Object 451

The Holder of Transformation

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. At the front desk, ask to see "The Holder of Transformation".

The attendant ought to hand you a small square of canvas with a five-pointed star on it and direct you to a hallway. Head down the hallway and you will notice that the floor begins to slant downward, parting ways from the rest of the walls, ceiling, and windows, leading you down a dark, stone walkway and into a large, vaulted stone walkway lit by torchlight.

Check your square of canvas; if there is not now a circle around your star, turn back.

Proceed through the hallway, gazing into the alcoves if you wish - you'll see sculptures of demons, grotesque products of taxidermy, arcane scrolls and books, and perhaps even an Object or two enshrined in the dim light. Nothing will stop you from looking, touching, or taking.

When you reach the end of the hallway, there will be a small wooden door in the face of the massive stone wall. It's unlocked; enter - just be sure that your canvas now has two circles around the star before you do. Entertain yourself with the items in this hallway while you wait.

In the room on the other side, there will be more torches and candles, making it slightly brighter - just bright enough to read, if you wish to, the books that lie open on the countless desks that fill this space. These books contain the secrets of the world as discovered by forgotten researchers through the ages, not all of whom were human. They could be written in almost any language; some are in the Language. One book, if you master its secrets, will enable you to understand any written text. This book is in the Language, though, so that will be no easy task, and you'll have to find it first. Not every book is safe to glance at, either.

The books are of no great consequence, though; what you care about is the Holder, who will be somewhere toward the far side of the room. Be sure that your canvas square has the space between its circles completely filled in with some kind of symbols before you talk to him, though. If it's not, you're better off waiting until it is. Maybe read a book to kill time.

The Holder will ignore you unless you get in his way as he moves about the room - and if you do that, your quest is over. He'll only acknowledge your presence if you ask him, "How did _____ change?" You can ask about anyone at all, alive or dead, fictional or historical, popular or unknown, and the Holder will tell you of what they were and how they became what they are. He will tell you how even the most noble-intentioned stumbled and fell to become truly abominable. You might be surprised just how many people transform into something so tarnished as time marches on, taking time only to polish their exterior while the inside grows more twisted and debased. Such is the reality of living in a tarnished world.

When you are ready for this part of your quest to end, ask, "How did I change?"

Your transformation is Object 451 of 2538, and it began much longer ago than you would care to admit.