Confines
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There were many of us.  A crowd.  A mob?  What cause they had to bring us in, I do not know.  There was some kind of upset, and then the atmosphere became unsteady.  Like people were on edge, intent on making themselves scarce but wary of making a scene.

Ah, I digress.  All I have are theories, and If it weren’t for the anxiety it caused, I’d let my imagination run rampant.  This trek is monotonous.

The guard kicked me in the shin.  Spotting a disobedience that I hadn’t.  I quickly reviewed my pace, but the aberration grew stronger by the second.

It wouldn’t be rejected so easily.  The discontent, the censure.  As subtle as it was, they poisoned the ground beneath my feet, sapping my integrity and fueling a cycle of self incrimination.  The deception they sought.  They were projecting it into me.  The demon spawn loomed over my shoulder, It’s sights set on the bounty of grievance.

You want an usurper to hunt?  So be it.  Guide my legs.  Consume every bit of evidence that lies in the path that I take.  Burn this place into your memory, and purge the ones that dare to interrupt.

The demon accepted gladly.  I felt it’s bloodlust enter my stride.  Lacing every fiber with the torment of rogue spirits.

They are so easily manipulated.  When it comes to demons, the most dangerous thing in the world is negligence.  Taking them for granted, and overlooking their potential.  Demon’s hunger quickly, and - like any animal - become fierce when starved.

The rest of the trip was uneventful.  Offices gave way to holding areas, then plated cells, and finally solitary confinement.  This was already getting ahead of a man off the streets.

A part of me would have felt indignant, but the demon was currently chewing out my simulations.  Whatever they wanted, I was here now, and sure enough they stopped at an empty cell, and let me in.

Time to make myself at home.  The moment the bolt latched, and the guards began to walk away, my simulants got to work.

Each face of the bars, each connection point and notable detail.  The smell.  The slightly acidic taste of lime, and brine from the reef.  The moisture beneath my fingertips.  The texture beneath my hands.  Oil dipped from the bed frame.  Slick but uneven.  My fingers grazed a part that was so exposed it nearly blistered.  I glanced at the light.  Felt the heat flow from one side of the room to the other.  I examined the set of the mortar, where the earth and sun  would heat and chill repeatedly.

A tension filled my chest.  It twisted and shimmied.  Woven through with a concord of information, and flooded with an unyielding resolve.  I felt the demon’s hammer strike against my soul.  A tool costume forged to the surroundings.

I rocked my heels a bit, to get a feel for my reserves.  The thirst was quenched, however soon enough they would be needed again.  I turned the clock back, to the moment I stood.  The weave of the present reflected the entities that had moved from the past.

I sieved for patterns.  The grouping of pedestrians.  The nameless sentiment.  The light of events.  The shadow that crossed their paths.  A latticework began to form.  People.  A network.  A weave that grazed through an ocean of possibilities.

Only a few stood out, fewer stuck, and fewer still were applicable in the moment.  My heartbeat fluctuated, a fresh release entered my veins, and the images that had begun to grey were caught in a new light.

The unnecessary elements were cast away, and those that remained began to serve a new master.  Observing this, the beast was wary.  It waited and listened.  Tapping any number of senses for something to tell of the judgement to come.

It’s cues and my own overlapped, and I felt a body plow through the weave.  A presence that exploded outward and lit up the faces in the hall for a moment.  It faded in with the rest, but now that I knew it was there, it was a simple matter to assess the coming footsteps.

They weren’t alone.  So this presence was pivotal to the escort.  A cloud cause the lighting in the room to dim, reviving my sense of sight to a degree.

A party of five arrived at the block and approached my cell.  There was a fuss about recognition, and an appeal.  I didn’t catch who they were, or what they wanted.  They’d asked something of me, but I’d only caught the late end.

The beast regarded the tones.  The way they spoke was off center, although the presence was tolerant.  I looked up to meet their gaze and I was met with the image of a young woman.  Her attire was out of place though, and as I examined her face something…

Something foul was crossing mine.  My mind kicked into overdrive trying to root it out, and soon enough my simulants had a lock on the threshold.  Something was… it was illusory, like a deflection that scattered the presence to ribbons.

Something powerful dwelled on the other side.  An equal.  A friend.

Something move beyond the bars and further obscured that presence.  I reflected on this, and drew on that scale.  This interference.  Was it-

//Wrong//

A piece of my composure shattered.  A feral and resilient pressure that wound across my person.  My breathing changed.  My nerves revolted.  The very structure of my being was being repurposed and my presence compounded from the walls.

They were gone?

//Good//  //Less to worry about//  //None to hurt//

Pressure wrapped across my body, my brow, my gut, my arms.  It filled my palm like a thick resin and moulded the mortar on the wall.  Waves of force passed through my body.  Built around my core, and then extended outward - sawing - like carving a bow.

My hand drew back and at the same time, gripped the threshold.

If felt the deflection before me like a physical thing, and cast a false copy over myself.  The pressure converged.  My core thread was drawn across the bow, and divided my center from my body.

These bars have no business being there.  Twice struck.  The bars inherited momentum from two feet of indefensible space.  By the time my hand physically reached it, the stone and metal had already reached their limits.

The cork flew from the bottle.  A steel net flung to the opposite wall.  It didn’t catch anyone though.

With a deep breath I centered myself.  The bow regressed toward my chest, and took with it a fair amount of mental infrastructure.

This is more reasonable.

I approached the no unhindered threshold, and lowered myself to crossed legs.  That barrier was too important to forsake.  The window through which I would view the consequences.  The space was now pure and accessible, and with the impairment gone, the recovery came naturally.

Mana, aura, life force, infrastructure.  These things floated in from the barrier like a massive serving tray.

The events prior were still on my mind, but they were distant.  A memory.  It was not perfect, but at least now I could make my peace my own.

, my palms.  It filled my palm like a thick resin and moulded the mortar on the wall.  Waves of force passed through my body.  Built around my core, and then extended outward - sawing - like carving a bow.

My hand drew back and at the same time, gripped the threshold.

If felt the deflection before me like a physical thing, and cast a false copy over myself.  The pressure converged.  My core thread draw taught across the bow, and from my soul my body was drawn.

These bars have no business being there.  Twice struck.  The bars inherited momentum from two feet of indefensible space.  By the time my hand physically reached it, the stone and metal had already reached the breaking point.

The cork flew from the bottle.  A steel net crashed to the opposite wall.  It didn’t catch anyone though.

With a deep breath I centered myself.  The arc of the bow receded into my chest, and with it a fair amount of my mental infrastructure.  This was more realistic.

I approached the no unhindered threshold, and lowered myself to crossed legs.  That barrier was too important to forsake.  The window through which I would view the consequences.  The space was now pure and accessible, and with the impairment gone, the recovery came naturally.

Mana, aura, life force, infrastructure.  These things floated in from the barrier like a massive serving tray.

The events prior were still on my mind, but they were distant.  A memory.  It was not perfect, but at least now I could make my peace my own.

I want to give a shoutout to EsZeus.  His current project 'healing dungeon' cued the making of this chapter.  I tend to draw a lot of influence from the work of others, and I hope to further my regards in the future.  It's a precious few words that can get an author in their element.

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