It was difficult to say anything about metals that would necessarily apply to every type of metal. Iron was one of the most common examples of metal, hard and heavy and prone to magnetism among other things… but there were many metals that failed to meet one or several of those properties. For example, in normal circumstances the metals that made up the metal sea weren’t even solid, which also precluded them being hard. Mercury was heavy, but the rubidium near the top of the sea was only slightly heavier than water. That wasn’t light, but aluminum was light. Copper, silver, and gold were heavy but soft. Magnetism varied wildly among metals, and it could be said that more of them were not affected to any significant degree than were. Pure metals did share one quality, which was their lustrous nature. As long as they hadn’t tarnished, it was fairly easy to pick out a metal by sight- which didn’t say much for practical use. Other than the above, another common property was their ability to conduct electricity. Barrett knew about lightning rods meant to protect buildings from lightning strikes, and of course armor also generally altered the path of lightning.
While the wide ranging properties of metal didn’t necessarily help Barrett, the specific properties of taspum might. It was heavy, brittle rather than flexible, and conducted heat and electricity. The last of those properties was perhaps the most important for Barrett.
The body communicated with itself through electricity- which was why lightning could cause the body to fail to function. Of course, actual lightning usually caused the body to fail by destroying it first- messing up the electrical signals was more of a secondary effect. Directing energy or mana wasn’t handled through the same methods as the body, but it was still directed by the brain for the most part. As for why it mattered to Barrett… well, it seemed easiest to form a connection with the metal through electrical signals. Barrett had first formed a connection to the stone pits through mana, before controlling them with Pure Body Tempering. Though Pure Body Tempering used the body, the control didn’t seem to come from the electrical signals that told muscles to move. For one thing, Pure Body Tempering did things the body wasn’t meant to do, and thus didn’t have any way to signal for. That was also why Barrett could control his blood even if it wasn’t in him- or at all, really, since there weren’t pathways for electricity to flow through the blood.
Regardless, Barrett decided to try electrical signals like he sent to his muscles to connect with taspum. Unfortunately, saying that and doing it were completely different things. Telling his finger to move was as natural as breathing… though if he was thinking about that, breathing was actually more natural than breathing. Breathing happened on its own if he didn’t think about it, and when he did think about it, he had to do it manually for the most part. Regardless, moving his finger came just by thinking about it- he didn’t think about sending the signal down to his finger telling it to move, the signal and the thought were one and the same.
There was also the problem that he didn’t happen to have spare neves to send signals to something new. It wasn’t like people came with extra for backups or to add things on later. For the most part, humans were born with a specific set of body parts that all matched up. Trying to grow a new nerve was a crazy idea… but since that was off limits, that meant he had to use one he already had. It couldn’t exactly connect up to two things, so he had to disconnect it.
In short, Barrett thought about what he needed the least. He decided his ring finger on his left hand was the least important of the available options. It wasn’t that it didn’t have a place, but if he completely messed up and had to regrow his whole finger… he would miss that one the least. Nerves weren’t meant to be detached, but Barrett had told his body to do many things it wasn’t meant to do. This just happened to be the latest thing. Fortunately, he didn’t have to worry about it being damaged accidentally… it was part of his body, so it was much tougher than any part of a normal human.
So that he didn’t have to stretch things too far from where they belonged, Barrett tied one of the metal shards onto his finger, and from there coaxed the nerve onto the shard with a bit of Pure Body Tempering shenanigans. Immediately, he felt like he’d lost his finger. There was no feedback at all from the metal shard… though the nerve also interpreted that nothingness as pain. It varied in intensity and sometimes it was interpreted as a different feeling, but it was never anything good. Maybe it was a foolish plan to begin with.
Barrett tried to tell the metal shard to move… or more accurately, he tried to tell his ring finger to move. Of course, nothing happened- either with the finger or the metal shard. However, he hadn’t expected immediate results. Over the course of a week he kept trying for something- anything. He wasn’t expecting the metal shard to move, but any sort of feedback that wasn’t just randomly trying to feel anything would be a place to start. Sometimes, he watched the metal shard with his Pure Body Tempering senses, but saw no interaction or feeling of connection. Barrett didn’t go very far from the room Kail gave him to stay in during that week, but he still walked around the compound of the Anakoni clan.
It was near the end of the week when he first felt it. It was hot. Unfortunately, that was just how things were- the river that flowed to the metal sea was constantly reacting with water on some level, producing steam. However, in addition to just feeling hot, Barrett felt it in his left ring finger. Now, he had felt some things there before during the week. After all, the nerve was exposed to the air. He sort of felt the changes in temperature of the metal shard, even… but they weren’t particularly different from the surrounding air. Now, he felt just something slight there.
Maybe that would be it. He could easily heat the metal shard to try to elicit a reaction… and there were some who trained electricity around the Metal Sea, with its relation to metal. Just heating it might be enough to get some sort of sense… but it could be just his imagination as well.
Barrett started with a candle flame. It wouldn’t damage the taspum- in fact, no heat available at the Anakoni clan would damage it. More importantly, a simple candle wouldn’t damage him. He could go quite a bit hotter than that, but he wanted to start smaller.
As the candle lit up the metal, Barrett couldn’t really tell if he was feeling the metal heat up because it in turn heated the nerve, or if he actually felt it through the metal. It was hard to even describe what the difference would be to someone who had never felt it like Barrett had with the stone pits.
Barrett moved to hotter and hotter things, eventually stopping at a small forge and focusing the heat on the far end of the metal shard so that it would take the longest to reach the nerve directly. He experimented for about half a day, unsure of the results, before he felt just the slightest amount of heat in the tip of his finger. Of course, his other fingers had heat all the time, and he’d certainly ‘felt’ his ‘finger’ getting warm, but the important distinction was he felt it in the tip. The way he had the nerve attached, it more or less got hot all at once. Barrett closed his eyes, concentrating on the feeling as he moved the fire back and forth near the metal. Perhaps it was just because it was the only proper seeming feeling he’d had there in days, but it almost felt… well, like part of him instead of something detached.