The Immortal Berserker Sect had approximately six thousand core practitioners, with a slightly greater number of auxiliary personnel, including blacksmiths and alchemists. Some of these positions overlapped with main cultivators but a majority of them did not practice the Immortal Berserker Technique.
About half of the six thousand cultivators were only first tier, with over one thousand second tier. In the years he had been at the sect they had grown by about one fifth overall. However, the proportions remained about the same even though earlier cultivation tiers should have improved faster. That was mainly because cultivation wasn’t a smooth road- not everyone was so lucky as to receive the personal attention of a master, nor were they all blessed with a body that could stand up to the training. It was possible that some people were not even suited for cultivation- but Barrett preferred the idea that everyone would be quite suited to something. He wasn’t particularly adept at magic, but he’d taken well to berserk energy cultivation and Pure Body Tempering. That said, he wasn’t particularly awful at magic either, since most people never reached second tier of any sort of cultivation. That was significantly because most people weren’t cultivators at all. Barrett had to admit he had been lucky in some ways, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t worked to reach where he was, risking death many times in the process.
That risk of death was part of the reason there weren’t more second tier Immortal Berserkers. Either on the battlefield or while cultivating, many of them died and many others gave up or sought out another path. Thus, those at the lower ranks cycled in and out. Even with that, the numbers remained as they were because many people cultivated more slowly, either from lack of aptitude or caution in an attempt to avoid mistakes and possible death. Not everyone could be expected to cultivate at the same speed as Barrett. He more or less kept closely upon the minimum expected time to reach the next tier, with perhaps a year or two lost for various reasons- a bit more than ten percent slower than what could be considered optimal.
Assuming people found the right style of cultivation for them, Barrett knew the next biggest factor was having a proper master. At least, he knew he would have not reached similar levels without Master Hykel and then Master Alnherr guiding him. Even if he’d managed to start down the path, their personal instruction kept him on track.
Barrett thought about all of this, and decided he needed to live up to his title of master. The sect wouldn’t force anyone to teach students, but it was considered a form of contribution. There was also payment, of course, but most teaching was done chiefly for the betterment of the Sect.
Barrett wasn’t planning to take a personal disciple at the moment, mostly because he couldn’t expect that he would stay around the sect for long… but he could definitely guide people on the beginning of their journey. In fact, he was uniquely suited for a different option… some potential candidates didn’t have much potential for energy cultivation… and Barrett’s version of the Immortal Berserker Technique relying on Pure Body Tempering could be used. Pure Body Tempering was a hard road… but if one was suited for it, it could be better than other options.
There were a few dozen students who first showed up to his classes- mostly young teenagers with the oldest generally being below twenty years old. It wasn’t impossible to start cultivation later than that, but for more physical based options it was better to be younger. Barrett looked over the selection of strong young men- and women. Basic body training was a must for everyone who attempted to practice the Immortal Berserker Technique. With the facilities available, it was possible to accurately judge some of the potential of a student’s energy cultivation. Master Hykel hadn’t really had the option with Barrett and had used his own judgement… and Barrett had been determined to follow through with the first destruction regardless. The Immortal Berserker Sect wouldn’t turn away those with low potential, as long as they were willing to give it their all… and sometimes, the tests were found to be incorrect. Still, the first destruction was a big step… because it involved potentially dying. All of the students in front of Barrett had decided not to take that step for one reason or another, but had not wanted to leave the Immortal Berserker Sect. They were allowed to stay to continue tempering their bodies or even attempt the first destruction later, though most such people ended up in auxiliary positions of some sort. Some potential candidates would find they were more suited for other techniques that allies of the Sect practiced, and they were more than happy to send them to other groups. Of course, candidates were free to go wherever they wished… including to join sects not so favored by the Immortal Berserker Sect, though in that case they would likely not be welcomed back.
Before even attempting anything else, Barrett had the students display their abilities, so he could know the limits of their bodies. Pure Body Tempering could be dangerous if the body was not strong enough- even if there were no mistakes made. Mistakes would inevitably happen, but if problems could be avoided to begin with, it was better. He pushed all the students to their limits… and found basically what he expected. They were still basically normal humans- perhaps some of them could be counted as early first tier body temperers. However, it was extremely difficult to improve beyond where they were without a real cultivation system.
Barrett looked over the exhausted pile of students. “Good, it seems you are just capable enough to try. Now then, on to the lecture segment. I suppose none of you expected that from Pure Body Tempering?” All he got was tired groans of acknowledgement at best, or a head nodding or shaking. “Regardless, jumping straight into Pure Body Tempering without talking about cautions you need to take is… unwise. Watch this, if you would.” Barrett held up his hand, showing its profile to the group in front of him. Then he bent his fingers backwards towards his wrist on their own, without using his other hand. “What do you think happens if I do this… and don’t have the proper technique to return my fingers back to normal? You-” Barrett twisted his wrist so his backwards fingers pointed towards one of the students, “Can you guess?”
The young woman he picked looked around to see she was the one being pointed at, then nodded. “You’d um… cripple your hand?”
“That’s right!” Barrett twisted his arm while keeping his fingers pointed in the same direction, until they were aligned normally. Then he let his hand drop to his side. “While we have medicines or other techniques to recover from many things… crippling your hand is painful. Maybe it won’t recover right, and even if it does your training will be delayed. It would be a shame if that meant you couldn’t keep up with your peers… especially if you have great potential. Now then, after the precaution… what is Pure Body Tempering? It is, quite simply, making the body do what can’t be done… but nothing is without limits. Perhaps it is only limited by your understanding or your stamina, but limits nonetheless. Bending a finger the wrong way is something… but this-” Barrett let his forearm flop down as if it was made of jelly and had no bones, “-this demonstrates a primary use of Pure Body Tempering. I removed the rigidity of my bones there. Why is that useful? Well, for a few things… but more importantly, because that rigidity can go somewhere else. Moving something from one place to another- muscular strength, toughness, or even weight…” Barrett balanced on an outstretched hand, “-these are the most practical parts of Pure Body Tempering. As for intentionally becoming weaker… it can help you temper your body, as long as you don’t destroy it.” Barrett pondered for a few moments. He wanted to demonstrate undergoing a destruction before they attempted it, but it wasn’t something they could actually see or even sense. What if he made his body transparent? Could he even do that? In the spirit of Pure Body Tempering… the answer was obviously yes, but practically the question was whether he could do it now. He decided that he could not… at least not now as in at this very moment. Perhaps back in his room he could attempt it, and then he would see.