Short Story: A Magical Pursuit Of Knowledge [Fantasy]

Of all great creatures that once lived, the Fae have always been among the wisest. It was in their immortal nature to see truth from illusion, to act as a catalyst for the natural laws, and to help life wherever on its way – or not, as some of them have turned out to be the most notorious tricksters of them all, evil and malicious, with their will so ill-natured, there was no space in their hearts to show any mortal mercy.

Once upon a time, in a world far away from the one we know, there lived a boy. He belonged to a kind Fae folk that hid in the forests of a planet we have lost connection with today. Luckily, their stories have continued on, and some say it’s because they are written in the stars, but that you can only read them once you know where to look.

This one boy grew up to be the wisest Fae of them all, but he hadn’t been so wise from the start. This is why his story became a token to many and an example to us all, because no matter how little one knows in life, it can always change the world for the better. His story is one in the pursuit of wisdom; one that starts with the insatiable urge to know it all at a time he only understood so little.

 

Ever since he was six, he began his quest, saying he would become the smartest Fae of them all. Later, he changed that to claiming he would be the most knowledgeable man of all time, but eventually he settled for becoming the wisest. In the end, he became all three of them at some point, but the latter he remained for an infinitely long time.

His name was Gehuven Ellyà Marzandan, son of Isdor Marzandan the First and Melyna Ellyà the Great, who each were fearsome warriors in their own respect. But soon after his birth, both his parents had died in a gruesome battle, and Gehuven was delivered to the High Fae Court, where his parents had many friends. They decided to take care of the baby as if he were one of their own. And like so, Gehuven was raised in the diamond halls of the magnificent castle, running around together with the prince with who he shared the same age. The boy lived a marvelous life despite his sad start and had access to all the luxuries in the world without having one single duty to worry about.

As Gehuven grew up, he and the prince became best friends and were always seen together, playing around. Except for the times the prince was being trained for battle then Gehuven wandered elsewhere – to more soothing things. Fighting made him nervous, combat turned him pale, he knew very well why, so he avoided it at all costs. At the library he felt safest between the stories and books, the heroes and villains long since passed.

Over the years at court, Gehuven was taught after many of the high officials; the king’s counselors and advisors, the healers and generals, who all took him on private trips and journeys of advice to show him their personal tricks, but it had been the librarian that the boy liked best. Together they spent entire afternoons lavishly discussing the history of life and wondering what it was for them to be alive. The librarian’s name was Aerwyn and he was old – very old. There was no Fae alive to have walked the Earth longer than him. On top of that, he was not just any ordinary librarian either. It was his life’s task to keep track of the annals of time, both present and past. Many had considered him to be the wisest of them all, but not for long.

One day, he taught Gehuven a most important lesson, but it had taken the boy a week to understand.

He was twelve years old at the time and in the prime of his life – his pursuit of wisdom. Feverishly, Gehuven had been studying as much as he could; he would never put down his books, not even when he was eating or barely when it was time for him to be sleeping. It frustrated his best friend, the little prince, but he also noticed Gehuven’s passion for knowledge and let him have it, remaining at a distance from Gehuven’s side as he fought and fought and learned to one day become a king.

It was a lazy afternoon when Aerwyn walked in that day, deeming the boy ready for his lesson. The last beams of sun graced down from the library’s high window ceiling when he found the boy thinking.

The library itself was underground, but its canopy-like roof peaked high enough above the trees to catch the light, the sun casting its golden rays onto the aisles of books, scrolls, bottles of ink, and the golden hair of the young Gehuven who was seated behind a wooden table, frowning. The table was in the center of the room and surrounded by many concentric walls, all filled with knowledge. He sat in the comfortable chair covered with furs, and he had been there since the other night; it was obvious that something was off.

“Gehuven,” Aerwyn started, “What is the meaning of this?”

“I want to be the wisest man,” He said, still frowning, “But I don’t know when I’ll be.”

Aerwyn smiled, “But you know so much already.”

“Yes, I do, but I haven’t been tested yet, you never ask me anything. I want to prove myself.” He said, looking up at the old man with fire in his eyes.

“Alright.” Aerwyn replied with an ease that left Gehuven surprised. “I’ll ask you one question. If you know the answer, you’ll be among the wisest. Think you are ready?”

The little boy opened his eyes wide, “No!” He looked around at all the books he hadn’t yet read. “Give me a week!” He said, “One week, and I’ll know everything.”

Aerwyn chuckled,  but agreed, nodding, “One week.”

“And I’ll be the wisest?” Gehuven asked, barely believing what was being said.

The librarian nodded in silence, then left the boy to himself.

For the boy, the stakes had never been this high, but there was one problem, Aerwyn hadn’t told him what the question would be, or about, and seven days to solve the great mysteries of life – and thus becoming what he thought was the wisest man – seemed suddenly like a very short amount of time.

He went to digging straight away that night and placed next to him on the table piles of books on all sorts of topics he thought were relevant to the origins of wisdom and life. He would take one day per subject and ordered them alphabetically, beginning with Anthropology, then Biology and Cosmology, Geology, History, Physics, and ultimately Philosophy. He would read about all the great names and their tenets – about the galaxies and its secrets – the world and its people.

But on the fourth day, when Gehuven was studying geology, Aerwyn visited his pupil who was very busy reading. A dozen books laid spread alongside him, on the carpet, the table, and his chair, never close enough.

Aerwyn walked over and sat next to the little Fae near the fire, “Gehuven,” he said, waiting for him to look up, “Have you not been watering your little garden this week?”

The boy looked up, rather annoyed to be having to talk about his vegetables and flowers presently. “I can tend to them some other time.” He said in a busy tone.

“They will be dried out and dead if you wait till your seven days are over.” He said.

To which the boy dryly replied, “Then I’ll just plant new ones.”

Aerwyn nodded, stood up and walked away.

On the fifth day, when Gehuven was studying history, Aerwyn visited his pupil who still was very busy reading. A dozen new books laid spread alongside him, on the carpet, the table, and his chair, like they couldn’t be close enough to him.

Aerwyn chuckled and came to sit next to the little Fae near the fire, “Gehuven,” he said, waiting for him to look up, “The prince is looking for you. He says he needs you.”

The boy lowered his book, flushed cheeks coming from under the pages. “Tell him I’ll be back in two days, I know almost everything now.” He said with guilty pride.

“Are you sure?” Asked the old librarian. “He said it was urgent.”

“Y-yes,” started the boy, “Tell him to give me two more days. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do.” He turned a page, his lashes fluttering as he struggled to immerse himself in the book again.

Aerwyn left and came back the next day. He found the young Fae asleep on a bench, holding on to a book which could slide off his chest any minute. Aerwyn carefully took the book away. Skimming through the pages, he remembered the book vaguely, but put it down almost instantly, frowning a little.

“Aerwyn?” The boy woke up, confused. “What time is it?” He sounded a bit panicked.

“Time for you to go take a shower, greet the sun, and enjoy some fresh air.”

“I’m not kidding, Aerwyn.” Gehuven snapped, noticing the sun stood near midday through the ceiling. His hands flung to his golden hair in despair. “I’ll never make it! I’ll never find the answer to such a question!”

“Because you aren’t listening, Gehuven. I have told you so much. How come you don’t know the one thing you ought to know?” The old librarian grinned, but then left.

Left by himself, Gehuven thought of all the lessons and all the topics they had discussed, but he could not see the missing link that wove them all together – the link he seemed to forget about.

On the seventh day, the Court hadn’t seen the boy for seven days and nights, but he had read so many books he could catalogue the entire library by memory alone. Knowing this, he felt less insecure. When the hour struck noon, Aerwyn joined him in the library and met the boy with a peculiar smile on his face.

“Well, well, Gehuven, you seem in a particularly good mood today.”

“Yes, I am! I think you can ask me whatever now. There isn’t a book in the library I haven’t read!” He beamed.

The old man chuckled. “Very well, but I’m curious, did you find out why the prince needed your help at all?”

The young boy looked startled for a second, his feline ears flinching, that was already one question he did not know the answer to, he could only guess. “No. Like I said, I was busy doing this. I’ll meet him after we are done.”

“Alright, and what about your little garden? Has it survived the drought you put it through?” Asked the librarian.

The boy shifted nervously in his chair, “No. Of course, I haven’t, your challenge had me too busy.” He was rather upset, these weren’t the questions he had been preparing for.

“Think you are ready for my question?”

“Yes.” breathed the boy.

The librarian paused and closed his eyes for a moment, he was smiling and then he asked, “Is there meaning to an individual life aside from its personal meaning? If so, what is it?”

Gehuven stuttered, “Aside from its personal meaning?”

“Yes,” said the old man with much delight, “Does it have a meaning?”

A million implications and a thousand questions followed this specific one through the boy’s mind, but nothing that he had read in those seven days had talked about the meaning of life, let alone the personal meaning of one’s life and what was outside of it.

Is there meaning to life at all? He had thought the meaning of life to be about discovering as many secrets as possible, but that was just his own personal meaning to it; it mattered to no one else. But if his life meant nothing at all beyond the personal meaning, why would he be making the effort to gain all this knowledge in the world at all? Just for the love of it? No, there was more to it, he thought. There had to be a reason, some meaning no authors wrote about, but they all possessed. It must be something he had missed or overlooked. There followed a long uninterrupted silence. There was nothing but the crackling noise of the dancing fire filling the room.

The boy kept thinking to himself: some books were ancient and had been hard to decode, others were modern, elegant and artistic, some direct and dry. All that knowledge, and they were all so different in format, but he had learned from them the same, piece by piece. What tied them all together? Why was their meaning greater than just fulfilling a bunch of personal interests?

Then it all clicked together when he thought of his own life, and the last week in particular.

Honestly, his life had meant nothing beyond what it had meant to him and himself only; he hadn’t helped the prince, nor cared for his garden. All this knowledge and it hadn’t mattered. If he died, it would die with him. It might not be read or remembered by anyone, since it served no purpose other than himself.

“The meaning of one’s life, beyond its personal meaning, is to care for the time and place we find ourselves in, to follow our hearts and to share our love for life with those around us, now.” Gehuven then finally replied, his eyes flashing a vibrant green, and added as a way of explaining by metaphor, “The meaning of a book only comes to light when it is read by someone else, there is no meaning to its purpose when it is stored away in some dark corner, untouched.”

Aerwyn looked amazed. Though somewhere deep down, he must have known that the young fae would find the answer to his question, it astonished him nonetheless. He nodded smiling broadly with eyes squeezing, but said nothing. He could sense that the boy was not done yet. He looked rather sad, more sad than the old librarian would have expected, now that he truly was a wise man. He felt a sense of reproach.

“Aerwyn?” Gehuven spoke solemnly, staring down at the fine fabric of his shirt. “I haven’t done this myself, have I? Given meaning to my life beyond fulfilling my own personal little desires – knowing things, tiny facts that are irrelevant to most … even though they mean the world to me? I should have known when you asked me about the prince, or my garden… You were right, I hadn’t been listening.”

The young boy stood up, looking rather flimsy and skinny, with his golden hair in one big mess, but he smiled and looked down to his mentor with a calmness in his eyes, “I think it’s time for me to go now…” The prince was on his mind, and food, delicious, tasty food that would take him time to prepare but of which he’d be enjoying every single taste of it. And all the other things he had left to be neglected in his search for knowledge.

It might have taken him seven days to learn this lesson, but in exchange it would save him an entire lifetime of searching. Before turning around, away towards the doors that led to the castle, and his friend, Gehuven eyed the old man, there shone a sparkle in his eyes and the boy’s attitude seemed very much changed, much lighter, “I’m in great need of spending some time with those that give meaning to my life and I’m already late!”The old man laughed, buckling in his seat with the many layers of cloth comfortably around him. “And there is no other place for you to be!”

Gehuven always remained the avid reader he was, the sponge, the I-want-to-know-it-all at heart, but not ever did he neglect those things in life he cared about again, not even in the blind attempt to seek wisdom on end. He realized it was to be found in the meaning of others and the love of life all around instead.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2019 S.G. Scotts

P.S. Gehuven is one of my characters from a book I’m working on. I hope you like him! Let me know what you think. ^^

The picture I used is by the talented Adam Paquette. You can discover more of his work by clicking here.

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