PERFECT PLATONIC SUFFERING CRYSTAL

Deep within the labyrinthine twists of metaspace, there is an immense sphere of crystallized needles which represents the idealized platonic form of physical suffering. This sphere is several hundred miles in diameter and floats in the space between realities. As you get closer and closer to the crystal, you begin to feel pain. This pain increases exponentially the closer and closer you get to the epicenter of the crystal. There is no physical damage dealt, but the effect is still immense. No one has ever managed to touch the crystal, as no one has ever gotten within a mile of its surface without turning back, dying of shock, or committing suicide. There are several religions and philosophical doctrines which prominently feature the crystal, and their outposts circle it from a safe distance.

One of these groups is known as the Contentment Relativists. They are not masochists, though this is a common assumption. They wear simple robes and eat simple fare. They accept all peoples from all walks of life, and conversion is not required to make a pilgrimage towards the crystal. They do not worship the crystal, but they do make use of it as a physical proof-of-concept for their specific worldview. According to them, the key to happiness is context. By framing everything in the perspective of the worst thing you have ever experienced, you will find yourself able to remain upbeat in even the lowest of valleys. No matter how awful your current situation, you can find some small amount of solace in the fact that things are not as bad as they once were. Of course, what if you fear the worst moment of your life has yet to happen? What if you are dooming yourself to constant anticipation of some sort of horrible misfortune, some as-of-yet unforeseen disaster? This is where the Relativists’ pilgrimage comes in.

The Relativists’ outpost consists of little more than a small orbital station made of rough-hewn stone, which is attached to a long and ornate hallway leading directly towards the center of the crystal. There is only one ritual ever performed in the Relativists’ small citadel, and that is their Pilgrimage of Reference. The pilgrimage is only ever done once per person, and many hundred of people come from across metaspace each day, seeking to take it. The Relativists force no one to perform their pilgrimage, and they make sure that the person in question adequately understands what is in store. When someone is prepared to make a pilgrimage, they are tied to a very long rope and told to walk down the hallway for as long as they can bear, and then a single step further. Once a pilgrim reaches their limit, they are hurriedly pulled out of range via the rope, and given a hot meal in a comfortable chair while they recuperate. Despite having been exposed to soul-scouring anguish mere minutes before, these people are usually in an excellent mood. Having completed the pilgrimage is cause for celebration. You have just experienced what is likely to be the single most awful event in your life, and now the worst is behind you. Nothing will ever be as bad as that moment, and you are free to enjoy your life with newfound perspective. Despite describing the pilgrimage as excruciating in every sense of the word, many people highly recommend it.