Basically, I want to know what human blood smells like. I'm assuming it smells a little like iron and a little like salt, but I've never been very near large quantities of it. I want to know if there are undertones too it though, like refined smells that someone could pick up on behind the iron. Does your location and the things you eat change the smell of your blood like it does with other bodily fluids? Would lots of different people over different time periods and places have blood that smelled in conflicting ways, or would it all be almost the same?
What happens is that the character can smell blood on this artefact that is in his posession, but he doesn't recognize what it is. I'm just going to describe what he smells to the reader, and let them gather what it is. I might describe a bit of a deathy smell too, depending on the turn of events, but then again, maybe not. The other side to this is that the blood in question will have been dry for quite some time, so it's really more of an emotional or collective conscience sort of whiff that he gets of it anyway. I'm thinking that if that's the case, then it might just be best to stick with the things most readers will understand as characteristics of blood without him having to understand them.
Also, the artefact in question is a very old book. Does anyone know what old parchment would smell like, assuming that it's the animal kind of parchment and not the vegetable based kind? What does leather smell like when it rots? What does it feel like when it rots, for that matter. The most descriptive thing I can come across is mustiness, or mold/mildew which the character again, would not have had contact with. I have journals that are leather and I know they tend to get soft over time, and if they've ever been wet they're shiny and a little hard in those areas, but I haven't had any of these books for hundreds of years.
Thank you very much for looking over my nitpicky questions. I will experiment with a lot of things for my writing and catalog a lot of experiences, but I'm not willing to bleed for this story. Not yet. It's going to have to shape up first. :p