Finnegan: The Book and the Stew

The delicious smell of home-made beef stew was becoming stronger as we walked down the hill to Fauna's house, tickling my nose and making me salivate. She was rambling on about some sort of terrifying beast again, but my thoughts were occupied by this mysterious 'Book of Days'. How is it possible that people are unsure of whether a book exists? There must be some sort of record of it, somewhere in the world - even if it's in an old diary. A book simply cannot be heard about and not read. Yet, this has happened. So is it just an old wives' tale or kids' bedtime story, or is it actually real? 

Before I knew it, I found myself at the doorstep of the thatched-roofed, ivy-climbing cottage: the home of Fauna Rider. I looked over to her, confused as to why she hadn't gone inside yet, to see her eyebrows raised, arms crossed and a look about her face suggesting some sort of hopelessness. It was then I realised that I had spent the whole walk lost in my own thoughts. In other words, I had ignored everything she had said to me. 

I smiled guiltily, "Sorry..."

"I'm debating leaving you out here to starve!" She exclaimed, a slight smile in her voice. There was a mutual agreement of 'no hard feelings' between us when it came to zoning out of a one-sided conversation. Shaking her head at me, she opened the door and held it open for me to follow.

After all the usual greetings, Fauna's father sat us down with some stew then came to join us. Thus continued five minutes of silent eating with a sense of tension in the air. When I could no longer stand it, I asked, "Have you ever heard of the Book of Days?"

The man studied me carefully for a good thirty seconds before answering with the question, "Why?"

"My mother has a text on it - it interested me. I was just wondering if you knew any more about it." 

"There are many rumours about that book, all of which I have heard." He said in a gruff voice. "And yet, I still do not know if it exists." He stared at me, dead in the eye, "Are you sure you want to know? It has sent many men into delusional madness."

I nodded.

"The first story of which you should be aware of is the Fable of the Forming." He adjusted his chair. "It is said that the book was made by ancient mages who lured the innocent into their lair and taught them their ways. Ways of magic, murder and myth. To this day, it is believed that only one man has escaped the grasp of the mages: the first centaur. Contradicting the myth, he supposedly ate a possessed horse alive to please the mages. They did not think he would do it, meaning the man would be theirs. However they were wrong. The man emerged a centaur and ran off, the possessed blood repelling any spells cast in his direction. From his account, the mages filled the book with all the knowledge they knew, as well as prophecies about every witch or wizard that ever lived, or will live. The book was written on dried human skin, with the pure blood of virgins, lined with unicorn hair and bound my the laws of the Gods. No man can open that book, not Pythagoras, not Aristotle, not even Hercules." Fauna's father turned away, "That is, if you believe in it."

"And do you?" I asked tentatively.

He gave me look of deep meaning, a sort of longing hatred in his eyes. Closing his mouth to a tight purse was his way of saying yes. 

"Right!" It was the first time Fauna had said anything that meal. "We've got trolls to hunt."



The End

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