Object 291

The Holder of the Companions

If you've ever encountered an authentic, tongue-in-cheek traveling salesman, most likely you already despise them. Unfortunately for you, Seeker, you're going to have to get over that hatred. For good.

First: You will need the Object from the Holder of Isolation.

Second: Do not seek out a salesman on your own. If you do, nothing will happen and you'll never get the chance to retain this Object. Instead, let them come to you, even if it takes many years off your life waiting for the opportunity.

When the time finally comes when you open your door to some charming, thirty-something man in his cheap suit complete with fake leather briefcase, you must wait patiently while he gives his entire spiel. This could take a while, depending on the salesman. You must look genuinely interested the whole time, but never give a single comment or you will have failed. Breaking off the interested expression will also result in failure, so be careful.

When he finally finishes and appears to have nothing left to say, you must tell him, "Well, sir, this sure is some great stuff, but it's not really what I'm looking for." He may launch into another desperate spiel or two, but inevitably he will ask what it is you're looking for. Without changing expressions, tell him, "The Holder of the Companions."

If you've done everything right, the salesman will suddenly look very nervous; he will sweat profusely, shift his eyes from side to side, lick his lips... This could continue for at least a minute before he suddenly brightens and brings you to his car (if he hasn't already) and opens the briefcase. Time will flow like water around you, and everything will become a blur. If you try to remain conscious of time's flow, you will grow old and decay so quickly that you won't even be aware of your own death.

After a few minutes, everything is different. The salesman, the briefcase, the car, the entirety of your previous surroundings will be replaced by an abandoned downtown section of an unknown city. There are no plants or animals in sight, only immense concrete monoliths staring down at you with pitch-black eyes. Beware these buildings, for the creatures that dwell within are grotesque arachnids of immense size, like some hellish cousin of the wolf spider. Simply by being here, you provoke their wrath... Fortunately for you, they are almost completely deaf. Remain perfectly silent as you walk amongst the buildings and you will go unnoticed: if they once see you, a terrible screaming will rise from within the monoliths, and the spiders will not rest again until you have fed their millions of young.

Start walking and eventually you will reach a roundabout that revolves around a shattered statue - the only ruined thing in the city. Standing atop the rubble is a tall man with long greasy hair wearing a brown plaid suit. He is holding a furry, cow-print briefcase in his left hand and grinning madly from ear to ear with yellowing teeth. His pants are torn just below the knees, and he wears no shoes. His feet are coated with a disgusting pitch-black mud that never dries, and if you look closely you will see a smattering of bugs swarming aimlessly through the muck. Tied around his neck by a string is a silver pendant of two spurred cowboy boots.

Approach him, but do not speak. And do not look into his eyes; only madness and death await you within those black pearls.

Soon after you approach, he will let out a long sigh and ask in an exaggerated southern drawl, "You were looking for me?" His voice will be mesmerizing and otherworldly, but if you give way to these charms you will remain there forever, locked in his gaze and that of the monoliths... and eventually that of the spiders.

There's only one thing you can do at this point: show him Object 126, and look directly into his eyes. If he isn't crying, you will become mesmerized and fall prey to the spiders.

If he is crying, remain where you are. As tempting as it is, do not take the cow-print briefcase or even touch it; he will immediately cease his weeping and smash it against your head with the momentum of a Mack truck on a highway: It is his livelihood, after all. Instead, ask him politely, "For what reasons do they hide?"

Through broken sobs, the man will explain in detail the inhumanity and eternal suffering every remaining Holder experiences every day, hour, and second. This may take up several hours, so get comfortable, if possible... Most Seekers who get this far will go mad during this sob story, doomed to wander eternally in the concrete graveyard. Not even the spiders will end their suffering.

As he finishes it will start to rain brackish droplets, even if the sky was clear when you arrived. His expression will return from emotionally shattered to the usual nauseating smile, although tears will still stream from his black eyes. After another long sigh, he will untie his pendant with jerking limbs and toss it to you. With a deep nod, he'll call out, "It's all yours, Tiger. Y'all take care of that now... It's mighty fragile." Finally, he'll turn and walk away on bowed legs.

An immense sensation of vertigo will overcome your tired mind and you will find yourself sitting in the passenger's seat of a wrecked car off the side of a random stretch of highway in the Midwest. Next to you is the body of the traveling salesman. Every bone in his body has been shattered, and he is covered in the same black much as the Holder's feet. Don't worry too much about him... Most likely he won't be missed.

The silver pendant in your hand is Object 291 of 2538. Keep it safe, for as long as you have it around your neck, your voice will carry a charming bass resonance that will mesmerize any who hear it. Unfortunately, traveling salesmen will be drawn to you like thirsty flies to a decaying body. For good.

That Object is the glittering epitome of human desire for companions... And believe me when I say They are waiting for it with open arms.