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A Little Gift

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Before I begin to relay the details of this ritual, I should probably explain that you need to be in a certain state of mind for it to work. I'm sure a lot of you out there will know what I mean, even though I am not the best person to be explaining human emotions. It's a kind of churning, constant emptiness. A feeling that although you have no desire to die, life simply "takes too long" and you would rather another option. It is very important that you feel this way, when undertaking the ritual.

Because "another option" is exactly what we'll give you.

The details are as follows. I have tried to make it as simple as possible, and to cut down on the cryptic rubbish that my contemporaries often include in these things, but you need to appreciate how hard that is. We don't live by constants, as you do. We live by symbolism and meaning. Bread does not sustain us, but the idea of bread makes a very good meal indeed. Still, enough talk. Even if you DID want to hear about me, I wouldn't be able to explain it.

Apologies for this also, but if you're not a resident of the United Kingdom, you have a little travelling to do. The new world doesn't interest us as much as the old one, and this isn't going to be as convenient as finding any old hospital or half-way house. You will travel to Suffolk, England, and find a public house called "The Queen's Head" on the crossroads of four villages: Southwold, Aldeburgh, Dunwich and Walberswick. They've all been well-noted by history, though not necessarily in the history books. Anyhow, once there, visit the place during the hours of 11 PM to 1 AM, and take a good look around the pub itself, without going inside. The crossroads is a simple one, four towns lie in four different directions, though new roads may not reflect that accurately. Take a compass with you. Take 10 steps toward each town, then ten steps back to your original location. Once you have done this for all four, proclaim: "I have seen these crossroads too many times."

Once said, step into the pub. It should look much as it did in my time, which may well be a shock to you. Don't worry. You can turn around and leave right at that moment, if you so wish. Go back to your "life" and read these stories from the safety of a computer screen. If you do decide, however, to continue this course of action, then go to the bar, and ask for "a glass of the house Malefic." The barman will give you a glass of red wine, and accept no payment. Now, drink it, and you are exactly half way to where you want to be. Good.

Once it's gone, he will tell you that you've had enough, and ask you to leave. Do as he says, for though he is a good friend of mine, he is a spiteful man with an old crow for a wife, and he delights in an excuse for a fight. When you leave, you will find a large black horse outside. Mount it. It's yours. A little gift from me to you, in gratitude for the tasks you've performed so far. The wine will have warmed you a little, I hope, for you have a long ride.

It doesn't matter in which direction you travel. It never did. The roads will be old now, impossibly so perhaps, and a dense fog will cover the tracks. Plough ahead, and do not deviate from the road. He may send a guard to veer from the mists to try and stop you, but keep moving. He may even send a loved one to plead that you slow down. This is a trick. It is me that he wants to stop. We have never seen eye to eye.

The mists will pass, and you will see an end to the road ahead. A gorge of impossible depth. Don't stare into it. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't gaze back, but it may hold you from your task. And neither of us want that, do we. To continue, you need only do one thing. Ride the horse from the cliffside, and plummet into the gorge. I never said this would be easy, did I? Don't worry. It's an exhilirating rush. For the most part. I shan't talk of the next few minutes of your trial. It would be improper, after all.

Many don't make it this far. They suddenly decide they have too much to live for. What a joke. As though cowardice and misery were badges of honour. However, those that do have the courage for this (and I commend you, I truly do) will have but one final task ahead of them. The hardest of all. He will appear to you. I've seen him before, more times than I would care to mention, and I know that this next part will be no easy task. You must deny him. He will show you your loved ones, those that have passed from life, and he will promise you a life with them. You must deny him. He will offer you bliss, and release from pain. You must deny him. Finally, he will offer his friendship, and his regard. DENY HIM. HIS WORDS ARE FALSE, AND YOU WILL FIND NO SUCCOUR WITH HIM.

Finally, he will leave. Good. And we will be alone. Now for your gift? The reward for your efforts? No problem to a being like me. I will touch you upon the forehead. Once. And you will awake in the bed you find most comfortable. From this point on, you will be possessed of an irresistible charisma, and disease will never trouble you. No wound will harm you, and no argument will sway you. You'll be one of my children, and you will recognise others I have dealt with by the black fingerprint on their forehead.

The only catch? There isn't one. I'm not like him. I don't deal in punishments. I REWARD my children.


Original author unknown

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