The first thing I did was begin to circulate nutrients through the eye to keep it alive and functioning. I didn’t know the scientific terms for what I was doing, nor did I realize how complex and impressive my own actions were. I knew only what I had gleaned from my years of analysis conducted while dissolving and investigating so many living creatures. I imitated the composition of fluids Telan’s body used to keep him alive, and I used that to preserve his eye.
That was the easy part. That is the part that I remember clearly, if only because it seemed so simple to me at the time. Perhaps it is because I have filled in the details of that time with beliefs about how it happened. I don’t have Telan’s memory crystal to fill in that knowledge, as he was not aware enough to record my actions.
The next part proved to be a greater challenge. I had to figure out how to actually make use of the eye. I am disappointed to admit that I am unsure of the specifics of how I came to connect myself successfully to the organ. Was it intuition that guided me, sheer brute force experimentation, or some impression left over from one of the beings that I consumed, who had deeper knowledge of anatomy than myself or Telan? The latter option seems the least likely, though if it could be true, it might be the most feasible.
I do know how I connect to most foreign organs now, and I know that the process, though now obsolete due to other advancements I have made, must be the one that I discovered in that forest with Telan’s eye.
I had to learn to imitate the nerves and neurons of the human brain, so that I could interpret the input that Telan’s eye was attempting to convey. Even with everything I have accomplished in the decades that followed, I still hold this as my most impressive achievement. An ooze is not built for visual input. Sight was a completely new sense to me. Once the tiny tendrils of myself that I crafted successfully became one with the eye, I didn’t know what to do with my new ability to sense light.
The only reason I figured out this new sensory input was due to the impressions I had gleaned from the lives I had taken. I did not have, and I still do not have, the ability to directly take a being’s memories and experiences. Nevertheless, a being’s spirit is influenced by the senses granted to it by its body, so reflections of those senses remained once the being’s self became a part of me.
I imagine that the first thing I saw was trees. I did not recognize them. I pulled my simulacrum inside my true self and installed the eye at the end of one a long pseudopod, to relieve myself of distraction. I didn’t understand any of the impressions it was giving me. I had no concept of color, or depth, or what the difference between shade and light could tell me.
It is an indicator of how impressive and superior I am that I learned to make true use of that eye at all. My research and experience have shown me that other unsighted beings, such as a human blind from birth, are unable to ever truly comprehend vision, should it be granted to them by a benevolent or curious being such as myself. It took me what I later gauged to be years of learning, during which time I fed myself only when I had to, so entranced was I by the new information sight could bring to me.
I kept Telan alive inside that pocket within myself. I nearly forgot about him, outside of keeping him fed — by force — and cleaning his waste from my body. The only reason I preserved him was in case I needed his second eye. I eventually took it, with little fanfare. I believe the seasons passed at least once more before I was able to interpret the information from both eye simultaneously.
It must be that, even during that period of my life, though I didn’t recognize it and I struggle to admit it now, I felt some vague hint of emotions. Consuming so many sapient beings brought me great boons, but the fact that their feelings infected me is not one of them. When I finally developed my sense of sight well enough to make true use of it, I found that I wished to look upon Telan.
By that time, his body hadn’t left mine in a very long time. He lived only because I willed him to continue to do so. When I ejected him, he made no effort to stand on his own. I doubt he had the muscle mass to do so. He skin was a sort of ashen grey. From his memory crystals, I know that it was once a deep chestnut brown. His hair had turned from black to a grey the color of dirty water.
Telan did not speak to me once I had freed his body. He didn’t even turn his head as my simulacrum approached him, nor did he indicate he was aware of the fact that I took his face in my hands and held it, so that I could truly see him for the first time. In fact, he barely breathed. As I touched him, an imitation of a human observing the face of the man that made that imitation possible, he expired.
I consumed him. I felt his expired consciousness contribute to my own. There was less of it than I had anticipated. I had been slowly leeching it away from him as he dwelled within my body.
I kept Telan’s clothes intact. Through our discussions I had learned that most humans need to wear fabric over their bodies in order to be accepted by their society. This would hold particularly true for me, since though I was able to make my body feel and behave mostly like a human body, I knew the appearance was imperfect. It was definitely unsettling. His clothes left only my face, head, and hands exposed.
I did not keep Telan’s bones. The set that I already possessed had fewer imperfections. Telan’s had weakened during his imprisonment to the point that I felt they were useless to me. I dissolved them and utilized their nutrients. Of Telan, only his eyes remained intact in this world, though all of him was now a part of me.
Now that I possessed the abilities to see, hear, and communicate, I believed that I now had all that I needed in order to attempt a foray into human society. Despite my own frustration with the fact, and despite the words I had spoken to Telan, my time with him had instilled within me a desire to know more.
I suppose you could say that, at some point, a hunger for knowledge became the driving force behind all of my actions. Food had become so easy for me that I hardly gave it any thought at all anymore. It was knowledge that now challenged my pursuit. I became greedy for any and all kinds of information, and I recognized that there was little of that to be had by myself, alone in the woods.
Though by the standards of other sapient creatures I had been operating on the level of a genius for years by that time — one need only observe the speed at which I acquired language and learned to process visual information in order to recognize my genius as truth — I remained quite naive about the functions and processes of the world. After all, intelligence does not immediately beget wisdom and experience.
I did have the foresight to refrain from first exposing my human body in a village or other human settlement. I suppose I didn’t really have the option, since I was still limited to keeping my two bodies connected by threads of myself, like a bizarre marionette. Instead, I believed that my best bet for attempted simulated human interaction would be a group of Roamers.
Thanks to Telan, I knew some small amount about the workings of our world and its inhabitants, which had insinuated into our practice with language. I was arrogant enough to assume I didn’t need to learn the information from him at the time, but now, I regretted it.
I did know that humanity divided itself into five major groups, some of which were based on a shared locations, and others, on shared ideals or culture. What little conversation we had about the topic had stemmed from my questions which had resulted from Telan identifying himself as a Sahalan. Of course, given my background, I hadn’t understood the term or the implications that it had. I had never been part of a group nor had I experienced anything like culture. I knew only myself and other; I had never considered including others in my definition of self, as do those who see themselves as part of a larger group.
From our conversations I knew that I should, at this point in my progression, avoid the places known as Teruga, Rohn, and Velorn. Telan had described them as “cities,” although he implied they were also more than that. I had encountered human settlements before. I knew they were places where large groups of humans gathered to live and shape the world around them. Even my self-obsessed, arrogant past self knew better than to approach a group of humans numbering higher than an amount for which I even had a concept at that point.
That left two other human groups as options. One of which, the Sahalans, were not often to be found wandering in the wilderness alone, as I had found Telan. They had their own established villages and towns, which I looked forward to as, perhaps, my second test of my ability to pretend to be human.
The final group, the Roamers, I knew as my primary source of prey. Roamers had no established homes. Instead, they wandered as small familial groups throughout Danahar’s ravines, meeting up only by chance with other Roamers. As a whole, they were a “group” in only the loosest sense of the word. As I would come to learn, they were considered one entity only because of the drive for the other societies of Danahar to label them as other and be able to call them by a unified term.
Roamers that knew of me had come to avoid my established hunting grounds, which meant that I had to transplant myself elsewhere. I flowed through the forests that I had come to now so well by touch and feel. I formed my simulacrum, complete with the eyes set properly into its face, and had it ride atop the unending wave of my full body. I watched as the trees and rocks and rivers that I had know my entire life flowed past, suddenly unfamiliar and hardly recognized. At times, I had to cut off my visual input to orient myself, for though I had learned to see, I was seeing much of these features I thought I knew for the first time.
When I reached a region I didn’t know by touch or sight, I forged onward. I wanted to put my old location far behind me, to give those that I might capture as little warning as possible about my presence. I kept close to the wall of the ravine, for permanent human settlements tended to be down within its deepest parts, where they could more easily and reliably form terraces for their crops and homes.
Finally, where the ravine I had always known joined with another, and I had travelled for another entire day in this new place, I decided to stop. I spread my main body thing and wove it, like a spider’s webbing, through the treetops, where I hoped that it would be undetectable. The wide dispersal would also allow me to keep track of a wide area for them movements of any groups of Roamers.
With my preparations complete, I settled my simulacrum on the ground to wait.