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364 This Isnt Me This Isnt Me This Isnt Me.. This Is Me Part 2 of 2

    "Oh no.." said Aeron with a low tone. An idea of what was going on suddenly creeped into his mind, and he did not like it. Daniel, on the other hand, was busy watching as the scenery played out.

    Heimart quietly observed from afar, as Alis and the kids said goodbye to the man who was currently walking down the path that led into the wooded area in front of the house. The moment the man disappeared, the scrawny man placed a hand on Heimart's shoulder, and said, "The guys said he is going to be away for days. We can hide here until things cool down, then we leave."

    As soon as the scrawny man finished talking, the scenery changed once again. This time, however, the environment was different from anything Daniel and Aeron had seen so far, and was the interior of the house. In it, were the scrawny man, Heimart, Alis, the kids, and two other men with no facial features.

    Alis was cooking a meal, and appeared to be so on edge, that her hands and legs couldn't stop trembling. She would also constantly look back at her children who, unaware of the danger they were in, were happily playing with the scrawny man. Heimart was looking at her from his seat on the table, and ignoring his two other companions, that were talking to each other.

    "M-My husband.. And his f-friends will come back s-soon.. Please eat the food and leave." Said Alis nervously, while placing one bowl after the other on the kitchen table. After she placed the last bowl in front of Heimart, she tried to walk towards her kids, and take them away. However, Heimart grabbed her wrist, and stopped her from walking any further.

    "Your husband is a woodcutter. He is working for the *$%!"& #@£ company, and will be back in four days." Said Heimart while looking her up and down with clear interest.

    Alis' heart fell at that moment. She was hoping that this group of bandits would simply take their valuables and leave, but they were informed, and intended on staying for a long time. She slowly turned to look back at the scrawny man, that was now holding a knife, and showing to the kid how to play with it, and not get hurt. The scene ended the moment the scrawny man handed the knife over to the little boy, who immediately cut his skin by mistake.

    Moments later, Daniel and Aeron found themselves in the house, which now, was completely different from before. The furniture had been moved away in order to leave an empty spot for three makeshift beds placed in the middle of the hall. Sitting in the corner in rags, and covered in bruises, was Alis. Her eyes were void, and she appeared to have lost her will to live.

    The two featureless men entered the house and walked directly towards Heimart, who was sitting on one of these bedd while throwing his knife into a small target made out of ripped clothes in an empty part of the wall. "Boss, the city guards have retreated back into the walls. It seems that they have given up. I think we can leave now." Said one of the men to Heimart.

    Heimart reacted by standing up, and saying, "Finally. Take our stuff, call &"£%$, and let's get going."

    "He.. he is back at it with the kids outside." Said one of the two men with annoyance.

    Heimart shook his head in disappointment, and said, "Not again.. If he doesn't get his ** together, we will never be able to travel a day without the guards on our taill." From his tone, it was clear that whatever the scrawny man was doing outside, was not "playing".. But something that the man couldn't help himself but do in order to satisfy a shameful urge.

    Daniel and Aeron slowly walked in front of the window, and on the other side, they saw the scrawny man work with the two dead bodies of the kids, which he had, at some point in between scenes, killed.

    "No.. this isn't Heimart. He would never allow that.." Said Daniel, enraged by seeing one of his closest friends behave like the most lowlife amongst bandit.

    Before Aeron could explain his guess, however, the two saw the silhouette of a man appear from behind the trees in the distance. He was carrying a bag of gold coins, and a large axe.

    The scrawny man immediately noticed his arrival, but he was too intoxicated by what he was doing, so instead of stopping, he kept going, and enjoyed the looks of horror and disgust in the face of the man.

    Just as Daniel and Aeron remembered from the previous versions of the story, the man grabbed his axe, and immediately killed the scrawny man.. Then, he walked into the door, where he found Heimart, the two men, and a broken Alis. His expression turned into one of desperation and fury, as he began to wave his axe around, successfully killing the two featureless men. However, before he could kill Heimart, two throwing knives pierced through his neck and chest, causing him to fall on the ground.

    Heimart ignored the bodies of his companions, and walked up to the dying man. He then took his small bag of coins as the man desperately tried to grab his pants, but he was losing strength, and his struggle was pointless. Heimart ignored him, and stepped on the knife that was pierced on the man's chest before walking in the direction of the door with the intention of leaving.

    However, before he left, he turned to look at Alis for a few moments. Something in his mind was telling him not to leave her there, so he grabbed her, placed her on his shoulder, and walked out of the house.

    The scene ended with the door closing, and the man who in the other scenes was Heimart's best friend, choking on his own blood. What appeared next, was the beginning of the very first version of the story, where Heimart was Alis' husband and the father of her children, and the man was ignored by all but him.

    "He is being conditioned.." Said Aeron.

    "What do you mean?" Asked Daniel with confusion. An explanation for what was going on was exactly what he was hoping for.

    "The scenes are all connected.. The house, the reveal.. The bag of coins.. The killing. They are changing his personality.. The first story is the one that fits the character, and for each version, a number of details are changed.. Whoever is doing this, is trying to confuse his subconscious into changing him from a good man, into a merciless and bloodthirsty bandit.." Explained Aeron with evident disgust.

    Aeron's guess was extremely accurate. Each part of either of these three versions of the story were connected with the correspondent one of another. From him being the father of the family, to a simple friend, and then just an observer.. From him being a woodcutter, a hunter, and then a bandit archer. From him needing money for his family, to receiving them as a gift, to taking them by force. From killing the assassins of his family, to mistakenly killing his friend, to killing a crazed man whose family he and his companions had just butchered.

    Who knows for how long these images had gone on inside Heimart's head, or how much they had affected his personality.

    "They.. they are turning him into a bandit. Is this the way the Life Takers grant their gift?" Asked Daniel after finally understanding what was going on.

    "No. They are ki warriors, there is no way that any of them has the power to create a mental loop, or this level of conditioning.. There is a high possibility that this entire faction was created by an extremely powerful mental warrior." Responded Aeron, ruling out the possibility that this was only a rite of passage for a weak faction to grant its gifts.

    "Whoever it is.. They have stepped on the wrong shoes." Said Daniel while feeling his blood boil through his veins.

    He was furious. Of all of the awful things he had seen in the past, this was one of the worst. To condition a person into killing his own children and wife was a truly vicious act, and now, this mental warrior had officially entered Daniel's black list. "Can you get him out of this loop?" he asked to Aeron.

    "This is a very specific type of power.. I am not sure I have it." Responded Aeron before immediately feeling the limits of Heimart's subconscious, and feeling how much this mental loop had affected his personality.

    "What is it?" asked Daniel with worry after seeing Aeron's eyes narrow.

    "If I get him out now, he will be different from how you remember him. It's as if somebody poured ink into water.. If you stop it, the water will still be affected." Responded Aeron.

    "What do you suggest?"

    "We let the water flow, and wait for the ink to be washed out." Responded Aeron before closing his eyes, and focusing on Heimart's mind. Moments later, Daniel found himself out of Heimart's mind, and back into his body. He was surrounded by his friends, the warriors of the One With Nature faction, and the conditioned warriors of the Life Takers, who not unlike Heimart, were going through the same conditionining he was going through.

    To him, hours had passed, but on the outside, only a few instants had gone by.

    Aeron's consciousness was now navigating alone through Heimart's memories. He was searching for the most important moments of his life, and picking them in an attempt to create a new loop that would hopefully remind him who he truly was.

    The boat cabin where Alis had been hiding under her cover, unwilling to let anybody else look at her while Heimart, Ligart, and Daniel, played card games.. the days he and Alis had spent together organizing the interiors of Daniel's castle, the day his children were born, or the day he had pulled back a punch to allow his wife to defeat him, and inspire his daughter into becoming as great a warrior as her mother was.

    This process had felt extremely easy for Aeron, who was shocked about the result of his ascension. For this to be that easy, there was only one possibility.. He had gained the ability to explore, manipulate, and if he wanted, even inhabit the minds of the weaker people he encountered, which was a sign of the evolution of the weaker version of telepathy he and every other mental warrior possessed.

    What proved extremely difficult to do, however, was to erase the previous loop, and substitute it with his own. That had exhausted him, as the power possessed by the person who had put it into place, was clearly leaps and bounds above his.

    When he finished, he woke up into his own body, and found himself floating in space next to Daniel, who was still surprised about the experience, and had come out of it just instants before he had.

    "Did you do it?" Asked Daniel with clear worry in his voice.

    Aeron nodded in confirmation, then looked at the floating bodies of the hundreds of warriors that were still trapped inside their own minds, and said, "I will need more time for the rest of them."

    -----

    Sitting on a small asteroid that traveled through space with his eyes closed, was an extremely thin man with long black hair that covered his eyes. He was sitting with his legs crossed, and his hands placed on his knees, and appeared to have been in that position for tens of thousands of years.. when finally, his eyes sopened, revealing two green-bluish irises that shone with a gold hue.

    "What a lucky little mental warrior. Such potential.. You will be of great sustainment for me." he muttered as an odd smile formed on his lips. This smile, however, suddenly disappeared as he felt the appearance of a person behind him. "I thought we had a deal.. Best out of a thousand duels. Why don't you go bother our little sister? I have heard she got a new pet lately."

    Standing behind him, was a bare-chested man. In his hand, was an already unsheathed single-edged sword whose blade was covered in black veins. He was the Swordsman.

    "Alright.." muttered the thin man while slowly standing up, and adding, "Best out of two thousands then."
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