Object 461

The Holder of Essence

In any city, in any country, go to any monastery or temple you can get yourself to. Inside, you should find a monk bent over and praying. Do not interrupt him, to do this is foolish. When he stands up, ask him to see "The Holder of Essence". He will blink several times and slowly nod his head.

The monk will show you a trapdoor near the altar at the center of the room. He will slowly open it, and move to the position in which you first witnessed him. Only when he has resumed his prayers should you begin to descend the ladder. Once your head is below the level of the floor, the trapdoor will shut itself. Inside, all is darkness. Carefully descend the ladder. Falling here would mean more than an interrupted journey. As you descend, you will feel the air around you become more and more damp. Terrifying specters of every manner will twist through the darkness and attempt to shake your grip from the ladder. Shrieking voices will engulf your senses.

The further you study these images, the more solid they will become. You will begin to recognize them. They are your memories. They are your voice. They are your past, present, and future. As you near the bottom, you will realize. They are you. You are the hands attempting to tear your grip away from the ladder. The snarling faces are yours. Stop now, and do not look away from them. The phantoms will solidify, melding together into one, clutching the other side of the ladder.

Stare into the face of your doppelganger and ask the question, "What is at the core of Their being?" It will stop attempting to tear you away. As soon as it does, let go, yourself, and allow your body to fall. The ever-increasing dampness should culminate in a pool at the bottom of the ladder. Use the momentum generated by your fall to dive as deep as your lungs allow. To linger on the surface is to invite the guardian to join you there, where he will envelop you, bringing your two halves together, and canceling out your existence.

If you are able to dive far enough, your fingers will touch upon a glass jar resting in sand. Clutch this jar with all your strength. It will hold you underwater. Do not let go, do not open your mouth, do not swim up for air. Even as you lose consciousness, to lose your grip is to lose your life. When you awake, you will be back in the temple, and dripping with deep red blood. The jar you hold in your hands is clean.

That empty jar is Object 461 of 2538. Do not open it, and pray it should never break, for held within is the very essence of your soul. While you hold it, your soul may be protected from the tampering of your enemies. But don't count on it.