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Your First Test

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Before attempting this, please read through to the end. Make sure you understand the risks and are willing to pay the price of admission.

Above all else, you must concentrate, must focus. You must not allow yourself the self- indulgence of thinking about what you're doing, Such reflection will wake the logic we've cultivated as a species to banish the darker realities, and after all, we're not interested in logic; it's magic we're after here, aren't we?

Magic is belief, not ritual. Ritual is nothing without belief, an empty vessel, and for that reason, any ritual, no matter how simple, will suffice. It is the belief that matters, the font from which the magic shall flow into this tiny container we'll soon build.

Concentrating? Mind clear? Good. Let's begin.

For the purposes of our simple ritual, all you must do is find a space where you can sit comfortably for a while any time after sunset. For safety's sake, you should have no walls or portals of any kind nearer than twice your arm's reach from you. Some arms are longer than others. Clear your field of vision of any mirrors and other highly reflective surfaces. Lastly, turn off all the lights. If this is inconvenient for some reason, just make sure you're somewhere with a door that closes you off from the light. They aren't a big fan of the light.

We're calling back an old friend of yours, one you never understood. It used to visit you in the dark of your room, to whisper to you from the shadows of basements and the tops of darkened stairways. Invest your belief in this ritual and it will summon up your visitor.

Now recite the following poem:

My oldest friend, so long ignored.  Come back to me from the night's dark shore.  My invitation I renew That I might spend this night with you

Repeat this poem until you establish a consistent rhythm. Tap out its beat as you recite it. Once you've gotten it down, you should only have to repeat it a few more times before you sense a change in the room. It could be almost anything: breathing besides your own, a drop in the temperature, creaking floor boards, a susurrus of movement.

Most commonly, you'll just know that you're no longer alone.

Once this happens, remain quiet, remain still. No matter what you hear, no matter what it might say, do NOT turn to look at it. Visitors are bound by Laws far older than the laws of nature and much more profound. These same Laws protected you as a child, but sadly, some no longer apply. Visitors are bound to us from our birth until our death, so it has been denied your nourishing fear for a good many years, kept at bay by the faux light of rational thought, a flimsy shield you've dared to cast aside. It's weak right now, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous. It’ s hungry.

What follows could last minutes, it could last hours. Console yourself with the knowledge that the longest it can possibly continue is until dawn. It will offer you anything you want if you’ll only look. It will beg, it will howl and scream and roar. It will creep up so close that you will feel its icy-corpse’s breath on your neck. Keep repeating “Ask and I shall answer.”

Eventually, it will pose its riddle. Except it’s not truly the Visitor’s riddle. It’s yours. If you’ve lived your life with your eyes mostly open, if you've been paying attention to the subtle play of synchronicity in your life, the answer will come to you almost immediately. If it doesn't, you have until dawn to answer. It shall never be asked again. Like all good riddles, the correct answer will be self-evident.

If you answer correctly, the Visitor will then set a task for you. Once it does, wait until you no longer sense its presence before moving from your seat. The task will always be something totally outside your character, but there's no time limit and you get as many chances as you need to complete it. Once you do, congratulations! You've passed your first test.

If you look at your Visitor, there’ s nothing more to be done for you. It's already walking around in your skin, drinking in the sweet, sweet nectar of your silent screams. In time, your screams will fail to satisfy and some day we’ll read about “your” atrocities.

If you fail to solve the riddle, you'll learn to sleep with the lights on soon enough. In fact, you'll find that afier a brief adjustment period you can get by with almost no sleep at all.

You'll have to.

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