The Oboe of Optozorax, and Other Objects

Last week, waffle was asking a grammar question in a Discord server:

How to properly say that somebody owns a thing, if their name ends with an x? Like Optozoraxes, Optozorax', Optozorax'es… how this works…

I suggested going formal and calling it “of” them, and Ada pointed out that “Optozorax” is begging to be used as a mystical artefact name. I ran with this idea, and half a dozen such artefacts came out. I’m sharing it here so it can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

This work is also posted on AO3.

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The oboe of Optozorax has been seen in music halls around the world. Just before a player goes on stage, their instrument is replaced by this mystical artefact.

If the player accepts the blessings of Optozorax, their performance will be flawless, and lady luck will smile upon them.

But if the player declines, and tries to find their own instrument, most terrible things will happen. Tragedy, heartbreak, disaster, and playing off key.

Many players try to hold on to the oboe of Optozorax, but it is as fickle as it is favourable. The moment the concert ends and the player’s back is turned… it vanishes, leaving the original instrument in its place.

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Despite years of intensive study, scientists are unable to work out how the pitcher of Phalcoralax violates the law of conservation of mass. It’s a vessel that instantly fills itself with whatever liquid is most required by the holder.

For those struggling to wake, it creates coffee.

For those stranded in a desert, it conjures water.

For those hurting from heartbreak, it contains sugar.

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The amphora of Archteryx is an unlimited source of alcohol, and possessing it is a crime in forty-seven countries – owing to how it tanks the local economy whenever it appears.

Yet despite extensive documentation of its movements, nobody has ever been arrested – law enforcement officials who find themselves in its presence tend to find themselves less concerned about “laws” and “crimes”.

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After Ada complimented my worldbuilding.

It’s sweet that you think this is coming from my head, but really I’m just studying the globe of Gradivux. She was trying to use magic to create a map of the world, but instead she created a map of every other world. On every rotation, the globe transforms to show a completely different world.

Legend says she went mad, spinning and spinning and spinning, to see if she could finally find a map of the world she called home.

Some worlds are fun, some are silly, and some are haunting.

I don’t know what the previous owner saw as they spun the globe; they haven’t spoken a word to anyone since they gave it to me.

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Somebody else in the server was getting sleepy.

Maybe you should get in the bed of Bicroncollirux.

He was an inventor who kept waking up miserable, or angry, or cranky, so he designed a mechanical marvel of a bed, which changes shape as you move around in the night – but never waking you as it does. Contorting itself into all manner of geometries, it only has right sides, so you’ll always wake up calm and refreshed.

The problem of sleep solved, he lived to the ripe old age of 127.

(How did he survive to such an old age? You’ve heard the expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It didn’t ring true – if you eat an iPhone once a day for over a century, the medical profession takes a keen interest – but if you can afford it, the rare metals and trapped souls of voice assistants are a heck of a life preserver.)

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And then as I was going to bed:

I’ll need to cross the hallway of Harlix, which separates my office from my bedroom.

It’s a war-torn battlefield from ancient times, whose surface is littered with upturned British plugs and stray LEGO bricks. Only those with the strongest of footwear can pass.

I’m going to don my slippers and bid you goodnight. Wish me luck!

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I’m not planning on doing more of these, but “The Noun of Name” might be a fun prompt if you want to do some microfiction. I’m rather pleased with how they turned out – especially the globe of Gradus – and I hope you enjoyed them too.