Short Story: A Magical Pursuit Of Knowledge [Fantasy]

Of all great creatures that once lived, the Fae have always been among the wisest. It is 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 all, evil and malicious as they come, with their will so ill-natured, there is no space in their hearts to show any mortal mercy.

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

One of these stories centers a young Fae, who grew up to be the wisest of them all, but he wasn’t so wise from the start. Later on, his story would become a token to many, and a symbol that no matter how little you know in life, it can always change the world, because his story was one in the pursuit of knowledge, and one that kicked off with the insatiable urge to know it all coming from our young Fae-ling himself.

Ever since he was six, he had known he wanted to be the smartest Fae on the planet. Later on he changed that to being the most knowledgeable man of all time, and then he said he would become the wisest. In the end, he became all three of them at some point, but the latter he would remain for an infinitely long time to come, as this story is the example written out to us many.

His name was Gehuven Ellyà Marzandan, son of Isdor Marzandan the First and Melyna Ellyà the Great, who each were fearsome Fae 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 Court of Fae, where his parents had many friends and 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 Court, running around together with the crown prince with whom he shared the same age. The boy lived a good life and had access to all the luxuries in the world without having one single responsibility to worry about.

As they grew up, he and the prince became best of friends and were always seen together, but whenever the prince was being trained for battle, 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, heroes and evils that were long since gone.

Over the years, Gehuven was taught after many of the high officials from Court; the counselors, advisors, healers, and generals, all took him on trips and journeys of advice to show him their personal tricks, but it was the librarian that the boy liked best. Together they spent entire afternoons lavishly discussing the history of life and wondering what is was for them to be alive while answering and asking many great questions. His name was Aerwyn, he was the oldest Fae in the entire Realm and not just any librarian, it was his task to keep track of the present as well as records of the past.

One day he taught him the greatest lesson of all,  it took the boy a week to understand.

He was twelve years old and in the prime of his pursuit of knowledge. Feverishly, he studied as much as he could; he would not put down his book when he ate, and barely cast it aside whenever at night to sleep. It frustrated his best friend, the little prince, but he also noticed Gehuven’s passion and let him have it, remaining from a distance at Gehuven’s side as he fought and fought and learned how to become a king someday.

It was a lazy afternoon when the last beams of sun graced down from the library’s high window ceiling and Gehuven sat thinking. The library itself was underground, but its canopy-like roof peaked high enough from above the trees to catch the sunlight, and at times the shimmery moon as well; it was rarely needed to burn torches during day. The sun cast its golden rays onto the aisles of books, scrolls, bottles of ink, and the golden-haired boy of a boy who sat behind a wooden table. The table was placed in the center of the room and surrounded by many concentric walls, filled with knowledge. The boy was perched on a comfortable-looking chair covered in fur, and he had been there since yesterday night- since Aerwyn had given him seven days to prepare for his new test. Aerwyn had said the test would consist of only one question, and that if he knew the answer to this question, he might just be the wisest Fae to be. The boy’s stakes had never been so high.

There was only one problem, Aerwyn hadn’t told him what the question was going to be. And seven days to solve the great mysteries of life; and thus becoming what he thought was a wise man, seemed like a very, very short time. So, he had gone to digging straight away that night. Next to him on the table, he had a stash of books on all sorts of topics he thought were related to the origins of wisdom. He had ordered them alphabetically and began with Anthropology, next came Biology, then Cosmology, Geology, History, Physics, and finally Philosophy. He read about all the great names and their knowledge. The galaxy and its secrets poured into his consciousness as if he was a sponge and like so he went on to the other sciences one per day.

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. His books couldn’t ever be 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 plants 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 stood up and walked away.

On the fifth day, when Gehuven was studying history, Aerwyn visited his pupil who 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, pride rising in his voice.

“Are you sure?” Asked the old librarian.

“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, came back only the next day. He found the young Fae asleep on a bench, holding on to a book that could slide off his chest any minute. Aerwyn carefully took his book away and started 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?” 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 said, noticing the sun stood near midday through the ceiling. His hands flung to his golden hairs 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 carried a wolfish grin. He was stretching the boy’s limits, but he trusted he was smart enough.

Gehuven thought of all the lessons and all the things they had discussed, but he could not see the missing link that wove them all together, the link he seemed so oblivious to.

On the seventh day, the Court hadn’t seen the boy for seven days and seven nights, and 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 lounge 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 of, 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 true?” 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.

“You want me to just ask you the one question then?”

“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 meaning?”

A million implications and a thousand questions followed this specific one in the boy’s mind, but nothing that he had read in those seven days had covered the topic. Is there meaning to life at all? He had thought the meaning of life to be discovering as many secrets as possible, but that then 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 level why would he then even make the effort to gain all the knowledge in the world? Just for the love of it? No, there was more to it, he thought, there had to be a reason, some meaning no books 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, 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? And then it all clicked and made sense when he thought of his own life, and the last week in essence. Honestly, his life had meant nothing beyond what it had meant to no one but himself so far;  he hadn’t helped the prince, nor cared for his plantation, so what mattered his knowledge? If he died, it would die with him. It might not be read or remembered by anyone, since it had served no purpose other than himself.

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

Aerwyn looked amazed. Somewhere deep down, he must have expected for the young wiseling to know the answer to this question, but it amazed him nonetheless. He nodded smiling broadly with eyes squeezing, he could sense that the boy was not yet done. He looked rather sad honestly, 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 my friend, or my plantation … 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, in the blind attempt to seek wisdom on end. He now knew 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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