Piece by piece, Barrett separated the taspum shards that he’d momentarily attuned with. They were a better place to start than the huge pile. Then he had to figure out how to move the shards with him without thinking about it. It was a difficult conundrum… obviously he would be thinking about it if he was trying to. The shards had momentarily moved with him, and though he stuck his hand in the pile and pulled it out, there was no motion besides that he physically caused. Barrett experimented with closing his eyes, then he tried to pick up one shard hoping the others would come along.
He couldn’t achieve what he wanted again immediately, but he knew it had happened and was therefore possible. He could try sleeping again, but that would be limited in value. He needed to move from unconscious control to conscious… or something like that. While unconscious control was better in some ways, that was only true up to a limit. If his body just needed to function, unconscious control was perfect- but if he needed to be exceptional, he needed to consciously do things. That was one of the main abilities of Pure Body Tempering- conscious control of that which normally worked on its own.
For his next attempt, Barrett closed his eyes, sticking his hand in the pile of shards. He could still feel them- their coldness, their texture and sharpness, their weight. When he lifted his hand, he knew nothing came with it. Since he was trying things, he cut off one sense at a time, until he felt nothing. Each time he lifted his arm, but he knew the shards didn’t come with him. He even heard the clinking of them dropping off of his hand, so he cut off his hearing as well. Barrett couldn’t even be sure his hand was back in the pile of shards when he put it down, but he tried to envision that it was. Then he lifted his hand. He had no way of knowing if anything had come with it… so he opened his eyes.
Shards tumbled down around his arm, falling the instant he saw them. There was just one more stuck in his hand. Barrett let his senses flow back into him, feeling the sharpness of the pain and hearing the tinkling of metal. Perhaps he was trying to go a step too far. He wasn’t going to have easy control over the shards right away. However, he still had ways to connect to them. While he wasn’t going to go so far as to attempt to connect nerves to all of them… stabbing a few into himself wouldn’t be a problem. Of course, most people wouldn’t try this- even other Immortal Berserkers had to think about what wounds would heal easily. Wounds in deep muscle didn’t necessarily heal right. However, Barrett had confidence in his True Immortal Body- and his own Pure Body Tempering skills.
Barrett stabbed a dozen shards into his arm along its length, then lifted his arm. Though they only twitched slightly, the metal shards beneath did move, and not just because of the motion of his arm. Barrett continued to bury his arm in the pile of shards, going so far as to nearly embed some of them in his arm completely. As he lifted his arm, he finally got a sense of connection. He repeated the process for an hour, until he was sure of the feeling and knew it wouldn’t fade completely. Then he tried the same with his left arm, but without embedding any shards. It took another hour to get more than the slightest movements out of the shards, but time continued to pass. Before he noticed, it was dark again- he’d spent the whole of the day. Upon noticing the time, he became extremely hungry… but he had results.
After the initial connection, all he had to do was practice the same thing. It was like working out a new muscle he had never activated before- and that included the strain and ache that came with it. However, his connection to the taspum shards and his ability to control them grew stronger. He had achieved an ability that grandmasters had- though Barrett wasn’t sure if it was only grandmasters or if it was just one thing that grandmasters could do. Barrett assumed it was the latter- though he did have the option to use more extreme methods to make a connection. Either way, he now had living metal- though just the shards from the one group could be considered among that. The vast majority of the remaining shards seemed as dead as they had always been, and even the shards Barrett had formed a connection with could barely be considered alive… but they were a part of him, and he would make sure they used their new vitality to the fullest. He doubted the shards would ever be as alive as the stone pits, but perhaps that was a good thing. The stone pits refused any changes to their form… while Barrett had the feeling he could mold the metal shards into a weapon or armor eventually.
If he had armor made of taspum, he couldn’t say it would be unbreakable. After all, the shards were shards of something, a boulder or the like. They had clearly been broken. In fact, Barrett was able to break the shards- he tried with one he hadn’t formed a connection with. It certainly wasn’t easy. He had to focus all of his strength and durability into his fingers, but he could snap one shard at a time. That said, it was much easier to break something when you could hold it in your hands with no interruption compared to trying to break it in a battle. If he formed it into armor, the force could be distributed throughout it. In addition, if he had a Pure Body Tempering connection to it… he could temporarily strengthen parts that needed it. He wasn’t that advanced in his connection and control of the taspum shards yet, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t. It just meant he needed to train, and that was something he could certainly do.
Barrett thanked Kail and Makana and the others who had helped him. Maybe he could have arrived where he was on his own, eventually- but the guidance of others was a significant help. It wasn’t like he had infinite time, after all. He still had other training he needed to do as well- such as destructions to advance his version of the Immortal Berserker Technique. His body could become stronger and stronger… as he thought about that, his thoughts flickered to something strange. He frowned as he considered it. It was a strange idea, but he’d had stranger thoughts that proved to lead to a fruitful path. It wouldn’t be easy to test… but he couldn’t help but take out a stone pit and stare at it. It might just be possible. The stone pits were naturally living stone after all.