Alnherr shrugged his shoulders, “If I were asked straight up, there’s not any specific reason we couldn’t cultivate energy or magic as well. Even arrogant pride in our own methods can only account for so much. Even with that, there are bound to be those who try. The biggest problem is the exclusivity in the training methods. Training energy doesn’t support… this. I imagine you use your energy to temper your bodies?” Alnherr looked to Barrett and Master Hykel for confirmation. “We could do the same, but it would make us reliant on the energy. Furthermore, it wouldn’t help training our special methods, and those take a lot of time. Imagine you go running. Your legs get tired, perhaps your lungs… but you still have energy to move your arms in most cases.” Alnherr waved his hand as if tossing away the idea. “Not so for us. We use stamina and strength from every part of our body wherever we are using it. If I were to run at full capacity, I would use up not only the stamina from my entire body, even the muscles would be strained. There’s only so much you can do with a limited stamina pool.”
Barrett scratched his chin, “Couldn’t you… I don’t know… train to increase your overall stamina and stamina recovery speed?”
The old man raised an eyebrow, “You think we don’t? You saw me eat. I will admit our methods aren’t perfect, but we have at least considered that point. One of the things that makes the training longest, however, is injuries. Ones that don’t cripple you, anyway. If you get crippled, training is pretty much over.” Alnherr shrugged, “Maybe there are some who have found solutions in more prosperous areas. Either way, recovery from injuries takes time, even if you focus all of your bodies healing on one point… and that burns through all your stamina. Even if you have huge amounts of food to consume there’s only so much that can be eaten in a day. It’s not feasible to rely on everyone having an immortal body for very rapid healing… though I’ve heard a few of them have done quite well with our path.”
Master Hykel coughed. “Have you ever considered training your overall healing rate, then?”
“Oh, sure. People have tried. Nobody has succeeded so far as I know.” He frowned, then stood up, walking around the table. He didn’t hide that he was inspecting Barrett and Master Hykel. He even leaned down… and Master Hykel helpfully lifted his arm to show his armpit. “Hmm. Young man, didn’t you just get that cut on your face?”
Barrett shrugged, “Sure, like an hour and a half ago.” Barrett knew at this point the small cut wouldn’t look fresh anymore. It wouldn’t have really healed significantly after a day or so’s worth of healing, but it wouldn’t be the same as a fresh wound.
“I don’t suppose you both got lucky and were born with immortal bodies?” Alnherr shook his head, “What am I saying? A little cut like that would have already cleared up with a tier 1 immortal body…”
Master Hykel let the old man ponder in silence for a few minutes before contributing. “The Immortal Berserker Sect, among other things, trains our healing rate to be like that of immortal bodies.”
Alnherr raised an eyebrow, “Really? You’ve already taken a good step beyond the boundary of normal body tempering then. If it’s not too much to ask… how do you do it?”
Master Hykel shrugged, “We detonate berserk energy at key points in our bodies and hope our healing recovers.”
Alnherr frowned, “But that’s… hmm… I suppose the body doesn’t like to hurt itself…” He stood muttering for a time, “What’s the mortality rate on that?”
“Upwards of thirty percent. Though within three years it becomes clear whether it’s a viable path or not. After the first attempt, there’s little to no risk of death, except when breaking through tiers.” Master Hykel put on a pleasant smile. “You know, the Immortal Berserker Sect has occasionally sought out competent pure body temperers to see if we could incorporate anything they knew… Unfortunately, most of them were either too prideful in their purity… or not competent.”
“Or dead, I bet. We drop like flies. I would know. Even if we don’t make any enemies and get them to kill us, we die on our own. I hear after a certain point it becomes something amazing but… that might be just rumors. Maybe we really picked a dead end.”
Master Hykel shrugged, “It could be stubbornness or just misfortune. I will say I have also heard of some higher tier pure body refiners… and though I haven’t met any of them I am certain of the reliability of the information. Now then, I must ask… are you willing to teach your skills to non-pure body refiners?”
Alnherr shrugged, “I think I’ve sufficiently proved my point to myself… and I don’t dislike the idea of a legacy that continues after my death. Are you sure you want to learn? There are risks of permanent injury…”
“Actually, I was thinking you might teach Barrett.”
Alnherr frowned, “Really? I would have thought the teacher might take the risks himself first…”
Master Hykel shrugged, “That may be so, but I’d rather have the scenario without risks to begin with.”
“But he’s younger, so he has a lot more future to lose if he gets crippled,” the old man glanced over at Barrett.
Barrett grinned and looked at Clara and Jack, then waved with his right hand. “Hi.”
Clara weakly waved back, “Oh, I guess we never said that. Hi again.” There were a few moments of silence before Clara’s mind caught up, and she blinked. “Is that…” She looked at his left hand, resting on the table. “You… have a right hand again? A right arm?”
Barrett scratched the back of his head, “Yeah, I’m pretty lucky. Apparently I have a true immortal body… it lets me recover from pretty much anything!”
A moment later, Barrett found Alnherr standing behind him with an arm around his neck. The gesture would have been friendly, if not for the tight grip that came with it. “So… when are we beginning training?”
The enthusiastic grin on his the old man’s face made Barrett think he might regret his decisions in the near future.