Hayden was able to move around by the time Barrett returned, though he wasn’t able to do any training involving combat. It was too much of a risk if he got injured while his healing ability was still relatively low. However, that didn’t lower Hayden’s enthusiasm for training. Barrett knew that he wouldn’t have tried another destruction while he was nearly dead unless he was determined to grow stronger. Of course, all of his students were determined, but Barrett could have easily seen someone give up at that point. Academically, if the choice was between waiting for death or taking a chance to recover or potentially die more quickly, it was the right choice… but it was harder to make that choice when the one whose death might be accelerated was yourself. At the moment, Hayden didn’t really need Barrett to teach him anything- the actual uses of Pure Body Tempering could be covered by Master Alnherr and at least a handful of others. Barrett had already laid out a plan he thought would work for training, as well. Even so, Barrett took time to watch all of his students to see their current progress and keep track of how they developed. They might need guidance once they neared second tier, but that wouldn’t be for another year or so.
Reina stood at the center of a ring of metal shards from the cave. She had her rapier drawn, pointing down towards the ground, and her eyes closed. As Barrett watched, she slashed with her sword, directing the air with magic and energy. A whirlwind picked up around her. In theory, the Breath of Life would allow that whirlwind to maintain itself more easily. At least, that was Barrett’s understanding of ‘giving life to the wind’ at the most basic level. Not that he would discount the effectiveness of the ability, even if he thought it was probably somewhat exaggerated.
After making the wind swirl, Reina slashed towards the ground, swiping up handfuls of the metal shards. They had already been used for the Breath of Life technique, and while they weren’t necessarily better suited, Reina said there were still traces of the technique on them for now. They were there to help her attain a basic understanding of the technique more easily. Barrett saw the shards pick up into the wind and align themselves with it. It was certainly a bit more organized than the wind just randomly picking up the metal shards. Reina continued adding to the whirlwind, having it pick up speed. The winds whirled faster and faster until suddenly the whole thing broke apart. Hundreds of metal shards flew towards Barrett.
“Ow.” Barrett said. The shards weren’t going as fast as they had been in the cave, and more importantly they weren’t being continuously propelled. The most they could do was damage his clothes.
“Sorry,” Reina said, bowing her head. She took a deep breath, “It’s a bit hard to control.”
“I wouldn’t expect it to be easy.” Barrett looked at one of the metal shards. After the ability broke, it was just back to being a normal piece of metal. He certainly wouldn’t call it alive. Then again, he wouldn’t traditionally call the stone pits he had ‘living stone’, but they were. The difference was the living stone had actually been part of something definitely alive, whereas the metal shards likely had never been alive.
Barrett managed to resist sticking the metal shard in his mouth again until he returned to a training area at the Immortal Berserker Sect. Barrett wasn’t sure if anything would happen, but he recalled Master Alnherr saying that grandmaster tier Pure Body Temperers could produce living metal from within their bodies. Barrett was only a master- and only the earlier tier of master- but that didn’t mean he couldn’t do the same. Master Alnherr didn’t say only grandmasters could do it, after all. Besides, if he didn’t try things he wouldn’t learn.
Placing the shard in his mouth, Barrett could taste the metallic tang it had. He didn’t dislike the taste- which was good, because it was much like the taste of blood and that was one he experienced frequently. He carefully swallowed, fortifying his body as the shard moved through it.
Once it entered his stomach, he could feel an immediate difference between it and the living stone. Now that he had grown familiar with the living stone, he could sense its ‘life’. Of course, he could sense it even more once he’d attuned to a particular piece.
Since the metal shard wasn’t living metal, that could have been the end of what Barrett tried… but that would be too hasty. He should at least try to attune to it. He had considered doing the same with other metal, but it wasn’t strong enough to matter… and if it was magical, he wasn’t sure about having it in his stomach. This was a chance to try something, at least.
After about half an hour, there were no results… but he didn’t let that discourage him. Metal and stone were different after all. If he could attune to this metal at all, it would also likely be more difficult than proper ‘living metal’. There was so little information available, Barrett had to try.
By the end of the day, Barrett hadn’t achieved anything. Maybe it was impossible, or maybe he just hadn’t figured it out yet. He thought of the Metal Heart that Kail had. He was pretty sure it would be living metal… but he wasn’t going to ask to try to attune to it. However, perhaps he could use it to help him get a better feel for metal. Kail would also be able to give him some guidance, even though his actual proficiency in Pure Body Tempering was lower.
Barrett nodded to himself. He would head to the Metal Sea next. It would be good to see Kail again- he wasn’t staying at the Immortal Berserker Sect anymore, after all. Perhaps someone there could identify the metal shards as well- the smiths at the Sect hadn’t been able to properly identify it, though Barrett had left a large amount with them for potential smithing. The initial tests had indicated it didn’t melt at the same temperatures as steel, but it took special preparations to make the forges much hotter, and they were usually busy with other things. It had only been a few days so far, so Barrett didn’t expect them to suddenly understand all the details.
The Metal Sea wasn’t that far… especially not since Barrett could travel more quickly now. He still made some preparations so that the Sect would know where he was, though he expected to be back in a reasonable amount of time.