blood… but it didn’t matter. His first attack knocked around an ice wraith, and the second caused a wound… but by his third attack he had regained the proper feeling. His third attack was a punch that tore straight through an ice wraith- and more importantly its soul. Its incorporeal body also broke apart in a similar fashion, as it let out a blood curdling death scream.
The ice wraiths then realized they found the wrong target- they were either a new group or hadn’t learned at all. Either way, they could recognize danger after seeing it… and they began to flee. However, Barrett was near top shape and chased after them, killing another half dozen ice wraiths. They weren’t innocent animals but monstrous spirits… and there were plenty of them around Bittercold peak.
As the days became longer and warmer, Barrett stopped by the Crystal Palace on his way out to thank them for letting him train on their mountain. Then he returned back to the Immortal Berserker Sect.
The stone fruit tree seemed to produce every two years after its initial fruiting. That meant Barrett got more pits… because the fruits themselves seemed to have little value. They were decently nutritious, but otherwise not useful to cultivators. However, the pits were quite nice. The stone fruit tree did need nearly constant supply of more rocks in the dirt beneath it, but that wasn’t hard to provide. Mistress Abels was experimenting with several different sorts of stone, but it seemed to absorb pretty much anything with little or no change to the pits. They remained as dense and hard as ever… which was good.
Barrett continued training with them as weapons, both thrown with muscle power and with earth magic. It was actually possible to control several of them together at the same time without much difficulty. Normally each additional projectile would require more concentration, but as long as he was performing the same task with all of them the pits would move together with his earth magic more easily than was expected. Thus, he could launch a small barrage of attacks if he wanted to. It was still weaker than using his own body to toss them but there were a few circumstances it could work out. He had some success leaving them around a battlefield to attack an enemy from different angles… and they seemed to become attuned to him. Though it was easy for him to control them, even Mistress Abels found it hard to control of the ones attuned to Barrett, and she was a master in earth magic, two tiers ahead of Barrett. Of course, Barrett couldn’t even slightly affect the pits that were attuned to her, but that was to be expected.
Though they were attuned to him through earth magic, Barrett still didn’t feel any sort of connection to his body. He was still unsure if living stone existed, and if it did whether they were living stone… but either way the sort of connection he expected living stone to have hadn’t been formed. He was very familiar with them as weapons, however… and he was able to make accurate attacks at a reasonable distance. It wasn’t better than a good bow, but he couldn’t afford a bow that was strong enough for him to use… and if he could, it wouldn’t remain that good for long. The pits were able to be easily repaired, not that he often managed to damage them. Overall, Barrett considered his current training successful… though he did sometimes miss some of the convenient features of Berserk energy… though not the constant pain, even as little as it had seemed sometimes.