For this ritual, you don’t need red string or candles or a mirror. It isn’t even you conducting the ritual. It’s more like a game than anything, and it’s as old as the universe itself. Maybe even older. It was here since angels appeared.

This game here involves a lot or risks, including a life debt, a bloody death, haunting nightmares, etc. At first, the rules may sound a bit like the “classical” Hunger Games, but I’m telling you, it really is quite different.

To start off the ritual, you need to desire something. Whether it’s revival of a dead relative, a new mansion, a lover, you need to want it with all the will you have. It’s best if it’s personal, as global changes really don’t mix well if you win. This will be explained later.

Once you got your wish set in your mind, you have to wait. Don’t worry, at some point in your life the trainer’s going to come to you, but you have to be patient. It can be in days, weeks, months, even years. I recall a friend of mine’s waiting for 47 years before his trainer showed up, but most people aren’t that unlucky. Make sure you want it with everything you have, or the trainer will simply not show up.

(It’s best to play in this ritual in your teens, as once you’re in the game an athletic body brings on many advantages. Hobbling around when you’re 85 years old really doesn’t improve your chances with survival.)

When the trainer finally shows up, he’ll (most of them are males: if you do get a female one that’s great for you) be looking like your typical average human. But he’s not normal. He’s a winner of a round of the ritual, and being a victor comes with a heavy price on your soul. For starters, he’s immortal, or doomed to live forever, until one of his trainees becomes the champion. He’ll look a bit filthy, he’ll be wearing out-of-date clothes, and he has this haunted look in his eyes he’ll never get rid of. He’s also extremely lethal. I recommend you not provoking him. He’s most likely a master in the arts of offense-defense and something else, something I think I’ll mention to you later.

You’ll probably be alone; in your bedroom, sitting on a park bench, squatting in a bathroom. Your trainer will materialize out of nowhere; don’t be afraid. He won’t hurt you if you don’t try to hurt him.

You can call your trainer whatever name you want; he doesn’t care. He will only ask you one question to verify your willingness to the Ritual: “Are you willing to partake in the oldest of games?” It won’t matter if you speak English or German or Zulu, you’ll understand. This is your last chance to turn back now. If you wish to, simply say “No.” He’ll nod twice before vanishing, and you can live peacefully.

If you want to participate in the ritual, say “Yes” or something like that. The trainer will hand you a golden-colored toothpick with blood-red tips. At this moment, blink 3 times and you’ll find yourself alone again. You can flush the toothpick, throw it away, it doesn’t matter. You’ll always find it in your pockets or in the palm of your hand.

(Also, you can’t snap the toothpick in half. The toothpick isn’t a toothpick; it’s more of a seraphic weapon of deadly power disguised as a teeth-picker).

A week later, while you’re alone in bed, at the stroke of midnight, you’ll hear your bedroom door creak open. It isn’t your mom checking on you or a molester that somehow broke into your house. It’s the trainer. He’ll motion for you to follow him with a wave of his hand; no matter how hard you resist your body will automatically respond by…following him. You don’t need to worry about waking other people or tripping over anything in the dark; surprisingly you find that you can see perfectly well, even though it’s night and there aren’t any lights on. This means you’re no longer in your home dimension anymore; the trainer has led you to the dimension where the training and ritual will take place.

He’ll lead you to some small secret room you never bothered to take a look, and there will be a loose panel where he would slide apart and beckon you to crawl in. Do it. There will be enough space to do so, although the tunnel smells musty and cobwebs are etched onto the arched ceiling. Your hands and feet will probably be sore from crawling; the pain will disappear when you emerge from the tunnel.

You’ll be outside, or what you think is outside. It’s actually just an intro room. It’s pretty much a long, wide path made of shimmering quartz. Start walking forward, and don’t look to the sides unless you want horrifying nightmares. Your trainer will be right behind you.

Should you look to the sides, well you did want nightmares, hm? The sides are littered with bodies, all alive. They’re the souls of the contestants that have been slaughtered in the ritual. They won’t stay on the path’s sides forever; they are in fact the players from the last ritual. When the next ritual comes, they will be going to whatever afterlife they believe in.

I should warn you not all of them are human. Only one competitor from each dimension can participate in the ritual. In this case only humans live in that particular dimension. Not every dimension plays this game, but those that do will be ruthless, cold-blooded, and merciless.

Back to the path, should you look to the sides you will see gory, terrifying scenes. Humanoid torsos with the head attached still flopping about, the guts spilling out from the slits on the abdomen, a dog-like creature screeching about as white, wiggling worms slither in and out of its body, etc. etc. etc. Since most of you readers are regular patrollers of this website, I’m certain you can think up violent images to satisfy your bloodlust.

At some point the path will end. Tear your gaze away from these tortured souls. You’ll be looking at a golden door, glowing slightly. Your trainer, who has been silent the whole time, will now say “Excuse me” and open the door for you. He must be the one opening the door, as it requires magic and you don’t have that yet. More on that later.

When you step into the doorway, your trainer closing the door with a muted click, you’ll be in a circular room with dimly lit torches set to the side. This will be your training room, where you will be doing so for about a month or two until the ritual begins. Every midnight, no matter where you are, a small piece of soul will detach from the whole and travel along that gruesome path to train until the ritual begins. Don’t worry about the rest of your body; they’ll know what to do. You’ll train for some time, as time here is different from Earth-time, and then you’ll be escorted back in the same manner. Don’t waste your time around; every second is precious to your survival.

Upon entering the trainer will ask you for the toothpick. Retrieve it and hand it over to him. He’ll close his hand around it before giving it back to you. You will feel a sudden heat in your hand, and in front of your eyes that flimsy toothpick will transform into a sword, the kind with a yard-long blade and leather handle. It will fit perfectly in your hand, as it was created for you and only you. You can name your sword, whatever, or change it back to a toothpick anytime. Just think about it really hard and it’ll happen. This morphing-weapon is one advantage humans have over other contestants.

The other thing that is a part of human advantages is the ability to wield magic. No, you don’t get a cool Harry Potter wand and yell out random incantations. I guess I should elaborate on the concept of magic a bit.

The universe is controlled by forces, which in turn is controlled by one supreme god. These forces are emotions, theories, etc. They are what makes you love your family and hate your friends. They are desires and wishes, they are pride and shame. Magic is one of these forces, in fact one of the oldest ones. Magic isn’t the “ability to control energy” or anything. Magic is something that only humans can control, due to their weaknesses of mortal fragility, and the one thing that can save your life. You’ll certainly need magic in this game.

Your trainer will ask you if you believe in magic. Most of you will say no. He’ll start discussing about the concept and history of magic, how humans can use it to their favor, how they could command it. By the end of the lecture you’ll probably believe him, and if you don’t you’re in a really bad position.

Your trainer will take out a sword and show you some moves. Try copying them, as swordplay is essential in the ritual. When training is over your muscles will ache, but that will fade once you walk out the training room. Your trainer will follow you back, as you should’ve memorized the pathway by now. It’s only when you’re in your bed, cot, whatever, that you’re back in your own dimension.

The next night, the trainer will explain to you the rules. Pay attention if you like living.

The Diviner, who is the most powerful of all the forces besides magic, is also the force that governs desires, wishes, yearnings, longings, something like that. Now, he isn’t a genie; in fact most of the time he ignores requests or wishes. But, like all self-conscious things in the universe, he dreams.

He doesn’t dream like the way humans do. His dreams are more of “dreamlands,” that is, the arena you’ll be fighting in. The moment he starts dreaming his worshippers begin the ritual. The ritual is a way of subconsciously granting wishes. Who those worshippers are, I have no idea. You can say that if the Diviner had an Instagram account his worshippers would be them loyal followers. (Who he would be following would be a mystery.)

Supplies are scattered all over the map. Some of them aren’t edible for you; please keep in mind the other contestants aren’t humans. If you do find one that can actually help you, use it. Don’t save it for later, supplies are always appearing spontaneously. Why? Remember that everything in the arena is part of the dream except you, and at some point the supplies you gathered will vanish.

The arena’s also much smaller than it looks. It’s mostly the dream warping on itself, curving and overlapping each other. Don’t think you can “hide”: as the game progresses the arena will shrink to a size of a house. This usually takes a week or so.

You can’t just stroll in with a cool sword and magic, you need some survival instincts of your own. Because humans are mostly weak, they almost never win the ritual. The moment you feel ground beneath your feet, start running. Gather what you can and flee. At nighttime, DO NOT sleep on the ground. It’s an extremely vulnerable place, and you’ll probably be killed easily. Since many of these contestants came from dimensions where the land is just a stretch of barren rock, I suggest you sleep in a tree or something. If you can’t climb up a tree, use magic.

I still haven’t explained the rules, yes? Basically, survive a week or so in the arena. Don’t form allies; these creatures will not protect you in any way. If you see a contestant and you’re in a good position to kill it, kill it! Each one of them are deadly, manipulative, sadistic, heartless (some of them actually don’t have any hearts). Don’t trust any of them, no matter how charming or innocent they look. They won’t hesitate to kill you.

This ritual isn’t about killing each other to be the last…being standing. It’s more about surviving a week to find the Ruby.

The Ruby? What the fuck is that? Be patient, I’ll answer that question.

Technically, the Ruby is a bright, glowing red stone. Why it’s glowing? Because it has a Guardian inside it.

236619 1314584441

A Guardian is not a force. It’s more like a seraphic being or an angel. For unknown reasons it can be trapped inside an object to bring the wearer good luck or safety. It’s your typical “good-luck” charm. In the case of the Ruby, a Guardian is trapped inside one.

At the end of the week in the arena, the Ruby will appear. By then there are probably two or three contestants left. Assuming you’re still alive, your job is to find the Ruby, as only one person can hold it. You see, the Diviner doesn’t like intruders in his dream. He’ll try to get rid of them. And, let’s face it, you’re an intruder. The Diviner will probably engulf you, and you’ll be one of those souls on the path’s sides for a long, long time, as the Diviner doesn’t dream frequently. The Ruby will protect you from the Diviner’s wrath, for not even he could face the fury of the angels.

When he does come, the sky will darken into a blood-red, the tress will be uprooted, and everything will be tossed in the sky and blasted into pieces. The Diviner’s angry and you do not want to face his anger.

Most likely you’ll be battling another player, and both of you are on the verge of death, when he comes. By this point you should lunge forward and grab the Ruby, while the other player is shredded into pieces, the skin peeling to reveal dark, soggy, flesh, the bones slowly protruding from various spots…you can fill in the blanks. He’ll then take on a humanoid shape, and advance on you, but don’t be afraid; as long as you hold the Ruby tight and don’t drop it he can’t hurt a single strand of your hair. He’ll stare at you impassively for some time before sitting next to you and touching your arm. Your wounds will then heal, you can release your hold on the Ruby (though I don’t recommend you to do so) and he will ask you a question: “What do you want?”

Wish for something personal. The Diviner is powerful and such, and he has the ability to grant your wishes, but try not to be whimsical, as you can only play in this ritual once (I’ll explain that later.) I’ve known some selfless people wishing for worldwide peace or end poverty, but the Diviner can’t do that. He knows there’s nothing to stop the people from fighting again or becoming poor. It’s just a wish wasted. Just wish for something you truly want, and he’ll give.

Once you uttered your wish, he’ll ask you “Are you sure?” Say no, he’ll wait for another wish. Say yes, he’ll smile slightly. Close your eyes and count to ten.

When you open your eyes, you’ll be back in the training room.

That’s a lot of information to take in, yes? And it’s only been the second night. For the rest of the nights you’ll be learning how to use weapons and how to harness magic.

You won’t immediately get the hang of it. You might feel something electric shoot up your arm, or your fingers suddenly becoming fire-hot. Those are signs that magic is adjusting to your body. To summon magic, you need to concentrate on everything around you. The slight air shifting, the dark oak panels, etc. Magic is waiting, ready to be used.

Magic can do a lot of things. You can start fires, kill opponents, and even create food. It’s crucial to your survival in the ritual. You can’t really use magic in your own dimension, because it’s rarely used there. Also, most people don’t believe in that crap.

Night after night, you’ll train. When the day comes the trainer will escort you to another door, wave good-bye to you, and leave. Good luck.

If you do manage to survive, after asking the Diviner your wish, you’ll find yourself back at the training room. Your trainer will be there for you. He’ll smile, and you might notice that the haunted, sorrowful look in his eyes is gone. He’s finally free from the job of a trainer, as you have won and taken the burden off his shoulders. He’ll thank you sincerely before vanishing, going to whatever afterlife he believes in.

You’ll stand there, shocked, but don’t think too long about it. Go home. Back there, you’ll find your wish granted, and you think you’ll be happy and contented for the rest of your life.

But there’s a price to pay. A heavy one to pay, I might add.

Remember the trainer vanishing? It doesn’t mean there will be no trainers, for the ritual will keep be playing as long as beings desire. When you won the ritual, you had to pay something. In this case, you’re the next trainer.

There will be a time in your life when you notice you’re not aging anymore. You’ll be immortal forever just as the ritual begins again. You will have to find a trainee who desperately wants something and you have to train him to get ready for the ritual. As time in the home dimension passes, and everyone you love dies, you’ll start living in the training room. You’ll be forced to watch trainee after trainee being brutally slaughtered in the ritual. If you’re lucky, your first trainee is a winner and can take your place. You can then live the rest of your life in peace, assuming you haven’t died of old age yet.

You can only play in this game once. Choose your wish wisely.

Well, I don’t know what else to say. Don’t trust anyone, pay attention to your trainer, blah blah blah. Maybe you have magic and weapons, but you need one more thing-a will. You need a will for survival. You need to fight for your life (cheesy, I know.) You need a goal in mind; you need the determination to struggle on. The ritual tests your responses, your speed, and your resolve. You need to know how to truly fight with your mind.

I suppose you’re going to the ritual now. What can I say? I can’t help you with abilities or power or anything. I’m just here for moral support.

Good luck.

-Unknown narrator

Written by RisingFusion
Content is available under CC BY-SA

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.