Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2320024-The-Monocle-of-Mortality
by Jeff
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2320024
A device that reveals that which otherwise can't be seen. Writer's Cramp entry.

The hardest part about being a late-to-the-party relic hunter was that almost all of the good relics had already been acquired. The Sword of Smiting? Discovered ages ago. The Wand of Wanton Destruction? That discovery’s more than a decade old at this point. The Ingots of Invincibility were just unearthed earlier this year, but it only took that long because the wizard who previously owned them made a particularly deadly dungeon that proved insurmountable for more than a generation of relic hunters.

While there was still plenty of magic in the world, there was a real question of whether it was magic anyone wanted. And more importantly for my purposes, whether it was magic anyone would pay for. See, my business as a relic hunter depends on finding buyers for the things I find. There’s nothing worse than spending half a fortnight slogging through a subterranean labyrinth only to find that the warlord that had it commissioned was some nobody looking to secure his Vest of Vociferous Veganism or some nonsense like that.

On the off-chance you think I’m being sarcastic with that last one, I can assure you the Vest of Vociferous Veganism very much exists, and was a very big pain in the butt to retrieve. And then it took me months to find an elven druid that even thought it was worth purchasing. Now he can annoy all his friends with his plant-forward diet tips.

Yes Gary, you have told us before how all of us cow murderers enjoying a steak are contributing to climate change... *Rolleyes*

But I was sure I was on the right track this time. A few months ago, when I was on the hunt for the Bifocals of Blindsight (which I unfortunately lost to Gary the vegan elf), I found an obscure reference to another artifact of note which I hadn’t seen mentioned before. The Monocle of Mortality was, as far as I was aware, a completely new artifact of which very few people were aware. And I was pretty sure I was ahead of the rest of the pack in recovering it.

In fact, I was currently rustling through the private study of the aristocrat last rumored to have possession of the artifact. It had required me to bribe a custodian of the grounds, but at least he had thrown in some help with the search in return for his exorbitant fee. And he proved to be worth every penny, as he was the one that found the hollowed-out book containing the lockbox. With my lockpicking skills, it was a small matter of getting the box open. To my relief, the monocle was resting inside the velvet-lined compartment.

I couldn’t resist slipping it on and taking a look at my companion and temporary partner. To my surprise, I saw not him as he currently was, but him as he would look in his final moments.

“What do you see?” he asked.

And I told him honestly.

“I see you in a comfortable bed, surrounded by family and loved ones saying goodbye. You seem quite old, and to have lived a good, fulfilling life.”

That brought a smile to my companion’s face. He nodded, collecting the purse of coins that we had bartered for his services.

“I wish you the best of luck with your own life journey,” he said.

And then he was gone.

As I returned from the aristocrat’s mansion, I left the monocle on as I headed back into town. I was captivated by the images I saw as I passed people on the street. Some, like my companion, met their end after long and fruitful lives. Others were cut abruptly short thanks to accidents, poor choices, bad luck ... and some even the victims of violent crime.

I neared the pawn shop that dealt in magic items; my go-to place to offload my acquired artifacts. Before I removed the monocle, though, I couldn’t resist a glimpse into my own future. I stopped and looked at my own reflection in the glass of a nearby shop window.

It was a violent end, not that I was really expecting much else. The life of a relic hunter is brutal and often short, although I was surprised at just how short it was apparently going to be, as I didn’t appear much older than I was at the moment. What was more surprising was the person I saw towering over my crumpled, bloody body. It was a lean, hippie looking elf wearing an all-too familiar vest, which had been updated and emblazoned with stitching that read:

“Elven by birth + Vegan by choice = Elvegan 4 Life”

I groaned at the thought of being killed by Gary the “Elvegan.” Assuming this was my fate for better or worse, I resigned myself to it and only hoped that Gary would make quick work of me, before he had a chance to lecture me on the benefits of a plant-based diet, and how he promises that I won’t even be able to tell the difference between turkey and tempeh.


846 words

Written For: "The Writer's Cramp

Prompt: Write your story or poem about something that can't be seen without the help of some sort of device (telescope, special glasses, microscope, mirror, etc.). Be creative - what CAN you see with the device, what IS the device needed to see it, and do you WANT to see it at all or is it too scary?
© Copyright 2024 Jeff (jeff at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2320024-The-Monocle-of-Mortality