A town has a festival every year in the dead of winter. The festival of birds. The towns folk dress in feathery robes and beaked masks and dance and frolic in the belief that the changes of the seasons are controlled by the presence of birds. According to tradition, the festival tricks Spring into coming early because the birds have returned.
It looks like a cook's book. It is a cook's book. It is also where the cook, who happened to be a master spy, encoded all his secrets and contacts. The book has innocently fallen into your group's hands. Everyone wants it, and many are not subtle or peaceful in their attempts.