The machine taunts me, its white facade cold, unflinching. Having gleefully swallowed up my sacrifice, it refuses to open its doors to me once more. I hope the damned thing is sated now, at least. The light above flickers off, and I press the timed switch to turn it back on again.

maschine01A little black box in front of me is the key to all of this, I’m sure of it. But how does it function? Where is the connection between this black contraption and the larger one? While the white machine taunts me, the black one only stares outwardly in silence. It too has a hunger, but for what? The small coins I fed to it seemed to do nothing for its stern countenance. Clearly, it does not store data regarding the state of its coffers, though it secures them steadfastly behind lock and key.

Runes are carefully etched on both machines, some of which I can decipher, but nothing seems to mention their relationship. Of course, my understanding in this may be flawed. Perhaps the cipher will provide me with an answer. Yes… yes, it seems the black box takes tokens of a predetermined size. This explains its distaste for my coins. But nothing here describes where the tokens may be acquired. The old thing must tire of standing here, waiting forever to be fed; perhaps it no longer functions at all.

A passing stranger! Excuse me, sir, do you know, by chance, how to activate this device? I have already paid it a tithe. Yes, I see, a token… but what quest has the token as its reward? The Man Upstairs collects them? But he cannot be reached today. Ah, but the box accepts coins of larger size as well!

I slip a larger coin into the box; it gulps it down with a gleeful tinkling, sending the spark of life to the white machine beside me. A fiery orange glow illuminates the machine’s face, as it awakes and stands ready to accept my commands. The door can be opened now as well, though for the time being, I need only to turn the dial. Oh thank the stars, I can wash my clothes!


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