I’ve been terribly sick the past few days. Cole says it’s what you all call spell sickness. I’m happy to hear it isn’t whatever’s glowing inside the stick.
I don’t know what happened. I mean, I know it was the spell I cast. And there were small cracks in it already, but the stick didn’t behave that way in Neithernor, at the crystal door… Maybe I’m not supposed to be using it here, in the normal world? Maybe I did more than I was supposed to? Maybe it was because I was close to the storm? Gee, it sure would be nice if my father would just send me a checklist or instruction manual every now and then…
I haven’t tried the new knock. I just don’t feel up to it. Maybe I’m scared, with this thing coming after us. But if I’m honest I think I’m worried about what’s going to happen next. Things are moving so quickly. Out of the blue I’m casting magiq now. I walked through a wall, and brought a book and a compass to life with my imagination and a magiq stick.
I wasn’t ready for that last one. To be clear, it was incredible and part of me wants to do nothing but magiq, but it’s also scary. I didn’t mean to cast that spell. Not completely. What else might I accidentally do?
The two days with Grey were nerve-wracking because of that thing trying to get in, but I also learned a lot about my father. In his later years Grey said my dad came to believe something had been guiding him along this path his whole life. To the path of wool, the path of magiq. The road to Neithernor. To this “great task” as my father called it. He’d called that guiding force “his soul’s providence” and he’d attributed so many things to and unseen presence. Meeting my mum, the coven, even the printing house burning down all those years back. It makes sense that part of him had hoped it had been Monarch’s Mountain drawing him to them, only to find the ruins of Neithernor. But he never stopped believing that he was part of a plan, and his plan with The Council was just another cog in a clockwork.
And when he died he left that mantle, that path, to me. The things he did… Grey’s apartment, the spell on me, nursing The Council (and himself) back to life… he was incredibly brave, and powerful.
I don’t know if I’m ready to accept the providence that guided him, if there is or was such a thing (though I accept that there were loads of coincidences that got me here.)
But I don’t have time to doubt it or myself, because all our fates are tied together now. We’re all on this last path, and if I don’t find the red house, and perform some crazy magiq to find out whatever’s inside it…
The Ramble unlocked a new passage in the journal (though it hadn’t before.) Bed-ridden, I transcribed the whole thing because I thought you’d want to see it. Turns out you had a “soul’s providence” as well.
THE DARK DOOR
I explored thousands of miles of Neithernor and never found the edge.
Once, I traveled for days across the great eastern sea and I found the remains of a strange fortress. The sea had claimed most of it, but portions were left on the shore. It was days removed from the other lands, the other ruins. I knew without question it was the house of Silver.
I spent months exploring the ruins and found writings that had survived the water and the war. The Silver were working on something in the mundane when everything fell apart. They were building a secret place inside our reality. Instead of sharing the discoveries they’d made in the mundane, they’d been secretly collecting them, stockpiling them out of view of Monarch’s Mountain. There was even mention of those artifacts being transported back and forth between their earthly “palace of doors” and Neithernor, for reasons I don’t know.
They’d built, somewhere in their Neithernorian fortress, a dark door to their secret place on Earth. A door that now could only be opened from Neithernor, because Monarch’s Mountain had barred Silver’s return.
I found it, half-submerged. I knew once I walked through they might sense that I had entered, and would know about the forgotten entrance. I prepared myself and opened the dark door, into the silver palace, and closed it after me. I found a towering, endless place made of countless rooms, libraries, galleries, and museum halls of magiqal artifacts, connected to every corner of the world. Vast and quiet and cold. They had spread to the six corners like a virus.
But this was the opportunity we needed. The Council and I had been searching for an object of power with what little power we had gathered. It’s one reason why I had scoured Neithernor. We needed something that would catalyze our plan, to set all of this in motion. We believed in you, but we needed something unmistakeable, something so wondrous it would inspire thousands to join your cause. Your army of mountain climbers.
After hiding in their stronghold for weeks, avoiding the sounds of footsteps on icy marble, I found it. There in the heart of the palace of doors I found a copy of Ackerly Green’s Guide to MAGIQ. I stole it, along with whatever else I could carry, including a pocket watch I found which had belonged to the Green family long ago. I tried to escape, but I couldn’t find a way out. No door would knock for me there, because the knocks were meant to keep out The Silver and The Storm, and by taking the Guide I had drawn the attention of both.
I’m ashamed to tell you what I did, what wrought magiq I performed to escape that place. But I did. And I found myself on the other side of the world. I knocked a way back into Neithernor, back to the warren where I felt safe, but The Storm had followed me through my escape. As I reached for the doorknob to slam the warren’s closet shut, The Storm reached for me, touched me, and I saw into the heart of it.
It ripped away shreds of me. I saw them fall away into the black void in the moment it took me to shut the door… I saw inside it, what it would do to me, etched on its black heart.
I’d seen so much, had so much stripped from me, sometimes by my own hands. But looking into that void I finally knew… I saw… my time here in this world was coming to an end.