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In a cell at the basement of the police station, Chino meditated the hours away. She had grown weary of the dull gray walls of her prison by the first couple of hours, and the jailer, napping as he was, had proven to be a terrible conversational partner. Although it was not like she had much to talk about to their ilk. Half a day in the Outside had been enough to prove it was inhabited by ignorant, near-sighted fools. Just having that stray thought was enough for the miko to feel anger and impatience seeping at the fringes of her void. Concentrate.
She forgot about the cell and the lawmen, about the youkai and that gap hag, about her mission and her troubles. She left all behind in pursuit of her inner tranquillity. Instead she focused on the delicate interrelation between her breath, the impulse to control it and the impulse to release it. Breathing, which seemed so mundane and uninteresting at first glance, was actually an enormously complex and fascinating procedure. It was full of small but different variations, if one knew where to look—inhalation and exhalation, long breath and short breath, deep breath, shallow breath, smooth breath and ragged breath. Every breath has a beginning, middle and end. Every inhalation goes through a process of birth, growth and death and every exhalation does the same. The depth and speed of her breathing changed according to her emotional state, the thought that flowed through her mind and the sounds she heard. If one wanted to reach the void, all of those things had to be left behind, until her breathing went along naturally, instinctively. And with the void, the impulse to manipulate it also went away.
The sound of something rattling against the cell put Chino off her centre, and the void flickered again. But she would not let distractions break her focus. She returned her attention to her breath again, to the simple physical sensation of air filling her chest, again, and again, and again, for as long as it took until it the racket sounded worlds away.
Somewhere in this process, she came face-to-face with the sudden and shocking realization that she was completely crazy. Her mind was a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels
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