In addition to sparring as normal, Barrett’s training encompassed a few new areas. For example, how to fight in armor. There wasn’t much to say about that, except that he had to practice it. The biggest thing about it was it took more effort. While he didn’t normally wear armor, if he knew beforehand he would be going into combat then he would definitely want to.
He was given a set of full plate that covers his entire body. It was actually a lot easier than he thought to move around in it. Part of that was the weight wasn’t too troublesome with his strength, but the armor’s joints were also quite flexible. There was only a slight restriction to his movements, not a particular problem since he didn’t particularly fight with finesse. The biggest problem he had was that he tired more quickly, and when he exerted himself he heated up quickly. Being hot and sweaty for a short time was merely uncomfortable, but it could be much worse.
The detriments were outweighed by the protection it provided. He could tell that the armor was stronger than what the soldiers were wearing when he had been into battle. Of course, if Barrett were given the chance he would be able to break a similar armor on another person- but perhaps he wouldn’t be able to kill them in a single blow, It was not enough to make him invincible, but merely to increase safety. He could ignore a sword strike from a regular soldier, or possibly even an attack with a warhammer or poleaxe. Meanwhile, those who trained as a warrior would have more success, but it would still prevent him from taking a fatal hit as easily- and he wouldn’t just stand there and let them hit him. A swashbuckler or other finesse based foe might do better, striking at the joints or the eye sockets in his helmet, but that would at least limit their attack options.
Barrett also practiced a number of other things for the sake of utility. The only real common ground they had was that the practice usually involved some form of injury, or at least probable injury. On the other hand, that was what the practice was for… and Barrett couldn’t deny how quickly he grew stronger in such situations. However, no matter how harsh the training could be… there was also time reserved for rest. If it was only physical rest, Barrett would study, but he also was assigned times where he wasn’t supposed to do any training at all. He didn’t know what to do with most of his time except relax and stare up at the sky. Sometimes, he would go into the city and visit with those he knew, perhaps having drinks at the tavern. Then in a day or two he would be back into his training.
Barrett’s training felt like it was accelerating, because each destruction came faster than the next. In a way, it was, but that was just the nature of the technique. Each destruction took less time than those before it, as he would heal more quickly. In the area of gathering berserk energy, the more powerful he was the more quickly it went. It wasn’t extremely obvious from level to level, but over the course of the few years he had been training Barrett had noticed.
The ninth destruction was much the same as all the others, but Master Hykel took Barrett aside before the tenth, and had him make additional preparations. “For those training themselves in martial and magical abilities, the tier system is set up as a convenience… but for good reason. Though there are training methods that result in linear increases of strength, many have significant increases near the same points. The Immortal Berserker Style has an easy division for that… the tenth destruction is the cutoff for stepping into the second tier, and likewise a significant increase in power. After you finish, your body will be able to handle much more berserk energy, similar to around three regular destructions.” Master Hykel shrugged, “It’s a significant increase, but of course there are significant risks as well. The tenth destruction marks the point at which you will advance- or regress- more than a single factor of healing at once. For the sake of convenience, we say that someone like myself has surpassed the ten thousandth destruction, putting me at the fifth tier… but the number of actual destructions i have succeeded at is much less. Which is good, because it would be highly inconvenient to have to go through several destructions per day to keep up with training. Anyway, the point is, if you fail at the tenth destruction you will regress to somewhere between the seventh and eighth… and if you are careless, you can lose your life.” Master Hykel held up a finger, “However, unlike the first destruction, this one is not a gamble. While success and failure the destruction still depends on your innate capabilities, the chance of death is not.”
“What’s different about it that comes with a chance of death, then?”
“Since you are stepping into a new level, you must gather as much berserk energy as possible. When you complete the destruction, there will be a rush of energy- whether or not you succeed. If not properly controlled, it can cause damage to your internal organs. If you succeed, your body will be stronger and more capable of resisting such damage, but if you fail you will be weaker and still have to deal with it. Either way, though, you must be cautious. I will help you by simulating as similar scenario with my own energy, and only when I am satisfied with your results are you to attempt the tenth destruction. Even then, remember it is still dangerous- you are going into battle with capable of killing you, but you cannot kill it. While I am certain I can judge your level of competence, you cannot afford to be careless in a life or death battle.”
Barrett nodded. He knew about that some himself. He had thought about how he could have died if the spears were aimed slightly differently, or more specifically if he had failed to react to the one he saw coming. He hadn’t been able to even partly dodge the one from behind… but he had been moving enough that it hadn’t pierced any vital organs- at least not directly. “I will be careful.” Barrett didn’t want to die because of carelessness. That would be the most disappointing way to go.