I stood there for what seemed like hours. Really, it was probably about five minutes, but I’ve got a pretty horrible sense of time. I don’t know why I just stared at it- I guess I was waiting for something to happen. Don’t ask me what- maybe the mother of this egg wanted to come out and attack me? Though, so far- this scene was pretty boring. Kind of like the rest of my life so far.
I crouched down to get a closer look at the egg. There did not appear to be any damage to the shell, in fact, the shell looked pretty darn sturdy. My gaze lifted upwards towards the trees around me. It wasn’t uncommon for birds to push bad eggs out of their nests, but the lack of nests nearby told me that this probably was not the egg of your every day bird.
As I looked around, my hand brushed over a nearby stick. Without much of a thought, I grabbed the leafless object and proceeded to poke the egg. No explosions. That was always a good sign. Another gentle prod and still nothing happened. Deeming it safe, I gently wrapped my hands around the surprisingly rough surface of the egg.
When I lifted up the egg, I noticed that it was rather heavy for its size- maybe about the weight of a slightly larger rock. I was starting to think that the object I was now holding was indeed a rock. It looked like one- sort of, it was heavy, and it definitely felt like one as I rotated the rough object in my hand. Somehow though, I knew it was something important.
One part of my brain wanted me to put the object down and wipe this all from the depths of my memory. Another part wanted to take the egg with me to see if it would hatch. A third part was wondering if this egg was edible. The last part was just calling my crazy- but I already knew that.
I quickly grabbed my backpack with one hand while carefully balancing the egg in the other. With only one hand, it was a challenge opening up the bag since I usually make sure it’s secure enough so that nothing falls out. When it finally opened up, I cleared some space by squishing everything further in then placed the egg on top of the mess. Thinking back on that, it was probably a bad idea to shove the egg in a cramped space like that, but it looked sturdy enough.
Heading back to Rockmill did not take long. It never does. No matter how far I wander from the town, it always seemed like a shorter trek back than I thought. Regardless, after my discovery, any other purpose for being out of town was quickly forgotten and I doubled my pace. By the time I arrived, I found my feet guiding me towards a run-down looking house at the edge of town- not far from my house.
Going to that place seemed liked the best option at the time. Taking the egg home was well out of the question. My mom forbade any living being, aside from humans, from entering the house. I had once pestered her to adopt one of the many stray cats that roam the area, but she never bought into it. I even brought home the most adorable one I could find. I still wonder how she was able to resist the face of a wide-eyed fluffy kitten.
I slowed to a halt outside of the beat-up building and knocked on the door a few times. “Hello?”
I waited for a minute before tapping on the door again. “Come in.” The voice of an old man finally answered.
The door creaked open with a gentle push from my hand. The inside of the house, despite the outward appearance, was well kept. Everything was neat and organized. Bookshelves lined every available space against the wall which gave the place the feel of a library. The biggest difference between this place and a library, though, was that this place felt much more welcoming.
In the corner of the first room sat an old man reading a book at a desk. He wore long, dull blue, robes with glasses of the same color. He wasn’t quite bald, but you could tell his grey hair was beginning to thin out some. His short beard was also grey- with some white mixed in. Two blue eyes scanned the pages of the book he held in his hands. “Catherine?” He seemed mildly surprised as he looked up. “What brings you here?”
“Well, I found something in the woods that I want you to take a look at.” Perhaps I should have said ‘good morning’- well, afternoon- but he did ask why I came!
Sennet was the oldest person in Rockmill and has lived here for most of his life. After Rockmill’s destruction, he helped fight in the war using his abilities as a mage to aid Legalia fight off other mages. Rumor has it that he was quite the mage back in the day, but he has since retired from using magic, which is unfortunate because I have always wanted to see a mage in action.
I pick up the egg from my bag and place it on the desk in front of Sennet. If there is anyone who knows what this egg is, it would be him. Even if he himself had no idea what was inside the egg, perhaps one of his many books could help?
“That’s not something you see every day.” He lifts the egg and carefully examines it. “Where did you find this?”
“In the woods- right off the path.”
“No nest?” He asks.
“Nothing- just the egg. There wasn’t anything to suggest that it’s parents were nearby.”
“This egg was probably abandoned then.” He concluded.
“So it’s dead?”
“No, I believe it’s still alive.” How did he know this? How could he tell? I didn’t question it though- Sennet was usually right. I could count the times he had been wrong about something on one hand.
I look up at Sennet, who was now standing up and heading into another room. He returned about two minutes later holding a basket with some small cloths in it. The basket was just like the ones you would use to hold bread in and cover it up so it stays warm.
“If it isn’t dead, then why abandon it?” Wasn’t there some sort of maternal instinct that drove most mothers to risk everything to protect their young?
Sennet gingerly places the egg in the basket and folds the cloth over it. I could still see the egg’s rough surface from a small gap in the makeshift nest. “Either the parents were unable to care for it and put their own survival first- or they’re dead.”
I can’t help but feel sorry for whatever is in there. Abandoned in the woods to die before getting the opportunity to live. “What do you think is in there?” I finally ask. The question had been burning in my head for a while but I was hoping that Sennet would answer it without me asking beforehand.
“I can’t say for sure- but it’s similar in size to a Griffon egg.” Sennet said doubtfully. Griffons were creatures that were half cat and half bird- most commonly represented by the mix of a lion and an eagle, but they came in far more variations than one could imagine. I had never seen one before, but I did know that they were trainable and were often used in place of guard dogs by wealthier families. The idea of raising one was exciting- even if I knew absolutely nothing on Griffon care.
There was only one big problem with my whole fantasy. My mom. If my mom was against me having a pet cat- even the most adorable innocent one I could find- what would she say to a Griffon- a big one at that! I look at Sennet. He is searching through a shelf of books for something.
“What is it?”
I’m not entirely sure what response to expect from him, so I just say it. “Would it be possible for me to leave the egg here? You seem to have a better idea on what to do than I do- that and my mom-“
“Don’t you worry about it.” Sennet laughed. “I understand- anyway, I’m just as curious about this egg as you are.”
“Great!” I don’t think I have been this excited since the time some friend of my mom’s offered me a ride on his horse when I was little.
I say bye to Sennet and rush home to finish whatever chores there are left to do. My luck promises me at least a few more hours of work before I can do what I want for the day. My mom doesn’t comment on how late I came home though, which is a relief. I don’t want her asking questions. The less she knows about the egg, the better.
By the time I had finished, the sun had begun to set. Part of me was trying to force my body to go back to Sennet’s house and check on the egg, but it was a bit late for that. Anyway, what were the chances of the egg hatching tonight? Scratch that- with my luck, it was definitely likely, but I tried not to worry about that.
I wake up the next morning with the egg in my mind. Yes- I woke up in the morning. I probably should do this more often seeing how the surprise was so great that it left my mom completely speechless. From the look on her face, you’d think that the world was about to end. It probably would not take her too long to figure out that something was going on- but she was kind enough not to poke her nose into things- probably because I finished all of my chores in record time.
Days like this make me thankful that Rockmill is such a small town. Racing around to do errands and chores rarely takes long since almost everything is so close together here. I still wish there were more things to do- fun things. Immediately after the last of my errands, I stopped by Sennet’s home and knocked on the door a few times.
“Come in!” As a stepped in my eyes immediately began to scan the room for the basket which I assumed still had the egg. Sure enough, I spotted the basket in a patch of sunlight let in from a nearby window. Something was wrong with the picture though. Was that a ball of black fluff in the basket?
“Yes?” He called from the other room. I poke the fluff with one finger. A sleepy head whips up from the basket in response and I’m faced with two lazy yellow eyes.
“There’s a cat guarding the egg.” The feline makes no attempt to bite my fingers or hand off as I stroke its silky black fur.
Sennet walks in and looks at the cat. Based on the look on his face, the cat isn’t his. “Back already?” The black furball lets out an innocent mew as he approaches. “This pest is always finding a way inside when she’s not wreaking havoc in the mint patch outside.” I can’t help but laugh- the cat did smell minty!
“Does she have a name?”
“Mint.” I laugh again. Obviously Sennet won’t do anything to the black cat except complain about her presence. She’s done no harm and looks remarkably comfortable sharing the basket with the egg. From what I can tell based on her small size, she’s not quite a kitten, but not quite an adult.
“Well, at least she’s keeping the egg warm!” I point out.
“As long as she doesn’t lead those other strays in here.” Rockmill has a healthy population of cats. Most of them are pretty friendly and are welcomed by the neighbors since they help keep the numbers of mice and rats in check.
Sennet goes back to the other room to continue whatever it was that he was doing before I arrived. I sat there for ages and kept an eye on the black fluff and the egg. I know it’s crazy, but I really did expect it to hatch at any moment- or at least move a little bit.
Some time later, Sennet walked in to find me sitting in the desk chair bored out of my mind. I hadn’t even noticed that he walked in until he said something. “You know, you’re more than welcome to grab a book to pass the time. It could be a long while before we find out what’s in that egg.”
I stared at him like he was crazy. Did he really suggest for me to read a book? If anything, reading a book would only add to my eternal boredom- or so I thought.
After he left, my eyes began to wander over the titles of several of the nearest books. They couldn’t all be snooze-inducing boring stacks of paper, could they? Even if they were- sitting here doing nothing but stare at an egg probably was just as bad.
I pick up a book titled ‘Northern Mythology’ and open the cover. Illustrations of several odd looking animals greet me in the first few pages. Most of the creatures- all of which I assume are mythological, based on the title, were white or light in color with thick fur or hair. Maybe this would not be so bad after all.
I ended up returning home after reading about a third of the book- which was actually a collection of myths originating from various northern areas. Up until this point, I had always associated books with bland descriptive facts about some boring guy who started a farm or something.
Visiting Sennet after chores- in the morning- became a routine. Mint would lay in the basket with the egg while I read a book or worked on some random sketch. Sennet usually stayed in another room working on some project of his, but he never told me what exactly. Usually, I would stay there for most of the day, quietly killing away the time while hoping that the very next moment would be the moment that the egg would hatch. I would leave most days around sunset with a friendly farewell to Sennet and the cat which he claimed was not his.
This routine continued on for about three more weeks with very few interruptions. It had become so normal that Mint sometimes waited for me outside in the morning before sneaking in through a window that always seemed to be slightly open and settling in the basket next to the egg.
At the end of that third week, I was sitting at the desk making a sketch of Mint sleeping in the basket. She was usually so still that it was easy to sketch the scene, but this time she suddenly jumped out of the basket with her back arched and every individual strand of fur sticking on edge. She stared at the egg with wide unblinking eyes.
The egg was hatching!