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.