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The Panopticon

Upon my life there is a Silver City I have once seen! I fell there as through a window in the sky, and returned by some merging of thin slices between worlds. I cannot tell of these mechanisms for I know not what they might be. But I have seen it!
The Silver City! Its time is joyful, it's people filled with beauty, purpose, peace. They grow old slowly and reach their hundredth year with ease. When death comes, these blessed folk are surrounded by their beloved and pass onto the Great One in tranquillity. It is indeed a favoured existence.
But it comes at a price. In the centre of the City sits The Panopticon. It is a place of pain, suffering and challenge that all must undergo. No-one is spared. Each resident can choose when to enter, but those who delay the call too long are forced against their will at last. Those who enter unwillingly suffer the most. So it is understood that to choose one's destiny is better, and to prepare oneself mentally for the trials that await is righteous.
It cannot be written what occurs in that difficult place. Nightmares are limited only by the imaginations of each participant manifesting their own dark realities when locked inside. It is true that residents are permitted to spectate the happenings in the Panopticon and offer some small help to their beleaguered kin when the opportunity arises. But neither spectator nor player would share the details of what happens, for it is considered distasteful to relive those trials in word or deed.
Within the Panopticon all contenders eventually lose. But there are victories none-the-less, and the bond of sister-brotherhood when facing adversity together. Most would agree that the worst aspect is the forgetting, the losing of all prior memories of life in the Silver City. Thus time spent in the Panopticon is like some undying nightmare that has no beginning, no end. It is a vision that must be endured to the last, a bitter draught to be retched down to the final drop.
Each time they take up the calling, challengers face a year in the Panopticon, but most do not last that long. Whenever a person dies within that place, they are released back to the Silver City. Death is only a fake end, the body illusory, although pain and suffering are all too real. Those poor fools who end their lives prematurely to escape pain find themselves returned soon enough.
Upon death, the trial is over for a time, the individual may return to their beautiful life. They will find themselves renewed and strengthened from their test. Peace will feel sweeter and more precious. Residents who avoid the call diminish and their lives lose flavour. The Panopticon awaits their return like the web anticipates the fly.
It is customary that each resident endure the Panopticon multiple times, to become a champion there. Those who act in a brave and true manner become strong, and their overall time within is shortened. Those who hide or sacrifice others will find their term stretched out. It is better to make full effort and embrace the struggle.
Over the course of a lifetime, most residents become a Panopticon champion, some sooner than others. When this is achieved, the individual is no longer required to attend and may live out their lives in tranquillity within the great city. A small number of champions do return one last time to help others that suffer there, but there is no obligation to do so, it is dependent on the individual. Those champions that choose to return are remembered for many aeons.
So take heed! If you ever fall across the sky and find yourself within the silvered walls of a great city, pay respects to the place they call 'The Panopticon'!


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