The stone pit was heavy inside him, like Barrett had eaten too much at once… though if he ate too much now, he could quickly digest any food. As for the stone pit… he wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to actually try to digest it. Normal stone fruit pits- apricots and peaches and the like- were poisonous… he had no guarantee this one wouldn’t be much worse.
No, it was better not to try that just yet. It seemed to be resistant to his stomach acid at the moment, so he didn’t have to worry about digesting it on accident. What he was really doing here was overlapping the stone pit and himself. One might say that since he was physical and the stone pit was as well, they couldn’t overlap… but Barrett would claim that even the air inside him was part of him, at least while it was there. He could argue about the point when food actually became part of him… but he wasn’t interested in that. He was trying to see what would work. In the case of the ice wraiths, the metaphysical overlap was enough… so this should work too.
Barrett just wasn’t sure how to attune the living stone to himself. He tried moving it again, but he still wasn’t sure if it was his stomach acid pushing it around. It was certainly partly that. Then again, it was most likely that, like anything with Pure Body Tempering, it would happen because he wanted it to. Understanding was required in some ways, but intuition could bridge early gaps.
The stone was now part of him. He told himself that, and thus he would make it true. If it was part of him, what would it feel like? Would it have senses? He supposed Living Stone must have senses. He pushed away all doubt, intrusive thoughts that it might not be Living Stone. If it wasn’t, he would simply fail… but if it was and he let himself be convinced it wasn’t, he would also fail. Senses. What would a Living Stone feel? It would feel around it, feel the earth, feel the heat of the sun. If it was a part of him, he would be able to feel exactly where it was and sense its structure. He could feel the outside of it, but what was it like inside? Was it the same all the way through? No, there was a softer core in the middle where the tree would grow out of. Not that any of the stone pit would be considered soft, but relatively so. It was much like his own organs, protected by the outside… but not weak in absolute terms.
If the seed was part of him, he could control it like his own body- not just where it moved, but its distribution of toughness and weight. Indeed… he could. First one side was heavier, then the other… but of course, if it was part of him… surely he could move the weight from it to him? The pit was a few kilograms… and when such a weight was added to Barrett’s own, it was nearly insignificant. However, adding weight in reverse was quite obvious.
Barrett wasn’t sure how long it had been- an hour? More? Regardless, he felt as if it really was part of him. Now to see if it would last. The pit wouldn’t do much good just sitting inside him. It had to come back up… but first he made sure it left behind any stomach acid. It was not a pleasant experience to have acid in the throat. The pit quite easily slid up his throat and out of his mouth, clean and dry.
He could still feel it as it rested in his palm. He placed his hand vertically, having it roll on its own up to the tip of his fingers. Then he let it drop to the ground, apart from him. He could still feel it, but muted… as if he’d gone underwater or hidden under a blanket. He pulled it back towards him and felt it in full again. Unless things changed, Pure Body Tempering wouldn’t be much use with the stone pit as a projectile weapon… but then again, perhaps it would be good enough to make a difference when it mattered. If he could make it tougher in just the right places at the right times… well, he’d have to experiment. He could even change its shape, though not easily. Just as his body wanted to retain its normal shape- arms and legs and a head and torso- so too the pit wanted to retain its relatively spherical shape. If he pushed it too far it might break permanently.
Barrett considered attuning to more of the stone pits, but decided against it. It was like adding another body part, and it would be better to do it only a small amount at a time. He didn’t know if there would be any strange side effects. A single pit by itself wasn’t enough to be used as a melee weapon just yet, but he would sort that out as he went.
Alnherr grinned widely as Barrett held out a stone pit. “You really made one of these part of you? I really made the right choice with you. You have just the right temperament to practice Pure Body Tempering… and the ability to recover when you mess up. Though you reached the point where you could recover anyway, couldn’t you?”
“Yes… but it’s easier if the recovery works on its own. Just guiding it along is hard work. I’m sure you know, with the teeth and all.”
Alnherr nodded, “Very hard.” Then he sighed, “I wish I was younger… I could give the Immortal Berserker Technique a try- Pure Body Tempering style. Though without berserk energy, it might just be called the Immortal Body Technique, hmm?”
Barrett tilted his head, “Perhaps, though my body is still suited for bursts of power. About your age… why not give it a try anyway? I know it’s risky but…”
“Your recovery speed also lends itself to being a berserker. As for me trying the technique…” Alnherr shook his head, “I am certain it would not work. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, yet it also is… for me. Unless I can convince myself otherwise, it most certainly won’t work. As I’m sure you know, believing you can do something is the very basis of Pure Body Tempering. If you don’t think you can, you can’t.”
Barrett nodded. “I don’t know if I could have gone down this path by myself… but seeing you as an example made it possible.”
Alnherr laughed a very toothy grin, “You’ll make me blush kiddo! I wish I could guide you all the way down the path, but to be honest, I don’t have much left to teach you. All you need is more experience and training. That said… I’m sure I have a few more nuggets of information in this head we can mine out, if you run into any problems.”
In the end, Alnherr did accept a stone pit from Barrett to try to attune to it himself. Though Alnherr didn’t have much hope of advancing to a higher tier- the extra decade of life he had managed to eke out for reaching fifth tier was helpful, but even the most optimal projections of reaching sixth tier from fifth were fifteen years, and Pure Body Tempering more than many other methods relied on a young, healthy body to progress. Even so, he wasn’t going to give up training just because he wouldn’t reach a whole new tier- there was so much he could attempt along the way. Barrett really respected his dedication, though he supposed Pure Body Temperers had to be even more dedicated than most.