As my hand drifted, the berries crushed between my fingers clung and thickened. It felt like the skin itself had hardened, leaving the tissue within to throb and wobble ineffectively. Reasserting my focus proved that was not the case. With enough conscious effort I’d overpowered them, but that enough my confidence was shaken.
Suddenly there were six colors of sunlight, in each their shadow coalesced and swept out of the periphery. My body shivered in time with light streaming from the canopy. My reflexes rebelled and in order to regain control I had to give up the fight.
I gave the order, and my resources went dark. Panic and consequence hashed it out across my breast. Once the majority had settled, I willed myself to take a step back, watching the shadows crashing over my shoulders. In different hues, they all had one thing in common. The shadow they used as a base. Winding a string of fate, and projecting my will through my fingertips, I grappled with the rubbery pitch. Pinched and pinned it where it shifted. Rolling my joints, from knuckle to shoulder I juked back. Adjusting the angle of attack for the drag on the shadows.
Shimmering veils turned to face me, I saw three of them in my wave, and a fourth on my shoulder. That left another two. Changing the opposition from the ones I could see to the ones I couldn’t, I windmilled about and pressed into the draft.
The coiling smoke sprung against my back and then streamed around me. I couldn’t place the other two so easily. They loomed larger, fused and withdrawn, merging into the natural shadows.
I focused on the colors this time, granting individuality to the four as they crept over me. I directed to the one on my shoulder. Grounded before the others. I kept my eye on that one, and tracked the other four as they traced their way around my body. Across my lower back and around my left side. Pressing my right shoulder, under my arm and sluggishly up my ribcage. My spine and neck, flinching back from my ear and lower torso, eventually settling in the crook of my neck.
I scanned their position, the areas they did not touch, and weighed the space between them. Each had a different edge to them, from billowing to melty to streamlined. I recognized that the one affixed to my left shoulder resembled much of the intervening space. Weather it was incidental or insidious, I had a bigger problem.
With each laying claim to a fair amount of my person, I had little left to take the other two into account. Taking a deep breath, I willed the form of my body to form a census. The tracks beneath the creeping essence presented as furrows. Hundreds of needles that oscillated with every heartbeat.
They reacted to every hormone that entered my vein, and in this way spoke of their disposition. A chain and tumbler, and a key that only I would determine. Taking this account and framing those that I could see, I reached out to the unknown and probed the distance.
The clinging lights shrank, uneasy. They amongst themselves, linking together like pieces of a puzzle. I did my best to emulate them, to draw out their counterparts. I found them. In the absence, the weather, the rainfall. In the ticking heat and set of the earth. In the fatigue in the back of my mind.
And my mental facilities were reaching their limit. Observing that, I found myself falling back again. This time the step back was involuntary. And I lost sight of the world, focusing instead on the way my center of mass shifted, and where motor function became insensate.
There was a good chance I would be falling. My hand brushed up against the trunk of a tree, and I whipped around the brace against it. Two of the energies reacted to the change in course, speaking louder and clearer than my own means.
I was to ambition. This trip into the wilderness had already used four of my six shots, and I’d expended two more in this struggle. Thankfully they emerged with a second wind. Hours later, the first and third pronounced their return. I wouldn’t be completely helpless.
My knees slammed into the ground, and I turned my head just in time to watch the tree slip away from my side.
Oh. Well I won’t be, but the lord of night has something to say first.