Object 431

The Holder of Agility

In any city, in any country, get into any horse racing track you can find. Find the betting counter and look for a horse named "The Holder of Agility". If there is no horse by that name, or no betting counter at the racetrack, I advise you leave, fast; you don't want to be here when they learn of your presence. If you make it out, don't try for this Object again for at least a month.

If, however, you find what you are seeking, place a bet on the horse, preferably a large one. However, you will not be asked for any money, and the worker will lead you to a seat directly in front of the track. You can relax once shown your seat, as the test has yet to begin.

It could feel like minutes, or it could feel like days. Either way, the race will start eventually. Now, there is no turning back; you must either endure the trial, or suffer the gruesome fate of so many others before you.

The race will seem as short as any other race, yet feel longer than anything you've experienced before. It will start out normally enough. Soon, though, you will notice horses bumping into each other, more frequently and more forcefully until the horses are falling. This, too, will increase in frequency and severity, until the air is filled with the sounds of snapping bones and shredding flesh. It is strongly advised you do not look at the viewers behind you. The horses won't take kindly to being ignored, and the spectators aren't quite as human as they were when you arrived.

Through grievous injuries, the horses will continue; running on shattered legs, midsections torn so widely their entrails are dragging in the dirt beneath them as they run. You must keep watching avidly, as the moment you must act will pass you by in a heartbeat. Watch the horse you bet on as it slowly destroyed itself until it looks more skeleton than living creature. Soon enough, it will pass you, empty sockets staring directly at you, but will not stop.

Stand, and shout, "How can I evade them?"

The horse will circle the track once more, then stop once it reaches you again. It will begin to explain the futility of trying to escape one's fate, of those that tried, and failed, to reshape their destinies. As gruesome as the stories may be, suppress your discomfort, and continue to make "eye" contact with the horse, staring blankly. The skeletal beasts on the track don't hold those weak of heart in high esteem, and deal with them most cruelly.

When the horse finishes at last, it will disintegrate in a flash of flame, leaving behind nothing but a hoof. As soon as you close your hand around it, the crowd will erupt in frenzy, clambering over seats and each other, bellowing for your blood.

You will soon notice that possession of the hoof seems to raise your speed and agility to much greater levels; do not become complacent. The only way out of the track is at the top of the stands, through the mobs of inhuman assailants, and you aren't the only one who finds their speed and reflexes sharpened. You can run, you can fight, but you absolutely MUST escape. Take note that most Objects have often failed Seekers in the past, but those designed for fighting work as well as any other weapon.

Assuming you are fast, smart, strong, or simply lucky enough to escape, the hoof will slowly darken, as though charred by an invisible flame. It will continue to heighten your speed and agility in mundane tasks, but do not expect its help ever again when and if you continue your search for the rest of the Object. Your complacency will be your undoing.

The hoof is Object 431 of 2538. All the speed in the world will not save you when They are brought together.