He thumbed through the table of contents as his feet moved towards the nearest table. Surely, he thought, I can break for a minute or two. It was an old book that smelled of mold and lettuce. The pages were brown with age and covered in dust. Here were the tales of Belarius, Sir Wallace, and Queen Regan; the Twelve Kingdoms and the Deceivers. He knew they were fables, tales that the serious minded sidestepped, yet they were a comfort. He turned to his favorite, the story of Queen Regan and the Great Western Weetle-Whelp. As he read he imagined a child tucked in a father’s arms. It was a small and modest room. His father, Alton, was lying next to him in bed, the candle light casting mysterious hues. “As the monstrous weetle-whelp leapt forward, Regan drew Durindana and steadied herself against the coming onslaught,” Alton read. “Why does she die?” Finley interrupted. Alton stopped reading and closed the book around his finger, “Death takes us all Finley, that can’t be helped, but in stories, especially the old ones, a person’s death often characterized their life. A good King or Queen mustn’t die safely tucked between their sheets. They must defend the honor of their kingdom, so that their name lives on forever. It’s a hard truth Fin,” he squeezed Finley around the shoulder, “but a beautiful one.” “Yeah, but it’s not real, right? I mean,” Finley looked up at his father, “there aren’t really weetle-whelps in Elaea?” “Who can say Fin, who can say?” his Father winked. “I think it’s time for this weetle-whelp to go to bed, however.” Alton bent over and kissed Finley on the forehead before blowing out the candle next to Finley’s bed. A thin wisp of smoke streamed upwards as Alton opened Finley’s door. Light from the fireplace in the main room shone through the crack. “Dad?” “Yes, Fin?” “Would you have done it? The weetle-whelp, I mean. Would you have given your life for Elaea if you were the Queen?” Alton turned his head and smiled at Finley, “Would you have?” There was a silence before Finley answered, “I guess I wouldn’t have had a choice, right?” “We always have choices, Fin. Always. Now go to bed.” Finley looked up from Tales of Ages Gone By, A History of Elaea in Three Volumes, vol. 4. The sun was no longer shining through the windows. It was dark outside. In frustration, for he had wasted his day, Finley slammed the book shut.