Over the next week, Hayden recovered extremely slowly. In fact, even with the support of magic bandages it could be considered to be negligible- however, he didn’t get any worse. Except for the fact that he had broken bones that hadn’t healed, Hayden would be able to get out of bed- which hadn’t been the case for a year and a half. Barrett could tell it would be a few weeks yet before he had enough healing rate and time to really recover at all… but he could feel Hayden growing more healthy. It just wasn’t a fast process. It wouldn’t do Barrett any good to fuss over him, so Barrett tried to move on to more useful things.
First, he arranged for a section of the gardens to be made available for him to grow Vitality Pears. While most places had special formations made to draw in extra energy and mana, for the Vitality Pear he needed the opposite. That just meant it could go to other parts of the gardens to the herbs and trees that needed it. Setting up something that would push away ambient energy and mana was simple- it wasn’t like stopping an attack.
The dirt the seeds were held in had hopefully done enough to protect them from ambient energy and mana along the way. If not, there wasn’t much he could do about it. He’d kept his personal mana away from the area, but it wasn’t like he could protect the seeds with anything- putting them in the magic bag would have the opposite effect intended.. He did feel a sense of life from the seeds still, so they would at least be able to start growing.
In the end, there were only a handful of seeds- that was how many one would expect from a single pear. He planted them all in ground he tilled by hand- that only took a short time, since it was a small area. Then he watered the seeds by hand… and now he would wait. Not that he planned to sit around and wait- that would be crazy. Trees took time to grow. However, he couldn’t really speed up the process. The Stone Fruit tree had taken quite a long time to grow as well. If the Vitality Pear was like a normal pear- which wasn’t guaranteed- it would only take a few years to produce fruit instead of a decade.
In three years, his students would be in the second tier… but perhaps he would have another batch. Barrett suspected some of those potentially interested were waiting to see if his students could reach second tier normally. Barrett had no reason to believe they couldn’t, but that was the problem with trying anything new. It wasn’t cowardice to wait to see, but logic.
Barrett wondered whether he should try to obtain full Vitality Pears. Hayden no longer needed them, but perhaps his other students might. If the seeds didn’t grow… Barrett shook his head. There was no way to know what would be necessary. Regular medicines would usually suffice. For now, he also had to take care of his own cultivation. Unless he had a mission was one, he always kept different parts of his body in various stages of recovery. Using blood to temper his body had been working quite well, though he considered he might also want to train against non-physical harm. Poisons could still be a problem- even if he ran into the exact same poisons he’d recently experienced, he wasn’t entirely immune. His body could use some more tempering against lightning… and even fire, since his body could handle more now. He would also like to find Living Metal, but he didn’t know where to start.
Lightning coursed through his body. He didn’t direct it around him, but let it flow as it pleased. At first he had been cautious in how much he allowed, until his body got used to it. Around him, sand exploded, some of it melting and splattering on his body. It had little effect but to be uncomfortable, though his clothes were ruined. It was a good thing Immortal Berserkers had particularly durable magic bags. The lightning was particularly violent this year, though Barrett wasn’t going to complain about that- it made it more effective training.
Once again lightning struck, and thunder coursed over the mountain- as it did constantly. However, very faintly in the background, Barrett could hear something. He opened his eyes and looked down the mountain. “Barrett!” a voice called down from below, and he could see a figure approaching. That would be… Reina? She was still quite a distance off and the lighting wasn’t good, but he didn’t think his eyes were deceiving him. He stood up, covered himself with some new clothes, and hurried down the mountain- this time avoiding the lightning as it came.
“I didn’t expect to see you here,” he said as he approached. “Is it an emergency?”
Reina shook her head, her energy carrying her voice on the wind and through the thunder. “It’s not an emergency… but it is time sensitive.” She held up a hand as lightning crashed down on her, diverting it around her to the ground. “Can we talk somewhere… better?” It didn’t take too long to get down to the bottom of the mountain. There, the punctuations of thunder were just a constant background noise instead of the entirety of the atmosphere. “How long will it take you to recover?” Reina asked.
Barrett felt himself and his current wounds, “Ten minutes… half an hour at most.”
“Ugh,” Reina rolled her eyes. “And here I thought having the top of your head scorched like that was something significant. Well, that’s good at least. Anyway, I came to find you to ask you to help me with something. I found a hidden cave in a wind valley where I was training. I didn’t sense any signs of people being there recently, but I sensed something special. However, I couldn’t get through the cave on my own. Shards of metal blew through the winds, heavy enough I couldn’t deflect them- not completely, anyway.” She held up her arm, which was covered in various half-healed slashes. “I was hoping we could work together to reach the back of the caves. Maybe there isn’t anything there, but I can hope.”
Barrett thought for a few moments, “What sort of metal?”
Reina shrugged, “Something dense and sharp… I know you’re looking for Living Metal, but I wouldn’t bet on this being related. You were just the one with the right qualifications to help.”
“Being able to take a hit?”
“I didn’t say that. I know using a friend as a shield isn’t particularly polite…”
“Don’t worry, it’s what we train for.” Barrett patted his chest, “Bodily toughness is my specialty. Besides, you weren’t planning to just stand behind me, right?”
“Of course not. I would be deflecting as much wind as I could. I can go find someone else if you’re busy or don’t want to. Maybe I can recruit someone from the Metal Sea…”
Barrett shook his head, “Don’t worry about it. Of course I’ll help. All I’m doing here is training anyway. I needed to get out and do something. The chance to find a natural treasure or something is pretty exciting.”
“Great,” Reina smiled, “Do you need to stop by the Sect first?”
“Just somewhere I can send a message back. Don’t want anyone to think I went missing.”
“Let’s go then.” Reina shook her head, “You look basically healed already. It’s hard to get used to, even though I’ve seen it for so many years now.”
Barrett grinned, “At least now I don’t have to walk around with bandages all over me.”
“And yet you still do,” Reina laughed.