Barrett sighed. Though he had access to more stone pits, he didn’t want to just use them up casually. After all, it took years for him to reach the level of connection he had. He just… couldn’t let his idea go. The second and third attempts had failed just the same way- except for the exact details of the stone pits’ cessation. The second it just split in half, and the third actually exploded. The fourth… was a slightly different story. From all appearances, the fourth pit was unharmed- but it was no longer alive. However, Barrett felt like it was the right method… it just hadn’t worked. Destructions could fail after all, there was no reason that wouldn’t be the case for his version. If the natural failure rate was near fifty percent… then even though it could technically work, practically there would be no progress. More than fifty percent and it was expected to only fail over the course of time. So, just because Barrett felt he had come across the right method didn’t necessarily mean it would actually produce positive results.
Between each attempt, Barrett took a break to do other things. After all, each time he lost a part of himself. After the second time, he noticed that his soul was actually damaged. He couldn’t say that it was critical… but any damage to his soul wasn’t something to take lightly. Eventually it recovered and the feeling of emptiness went away with no discernable traces… but Barrett was certain if he pushed things too quickly there could be problems.
He’d finally recovered enough to try the fifth time. This would be his second attempt with what he now believed was the correct method. His senses concentrated on the stone pit- this one was from the second batch of fruit. With careful, meticulous steps he repeated his steps… and then he felt the pain. It reminded him of all the previous attempts with the pits as well as his own destructions… but at a certain point, the pain stopped building. Barrett couldn’t say that he enjoyed having throbbing pain in the corner of his mind. However, it was better than the alternative. Though its life force was nearly undetectable, the stone pit was alive… and Barrett was filled with certainty that he had succeeded. The only question was how long it would take to recover. One year was the benchmark for humans, though things like magic bandages could reduce that. Nobody made bandages for peach pits made out of stone, so there was little he could do but wait and make sure it was supplied with stamina. One thing Pure Body Tempering couldn’t do was speed the recovery after a destruction- and even if it could, it would just mean spending more time recovering stamina and less doing anything else.
Barrett hoped the time was about the same as humans, or maybe less. That way, he could have some stone pits ready for the fourth tier tournament in two years. While recovery going from one to two times normal wouldn’t mean much for the stone pits, the important part was that he should be able to train their toughness as well. So far he hadn’t run into any real threats to the pits, but if he was serious about the fourth tier tournament there was definitely a possibility that someone could destroy them- and have enough energy left over to fight him still. That was the important part. After all, if given free reign even a second or third tier cultivator could break one of the stone pits… but trying to do so while fighting Barrett would be impossible, or at least inadvisable. With second tier tournaments happening every other year, Barrett’s first students would have just stepped into second tier, if all went well. Barrett looked forward to seeing their results.
The first thing Barrett worked to make with the taspum would be a weapon… once he managed to combine multiple shards together. He’d managed to get one shard into a fairly flat state- closer to a wedge, but that was better for making an edge. It wasn’t properly sharp yet, but Barrett could work on that later. As it was, it was somewhat pointed, so it would do just fine at high speeds. Better than using his fist, anyway.
From what the smithing alliance had managed to figure out, taspum needed to be heated to a ridiculous temperature before it could be worked even by metal magic and energy cultivators. Though the temperature required to melt it was only about three times that of iron, it raised an interesting conundrum. Even if they had the methods to heat a forge that hot, what could the forge be made out of? There were precious few materials that could stand up to those temperatures for long enough to melt something inside them. Making taspum workable didn’t require quite so much heat, but even so magic and energy had to be used to protect the forge, the tools, and the workers. Even when heated, taspum was rather stubborn in how it allowed itself to be rearranged. In addition to that, at those temperatures the taspum readily reacted with the air, changing its material properties- some number of pieces had nearly fallen apart, while others were weakened. While it likely wasn’t impossible to recover the taspum, that would take significant work as well. In summary, taspum required high temperatures and thus a special forge as well as careful control of the air in the area. Non-cultivator smiths would certainly die just from being near the forge- not that anyone actually had considered trying without cultivators anyway.
Barrett was glad he wasn’t trying to shape it the traditional way, though the process he used was quite tedious. He also continued to attune to more shards, but had found difficulties in that. Eventually he realized there were several different structures of the alloy. From what he could tell, their properties were similar- but there would certainly be some differences beyond just attuning. He just didn’t have the ability to try many different types of magic or energy to see how it reacted.