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Holder of Zeal

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In any country, in any city, go to the largest cemetery within city limits. Take with you; another Holder’s object, a shovel, a compass, and a watch, as well as a light source and reading material if you bore easily. Do this on the night of a full moon.

Make your way to the highest point in the cemetery and, keeping an eye on your watch, wait for midnight. When the time comes, stand up and say, ‘Deliver me unto the Holder of Zeal’. Upon saying these words, the full moon will wane into darkness, rendering your surroundings without light, except for one grave, which will glow with wan paleness. Take your supplies and go towards it. The headstone will read ‘The Holder Of Zeal’, along with the epitaph, ‘Through devotion all things are possible’. Start digging up the dirt in front of the headstone, and do not stop until you have completely unearthed the coffin sealed below. Open the lid of the sarcophagus – it should lift easily enough – and note that it contains no body, or indeed anything but total darkness. Now is your last chance to back out. Any further, and the only way out of this will be to see it through to the end.

Now, divest yourself of everything but the Holder’s object and the compass – any light sources will sabotage your continued efforts now, and all other things will merely by an encumbrance. Orient your compass precisely west, and position yourself in the pit so that you face the same direction as the arrow. You should be facing the right side of the open casket. Step forward and carefully lower yourself into the coffin. The drop will take a few seconds, but the landing will be painless. The darkness here is total, but through touching your surroundings you will discern that you are in a stone walled corridor, its span roughly 8 feet. Despite the absence of any light, your compass should glow with the same weak luminescence as the grave you just unearthed, just enough for you to make out its face. Start walking westwards.

From now, until the end of the tunnel (you’ll know when), do not look at anything but the compass face, do not move in any direction but westward, and do not veer from the center of the tunnel. You left behind the stone partition with the first step. The crunching sound beneath your feet is the grinding of bone fragments, and on either side of you are solid, twitching masses of flesh. Dead things, alien things, abominable things, all knitted together into a twin loathsome tableau that shall be your only companions on this Stygian path. Chilling insinuations and insane secrets shall be whispered, wrathful oaths snarled, dire shrieks howled – among-st a cacophony of less recognizable noise. To see these fused monstrosities in any light would shock you to your core, petrifying you long enough for shapeless limbs to tear you to pieces, adding your bloody remains to their composite bodies. Even to see the writhing shadows beside you will fill your being with horror. So, to repeat, do not look up from the compass, do not veer from the corridor’s center, and do not slow.

In time, the loathsome babble will fall behind you. When it ceases entirely, look up.

You will now be in an alcove not much wider than the corridor you just left. The walls are stone once more, and affixed to them in several places are lanterns burning with an eerie green light. The floor is divided into non-Euclidean shaped tiles surrounding an octagonal dais. On the dais is the statue of a long forgotten deity, whose form is so horrible that none but its most devout worshipers can look upon it without succumbing to terror. Look instead on the cloaked figure bowed before the statue, its back turned against you. Quietly, with head bowed respectfully, walk up to the figure and ask, ‘Why should I believe in them?’

On hearing these words, the acolyte shall stand up and respond ‘Because they believe in you’.

Turning to face you, the acolyte will lift its hood, revealing a face without eyes in its sockets, yet with one in the middle of its forehead. From its serpentine nostrils and lip-less mouth ichor flows incessantly. From its formless robes countless limbs, like scorpion’s tails terminating in chitinous blades, will snake out and make ready to shred you. Do not defend yourself – instead, take out the Holders object you brought with you, and focus your mind entirely on its form, your memories of its former owner, how you obtained it. But do not give a thought to what is about to happen.

When you have lost yourself entirely to the object, and therefore to the power of its maker, the acolyte will set to his task. The pain inflicted by the blades will be terrible, but still you must not be distracted. Even as the severed segments of your body hit the stone floor, you must not take notice. Either way, you will die, but only through this supreme exercise of the will shall you be restored.

If you are successful, you will wake up in your bed, in your room, and the alarm clock will read 12:00 AM. Make your way to the nearest mirror, and observe the network of red lines across your body. These scars will ache mildly, but the pain will flare in the presence of another Holder.

The red lines are Object 168 of 538, the Brands of the Zealot. Do not waver in your path, lest They ensnare you for eternity.

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