Object 200

The Holder of Navigation

In any city, in any country, go to any visitor information center you can get yourself to. When you get to the front desk, ask the receptionist where you can find the one who calls himself "The Holder of Navigation". They should reach underneath the desk and hand you a thick, leather-bound book. Do not open the book just yet, or you will find that the pages are blank, thus destroying your chances of meeting the Holder. Instead, take the book and, without saying another word, leave the information center.

You will immediately notice two things once you pass through the front door. First, it will be exactly midnight, no matter what time you arrived at the information center. Second, your surroundings will be the exact opposite of where you originally came from. If the information center was located in the heart of a major city, you will find yourself in a rural area with rolling hills and deep ravines. Conversely, if the information center was in a sparsely-populated area, you will find yourself in a massive metropolis with tall buildings extending in all directions.

Once you have stepped outside, open the book the receptionist gave you. You see, to reach this particular Holder, you must follow a specific route through the streets and alleys of this new world, and the contents of the book will guide you on this path. At first, it will lay the route out in simple directions ("Turn right at X street, turn left at Y avenue"), but as you proceed further down the route, the instructions will grow more cryptic, until eventually, you will have to solve complex, mind-boggling riddles in order to figure out where to go next. At each choice in your path, make sure you know beyond a shadow of a doubt which direction to take before proceeding. A single wrong choice will cause the Holder's location to change, and your book will not update its contents to reflect it. In any event, you'll definitely want to make sure you're not still outside when sunrise comes; like in your world, the denizens of this world will be ready to start their day. To put it mildly, they don't take kindly to outsiders.

If you manage to follow the entire route perfectly before sunrise, you will arrive at a sprawling mansion more beautiful than any home you've ever seen. Knock on the door; in a few moments, the estate butler will greet you. He will lead you into the mansion and guide you through its twisting halls and corridors. You must follow him to a point, but you don't want to follow him the whole way, for he seeks only to lead you to your demise. If you break from him too early, however, you will become hopelessly lost inside this sprawling labyrinth. The Holder and his butler are not the only two inhabitants of this mansion, but they are by far the least harmful to you.

You see, as the butler guides you through the estate, you will see clues in your surroundings that tell you where you need to go. For a while, they'll match up with the butler's route, but eventually, you will notice one that tells you to go a different way. Once you break away from the butler, continue to follow your surroundings' advice until you reach a steel door. There's no need to knock on this one; just head in.

The door will open to a massive room filled from wall to wall with video monitors. Each monitor displays a stunningly accurate map of a certain place in the universe. Try not to get too lost in their amazing detail and make your way to the center of the room, where a figure in a sea captain's uniform will stand hunched over a table. He will respond to nothing save a single question. Your question will depend on whether you seek for Reunion, Separation, or Destruction. For exactly, if you seek for Reunion, you must ask the captain, "What is the path to Reunion?" and similarly for Separation and Destruction.

The captain will not move, but he will lay out, in painstaking detail, exactly what must be done to lead you to the end that you seek. If you have any desire at all to fulfill this end, from here on out you must follow exactly what the captain has told you. Of course, this path only takes the present into account; if anything on that path should change (and with how long the path is, it will), you must be ready to adapt at a moment's notice.

Once the captain has finished explaining the path you must take, the video monitors on the wall will grow brighter until their light becomes blinding. As soon as it reaches that point, just before your retinas are damaged beyond repair, the light will instantly return to normal, and you will find yourself back in the visitor information center you started in, standing in front of the map rack. Only one map remains; take it and leave. When you get a chance to take a look, you will find that the map is of your hometown, with a specific place distinctly marked. This is where your path will begin.

The map is Object 200 of 2538. Like any other map, it will only provide guidance; it is up to you to follow the path to the bitter end.