The characters are given the task of transporting a flask of highly volatile liquid a long distance. The flask cannot be shaken too much or it will explode. The adventure involves stormy sea-voyages, bumpy cart rides through densely populated towns and horseback combat. In short there are many opportunities for it to break and explode.
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.