Forgotten Relics of a Lost Age, p.1Doug Cosman
Forgotten Relics of a Lost Age
Copyright 2014 Doug Cosman
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This is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional. Any relation to any persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Dhomas stepped out and stared out across the dry, dusty desert. His three eager young students followed close behind him.
"There was life here once," he stated. "Hundreds of years ago before the Great Cataclysm. Before our ancestors were forced to escape this ruined world."
A tall, slender young man stepped forward and asked: "Learned One, what happened to them?"
"They were undone," replied Dhomas. "Undone by their own greed, Jholan. Undone by their own naive belief that they were the the masters of their own destiny. The Archive tells us that this world was destroyed by their own doing."
"Learned One?" asked the female student. "What can you tell us about how they lived?"
"Ah," replied Dhomas. "That is why we have come here, Angelika, so that we may study their artifacts. Come!"
Dhomas motioned them on, away from their small ship, across the rusty landscape towards a small structure. The dry air sucked the moisture from their nostrils and the wind sandblasted their soft skin as they hurried along. A few moments later the group descended into the protection afforded by the small shelter.
"Master!" yelled another man from within the shelter. "You're arrival has blessed us. We've just made a discovery!"
Dhomas' eyes grew wide: "Come students, quickly! The men have made a discovery!"
They hurried along a raised path winding among the shallow dig pits and Dhomas worked his way through a small group of diggers. Kneeling down, he made out the dusty surface of a smooth, hard object.
"My brush!" Dhomas commanded as one of the diggers obediently handed him a tool.
Sweeping the dust carefully aside, Dhomas skillfully revealed a smooth, black surface. Upon it there was dully depicted a design of some sort. Surveying the surrounding soil, Dhomas carefully dug his hands into the sand on either side of the strange object.
"Learned One," said the third student emotionally. "This is a relic of the ancestors!" His voice shaky and eyes watery.
"Calm yourself Oleksandr," Dhomas scolded him. "You must control yourself. If you are to be an archaeologist you must learn that your touch must be steady, and your eyes dry lest you risk damaging the artifacts!"
"My apologies Learned One." offered Oleksandr.
"I do not want your apologies, I want you to quiet yourself and listen!" urged Dhomas. "This is a historic event!"
Having dug carefully around the object, it now appeared to be a little larger than a human head. As Dhomas blew the dust from the object, revealing what appeared to be an illustration of licks of fire running along each side of the relic. Dhomas felt the object shifting in the sand and felt comfortable enough to uplift it from its hole. Raising it to his face, and turning it to face him he saw a transparent, broken flap at its front. The inside of the object appeared to have been insulated at some point. There was also the remains of a strap at the bottom of the spherical object.
There was hushed chatter among the men around him, as the three students knelt in closely beside Dhomas. Dhomas' mind raced with ideas as he beheld the long hidden relic. Then he made a realization.
"Oleksandr, Angelika, Jholan!" he said with a smile. "Do you know what this is?"
"Some sort of a hat, Learned One?" offered Jholan.
Dhomas' face turned to a scowl: "This is no mere hat! Have you no respect for the ancestors?"
Jholan slumped and apologized profusely, showing his submission to the Learned One's skill.
"This, Jholan," continued Dhomas. "This is a relic of great cultural, and spiritual significance. Note here, these markings. They indicate reverence to fire, the great fire that sustains all life. This is obviously an important reference to their deity the Sun God. And here, you see here? There was once intricate padding of some sort in this headdress. Clearly... this would have been suitable for wearing only by one of the high priests of their society."
"Learned One," Oleksandr piped up. "So this harness on the bottom of the headdress, would this indicate that it was worn during a ceremonial dance of some description?"
"Very good, Oleksandr," Dhomas commended him. "This strap would have been necessary to keep the headdress in place during the ritual."
With that, Dhomas placed the artifact carefully into a large container and ordered the workers to take it back to his ship.
"Now, come my students," announced Dhomas. "You have come a long way, let me see what you have learned in your studies. Now we shall excavate the surrounding area and see if we cannot make another discovery!"
With that the students set about carefully digging away the sand layer by layer on either side of the first find. Dhomas sat and rested while he watched his young students as they toiled away. This climate did not agree with him.
After a few minutes, Jholan let out an excited cry: "Learned One! A find! A find!"
Dhomas rushed to his side and shoved him lightly aside: "Careful, boy. Let me. Your touch must be gentle and precise."
Peering down into the dirt there was a rounded metal cage sticking slightly out of the sand. Dhomas began the excavation process once again and soon revealed a donut shaped cage of metal. He carefully shook the sand from within it and revealed three blades of curved metal. As Dhomas attempted to extract the relic from the sand, he noticed it was restrained by a bond of some kind. A slender cord snaked its way out below the object and back into the sand.
"Angelika," Dhomas beckoned. "Hold the relic steady for me a moment."
Angelika obligingly held the strange object in the air as the Learned One slowly eased the cord from the sand.
Seeing the girl studying the object, Dhomas tested her: "What do you see, Angelika?"
"It would appear to be a device of some kind," she began shyly. "Perhaps it was a means of propulsion of sorts?"
The Learned One took the relic from her hastily: "No, silly girl. Have you learned nothing?"
Angelika hung her head in dismay as the Dhomas eyed the strange artifact.
"You see this cage," he began. "A cage represents control, the taming of a force. And notice the shaped metal inside. It is no accident. This metal would have been painstakingly shaped this way by the master craftsmen of the time."
"Learned One," Oleksandr interjected. "It looks like it could have rotated around that central axis."
Noticing the boy was right, Dhomas quickly claimed the idea as his own: "Quiet yourself! Do not interrupt me boy. Now, you see here, when rotating quickly enough this relic would produce a force of air..."
Dhomas paused a moment. Of course! Wind! he thought to himself.
"This, Oleksandr," Dhomas continued. "This represents their mastery of the force of wind! It is an idol to their wind deity. Obviously a powerful and feared god, it required the ancestors to enshroud it in this cage to restrain its powers!"
"And that length of cord, Learned One?" asked Jholan.
"Obviously," replied Dhomas. "This was meant to further restrain the idol to a fixed position."
"And these buttons," asked Angelika. "Are they how the ancestors co
"Very good," replied Dhomas. "There is hope for you yet, Angelika. But it was not so much for communication as it was a way to convey their prayers I suspect."
Just then a device on one of the workers wrists sounded, drawing the Learned One's gaze.
"Master," said the worker. "We must away. We have been grounded here too long. Shall we send back another crew?"
"Go then back to safety," replied Dhomas. "We will join you soon and adjourn here until the next rotation. Take this relic with you as well."
"Yes Master," replied the worker as he and the others gathered their supplies and scurried off to another waiting ship.
Dhomas quickly checked his own wrist: "Quickly students, we may yet have time to make another discovery before we too must away."
The students nodded and quickly returned to surveying the grounds at their feet. Dhomas eyed them carefully as he thought to himself. Such wonderful discoveries... the Council will no doubt be forced to recognize my skill now! It was not but a few moments later when Oleksandr and Anjelika simultaneously declared new discoveries.
Dhomas arrived first beside Oleksandr: "What is it, boy? What have you uncovered?"
Carefully removing it from the dirt, Oleksandr held up the small artifact: "It appears to be a cup of some kind, Learned One."
"Yes, yes," agreed Dhomas. "But this is not just any cup as you and I know it. You see this inscription here?"
Oleksandr studied the inscription. Jholan and Angelika peered closely over his shoulders.
"Worlds Best..." Oleksandr read. "Worlds Best... Learned One, I cannot discern the meaning of this last word."
Dhomas took the cup and noticed an illustration hidden under some light dust. Brushing it aside, he revealed the picture of a man. Taking a collective gasp as they beheld the image, the group looked at one another in awe.
"Whatever this last word implies," Dhomas stated. "It must refer to a great leader. A leader in their society! This cup... no... no this Chalice must have been used to offer food and drink to this man. Indeed a great find Oleksandr. An important find."
The Learned One placed the chalice into a container and then moved to inspect Angelika's find.
"Learned One," she began as he drew closer. "Look at this."
Dhomas knelt down beside her and began his examination. Studying the exposed surface of the object, he could see that it was a narrow metallic cylinder of some sort. It appeared to be uniform in width from the base until it narrowed abruptly at the other end into a dull point.
"This is very peculiar," Dhomas stated. "Let me extract it from the sand."
Pulling it slowly from the ground, Dhomas could only assume it was a crude facsimile of the male anatomy.
"Students... what Angelika has discovered is nothing less than the most important discovery we have made here. This is a phallic object, an idol to their fertility gods!"
"A phallic object?" queried Angelika.
"Yes," replied Dhomas. "You see, the Archive records that this was among the most important of the idols in the final days before our ancestors departed."
Suddenly the device on Dhomas' wrist sounded.
"Quickly now students, gather your tools and bring the relics. We must away to the ship now... we may return one day but until then we shall study these artifacts further."
"Yes, Learned One." replied Angelika.
The Learned One set off towards the ship, leaving the students to gather their supplies. Jholan fumbled with the supplies as he set off in pursuit of the Learned One. Oleksandr cradled the precious Chalice as he shielded it from the harsh winds on his way to the ship.
Finally, Angelika picked up the idol to the fertility gods and made her way to exit the dig site.
"Yes," she confirmed to herself. "These relics do warrant further study..."
Thanks for reading my short story. I hope you enjoyed it!
- Doug Cosman
Forgotten Relics of a Lost Age by Doug Cosman / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on16 votes