Beyond The Holders
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Holder of Records
The Holder of Records
Ah, another visitor! Nice to meet you. You’re the third one that’s come to see me today, though the other two were much more… frightened than you seem to be. For one in your line of work, that makes you either wise beyond your years or foolish beyond comprehension. Take care that you are the former. What’s that? Oh, don’t give me that ridiculous “why do they-?” bollocks. If you were meant to know the darker secrets of this universe they wouldn’t snap your mind like a twig every time one of you actually found one. Now, don’t make that face. You’ve made a great deal of effort to get here, though most of that ritualistic nonsense is unnecessary. You shouldn’t believe everything you read, you know. I watched you come down the hall backwards with that mirror in your hand. It was quite amusing. In recognition of your tenacity, misguided though it may be, I will tell you my story. You will learn some of what you came here to find out, and you’ll probably even be sane by the end of it.
I first learned of the Holders and their functions through, of all things, a pencil. I was exploring the depths of my favorite library in the center of the town where I lived. It was a beautiful building, tall and extensive, made mostly of stone. Gargoyles looked down from the slanted roof of the place, and two angelic statues guarded the entrance, their hands raised in a sign of benediction. Inside it was a veritable palace, a temple to the collected knowledge of our race. Shelves upon shelves and rows upon rows of books spread out like a small city until it met the far wall, which seemed like it was miles away. I loved that place, and whenever I could I would make some excuse to spend hours among the writings of great, ancient, and sometimes terrible people. I could have spent three lifetimes in there and still not read every book it housed within its walls.
The library was five stories tall, each level storing several sections on a multitude of topics. It was rare to come seeking a particular subject and be unable to find anything. My personal favorites were those stories which would likely interest you as well, stories of things hidden and occult and dark. I reveled in the accumulation of forbidden knowledge, and even those books which were obviously fiction I devoured with relish. I even read the Necronomicon once or twice, though I was more careful with that one than most, and I took care to never read aloud. I was a collector, you see, and had no intention of putting this knowledge to practical use. For me, simply knowing these things was enough, and to this day I wonder if that was what drew the Object’s attention.
One day, on one of my excursions to find a book of a particularly nasty reputation, I found myself in the corner of the fifth storey, about as far from the entrance as one could get. The fifth storey was where many of the oldest tomes were to be found, kept in a rarely visited section due to general lack of interest by the populace. I was looking through the musty, dimly lit shelves when my foot caught upon some unseen crack in the floor. I stumbled, and out of reflex grabbed the shelf next to me for support. Of course, books don’t usually make very good anchors, and all I succeeded in doing was to pull a number of books down on top of me. I painfully picked myself up off the floor, and began to put the books back on the shelf. As I picked up the last book that had fallen, I noticed something odd. It was a smaller than most of the heavy volumes common in this part of the library, about the size of an average hardback novel. The cover itself seemed to be made of low-quality leather, and was almost completely devoid of decoration. There was no title, no embossed images, nothing whatsoever to identify what was inside the book I was holding. My curiosity quickly took hold of me, and I opened to the first page.
The pages inside were filled with handwritten text, in a language that I had never seen before. The pages themselves were devoid of any lines to guide the writer, yet each sentence was almost perfectly aligned, marching along the pages in lockstep with the rest of the writing. It appeared to be some sort of journal. Intrigued, I flipped through the remainder of the book. About three-quarters of the way through it a pencil fell out from where it had been wedged between the pages, bouncing on the floor and coming to rest near my feet. The pages after where the pencil had been were blank, and it seemed as though the mystery author had stopped mid-word. Bending to pick up the pencil, I found it almost more of a mystery than the book.
It was not the sort of writing utensil that you would normally see, adorning the desk of every student in the country. It looked almost like a twig from a tree, the surface was covered with what looked like bark, and it was very slightly crooked in a few places. The lead-tipped point was about the only thing that identified it as a tool for writing. Moreover, as I turned it over in my hands I noticed that it was covered in writing, of the same alphabet as the writing in the book. I looked closer, and as I turned the pencil I saw something that made me drop the thing with a start. The text was moving, swirling across the instrument as though just beneath the surface. I stared at it for several seconds as it lay on the floor, trying to decide whether what I had just seen was real or whether I had been up in that section for too long. After a few moments I bent and gingerly picked it up again, as though I were handling some sort of poisonous spider. I stared at the text intently, but this time it remained firmly etched into the bark. This was more than enough to convince me to study my discovery more closely, and as the journal had no identifying marks I figured it would be alright to borrow it without troubling one of the librarians. I left the library quickly, with both book and pencil hidden in my jacket.
I reached my home in the late afternoon, and went immediately to my desk in the den. I lived alone, so I didn’t bother to close and lock the door as I normally do when guests are about. I kept my assorted collection of oddities in there, and their presence had been known to… unnerve some of my visitors. I opened the journal, and set to work looking through my personal library for anything that would match the text in it. Hours went by as I searched through thousands of years of languages. I even went as far back as the dialects of ancient Babylon, though why anyone would write in such dialects in this day and age was unknown to me. Finally, in a tome on Sanskrit which I had acquired more on a whim than anything else, I found a similar arrangement of letters. A few more comparisons between books and I was able to read a single word of the journal.
I didn’t know what was so special about this particular word, all it said was “watch” or “see” depending on the context, but as I read it a feeling of something profound and horrible came over me. My body began to shake, and I remember having the distinct feeling of someone standing in the doorway to the den. I turned in horror to stare at the open door, but saw nothing. The feeling didn’t abate, and I stood up in a rush to distance myself from that demonic book. As I backed away I tripped over the legs of my overturned chair, and fell to the floor. I blacked out.
When I came to the feeling was gone, though I was still very jumpy. I put my hand to my head, but felt no wound. I must have fainted from fear. “How very heroic of me,” I thought to myself as I righted my chair and sat down again. I read the word in the journal again, just to see if it would affect me the same way. Nothing. Whatever it was that I had felt before had gone. I stayed up late into the night attempting to decode the rest of the text, but had no luck. The language was obviously a distant relative of Sanskrit, but if there was a record of its existence I did not possess it. Finally I collapsed onto my couch in the corner of the room, and slept.
I woke in the morning after a few hours of surprisingly restful sleep, and immediately sat down at my desk. I flipped through the journal one last time, and regretfully closed it. For the time being, it was a lost cause. Instead, I picked up the pencil. The text carved into it remained stubbornly fixed. Why I did what I did next is unknown, even to me all these years later. I opened the journal to a blank page, set the pencil to it, and began to write. My intention was to write a simple sentence, something glib and asinine like “I have an evil pencil,” but what was on the page when I finished was not what I had meant to write. It was in my native tongue, but what it said renewed the sharp pang of fear that I had felt before. No, I will not tell you what it said, because that is not for you to know. I was a fool to meddle in these things, and at the very least I can attempt to prevent you from the same folly. Overcoming my hesitation, I tried again, firmly fixing the sentence I wanted to write in my mind. The result was the same, a different sentence from the first one, and vastly different from what I had intended. I should have stopped right there. I should have burned the book and the hideous stylus and never pursued such things again. Instead, in the grip of my misguided curiosity, I kept writing.
I allowed myself to fall under the power of whatever resided in that artifact, writing page after page of grotesqueries that I would never have dared to think about under normal circumstances. As I wrote, I read “my” work, absorbing the knowledge it held. I learned of the Holders, and the Seekers, and the 2538 Objects that will bring about the End. I learned of all of these things and more, and it seemed as though my mind was cast with incredible force to the furthest reaches of existence and back again. At some point I realized why the original author had stopped writing: he or she couldn’t bear the horror of what they wrote. I don’t know how many hours or days passed while I sat at my desk writing, but after a while I came to the slow realization that my arm wasn’t moving anymore. I looked down at the page, and saw that I had filled the rest of the journal. It lay open on the last page, the contents staring balefully up at me. The last page wasn’t just words, per se, but more of a picture.
A perfect circle sat in the center, surrounded by text. The words bent and twisted, forming circles themselves around the central one. Some of these circles of text were concentric, others merely intersected, but all of them drew the eye to the one in the center, and all of them were in that same language that dominated the journal when I had found it. Slowly, and with a growing sense of unease, I began to trace the circles with my finger, coming ever-nearer to the large central circle. I didn’t know why I was doing it, the language was just as much a mystery to me then as when I had found the journal, but it seemed the correct thing to do. Finally, I touched the center of the page.
My senses all betrayed me, and it was as though each of them individually had decided to interpret reality the way they wanted, rather than working together. I heard things that had no bearing on what I saw or what I felt, or what I smelled, and nothing I experienced seemed to connect properly to the others. It was chaos, perfect and complete. I panicked, unable to make any sense of what I was experiencing. It was like trying to carry on twelve different conversations that all began at once. I spiraled into a cacophony of madness.
When I finally could make sense of my surroundings again, I was amazed to find myself in a library. This was not the library where I loved to spend my time. No, this one was far older. Most of the books were no more than piles of mold, and even the shelves seemed somehow petrified from age. Also unlike the library that I frequented, this one was entirely contained in one room. There were no other floors, just one cyclopean room stretching back into the darkness. Despite the complete lack of light, I found that I could somehow see, and I discerned some sort of door at the far end of the expanse. Having no other obvious exit, I headed towards it. As I drew closer the door became clearer, becoming a massive ironbound portal into a room beyond.
Through the door was a long hallway, flanked on either side by statues in various stages of disrepair. There were no doors on either side, and like the previous room it was completely dark. No two statues were exactly the same, and though at first they seemed similar to ancient Greek or Roman sculptures, they rapidly became monstrous and strange the further down the hall I walked. I told myself it was just a dream, but I flinched nonetheless when I thought I saw several of them move. I realized that I was moving with purpose that can only be achieved by one who knows exactly where he is going, and as I passed certain statues I performed a number of odd signs with my hands. I had no idea why I viewed some statues with calm and reverence, while I sprinted past others until they were out of sight. All of them looked equally odd and horrible to me. I knew the various actions I performed held significance, and that terrible things would happen if they were not done, but how I knew that was a mystery. Finally, after an eternity of walking, I reached the end of the hall.
At the end of the hall was a small, simple-looking door, and here I stopped short. That feeling that had so suddenly come upon me in my den washed over me again. I felt the most powerful sense of dread that I have ever experienced before or since. It was almost physically painful to stand there, in front of that door. I began to shake uncontrollably, and I could barely assert enough influence over my own body to raise a hand towards the doorknob. Somewhere in the ruins of my consciousness I knew the better part of me was screaming, screaming for me to turn and run as fast as I could until I had left this place behind. Without knowing how I knew, I was certain that my death lay beyond that door. With a supreme effort of will, I finally overrode my judgment, and grasped the knob. After all, I had come this far. I’d be damned if I was going to run when I was so close to knowing, to understanding what that terrible book and pencil truly were and why I feared them more than the most hideous demon. I opened it.
On the other side I found myself in a circular room about thirty feet across. The walls were entirely covered with books, but these were not the rotting tomes that I had found before. These were intact, though obviously very old, and they gave off an aura of great and terrible power. In the center of the room sat a man, scribbling in a book that sat on the desk in front of him. His head was bent towards his work, so I could not see his face clearly. His clothes were of a fashion I was unfamiliar with, long and flowing, and every inch of fabric was covered with words and symbols. I recognized them as the letters of that forgotten language I had tried to decipher, letters that I had written on that final page of the journal. He seemed to take no notice of me, though he must have heard me come in. I stood frozen for a minute in the doorway, then steeled myself and took a step forward. The man did not move, he merely kept scribbling in the book. I took a step closer, still no response. I took another and another, and found myself looking down at the man’s hunched form. He did not react. I reached down to touch his shoulder.
Before my hand had even brushed his garment, he reacted with impossible speed. I nearly jumped out of my skin as his bony fingers clamped around my arm. He looked up, and I stared directly into his eyes. The man was me. Every line, every feature of my face was staring back at me from that wizened body. The eyes, though, the eyes were different. They had no pupils, but seemed to open past the irises into a space of immeasurable depth. In those eyes I saw planets, stars, and galaxies form and die in the space of seconds. I saw the birth and downfall of civilizations, and I saw the terrible darkness creeping across our own world, corrupting or destroying all. I realized I was screaming, but my doppelganger did not let go. He drew his other hand back, and I saw that it was holding that accursed pencil, the same one that I had left sitting on my desk an untold distance from where I now stood. I barely had enough time to grasp his intent before he plunged the instrument into my chest. I stiffened, and I felt my heart stop. The last memory I have of that place is my double leaning over my body, reaching for me. His mouth was moving, but I could not make out the words before my vision darkened.
I awoke to find myself standing amid the aisle of my own library, in the same spot where I had first discovered the book. In my left hand I held the journal, and the right the pencil. The tip was crusted with blood. Horrified, I checked myself for wounds, but found none. I briefly considered putting both of the hideous objects back where I found them, but even the thought of letting them go repulsed me. Stuffing them into my jacket for the second time, I left.
Since then I have come to know what I truly found in that library. I understand now what that dark place was, and what I did there. I ignored my better judgment, reached past the boundaries of sanity for the sake of knowledge. I was willing to pursue that knowledge at any cost, even that of my soul, and so the Holder gave me what I wished for. He imparted his knowledge to me. He made me the Holder of Records.
With the knowledge I have gained, I have traveled to places no human eyes have ever seen or ever will again. I have reached into the darkness of space to touch what would drive you mad to comprehend. At all times I feel the presence of the other objects and those who hold and seek them. Even the mind of Legion, sitting in his dark museum, is open to me though he knows it not. I am no longer human.
All of that power, of course, came with a cost. I am forbidden from using my power to help or hinder those who seek the Objects. I may only watch, and record their stories for eternity. I no longer have a say in the fate of the cosmos. What happened to the book and pencil? I burned the book, it was no longer necessary. The pencil sits in a case in Legion’s collection. He came to demand it one day, and I happily gave it over, but it will do him no good. It is still an Object, but the letters have gone from its surface. The erudition it held was for me, and me alone.
What was the point, then, of coming to me when I cannot help you? You didn’t expect this to be easy, did you? You came here seeking information, and that's what you got. How to use it is your task to figure out. Whether you succeed or fail, however, know that I will be watching. Now, get yourself out of here, or un-nameable and horrifying things shall be done to you. No, not really, but you came here with certain expectations, and it seems a shame not to fulfill at least some of them. Hurry, now. The time is coming soon.
Categories: | Legion's Objects |
|Last modified on 2011-11-09 17:44:16Viewed 3678 times|