Object 387

The Holder of Disbelief

I fear, dear Seeker, that I will not last much longer. I have been running far too long, and it seems only fair to allow what is chasing me to catch up. After all, I am a criminal.

Allow me to explain.

It was a terribly stormy night in Rome, but my resolve was as solid as stone. It would be now or never, I decided. I was now a "Seeker".

The day before, I was just a normal citizen of the Roman Empire. The times were looking up, our great Empire under the rule of Julius Caesar had never looked better. The only thing I was worried about was wondering where I would buy the food to feed my family. For my beautiful wife, whose long, blonde hair I can remember, blowing so gracefully with the wind, for my beautiful boy, who aspired to be nothing more than his great father, and for my beautiful daughter, so young but whose future I could see was a good one. It was quite a beautiful day actually. The market was going crazy with business, laughs being heard, people dancing, cheerful music echoing the stone streets, the crops never selling much better.

As I left happily, slowly trotting down the sunny boulevard after quite a nice bargain for wheat and barley, a man approached me.

I could sense darkness irradiating from the tall man, a sense of impending doom, almost. Smiles of others who crossed his path soon faded, they must have felt it as well. His face resembled the feeling of void, empty eyes, and no detectable emotion emitting from his presence. His striking gray hair shone a dull yet powerful light. One word to describe him would be emotionless. Nevertheless, he greeted me and told me a story.

Told me I was special. Told me I was capable. Told me I played a certain part in this story, and my time drew nigh to act.

Curious as I was, questions plagued my mind. He knew. Looming down on me, he said he ran a very tight schedule. He bowed politely, and grinned at me, then left.

I'll never forget that wicked grin.

In my hand, he left a parchment. Told me to open it as soon as I got home, and treat it very secretly.

Which brings me to the stormy night. I exited my home, in the very crowded back streets of Rome. Entering the main avenue, I gazed up to the heavens. Seems as if the gods were not very pleased, massive thunderstorms grouped above the land, towering over the mountains in the distance. Shuffling through the cold, eroding stone streets, puddles were forming everywhere. My cloth hood and cloak soon soaked up the rain, leaving me in a terrible mood and terrible level of comfort.

Great, I can tell I'm going to love this "seeking" business.

With whatever light the waning room could offer me, I found the small side road listed in my instructions. Wedged between two lower-class establishments, I soon found the alchemist shop. Strange, I had never seen this shop before. And yet it was midnight, and the candles were lit, open for business.

Slowly ducking under the low door, I shed my wet cloak. After all, I wouldn't be needing it where I was going. As listed, I sought the old, blind woman at the desk. And, thankfully, I could smell the incense which were burning around her desk. It was said that if they were not lit, then my journey would soon come to an end.

After much gazing around, I finally said to the hag, "Show me the item I have come here to seek, for none here know of my desire." A look of disbelief erupted from her face, seemingly rendering her paralyzed. Now was when I had to act, described by my letter. I quickly entered the back chamber and sat down on the old hag's cushion, in her meditating chambers. A sensation of weariness instantly overtook me, and I was out like a light.

A shaking rattled me awake. I looked around the room, to see the shelves tossed about and wrecked, seeming as a hurricane had swept through the chamber. I looked around for my note, but it was not to be found. Just like it had explained.

I crawled under the broken doorframe and into the store. The incense had gone out, and the hag was nowhere to be seen. The candles still shone, all of the products still in their location. Curious, I exited the store slowly.

To tell you I was ready for the next event would be flat-out lying.

As the curtain whipped open, I stood mouth open, gazing at the sky. The clouds had grown to a monstrous size, swelling up like a sting. They shed a red light down on the land.

That being the next subject.

As I exited the solemn road entering the main avenue, I gazed around to behold the wreckage and pillaging. No one present. All of the stores running along the side of the road had been cracked in half or completely destroyed, reduced to rubble. As I remembered, the note told me to find the highest point in the city. Gazing up at the Great Legislative building, I slowly began my trek through the mess.

I learned that as I approached the center building that the shadows had begun to grow long. Abnormally long. Almost seemed as if they were moving. Casting the strange thought aside, I continued to trek along the road. It was silent as could be, only the wicked wind whipped through the boulevard.

Nothing special happened on the way to the building until I arrived at the massive front gates. The once-glittering golden gates had lost their normal shine, reflecting a dull light that barely lit up three meters out. As I entered the front gate, preparing to enter the very building, I heard a small pebble move.

My heart raced as I quickly swung around. The shadows I had been believing to be growing, in reality, had been. And now, as they arose, I knew that a pleasant end would not await me if I lingered. Heart beating, I entered the half-destroyed building.

It was a long trip to the top, climbing a seemingly unending staircase. But the climax of the trip came as I saw the hatch above me which led to the top. The light began to fade, and as I gazed behind, I heard wicked sounds, belonging to the shadow beings I had recognized on the ground.

The hatch blasted open as I flew through, adrenaline pumping. A balcony awaited me, a single golden telescope perched on the edge, barely teetering over the edge, pointed to the red clouds. As I approached the telescope, I heard the sky open, almost deafening me with the blast of thunder that followed. I could sense the impending doom of the shadows approaching. Without wasting time, and hands shaking, I grasped the telescope and peered in.

Through a break in the thunderclouds, I peered at a peculiar set of stars arranged almost uncannily like a human being. This one seemed old, though. The stars came to life as an old, bent being, with a silvery beard and dark hood, trotted around the heavens. He finally stopped, gazing me in the eye.

The thunderclouds boomed, and without introduction, he told me of a story. A great battle of the Universe that humanity lived so blindly in face of. He told me of everything, every detail, every little thing which had happened to this point, but worst of all, what was sure to come if They should reunite them.

When the wise man ended his speech, he asked me but one question, "Now you know of the secrets, you must keep quiet this council. But will you act?" And with that statement, the stars returned back to their normal arrangement, and the clouds viciously spread over the sky.

Drawing away from the telescope, one last task was left of me. I firmly grasped the telescope and pulled it from its handles. Mounting the thin balcony, I gazed down. Thousands of shadows over the city were swarming my position. I could feel a dark presence among them. At that exact moment, the hatch blew open.

And I jumped. And I looked back.

I will never forget that wicked grin.

I woke up the next morning in my bed, telescope gripped firmly in my arms. Insanity slowly began to corrupt my once-sane mind. My visions shrouded my thoughts. I had become lost inside of me. There was blood on the wall, in the shape of mysterious runes, which I cannot describe to this day. Mustering whatever strength of will remained in me, I fell out of bed, crawling to my bloodied door. Grabbing the handle, I slowly hoisted myself up, legs trembling, completely absent of color.

What awaited me on the other side I will never forget.

My precious wife, my precious children, were thrown to the ground with wrists cut open, blood shining almost like the man's gray hair, an absent, pale gleam. Their faces bore slashes and cuts, as well as tears. I collapsed, weeping over my once-beloved family.

What have I done...

I am a criminal now, running, but soon I shall grow tired. I am running from myself, from the shadow in my mind, for I know that I cannot cope with my visions. I cannot cope with the consequences of my actions.

The telescope I bear is Object 387 of 2538. Sanity is such a precious thing, I now see. Dare you risk it for the truth?