There were only so many options that could be done with any particular material in terms of cultivating with it. In terms of metal, one could make their body like metal- or actually metallic- or they could use energy or mana to control external metal. That was only the base level, of course. The Leipeka clan used metal projectiles, the Anakoni clan trained their bodies and accelerated metal weapons held in their hands. The Macaio clan also trained their bodies but they used metals more as a poison. The first cultivators of theirs Barrett faced used something akin to mercury- likely a mixture only part mercury, since it was still relatively more rare in the area, though it wasn’t entirely impossible to outfit many third tier cultivators with it. However, even the Leipeka clan was a bit conservative with it even after possessing the metal spring.
In addition to such liquid metals which they stuck to the skin to be absorbed into the body, they created dust made of fine metal particles, capable of damaging the eyes or lungs- and that was just the short term. While not exactly poison, it had the same sort of effects and delivery style.
The Leipeka clan cultivators were adept at controlling metal, so as long as they could sense the energy controlling the metal dust, they could keep it at bay. They protected what Anakoni clan members they could. However, Barrett saw Kail went completely unprotected against the master he was facing off against. The results were… indiscernible. He might have thought Kail was not breathing in tiny particles of metal at all. It was likely a benefit from training with the Metal Heart- though it would have been possible to achieve with the Anakoni clan’s technique normally, it would likely have taken him until a higher tier to so easily deal with the problem.
Barrett was protected during the initial attack, but as the battle progressed he had to breathe- and with the tiny metal particles all around, that included them. His eyes were relatively unaffected- they were tougher than most metals, so the tiny particles couldn’t penetrate. Likewise, Barrett’s lungs were trained as well. The only problem with his lungs was, even if they weren’t directly damaged, the metal particles built up. They were heavier, so once they were in the lungs they were reluctant to come back out. Before that time they were held up in the air by energy, for the most part.
For the moment Barrett was fine, but he would have to be aware of the buildup in his lungs. It was making it difficult to breathe, even if it hadn’t turned his lungs into a bloody mess like was intended.
Barrett’s fist struck the middle aged cultivator he was facing against. He had to admit that their body transformation was quite effective- they could take a hit from him and even cause his hand to be slightly uncomfortable. Even more than that, they weren’t particularly damaged. If Barrett could get a solid hit on them it might be a different story, but they didn’t just let him attack them as he pleased. The man had a curved sword that he wielded with great finesse, and Barrett had to move carefully to keep himself from being chopped into. With the energy on it, it carried great momentum and sharpness.
As a wide slash swept towards him, Barrett leaned backwards- in a way that would certainly lose him his balance- then swung his upper body forward to grab his opponent’s arm. They weren’t quite quick enough to avoid him, and he pulled them closer. While training their body to have the toughness of metal was one thing, they were a bit lacking in muscular strength. Barrett would consider that aspect of them third tier at best. The man used energy to try to anchor his feet, but Barrett lowered his body mass while moving his strength to just the right places to toss the man over his shoulder. There wouldn’t be much damage from that, even impacting on the hard and metallic sandy dirt, but once they were off their feet Barrett grabbed on from behind, first twisting the weapon out of their hands. His strength was exactly where he needed it to be- and while it took Barrett significant stamina, the opponent who fought back and was overpowered in one area after another started to feel the strain first.
He wasn’t able to get a good grip to try to snap their neck. Heads were awkwardly shaped like that. A normal person might have been simple, but this fellow was tough. Barrett could feel more metallic dust being brought into the air around him and even globs of liquid metals trying to seep through his skin. However, he just held his breath for the moment- and closed his nostrils to prevent the dust from being forced in. Even in battle, he could easily hold his breath for half a minute without issue.
Barrett grabbed one arm and twisted it. It wasn’t a submission hold- that was what you used when you wanted to threaten to break something. It was basically the same sort of move, but Barrett didn’t stop at the point where he could break their arm. With a snapping sound but also the screeching of a metal beam being bent, the upper right arm of the man broke. Since they couldn’t use that to struggle anymore, it was easier for Barrett to grab the other arm and do the same. Once both arms were broken- which didn’t entirely mean they couldn’t do anything as a cultivator- Barrett put his arm around the neck from behind.
Choking someone out could take far too long on a battlefield- Barrett had already had to flip around a few times to block attacks with the man’s body- but he wasn’t planning to do that. He once more returned to the man being face down in the dirt, but instead of straddling him he placed one knee on the man’s back. He didn’t know where in the spine would give first- neck or lower back- but he didn’t care. It turned out to be the neck, which saved him some trouble because that meant he couldn’t move at all. For a cultivator, it didn’t mean immediate death… the man could still control his energy, but as he couldn’t move his body he couldn’t stop Barrett from stomping his head into the ground at full force. All of his body weight and muscle brought his foot down to that point, and the man’s head deformed… and Barrett could feel the life slip out of him.
Barrett then elbowed the throat of the other man who had been attacking him, crushing it- he was just a second tier cultivator. Finding a moment where he was free, Barrett turned himself over and coughed out the metal dust. It tried to stick to his lungs, but it wasn’t so hard to shake it off with a bit of coaxing. Barrett certainly couldn’t say the process was pleasant, but it was relieving to have only a very small amount of metal dust left in his lungs. He would more meticulously remove that later.
Looking around the battlefield, Barrett saw the master Kail had been fighting was defeated as well. As for the remaining two, they were either on a different part of the battlefield or not present at the moment. It would be good to kill them if they could, but the Anakoni clan would be more prepared to defend themselves… and they had some backing as well. Barrett started to help with the clean up of the remaining cultivators, though he wondered what Master Hykel had been up to. He could just feel him approaching now- weaker feeling than when he went out, but still full of more berserk energy than Barrett had ever had.