Object 112

The Holder of Victory

In any city, in any country, go into any large stadium or sports arena you can find. When you reach the front desk, ask if "The Big Fight" is going on. Most of the time, the worker will look at you quizzically and reply no. Sometimes, though, the worker will nod excitedly, then ask if you want to buy a ticket. Reply yes. The worker will stamp you out a ticket and pass it through, but if you have timed it right, just before you can take it he will ask you, "Whose side are you on?"

This is the trigger. Quickly, and emotionally, reply, "I come for the thrill!" Replying anything else will get you torn to shreds by everyone in earshot, for whatever your reply, they seem to be rooting for the other man.

Take your ticket and make your way to the elevator. Press the button for the highest level. As you go up, the views of the city seen through the windows will get progressively shorter, going from a modern city to a 1930s skyline, to a sprawling, coal-stained 19th-century metropolis, and so on. No matter what button you pressed, the elevator will seem to go far past it, and the city will get more and more ancient until finally, you are standing in a modern elevator gazing out over a city that looks like Rome, but isn't.

Exit the elevator. The moment the doors close, a horrid crash will be heard, and those doors will not open again. Take in the spectacle around you. You stand on the topmost tier of an impossibly large coliseum-style arena, seemingly fallen into hellish disrepair. Unidentifiable materials stain the walls, the pillars are cracked and crumbling, and the blackened roof is full of holes. The seats are filled with screaming, jeering creatures of horrid and unidentifiable origin, all watching an intense gladiatorial battle going on in the bottom row.

Glance at your ticket, and search out your seat among the creatures. It shouldn't be hard - the rows are well-marked. Once you reach it, sit down and watch the match. After about seven minutes, lean over to the thing next to you and ask conspiratorially, "What are the odds on survival?" He will glance about, lean toward you, and answer in a surprisingly human voice, "Not very good."

A sudden roar will come from the crowd - one of the gladiators has gone down. The other will ram his sword through the fallen man's head, straighten, and call to the jeering crowd, "Who will face me next?"

If you have no sword, remain silent. One shall be handed to you soon in one of two ways - either shoved roughly into your arms hilt-first, or shoved even more roughly into your ribs, blade-first. If you have gained the Sword of the White King, draw it - discreetly. For the moment, you do not want to call attention to your armaments, lest you be mobbed and torn asunder.

After he calls twice more, stand on your seat, raise your sword in the air, and shout at the top of your lungs, "I accept your challenge, Holder of Victory!"

The stadium will fall completely, utterly silent. The creatures will stare at you unspeaking and slowly part like an ocean, clearing a path to the bottom. Take it speedily, but not too fast - you don't want to tire yourself out and it's a long way down. When you reach the bottom, vault into the arena pit and face the gladiator. His face is masked by a demonic bronze helmet, and he wields a dark, jeweled sword and a tarnished buckler shield.

Fight as hard as you can, and it still may not be enough, for this man has fought his whole life and he sees you as just another pathetic challenger. If you fall, he will give you no mercy - you will suffer the same fate as his prior opponent. Summon all your skill and, with a little luck, you will knock him down.

The crowd jeers for blood, but do not indulge them just yet. Raise your sword high above the fallen champion's head and ask him, "Who is He, and why does He allow such things to pass?"

The champion will answer your question somewhat slowly. He'll stutter a bit at first, but then he'll pick up speed and get into the tale. It is a macabre story, of how He came to be, who He is, and a deep explanation of all things - those that have happened, are happening, and have yet to occur.

He will cower a little and ask, "I have paid your price, may I be released from my burden?" Sigh, close your eyes, and respond, "No, you have not. You have merely added yours to mind." With all your strength, drive the sword through his head.

The crowd will roar impossibly loud for a moment, then vanish. The head of the games will slowly walk out - kneel. It is not wise to be disrespectful. Close your eyes and simply listen to him get closer. It is not wise to watch him, for his real form becomes more apparent as he nears you, and it will drive the strongest minds to snap.

He will place something around your neck and clap once. Open your eyes.

You are standing on the roof of a building three blocks from the stadium. If you hold the White King's sword, wipe it and sheath it - the White King's anger is settled for the moment. If the sword you hold is not yours, don't bother wiping it - hurl it from the roof. Then, check the Object around your neck.

The medallion you wear is Object 112 of 2538. Your victory is true, but now They seek to dethrone you.