The ornately decorated tome is ages old. Only the finest artists across the lands have been allowed to add their wisdom, their art, a little bit of their essence.
The workbench placed in the middle of the wide, vaulted room, is sturdy and heavy. It might’ve been made to hold the book itself on its creation. The room is cased in the finest marble, polished carefully each day. The windows in the walls have been carefully placed to light the tomb, but not touch it. Every tiny piece of the room, the building even, was formulated to take the most care in preserving, protecting, and displaying the tomb.
The workbench it’s placed on is solid, wide, and built to sustain always. It’s surface is stained deeply with the years of ink, blood, and tears that the artists who created the tomb shed onto its course grain. There are scratches in some places, some look almost like doodles, or finely done practices of the cuts or marks left on the tome itself.
The stain of the wood sets a contrast against the clean, careful, shining marble. The rough grains seem unruly against the smooth surfaces in the room, but it demands its space and the respect of the walls, of the light that casts itself so delicately around the tomb and the table. When the light touches the bench it seems to diffuse, as if it’s not worthy of touching the most precious tome of the people. The bench demands respect and deference. The light obliges carefully.
Those who enter the room are struck silent at the deep contrasts and textures so carefully engineered around them.
The cover of the tome is finely tooled leather. It’s soft and supple, but its toughness has withstood countless years and additions. The marks it bears are the signatures of hundreds and thousands of artists determined the most skillful, respected, talented, and cherished of their time. Each twist, sharp stop, and point is purposeful, intentional, and exquisitely planned.
The slightly worn layer of leather placed over the cover that makes up its title is crooked, and scholars have wondered upon their careers and lives why it was chosen to be placed ever so slightly crooked.
The words that roll across the most important book in the world’s cover tell you it is the Legends of Yore.
If you were to turn through the pages, you would find the most exquisite sketches, paintings, writings, and philosophical historic moments captured forever within the crisp thin pages within the tome.
The fantastic beasts of other worlds have been scrolled in precious inks. Forests and flowers and birds and creatures of the sky, land, and sea, have been cataloged here. Music notes have been etched into the corners of poetry and plays that were scripted in exquisite calligraphy. The most important leaders and humanitarians have been frozen in paint that has been finely cracked and faded over the years, only adding to the special scarcity and ethereal beauty.
The Legends of Yore have only been allowed to the unique, perfectly talented, and most precious artists, historians, philosophers, and writers. Only those deemed most worthy have been given the gift of being able to lay their hands on the tome. To lay their hands on the tome and create of art from themselves within its pages, to sign the cover and kiss the spine. It would be their most treasured, most beautiful work of art, their masterpiece, and it would be kept for as long as time would allow.
And if you look very closely on back corner, you can see the notes of artists. Deemed respected, cherished, talented, and precious to the people.
Allowed the gift of adding work to the beautiful tome, to the legends and the history of the best of the best of all.
A few hundred years after this artist’s contribution, a historian will find this note in a barely recognizable, faintly intact piece of a journal in an abandoned city, covers bound in rough leather and scrawled in cheap ink a note from one apparently chosen artist:
I don’t know how they decided on me. Thousands of years they chose only those who deserved it, and they knew who deserved by who cherished the opportunity, neigh the gift. So I don’t know why they chose me. I am ornery and my only wish left in this world is to be left alone with my art. And yet I am burdened now with this responsibility. I have only one recourse, as the frustrated and somehow accidentally revered curmudgeon.
The historian, confused, searched for years, as the journal gave no further clues what was meant by the artist’s words, or what had been contributed. Through the histories of the time, the studies of other’s, the studies of the language and culture, and of all the art held within the book.
Finally, the historian noticed a very tiny mark near the top right corner of the last word of the tomb’s title, etched carefully in the worn leather. After research, it was found to be an asterisk, and thus the historian is credited with finding the single most astounding moment of art in the entire tomb. For inscribed in tiny, perfect letters in the corner of the back cover, amongst the signatures of past artists, is the contribution of the frustrated and somehow accidentally revered curmudgeon, marked by a tiny, matching, asterisk.
The Legends of Yore*