There were many parts of the human body that Barrett hadn’t really put much thought into. It wasn’t just muscle and bone, but many more things. In fact, he hadn’t put much thought into some things that were muscle and bone. If it didn’t have anything to do with combat, he hadn’t much cared.
For example, Barrett had trained his jaw somewhat. While it could be used as an attack form, most of the training was on the defensive end. Without training it was a weakness- even if an opponent didn’t break it, a solid hit to the jaw could knock a person unconscious. Any training to the muscles of the jaw was a side effect to the rest of his efforts.
With that, he hadn’t put any thought to what was directly behind his jaw. Not his teeth- he had at least considered them whenever they were knocked out- but instead his tongue. It was a muscle… and by some standards very powerful. At least, none of his other muscles stood up all on their own without the support of tendons and bones. However, there was no point in training it. Beyond the basic levels of durability that happened just from berserk energy being stored in his body tempering everything, it remained just like a normal tongue. There was no reason to train it- except that Alnherr said to.
The explanation was simple enough- it was a part of the body, so if one could use the power of every part of the body anywhere, there was no reason not to train it. It made sense in principal, but it was a very awkward process in practice. It felt ridiculous to hold up a coin on the tip of his tongue- first outstretched, then lying on his back trying to balance it on the tip of his tongue, and finally with his tongue folded back over it trying to hold it up. Those tasks were all achievable, but they were reminders of what he had to do.
What else had Barrett learned? He had learned to wiggle his ears- though he noticed that also moved a lot of his scalp in the process. He definitely wasn’t looking forward to trying to train his eyelids or his nose… or the muscles controlling his eyeballs.
He’d trained his neck muscles- those supported his head and were quite useful- but he hadn’t considered the muscles in his throat. While controlling one’s own heart seemed like a useful skill, he hadn’t considered other internal muscles. After all, what use was controlling the muscles on one’s stomach, or around the intestines?
Fortunately the answer was always “of some use”- at least, when one was talking about the eccentricities of pure body tempering. Barrett was willing to do anything, as long as there was a purpose. He just wished he could get to the actual purpose more quickly. At least he wasn’t alone in his struggles.
Master Hykel joined him in his training exercises. While sticking out his tongue and shortly thereafter dropping a coin that he had to wash off before he could try again was embarrassing, at least he wasn’t alone. Alnherr also demonstrated himself, and took everything very seriously. At least, once it came to the actual training. He couldn’t help but show off by juggling a few coins with just his tongue- a sight that was simultaneously disturbing, silly, and impressive.
So far, they hadn’t gotten to anything that could actually cripple them or cause lasting damage- the most dangerous part by far had been heart control, but that automatically reverted itself. The most that could happen when training the tongue the way they were was it got tired and dropped the coin… and though it could result in swallowing it, it would merely be an unpleasant but not dangerous process. Training eyelids could result in injury, as it required attaching weights, as well as several of the other obscure muscles. Strictly speaking, they didn’t need to train everything before trying other techniques, but it was better to have solid foundations.
The most important part was the practice gaining control over things that weren’t normally controlled by human thought. That was the basics of the pure body tempering, though it expanded beyond muscles and things that could logically be controlled into areas that made little sense. This included things like fingers bending the wrong way without damaging the joints and controlling stomach acid to dissolve food more quickly. There was a strange leap in thought from controlling a living part of his body to one that wasn’t, but Alnherr assured Barrett it would make sense once he could do it. At least, if he could.
It wasn’t guaranteed that Barrett would be able to bridge that gap. In that case, he would be more limited in what he could get out of Alnherr’s strange techniques, but he felt it would be useful anyway.
Since they hadn’t gotten to the point of using stamina and strength from other parts of the body, the weird tongue exercises and other pieces merely served to make eating difficult. There was still time for other training, the kind that he could see more immediate results from.
The progress along the road toward the Immortal Berserker Sect was slowed by Barrett performing destructions, but falling behind on his training would have been worse. As it was, a day of not travelling monthly or so wasn’t a big deal. Destructions were still coming in pairs, and so about two months onto the road Barrett had passed the thirty-second level. He appeared to be about a third of the way to the next tier, but he was actually in the late part of the mid stage. In terms of actual training time, he was about halfway between the tenth and the hundredth destruction- give or take a few months.
Clara and Jack had been set up with a nice little cot in the small country of Sashor. After travelling over a month through the mountains of Voscea there were relatively peaceful plains. Even if anyone from the Raging Fire Sect remembered them, they wouldn’t accidentally encounter them there. They had expressed interest in travelling the rest of the way with Barrett and company, but decided against it when they told that the further countries weren’t very friendly to common folk. They were mostly populated by cultivators of various sorts, and even if they didn’t actually dislike the people, there were plenty of dangers to worry about. While they would be safe while travelling, they wouldn’t want to live in a country that had a high threat of monster attacks. Thus, they said their goodbyes- though Barrett promised he would come visit. He knew he would be coming back that way eventually, because there were still things to settle in his home city… once he thought he could handle whatever the bigger situation turned out to be.