Object 259

The Holder of Imprisonment

In any city, in any country, go to any police station or prison you can get yourself to. When you reach the front desk, ask to visit a prisoner who calls himself "The Holder of Imprisonment". The person behind the desk will tell you that he has no idea of what you speak. Continue asking until a warden or police chief confronts you, telling you to hold your tongue of such nonsense.

Become very adamant and rude until they threaten to throw you in jail. At this point, you will need to do something that will get you imprisoned. At first, try pushing the warden or calling the police chief's wife a whore. They will attempt to restrain you; fight back. If they throw you in a typical jail cell, you'll be doomed to rot there until the prison rats have their fill. Instead, get yourself beaten, fight as hard as you can so that they try to knock you out. If you succeed in this, others will hold you down while the warden repeatedly crushes your face with his bare fists.

You will lose teeth; whatever you do, don't swallow them. You will need them later, so keep them in your mouth. This will spare you from a second fit of pain. When the warden's hands are red and swollen and can no longer clench a fist, they will drag your bloody, beaten body away, but do not blackout! You will need to be vigilant as they carry you deeper into the prison, further than what seems possible.

It will grow darker, and the cells will look older and older until the bars of the cell doors are rusted. Soon, the cell doors will become heavy wooden doors. The floor will become dirt and candles will light the way. When you've noticed the candles have become torches, taunt the guards by saying, "But who watches the watchmen!" The guards will pause and they will throw you into the nearest cell; if Lady Luck is with you, you will have a cellmate.

His name will be "Dargo, the Civil". He will be a thin old man, wearing nothing but a loin cloth and shackles on his feet. He will have a long stick with which he retrieves his daily rations when they slide it under the door. You must ask him, "Will god bring me justice?" but he will laugh at you so hard he begins to cry. You must snap his stick in half; with his means of maintaining sustenance snapped with it, you must now eat his food, even as he begs you for just a single bite. Each day, a tray of food for one will be slid under the door; eat it all yourself, not sharing so much as a single crumb. Each and every day, ask him, at least once, "Will god bring me justice?" even if his sobs are uncontrollable.

It may take days, perhaps even years, but you must keep your loose teeth in your mouth, never taking them out. One day, he might just answer your question by pointing toward a wall. Using your bare hands, you must dig a tunnel to freedom. Though you'll not have seen the sun in ages, you'll instinctively know that if he points you north, you'll burrow into an underground reservoir and drown in your tunnel. If he points you south, you'll dig under a weakened wall that will collapse the tunnel and kill you. If you tunnel east, you'll end up in the next cell with a starving man, and men this hungry will eat anything. If you never fed Dargo, watched him waste away, and broke the spirit of the poor old man, he will faithfully point you west.

Tunneling under the wall and into the next room, you will find the guards. Armed with swords and dressed in chainmail, they will be playing a game of dice with your fellow escapees, executing those who lose. You will be prompted to the playing table without being told the rules, and the guard across from you will roll his dice. You must beat his roll, but the guards won't share their dice. Prisoners roll with their teeth. If you have not saved yours from a previous life, you must produce freshly loosed ones or be put to the sword without a chance to spare your life.

You must play your teeth across the table as the prisoners surrounding you look on. You won't know whether you've won or not until you feel either a blade in your back or the keys to your freedom in your hands. At this moment, you will know that the outcome is weighed against your morals. If you've led a just life and righted your wrongs, the teeth will fall in your favor.

If you win, the guard will reluctantly hand over an iron key. Take it, with the intent to free Dargo. If your hopes and excitement are too much to overcome with the onset of freedom, you'll escape as quickly as you can without the item you've endured this trial for. When you open the door to his cell, you won't find Dargo, only a pile of old bones with a chain cuff around a bone ankle. You should suddenly realize that the old man was dead long before you were imprisoned. You needed every mouthful of food for strength, to endure, and then to tunnel and escape. Justice wasn't found here, but the mercy was. The round bullet in the hollow skull is what you've come for.

The bullet is Object 259 of 2538. Never forget that though you may have the power to issue justice, you can always grant mercy.