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Holder of the Odds

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In any country, in any city, go to any hotel casino that you can get yourself into. Go to the front desk and say that you have a reservation for someone calling himself the “Holder of the Odds.” The receptionist should give you a surprised look, and start addressing you as if you were royalty. She should give you a gold coin, with each side having a beautifully engraved sign, as if a letter from an unknown language.

If you receive anything else then you must start running. May they have mercy on your soul should you even steal a glance behind you. Don’t stop moving, if your legs give out, then crawl, make sure that before you pass out from exhaustion that the last thing you’re doing is moving forward and never looking back. You know you’re safe if you’re at the same place you passed out the next day.

If you receive the gold coin, it’ll be your last chance to back out. If your knees fail, you may return the coin to the receptionist and respectfully take your leave. If you are determined, proceed to the elevator. Make sure that you’re alone when you get in, and before the doors close you must flip the gold coin. Fail to do so and your elevator will move on its own.

Resign yourself to your fate, as you will feel the elevator going down endlessly, down into the hellish heat of the depths of the earth. If you succeed you will notice that there are two other buttons on the elevator panel with designs similar to the sides of your coin. Push the button of whatever side that came up after the coin flip. If you’re lucky, then the side that comes up from your coin flip will be the right side.

There’s no way to determine which is the right side and only those who are truly destined to finish this journey or are extremely lucky chance upon it. No one knows what happens to you when you push the wrong button.

If you push the right button, you will be taken to a floor on the hotel that was never supposed to be there. When the doors open you will see the most luxurious of suites. It overlooks a beautiful city skyline around late afternoon with the sun beginning to set, no matter what time you first entered the hotel. The large room is fit for a king, with all the comforts you will ever want and everything you didn't know you needed.

In the middle of it all will be a card table. At the table there is a dealer and five other players. One player is dressed in a long trench coat and sports a top hat; the other four will be Seekers who came before you. There’s a chair beside the player in the top hat.

Take a seat, as they've waited long enough for you. You will now play a Texas hold 'em poker tournament, with each player starting with exactly $135 in chips. Whoever wins at the end will be given whatever card was drawn in the river, or the last card, on the last hand. After that the dealer and the player in the top hat will leave the room; the other players will simply vanish, to experience unspeakable horrors until the next game begins.

If you won, you will then be left alone; you may leave the room at any time, but it will be difficult to find again. Even though everything you need is in this room, you’ll notice that there is no clock, and the only contact with the outside world is a cellular phone which will only allow you to contact one person: the Bride of the Seeker, even if you’re not the Chosen.

You will be served the most exquisite of foods and pampered like you've never been before in your life. After seven sunsets the dealer and players will return and you must play another hold'em tournament. Again, if you win you get the card that comes at the river.

Every week, you may play this game until you have collected the full 52 cards of a standard playing deck (not including the jokers), though the designs on the cards, especially the face cards, are very different from the ones you’re used to as they use a language of the most ancient of origins.

Should you lose a game to one of the other Seekers, he will be allowed to go free, and you will be subjected to something worse than your worst nightmare: being shown thoroughly and conclusively that in the end, nothing is up to chance and everything is predetermined. Even if you win when the next Seeker comes, you will never have hope again.

No one knows what happens if the Holder wins. Even though he certainly plays his best, a look of utter terror comes upon even his face if he comes close to winning.

No one has won more than seven in a row, though different cards have been documented. It seems only the Chosen Seeker will be lucky enough to see this through to the very end.

This deck is Object 135 of 538. The odds are stacked against you, and only you can conquer them.

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