It was a whirlwind day, that.
I didn’t want to leave Grey, wanted the day he’d imagined for so long to go on and on. But by evening he was tired and frankly, so were we.
I didn’t know what to do next and honestly was hoping you’d all figure something out. Then Cole told me what you’d done (don’t want to say specifically until Cole and I work the charm thingy on my site) and how you’d figured it out. You never cease to amaze me. It’s obvious why my dad put his faith in you.
I’ve since spoken with Grey twice over the phone. We have this sort of bond. We are the last of Ackerly Green Publishing. I’ve told him a little more, about you, some of the more general things that have happened, collecting the old AG books, etc. He tells me stories about my father, my grandfather, even my grandmother. It’s all faded, but there. It’s wonderful. A last gift from my father.
UPDATE: So I was actually writing this post when Cole found something in the new journal—
Cole was flipping through it (I had flipped enough) and he found new entries.
We think we’ve narrowed down how this volume might work. We think it’s either based on a time release or on location. Cole thinks it could be on a schedule and it seems possible but so far my dad has made it pretty tough to unlock these books. Just having someone wait for new pages doesn’t seem like his style? But then I realised I’d gone back to the brownstone yesterday to pick up some clothes and things, and I think that’s when the new pages could’ve shown up. The brownstone triggered them like some sort of magical gps.
(I’ve been making a list of other places to visit to try out my theory, if you have ideas, please let me know.)
So, the actual pages… There are two entries, one in the front of the book, one in the back. The front one is to me, and the back is to you, the Mountaineers.
This journal is similar to Volume One of The Monarch Papers (seems like a thousand years ago) where I can’t take photos of the pages so I had to transcribe what he wrote, and it’s all even more incredible than any of the previous volumes.
The only thing I didn’t copy was a sketch he made of the number 18 on your entry. It didn’t seem especially relevant but if you think you want to see it I’ll try and give it a go.
Fasten your seat belts. You’re about to read some gobsmacking stuff.
The Incomplete Mundane History of Neithernor.
There is a place beyond our world. A place untouched by the curse that erased magiq and all knowledge of it.
The following is what I know about Neithernor. When your mother and I walked the paths of wool and silver we knew so little, and had no clue where they would lead. But after you were born I found Neithernor. And my experience there, along with echoes of its history here in the mundane, helped me assemble what I believe is the most complete (but still unfinished) history.
My research of Neithernor goes back to Anne of Brittany’s death and the eventual splitting of her court of artists’ secret guild into the paths of wool and silver. At some later point in our current history the path of wool became Monarch’s Mountain so that’s what I’ll call them going forward.
The two groups split, searching for illumination and beauty and magiq in their own ways… I don’t know how or when exactly, but it was the Monarchs who first sought out Neithernor ( I believe the destroyed eighth unicorn tapestry may have held clues to its location and is the true reason it was destroyed.)
The Monarchs discovered a small but verdant place connected to our world through secret entrances, but wholly hidden from us. ( I’ve read that at that point in history simply knowing about Neithernor and/or its name and imagining or wishing yourself there may have been enough to gain entrance.)
Neithernor was not affected by whatever removed magiq from our world. That’s how the Monarchs learned that there was an alternate history of magiq. (A secret they kept from the world.)
Neithernor is a small “pocket world”. It is a strange and gorgeous land of shores and fields, of deep woods and unexplained ruins, mountains and caves, all abandoned when memory of it was removed, but still alive and rich with hidden magiq. The Monarchs believed that this place had been created eras ago, through magiq, as a home for the old guilds… A place where those in the old time could slip away to use and research magiq freely, because even in the time of those who didn’t die magiq was secret and feared.
The Monarchs found written histories of the guilds, learned magiq beyond our world’s rudimentary charms, explored the strange island-like world, discovering doors to and from places all over our mundane world. They created their entire society around Neithernor and the relics and old histories they found. At some point they created the original path of wool so that others like them could find it and explore and learn and cast. Many Monarchs lived normal lives here, then secreted away to rule and explore their hidden kingdom.
But the path of silver also discovered tale of Neithernor and became desperate to share in its wealth. The Monarchs allowed them entry. The Silver chose a remote place to call home, and kept to themselves, as was the agreement. (There had been conflict among the groups in the years following the court of Anne, even before Neithernor, having to do with their differing views and methodologies.)
There was peace for an untold time. But then something unknown happened that pitted the Monarchs against the Silver. I don’t know whether it was a gradually building conflict or if there was a single catalyst, (or who was ultimately at fault) but it escalated into “The War of Neithernor.” Many were lost but MM drove the Silver out of the land and barred all entrance back.
The Silver scrounged for power here in the mundane world, trying to use everything they had to get back in. But they had been exiled.
Years later, The Council sent The Book of Briars to Monarch’s Mountain and the Silver scrambled to take it from them. They had grown strong in their own secret place here in the mundane, using what they learned from Neithernor and gathering artifacts and objects from the old time… They had also created The Storm. Once they realized the book was not for them, they sent the Storm, and in doing all but wiped away any memory the Monarchs had of Neithernor. Aside from the Silver, and a few whispers and stories, Neithernor was forgotten again.
The paths fell into ruin. The ashes of Monarch’s Mountain became a small secret sect here in the mundane, unaware of what they had discovered. Left with nothing but esoteric records of their former, glorious history. And Neithernor, untended, became a volatile and lonely place.
But Neithernor is still there. Still barred from most. But I found the way in. And in that strange place I learned magiq.
And there I found the little red house your mother had somehow dreamed of all her life, and inside of it… well, you’re going to have to see for yourself.
And then, the letter to you.
The Letter to the Mountaineers.
I don’t know much about the 18 Gates (The Council of The 18 Gates) but I’ll share everything I’ve learned over the years.
They have sent the book, in varying forms, to groups for centuries. Groups analogous to you, the Mountaineers. They are particularly fond of those who have found themselves on the path of wool. Perhaps it’s easier to reach ones seeking what they seek. It requires immense power to send the book to us from where they are. An in-between place called “The Fray”, an unformed sort of purgatory where I believe they became trapped when everything changed. I don’t know how much they know about the truth. The Fray is a strange place from what I’ve learned, difficult to communicate with, and there’s much I still don’t understand. But I know it takes them decades, sometimes centuries, to gather enough magimystic energy to send the book, borrowing power from our world, searching for power in theirs.
But the book persists because in each era the 18 Gates have used what power they have to not only send their cherished object to us, but also to protect it from The Storm and its Master. They have kept the book safe while also trying to spread what remained of that protection to those who’ve tried to unlock it. But those on the path of silver have wiped away almost everyone who has ever tried to open it, and it becomes harder and harder to send it every time.
I may be wrong, but I believe the book is a kind of seed spell. I think the book is the vessel for the whisper of a story. A most powerful kind of magiq. A story that wishes to be told. Old, or perhaps new, I don’t know… But within it, the truth. I believe it’s been planted in The Book like a seed in a garden. And every time The Book has come to us, we have nurtured it, with perseverance, goodwill, and with magiq. The stronger the book, the better chance we have of telling the story within and changing everything.
Yes, the book is destroyed.
But I have a plan.
A plan that took years of design. And to set the plan in motion, I convinced the 18 Gates to focus their power to protect you instead of the book when The Storm arrived, and let the book burn. It was a difficult choice but they knew we had to try something desperate to have a chance.
Much of the “how” won’t make sense at this moment, but I hope by now you’ve looked to my letter to Deirdre and found something the 18 Gates left with our storyteller friend.
The Storm’s Master has collected immense power but holds it out of hand, out of sight from us. Soon there will be nothing left here. But for now, we have an advantage. One they aren’t yet aware of.
We have you Now, and an unburned book Then.
Your book is gone, but with our guidance you are going to help your predecessors open theirs. What will happen then, I don’t know. But we have all that we have ever needed. The book and the Mountaineers.
Together, with the help of my daughter, you will change everything.