Oculus

A – Z April: O

“What does it do?” Hebn looked at the strange monocle without touching it, letting it sit on the platform.

Elebar shook his head, “If I knew I would be using it already.” He retrieved a bag full of strange gadgets and started to scan it. Or at least Hebn always assumed that there was some scanning involved. His illiteracy kept him from truly understanding.

The circle set for the glass was made of gold, but nothing like Hebn had seen before. It shimmered in light, changing colors. It could be the lightest of greens, then deepen until it became blue, lightening again into lavender. It was beautiful. The glass itself was thick, difficult to see through, and a teal. It was imperfect, though, and even the darkened sight on the other side of the lens looked distorted. Elebar said something about glass isn’t a true solid and drips with time. This item could be centuries old, and it was showing. Once, it likely was a perfect piece of glass. Elebar continued talking past that, but Hebn realized he didn’t need to pay attention any longer.

The chamber they were in was unique as well, made out of strange metals that most structures were once made from, a strong and black material which lasted at least centuries. No one really knew when the last civilization ceased to exist, throwing the rest of the world into darkness, yet still their structures lasted while Hebn’s people had to repair and tear down their wooden homes regularly. Especially with that termite colony so close. He cursed under his breath, knowing Shev would expect him to fix that rotting wood problem on the west side of the house.

There were etchings throughout the walls, another common occurance. It was said that once there were wires that inset into the metal. Information could be sent through them, and in a few structures it still worked. However, this one had been stripped clean by scavengers, no doubt gutting the wires for the copper that was usually inside. Elebar would always curse scavengers as the information far outweighed the copper. However, information couldn’t build weapons and armor. It couldn’t create plows or shovels.

Hebn reached out to the monocle, curious what the material felt like, but his hand was slapped. Elebar said, “Don’t touch that, you oaf. Go back and make sure our equipment is out and ready. Set up a base. This is what you’re paid for, not to sully the artifacts of the past. Now off with you.” He shooed Hebn, and the man trudged off to the supplies.

“Bastard,” he muttered under his breath, along with other, more vulgar words based on the private parts. “I bet he screws that thin the moment my back turned.” Setting up base wasn’t difficult, just time consuming. There was a small tent without sides which went up, despite them setting up inside the several story building. Then there were three tables, and each one had different equipment gently placed upon it. Sometimes, for fun, he liked to slam down a few of the pieces, but every time they continued to work. Which was good, because otherwise Hebn would likely lose his job.

Once finished he sat. He thought about his wife as his hand idly went down his pants. Of what she would do to him if he brought home enough money to move into the old buildings, the metal ones without rotting wood and termites. They would send their kids off to play and she’d do those things he asked for, which she promised, yet never fulfilled. It would be glorious. His kids would be educated. They’d be able to read and snoop around the old cities, finding ancient toys which they could sell at market for goods. Or maybe not, since it’d probably make them dicks like Elebar. They could be rich and illiterate, kind people helping the city. That’s what they’d do.

“By the Ancients, what are you doing?” Elebar’s bottom lip was quivering when he finally walked back to the camp, pointing at the man sitting there, hand down his pants.

Hebn looked down and blushed, “I was just….” He thought for a moment. “I thought there was a lump and I needed to check it. My cousin died that way, they say. Had a third nut the size of a grape fruit and it turned into a ganderbash. Burst right out and he bled to death.” Hebn wasn’t smart, but he was a great liar.

Elebar narrowed his eyes, “If you weren’t so ill bred, I’d assume you were lying to me. Ganderdash plant eggs in one’s scrotum? How peculiar.” The arrogant ass went to check on the gear, muttering to himself. Hebn took his hand out of his pants and started to wander the building until he came to the monocle again. He didn’t think he was going that way, but often times the twists and turns could lead one in circles.

It was on a pedestal. He didn’t know much about what was sitting there, but he knew enough that when the old ones put stuff in the center of a room it was either immensely beautiful or immensely important. This looked like it had the makings of both.

Writing went up and down the pillars, from the look of it a language that read vertically. There were a few which red horizontal, both being very common. Yet they meant nothing to him. He wasn’t even sure if the great Elebar could read it, as the letters had been well-worn, nearly flat against the pillar. No doubt it said what the item did, but Hebn only had one way of finding out.

Hebn looked over his shoulder once, then went back to the monocle and picked it up. It was very light, as if it wasn’t even there, which is what he expected. It didn’t look like it had too much weight to it.

Then he looked through it, putting it closer to his face, until cold metal touched his warm flesh. When he tried to pull it away, he couldn’t. Then his eye socket started to grasp at the golden ring, bringing it into his skull. He started to panic, his breaths becoming short. The screams echoed around the room as he dropped to his knees trying to pry the metal out of him.

The screams were not that of pain, but shock and disbelief, of having touched forbidden knowledge and realizing, too late, he didn’t want that knowledge. Within a minute it had settled, no longer moving about. But he knew it was there.

Elebar rushed into the room, “You fool, what are you making that….” He slowed and looked at the pillar. “Where is the artifact? Where did it go?”

Hebn slowly turned to look at the man, awaiting the scolding, and possibly murder, at what happened to the precious artifact.

“Well, you slow-witted fool, where is it?” The scowl never looked when the two men came face to face. Habn even stood up. “What happened around your eye? There are markings, like a bruise. Did someone hit you?”

“Yes.” Hebn blinked. Why wasn’t it obvious? Then he realized, it wasn’t like he was looking through that glass. It felt normal on his eye. The only difference was his right eye was gaining information, data fed straight into his brain to tell him what he was seeing. “Yes, of course, there was a beast and it hit me, then took the artifact. We must go after it. It was a hideous beast.”

“How could you let it get away? Why do I pay you? You’re our muscle, fool. We need to get after it.” Elebar took off, shouting for the beast to stop. But Hebn was that thieving beast, though he knew not want it all meant. All he knew was everything in the room made sense and he could see it as if it were new, when there was furniture and people in strange outfits. Items would blink in order to show what worked and what didn’t, and with that he walked to a switch hidden behind thick ivy, and flipped it. Light was restored to the room. Hebn gasped in amazement and explored while Elebar went after a phantom.

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