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Month: August 2017

The Storm: Part One

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To explain everything that happened I have to go back a week. To the Grove Hall. It’s going to take me a day or two given what’s just happened.

I don’t know how many days I spent there in the grove, trying to figure out how I was supposed to use magic I’d just learned about to do… something. Something vague and confusing is what.

I’d brought string with me to make sure I could find my way back. At the far west wend I (nearly literally) stumbled on a small stone statue in the path. A fat flat toad in a sort of cloak. Little tears were carved in the edges of his eyes. And suddenly the little carving I’d seen at the top of the folly made sense. A tiny mouse in a sweet dress, dabbing her eye with a bit of cloth.

The characters from the poem last year. The minnying.

Over the next two days I found the cat and the owl as well. The cat sat on a broken bench, its tail carved in mid-swish, head bowed. The owl was in the hollow of one of the marble trees. Its wings were clenched together in front of its body, as if in prayer. I only later noticed that its eyes were large like an owl’s, but carved to look… human. It was beautiful and unnerving all at once.

It took me far too long to realise that all the carvings were facing east. So eventually that’s where I headed. I walked all day, actually had to nap at one point. I was hungry, exhausted, and I’d completely lost track of how long I’d been there.

At the far eastern wall (I don’t know which direction it actually is, only that it’s east when arriving through the folly door.) Was a sort of sepulchre carved into the wall. It had an arched stone roof and columns, but the door was made of cut crystal, the color of indigo. Light moved behind it. This wasn’t a tomb. It was a doorway.

Carved into the arch were the words “May His Majesty Pass This Way Again”

There was no way to open the crystal door. Looking closer, it wasn’t even a door, really. No hinges or clasps, just a slab of transparent mineral, the afternoon sun shining through it.

So this was the test? I had no idea what to do, or how to do it. I tried knocking-in but the door wouldn’t knock back. I spent an hour trying but was absolutely knackered by then so I followed my string trail back to the folly and back to the brownstone. I ate, napped, and went back over the minnying on the forum.

It was a monument for Ojorad, the crystal door. And all the creatures were mourning him, or bidding him farewell as he passed on. So… now I know there’s story magic. I know there’s something beyond the grove. I know I have to get over, through, or under the stone wall surrounding the grove, and I have a poem and four carvings of animals as hints.

Do I somehow do magiq and crawl through like a mouse? Or climb over like a cat? Jump like a toad? Fly like an owl? How would this work? Would I transform into an animal, or just sprout cat claws or wings? None of it sounded appealing, safe, or even remotely doable (let alone undoable.) I’d never done anything like this, didn’t know if something quite like this was even possible, and now I was pondering which animal I was going to transform into with no way of knowing how it would happen or how I’d transform back. (And if you’ve already caught on to what I was actually meant to do, please forgive my daftness. I’d been wandering the grove a little too long.)

I went back to the grove the next morning, hoping I’d missed something. I went over everything again, checking the statues for writing or any other clue I might’ve missed. I’m ashamed to say I even tried to skip it all and climb the wall myself. I nearly broke my entirely human neck.

I walked back to the crystal door.

“May His Majesty Pass This Way Again”

Faced with the idea of sprouting animals parts, passing through the crystal door like some kind of spectre suddenly seemed completely reasonable. And the moment it came to me I felt something. A buzzing. That tingling sweetness in the air grew stronger. Almost liquid on my tongue, like warm tea. And my right hand was buzzing. The hand I was holding the walking stick with.

Something was happening.

I stepped up to the crystal door, thought about the minnying, the grieving animals, their lord, their master leaving them for some other place. His back turned to them not to pain them or abandon them, but because the light on the other side of the crystal was calling him, dazzling warm and welcoming.

I touched the door. For a second it was cold and hard, but then I thought about everyone I loved who’d passed on. Monica, my mother, my father… and the crystal fell away to my fingers like I was brushing through a curtain. Thin and light. I thought I was shivering, shaking out of wonder or fear, but it was the stick. It was vibrating.

I felt invincible. I took a step, felt my body crystallize around the edges as I passed through the door, then become me again. I’d just passed through a solid wall by telling myself a story. By feeling the story and creating magiq with it. I think? Or had I borrowed magiq from the story? Was this figuration or material magiq? Or a hybrid? Was figuration still to come?

I’m trying to get this all down, so I’m sending this while I put together what I found on the other side, and what appeared in the journal when I got there. Bare with me.

The Three Manners of Magiq

The Three Manners of Magiq

I’ve been going back to the warren. I’ve even spent two nights there. I was worried at first about getting back, or losing time, but that’s passed.

I spent an entire day at the window, watching the sky, which is blue like ours, but there are streams of aquamarine swirling in the blue. Like a Van Gogh. The clouds look like clouds sometimes and sometimes they have sharp, faceted edges, like milky white jewels hanging in the air, their prismatic surfaces changing color, reflecting the world below.

And they don’t just drift by, they change shape, form animals and mountain ranges and things that look like treasure maps… And they collide with each other and merge, or sometimes shatter, slowly… small fragments breaking off and then breaking again, over and over, until they wisp away like smoke.

I spent an afternoon painting them in the journal Cole gave me, entirely unable to do them justice. I see how my dad could get lost here. I see how Cole could be concerned about this place. I do. But I also want to get out and explore it.

There’s no way to get the door to the warren open. Maybe that’s how dad wanted it. A sort of home base. But I need to see more, and if I’m supposed to find the red house, I know I have to find another way out.

Or another way in.

The truth is…

I’ve just been to another part of Neithernor. I know I should’ve told you or Cole before I went, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in this place, this search.

The first time I went I used the directions that the chronocompass gave to knock back on the knocking door. It’s like a combination lock. Lower left, upper left, left, right, lower right, upper right, right.

That combination led me to the warren.

But I’ve also been catching up on the forum and I found that you had another set from the first time you unlocked the chronocompass.

So I called a door and knocked: Left, upper left, upper left, lower left, right, upper right. It worked. I think each knock sequence is connected to a different door in Neithernor. There could be thousands, millions of doors…

I took the book, the stick, and I went through.

This door was connected to a small folly in an absolutely massive walled grove.

I call it The Grove Hall. It’s shaded, and full of towering white trees that explode into a white and silver canopy above. The endless trees are planted in a perfect grid so they resemble marble columns in some great hall and their white branches and silver leaves slope into a nearly perfect replica of a vaulted ceiling. Very little sunlight makes it through but what does is bounced off the white tree trunks and leaves a serene glow below. Grass grows, but it’s a deep blue-green. Like a night sky over a sea.

There are old stone benches, some still “uncrumbled” but the bottoms of the trees spread out wide, leaving comfortable little nestly spots to lie in between the roots. It’s the definition of tranquil.

But I’ve spent two days there and have yet to find a way out, except back home through the folly. It took me one day to find another perpendicular stone wall and almost got lost coming back. I can only assume walls surround it on all sides. Which makes me wonder how you get in otherwise.

I guess my dad isn’t ready to send me into the wilds of Neithernor yet.

I came home last night and found Cole waiting. We both felt awful about last week, both trying to take sole responsibility. I missed him terribly. I wanted to show him the grove but he’s not ready to go back. Given the circumstances, I understand. I told him I wasn’t ready to go back to Hoboken. We decided to take some time, for ourselves. Not a break up by any means, never, just a moment to explore what we’re each going through so we can better be there for each other.

In the grove I found a new entry in the journal I think will be of interest to you.

It’s titled: The Three Manners of Magiq

My father said he found writings left behind (I assume somewhere outside the grove hall) when Monarch’s Mountain forgot about Neithernor and eventually fell apart. He found compendiums of “lost memories,” chronicles of things that people have remembered about the other time, and he found studies of magic. Sorry, magiq.

He learned in his exploration of Neithernor that there are three currently known schools or “manners” of magic. “Currently” being the last time anyone came to Neithernor, which was a long time ago.

There’s the mundane or Material Magiq, which is the simplest of magic used in our world and the “time before.” It’s mostly charms and rituals that affect the world in small ways. Finding lost objects, remembering forgotten things, subtle changes in the weather… He says that’s mostly what you (the mountaineers) have performed so far. It borrows power from the surrounding world, and then gives it back when the charm or ritual is finished.

On the other end of the spectrum there’s primal or Wrought Magiq. Magic that draws energy from other things and places, nature, magical objects, people, and then repurposes it. But by doing so, also destroys it. It’s dangerous, unpredictable, and powerful, but not necessarily “bad,” though it’s often used by those who don’t care about the destruction of magic. Monarch’s Mountain also thought that Wrought Magic is what makes adepts, people born with a specific, innate power. Without realising, they instinctively draw from the world around them to perform their magic. (He says magiq is finite in our mundane world, so wrought magic is a fading talent that is also diminishing all other magic. Sorry, trying to get the “q” down.)

Then there is the third manner of magic that falls in between the other two.
It can be taught but is most powerful in those with the innate gift of creativity. He says it’s essentially storyteller magic. MM never had a name for it (there was mention that either it shouldn’t be named or its actual name shouldn’t be spoken) but they colloquially called it “Figuration.” It’s the only way, MM believed, that new magic could be created. There is power when new things, new worlds are “thoroughly thought up,” when rich stories are told. And the characters, the settings, the themes and meanings can all be creatively repurposed to perform magiq. But “storytelling” can be used in all sorts of creativity, not just writing. Anything that joins disparate elements into a new creation (which includes all sorts of crafts) can be used to create minor magiq.

But stories are the focus of figuration. It is the rarest magiq in our world and near impossible to perform now. It’s how he cast the protection spell on me. Well, partly. He did it by writing the story and then borrowing power from the six corners and also using power from Central Park to bring it to life. He had to use the other two manners to manage the minor figuration.

He said it’s difficult to learn, and near impossible to master… And to find the red house I’m going to have to perform it myself.

And if I don’t find it, all that you’re doing now will be for nothing.

Okay. So… Okay.

My Mother’s Daughter

My Mother’s Daughter

Apologies for not writing sooner and for writing so much.

I’ve been to Neithernor.

There are no words to describe it, but I’ll give it a go.

First, how I got there. I’m worried about writing it out. Even with the protection spell (this is a secret my father worked hard to keep) but the key to unlock the knocking door was in Cole’s notes on the bar receipt.

When I figured it out, the knocking door led through to a warren in the ground. I came out of a broom closet into a small dim room.

It was like one of those stories where animals had houses like people but made from things in the woods. The walls were soil but packed tight and rubbed smooth. The floor was made of flats of stone and nearly covered with overlapping mismatched carpets. There was a hearth charred by old fires. A wind down the chimney had blown cold ash across the carpets. The room was subterranean, but warm. Small but not cramped. I could stand up. There were ornate dressers and worn chests. The door to leave the warren was barred and broken. Dirt and pebbles were scattered underneath it like a landslide had slammed it shut. There was only one window. Its frame was a tangle of knotted roots that grew out of the top of the wall and wreathed the opening, like someone had asked the tree for a window frame. It was too small to climb through. The warren must be set in a hillside because in the distance I could see the tops of trees swaying in the wind.

I could hear tree bows bending against each other in the woods and every once in a while, when the wind would blow a certain way, the trees would move apart and I could see the top of some sort of broken tower in the far off distance. Like a lighthouse, but I couldn’t hear the sea.

You could smell magic in the air. Almost taste it. Something like clove and cinnamon tea. Sweet and spiced and sharp. It was getting dark quickly. The sun (or whatever lights a place like this I guess) was already beginning to set somewhere behind the trees out there in Neithernor.

I couldn’t believe what was happening, where I was. What I was seeing.

There was a narrow bed, which was unmade, and a small glass and metal lantern on the table beside it. The lantern was shaped like a little house with windows and a pitched roof and a metal loop at the top of the chimney so you could hang it somewhere. There was a small knob at the base. I thought maybe it would spark a fire inside it so I turned the knob. A soft bell rang inside the lantern and light started to flicker behind the frosted windows. Several lights, dim but growing brighter, started moving throughout the lantern. The lights were little living things and that was their house. It gave a soft orange glow. I gently picked it up and carried it around the warren.

There were paintings hanging on the walls. Landscapes. Seascapes. Shorelines and wooded paths. There was a painting of a chain of low islands on an ocean and in their center was what looked like a dozen shipwrecks smashed together. Crow’s nests on masts and bows and sails made a sort of looming castle in the middle of the sea. I looked closer, and when lit by the lantern light, the sails began to billow, flicking off the surface of the canvas. I thought I could touch them they looked so real.

I rummaged around. I opened the drawers of a tall dresser and found men’s clothes. My father’s clothes. I wasn’t sure how to get back home because the broom closet door wasn’t knocking. I didn’t know how much time had passed but I was scared to leave. Scared I wouldn’t be able to find my way back here. I was still numb with awe. I put on my father’s cardigan and sat in an overstuffed armchair with my little house lantern. I should’ve pulled out the journal to see if something new had appeared, but I was so preoccupied I completely forgot. I tried to take a photo with my phone but they just turned out blank. The whole place is like the journals. I sat back, closed my eyes for a moment to just feel the place, and I guess I’m still a little jet lagged because I fell asleep.

I woke up and the sky outside the window was pink and orange. Dawn. I’d slept there all night. Dusk until dawn. I felt a twinge of nervousness that I’d just absently left my entire world behind for so long. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to hear a familiar sound. A soft knocking on the broom closet door. Not loud and demanding like on the other side of whatever it’s on the other side of. Polite. Like someone checking to see if someone else was awake on the other side of the door. So with a few polite knocks of my own I’d knocked my way back home.

I thought I’d leave the door open, see how long I’d been gone, and dash back in. But when I got back to the brownstone I found Cole there, who said you were all worried about me.

I’d been gone less than two hours. I tried to explain where I’d been, but felt like I couldn’t. I had to show him.

So I closed my eyes, thought for a minute of that little warren, and I summoned up a knocking door. Like magic.

I remembered to check the journal this time and naturally the warren had unlocked more journal pages.

My dad said the warren (which is why I knew what to call it) was his home for many years.

Time is different there. It moves faster, but our bodies are still bound by the passing of time in our world. We can experience days and weeks there but our bodies and minds only age by seconds and hours.

When he had finally found his way here, (which he says is a story for another time), he’d secretly hoped that Monarch’s Mountain would have been waiting there to welcome a traveler of the path. He’d been harboring the belief that maybe they’d somehow remembered and tended to this world. But they were gone. And as wondrous a world as it was, he felt more alone than ever.

He says that Neithernor is a wild and wondrous place. But a sad place. It’s the last corner of our world as it was, and as it could have been. But even broken it’s still beautiful and full of undiscovered wonders. Treasures still hide here. Ruins to explore and stories to seek.

He then explained what happened after my mum died. He believed the storm had been looking for him because he’d briefly come in contact with the Mountaineers and had been touched by the book. But he’d also been touched by Neithernor. Regardless, the storm wouldn’t leave him alone. So he sought refuge there. But when he returned home the storm would hunt him, and over the years the doors to Neithernor started closing. They were always meant to protect that world. To keep out the Silver. And so it became harder and harder for him to find ways in, until he discovered that the storm couldn’t enter Central Park. And in the Ramble he found a single door that could still carry him over.

Eventually he had nothing but the Ramble and all his regrets. But years later he felt a presence in the park. Faint and faded. It was the Council. What remained of them. He says they spoke to him, in the rustle of grass blades, in the chirp of baby birds. They were calling to him. They had sensed his presence too, also faint and faded. They’d found each other.

Over the years they nursed each other back to life. He says he became brave enough to leave the park so he could collect objects and artifacts from the other time. He shared their power and the Council grew strong again. And together, over years, they came up with a plan.

All of this is the wheel they set in motion. The last chance to unchange what has been changed. He wanted to fight for them, but his mind was broken by what happened with my mum and the storm wouldn’t stop pursuing him until he was gone. He could die alone in Neithernor, or with his friends there in the park.

He told them he knew someone who was brave enough to take his place.

A fighter. Someone who could work with those who would hopefully become the final mountaineers. He was talking about me. All I had to do was find the secret path he’d set for me years ago after he cast the spell to protect me from all this madness. The Council felt it was a lot to leave to “maybe” but my father said I was my mother’s daughter. As far as he was concerned there was no maybe.

He said I have to explore this world now. He can’t tell me how to find the little red house. I have to find it myself. And when I do I’ll know why.

He told me to take the walking stick he’d left by the bed. From now on I should carry the compass, the journal, and the stick with me wherever I go. With them I have all I need to do what I have to do.

He said to hold close to everything he ever told me. He said to trust in the flow of magiq and that he loved me and was proud of me.

That was it.

Cole didn’t want to stay in the warren. We had our first row (a long and personal story) and now I’m back home, wondering what I’m supposed to do and how I get out of the warren to do it.

I wish I could bring you all with me.

Maybe someday.

I’ve felt so lost for so long. But there, in his chair, looking out his window… for a moment I felt connected to him. And who I am. Where I come from. This is the place that shaped my parents and my life.

It made the warren even more wonderful. I didn’t know who I was for the longest time.

But I am my father’s fighter.
And my mother’s daughter.


Neither Here Nor There – Part Two

Neither Here Nor There – Part Two

Firstly, thank you to those who reached out to me. I appreciate it.

If Neithernor was a place that needed protecting, and the way in had to be kept secret, my father couldn’t just come out and tell me how to find it or get in. He would leave clues. Clues only I (or we) could see.

I am jet lagged and not in a good place right now, but the only way I knew that this was a story my dad already wrote was because I met Colby and he performed that spell on the book. He wouldn’t have done that for anyone else. He was part of the path my father left for me.

So we’re the only ones who already know this story. So we’re the only ones who would know what was different, or added when he told it again. The differences would be where the clues were hidden. This sounds crazy but before I even came up with this idea the parts that were new or different were the parts I’d already written out or quoted last night.

…it was the answer to a question that had haunted him. A question he didn’t have the words to ask. Neithernor became the answer to all the questions. The impossible solution to everything that was wrong. And from that point on he never stopped hearing the call of that forgotten place.

“It was the key to a secret lock inside me. And I gave up everything that mattered to me so I could seek it. So I could knock at its door and be welcomed in.”

Hearing the call. A key to a secret lock. Knock at its door and be welcomed in.

Anybody else wondering why, the further I went down the path, the more I heard those knocking doors? Remember them? And then nothing came of them? I hadn’t heard one in weeks, but the moment my mind hooked onto those little changes, those additions… about keys and locks and calling doors, I felt something. Something in the air. I’m in the brownstone so there’s always drafty windows and strange cold spots, even in summer, but this was different. I’d felt it on the path, in Tel Aviv especially. Something on its way to me. Like tumblers had moved somewhere. Like I’d put a key in a lock and now I just had to figure out how to turn it.

Still, in the midst of all of this, I couldn’t keep my sodding eyes open and fell asleep on the couch in the parlour.

And I dreamed about him. Not him actually, but a story he told me once. Not about the ant and caterpill(ow). About a woman who had to save someone she loved who was lost or trapped in some terrible place. I was her. And I had to gather up pieces of magic armor and weapons. I remembered her name in the dream but a sound woke me up around three in the morning and it disappeared.

Someone was knocking at the brownstone’s front door.

Any other time I would’ve expected it to be Cole.

But I knew the knocking wasn’t him this time.

It was Neithernor, and it had come so I could turn the key.



I should’ve dramatically ended the post there, but I’ve now spent nearly twelve hours racing around the house knocking back on knocking doors and have come up with absolutely nothing.

Neither Here Nor There

Neither Here Nor There

I’m home.

My father left me a personal entry in the journal that’s mostly what I learned with Colby in Montreal, but I don’t know what’s relevant to you and what isn’t so I’ll summarize.

Essentially, he talks about what it was like after my parents came back to the States. He says he was ashamed to admit that he left right after I was born. He was possessed by an “all-consuming need to find Neithernor.”

He says he doesn’t remember the first time he’d heard the name (it was around the time he’d heard whispers about something called Monarch’s Mountain) but when he did, it was the answer to a question that had haunted him. A question he didn’t have the words to ask. Neithernor, in his mind, became the answer to all the questions. The impossible solution to everything that was wrong with the world. And from that point on he never stopped hearing the call of that forgotten place.

“It was the key to a secret lock inside me. And I gave up everything that mattered to me so I could seek it. So I could knock at its door and be welcomed in.”

As the years went on, he came back home every now and then to see me, my mother. But every time was colder and more distant. He would tell me stories he’d found on his journeys and swear he’d come back with more treasures and tales. But the longer he was gone the more strongly he felt he couldn’t come back empty-handed. To repair the cracks he was creating he would have to bring the truth back with him to make his absence worth his, and our, pain.

But years passed and he didn’t come back. Until he did. He was scared and begged my mum to bring me and come with him where we’d be safe. From the storm. He described it as a storm of souls, tearing at anyone who got too close to the truth. He’d seen the storm come for people who’d also been looking for the truth, and when it found him leaving Neithernor, the storm had come for him.

He told my mother he’d finally found it, been there, to the ends of the paths. And in Neithernor he’d found the little red house. The one she’d dreamt about her whole life. He swore that we’d all be safe there. She called him a liar, told him to leave and never come back.

He tried to take me when she refused to come. She swore she’d never let him take me down those same paths. “The paths of madness.”

He wouldn’t listen. He tried to carry me out of the apartment and she used an object on him that they’d found years prior. It would’ve killed him if it hadn’t been broken. A crack inside it, one you could only see in certain light. They were both wounded by it. His mind. Her body. And she died a year later.

The storm consumed the mountaineers in 1998 and with no one left to open the book, and it unable to find my father, it disappeared.

He came back once more before disappearing forever himself.

So he could take me to Monica.

And now she’s gone too. Disappeared forever.

I don’t know why he wanted to tell me all this again. Maybe he was losing his mind in the end. Why, when time seems so short and things seem so important would he tell me what I already knew?

He left. He blamed himself for everything that happened.

And he did what he could to protect me.

I know all of this already. I have so many questions and I get nothing from him but riddles and half-truths and secrets.

What did he find that was worth all of this pain? I can’t imagine it being worth it.

I’m sorry. I’m tired.