Object 175

The Holder of Ashes

In any city, in any country, wait for a night that is cold enough for you to see your breath in the air. Climb the tallest building you can find and make your way to the edge of the roof. Whisper into the darkness that you wish to visit the one who calls himself "The Holder of Ashes".

Ever so slowly, the stars in the sky will wink out, one by one, until only the moon remains. Wait until even the moon fades into darkness and no other sounds can be heard except the soft blowing of the wind. You must then step forward off the ledge. If you turn back now, you will be forced to wander in the cold, silent darkness forever.

You will fall slowly and land on the hard earth. You must rise from the ground quickly and make your way forward through the darkness. Black feathers will fall all around you. You must not make any sound or the infinite legion of ravens fluttering about silently above you will descend and feast upon your flesh for all eternity.

After an indeterminate amount of time, ranging from hours to weeks, you will see before you a man standing in the darkness. He is old and wrinkled, wearing nothing but a brown loincloth. As you near him, you will see he has black feathers stapled roughly into his skin over the entirety of his body. He will stand silently, with his head bowed.

As you approach, the feathered man will slowly raise his head. You must bow your own head at this, for to look into his black jewel eyes is to look into the depths of nothingness.

The man will slowly raise his arms to his sides. The black feathers will blow to and fro in the sudden heavy wind. He will throw his head back and let out an unearthly screech. You must cover your ears and shout, over the blowing wind and the unearthly wail, "Why were they silenced?"

The man will stop and cock his head to the side. Suddenly, he will begin to cry tears of burning pitch. His body will ignite in crimson fire, and you must quickly look away, else the flames leap hungrily and consume you as well.

Wait until the man is nothing more than ashes, then sweep through his remains. There, you will find a small black statue of a raven with its wings spread wide, made from the compressed ash. When you pick it up, you will find yourself at the foot of the building from which you jumped.

The statue is Object 175 of 2538. When the time comes, it will rise from its own ashes and sing the song that ends the earth.