Though he could more or less control the taspum shards as he pleased, Barrett wouldn’t call what he could currently do extremely useful. While he could use them as projectiles in much the same way as the stone pits, he was more familiar with the stone pits. It wasn’t bad to have something sharp he could control, but the shards weren’t molded for optimal damage. Most of them tended to widen out quickly, which meant they wouldn’t penetrate far into someone. Well, a centimeter or two was still significant but it wasn’t immediately deadly. As for using the shards as armor… though he could stick them all around himself, they weren’t attached to each other- so any significant blow would dislodge them. He needed to make them one solid piece, form them into a real armor- or a weapon, which could be easier. The forging alliance of those from the Metal Sea and the Immortal Berserker Sect was still ongoing, and though they’d made some progress with taspum, Barrett knew for his case he would need to mold the taspum shards himself. He needed to learn how to do it, after all. At the same time, he was studying the stone pits. Though splitting his focus wasn’t necessarily a good idea, both tasks were actually just different aspects of Pure Body Tempering.
When he first tried to reform the taspum shards, he tried bending one much the same way he’d done with his hands. However, that had the same results- the shard snapped. He maintained his connection with both halves, but it was clear he wouldn’t be bending things into shape.
Barrett had some idea of how metal connected to itself on a very small level, but he wasn’t sure how to put it into practice. However, since the taspum didn’t lend itself to being molded any other way, he had to start at the smallest level. He started with the snapped shard, trying to piece it back together. It was like repairing muscles, but instead of many individual strands being formed and moving next to each other, it was a solid block- but still connected by very small structures. In one way, they could be compared to strands… but also in every direction. It wasn’t like a thread or a cloth, but instead was woven together in all directions. The analogy fell apart there because nobody weaved thread perpendicular through other cloth- because cloth was supposed to be a single layer. The crystalline structure Barrett felt at the smallest level was really the defining essence of metal.
Working at that level was difficult, and Barrett actually spent a week of effort just to repair the single shard… but he felt his speed improved as he practiced. Barrett had no intent to combine all the shards back into a single entity- as far as he could tell, they had been a boulder-like configuration at some point, not anything useful like weapons or armor. That also made sense with the individual thickness of shards, since they were at least as thick as good armor would be at their widest points- but didn’t have flat or curved edges there.
Barrett continued to work with the same taspum shard, but instead of just trying to repair it he attempted to rearrange it. The work was slow, but he ever so slightly managed to move bits and pieces of it, adding them to the pattern. He was eventually working towards a cube- not that it would be useful in that shape, but it would show some level of control at least. However, at the rate he was going he could see that taking weeks, even though his speed was improving bit by bit.
In his hand was a stone pit. Nothing else was around to distract him. He didn’t want to fail from distractions. His current task was risky enough already. Barrett carefully reached inside the stone pit, then let a few points weaken. The stone pit strained against itself and then… cracked in half. As it did so, it lost all pretense of keeping its structure, turning into a pile of dust in Barrett’s hand.
Barrett didn’t move as his inside swirled around. He felt what happened, and was having a hard time convincing his body that it hadn’t completely fallen apart. In place of the stone pit, he only felt pain. It was like having his arm chopped off- though at the time he hadn’t really comprehended the loss. He had been embroiled in battle, after all.
Through his connection to the stone pit, he felt the worst pain he had ever experienced… but at least it was concentrated all into one spot. Barrett had thought destructions were the most painful things he could ever experience… but they had all been successful. Now, he knew what failing felt like. Eventually, the pain faded away, but he still felt the loss of the stone pit.
Barrett shook his head. Apparently, he had been wrong. Either that wasn’t the right method, or it wasn’t possible at all. There was also a chance of failing even if he got the method right, but he knew he would feel the difference. Barrett shook his head, wondering at the deductive abilities of those who first came up with the Immortal Berserker Technique… or wondering how many died to pave the path he walked. Adapting it to work with Pure Body Tempering was trivial in comparison to trying to create the method to begin with, as he had realized before he even tried with the stone pits.
Because of the feeling, Barrett was hesitant to try his next possible method. In the end, he decided to wait until later. He wasn’t in the right mindset to try again immediately. Losing part of himself and realizing it wouldn’t grow back… was strange. He hadn’t felt the way he did since he first lost his arm- before he knew about his True Immortal Body. It was easy to forget how lucky he was sometimes. While some might have said the stone pit wasn’t really part of him, he doubted that anyone who had experienced that sort of connection would agree. Barrett wasn’t going to let the loss of something that could be replaced keep him down for long, but sometimes a break was needed. Cultivating all the time was… tiring. Maybe he would spend some more time in the gardens.