Object 318

The Holder of Good and Evil

In any city, in any country in the world, go to any murder trial you can enter and sit through the proceeding until the court is adjourned. Approach the bailiff and ask to speak to "The Holder of Good and Evil". If you are not dressed in professional attire, he will not speak to you at all.

If clad appropriately, he will lead you to a chamber in the back and tell you to wait in a chair in front of the desk. The room will grow alternately so cold your breath will chill and so hot that your skin will nearly blister. Endure both in total silence. Even the chattering of your teeth will be enough to attract the attention of... terrible things.

If you have suffered quietly enough, the door behind you will open. Do not turn around. Never turn around, no matter what you hear. A voice will whisper, "Why?" If it is feminine, you may answer.

If it is masculine, you will never get the chance.

When the unseen lady asks, you must answer with a question of your own. "Which is greater?" You must speak without fear and as you do, you must hold up both hands, one to either side of you, palms toward the ceiling.

"You shall be the judge," the woman will say.

An item will be placed in each hand, two halves of a single thing. You must immediately close your eyes as the sight of either one separate will sunder your sanity and blacken your soul. The very knowledge that you are holding good and evil may do that anyway but you must persevere or be lost forever in this place.

The pieces must be fit back together, a grueling task as one is bitter cold and the other burning hot. One is smooth and almost impossible to hold, the other is bladed and claims a price in pain and blood. If either is dropped, the other will slay you before its counterpart hits the ground.

If you manage to complete the puzzle before you bleed out or freeze, all pain will stop. All sound will end. It will be safe to open your eyes...

... and you will find yourself at the head of the jury of the trial you were watching, holding a small ballot with the wrong verdict on it. The defendant will be innocent and your ballot will condemn him. You must. If you try to interfere, you will take his place instead.

After the trial, you will find the ballot in your pocket again. If you look at someone and think about guilt or innocence in some matter, it will always tell you the opposite of what is true. The ballot is always right by always being wrong. Such is the way of things.

The ballot is Object 318 of 2538. You are better off not knowing these things.