Object 522

The Holder of Incognito

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. Bring with you a cheap, full facemask from a craft store. Go up to the front desk and ask to speak with "the one who hides their faces". If the clerk asks what you're talking about, just leave. Come back another day.

If, however, they reach under the desk and press the security buzzer, put on your mask. Security guards will storm in, rushing this way and that. They will be looking for you. They will arrest you, take you away to a holding cell, and leave you to rot there. Your only hope will be the Holder himself. If you catch his interest, you may feel a shadow rush past you. You will now be under the protection of the Holder. Look closely, he will be there. Dressed as a security guard, and wearing the same mask as you. He will be the only one who can see you. After staring at you for a second, he will step out through a nearby door. Follow him, he's fast.

After he has led you through the complex, you will end up in a large room lit by only one dim candle. He is there, behind the candle, wearing a cloak. Don't take your eyes off him. If you do, he will become someone else, someone dear to you. That person will have a waking dream. That may not seem like much, but that dream will be of everything that follows. His thoughts will become theirs. His memories, theirs. When you see them again, they will be driven mad. Stark-raving mad. And they'll know it's your fault.

Step up to the candle. He will pass his hand through the flame. Do the same. The light will flicker up, smoke will wisp through the air. It will form into images of people doing every evil thing. He will remove his cloak and drape it around your shoulders. It flows as if it were made of the lightest fabric, but it will feel as if it were thirty pounds. It is weighted by the deceptions of the Holder. Then he will speak.

"Today you are bound. Bound to serve them. Bound to hide them. Bound as one of them. Hear them speak. Listen to the world. Allow them to be gathered only when it is time."

Ask him, "How are they being hidden now?"

He will remove his mask, and smile, and tell you his answer. Leave. Don't stay around to see him return to his original life. You won't like what you see. Take off your mask as soon as you enter the sunlight. Any time you don it thereafter, say the name of any other Holder. You will hear their thoughts. You will gain their countenance. You will know their secrets. It is your job to use that mask to keep them hidden from the world at large.

That mask is Object 522 of 2538, the Mask of the Greatest Lies. Beware: Mankind was not meant to delve into the minds of twisted beings.