Object 41

The Holder of Solitude

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. As you approach the front desk, keep your gaze on the floor. Should your gaze wander, then you have already failed. At the desk, do not move or shift your gaze until the worker makes a sound, recognizing your existence. Without upturning your eyes, ask her for the being known as "The Holder of Solitude". As these words leave your lips a great gong will ring, shaking the very ground you stand on. Once the ring of the gong turns to silence, you can finally observe your surroundings.

You will find yourself under a strange sky in a vast and morbid wasteland, only a cold stone path leading toward the horizon. The instant you become aware of this lifeless wasteland, you must start moving, for they know you are there. And they do not take well to outsiders.

Should clouds gather in the sky and darkness encroach on the path during your crossing toward the horizon, shut your eyes and kneel. No mortal has ever let his stare rest upon this world's inhabitants. As you kneel, you must plead: "I do not know you, nor have I any wish to. But my path is here and I must follow it." After you have uttered these words, await their judgment. Should they choose to allow your presence, you will feel them retreating; should they decide otherwise, then this was not your fate. Hope that they end your existence quickly.

At the end of your path awaits an obsidian pillar. Perched atop it is an obsidian gargoyle, regarding your approach. The gargoyle will only stir to the sound of one question: "Who shall perish?" Once these words are spoken, the gargoyle shall descend upon you, and his wings will envelop you in darkness. There he will show you the lives of all human beings as stars in the darkness, and as stars, you will watch them flicker and die. For eons, you shall watch the deaths of those who came before you and those yet to come. And you shall experience their loneliness as you watch them die, sensing how utterly separated they were from each other.

This shall continue until your sanity shatters or until only one light remains. And so the gargoyle shall speak: "Your end is not mine to reveal to you, and it is not what you seek." These words will echo inside your head until the day the task is completed. Once again you must shut your eyes, lest you keep your gaze on the last remaining light, and the gargoyle will devour you. As you shut your eyes, you will feel as though you are being hurled through the dimensions, spinning endlessly until solid ground is only a vague memory. At that moment you will be thrown to a stone floor, and it will be as being born again, as returning into the light after eternities in darkness.

And once you open your eyes you will look around at a gargantuan, withering ballroom, the cracked marble floor covered with dead leaves. At the far end of the room, you will see a light, calling you. As you advance toward it you will be able to make out something hung upon the wall: a dark kite shield decorated with macabre symbols, the symbols seemingly alive and pulsating. You need only to take it off the wall to claim it.

The moment the shield leaves the wall you will be back at the front desk where the worker is staring at you intently. She knows what you have started and she hates you for it.

The shield you hold in your hands is Object 41 of 2538. Pray that it can protect you from what is to come.