(Hey guys it’s Cole posting Dee’s entry, which will make sense at the end. She made me promise to post this immediately:)
I’m sorry if this don’t completely make sense, I’m going to try and write it all down as quickly as I can.
Someone kept ringing the door chime so I hobbled downstairs and found a note on the door, from someone telling me to meet them in the warren. For a minute I didn’t know if it was Cole or… So I took the stick. I had no idea what I would do with it, but my dad said to take it everywhere.
Standing in the warren, looking out the window, was a man, or I should say he looked man-like but was a man-shaped bird. He turned to look at me with eyes like little black buttons. He was taller than me, in a full suit, his arms were wings, his feet were bare. Bird’s feet. He was a mix of gray, black and white feathers. Mostly black wings with white on his neck and legs. A tuft of black on the top of his head and a little white patch above his beak. Sorry I still can’t get over it.
He was holding a walking stick, like my father’s, but made of paler wood. Gold light leaked out from the cracks in it. He smiled, nodded, and said he was very pleased to meet me. I sat down on the edge of the bed because I was sure I’d finally gone mad.
He knelt and said that this must come as quite a shock but he was here to help me. And that I could call him Mr. Wideawake. He told me he could see that I was feeling a lingering bit of spell sickness but also something that “the Monarchs of old” learned. When you spend too long in Neithernor, you start to adjust to its time. And returning home is like jumping onto a spinning carousel because of the way time works there. There are some people who are more susceptible to it and it seems like I’m one of them. He said it would pass but he’s heard of cases in the old time where people have spent years or decades in Neithernor and couldn’t go back home. They became Neithernorian and the change couldn’t be undone.
I didn’t know what to do, so I asked who he was. He started talking about The Council and you and the Book and I couldn’t keep up. He said if The Council failed, or the mountaineers were lost again, he and his associates would be all that could possibly stop The Silver from conquering the world. He said they were prepared to go to war with the Silver, with or without magiq, but they’ve been doing what they could from the shadows to give us a chance at opening The Book. They’ve given us clues at times, and help when absolutely necessary, he even said his group was responsible for cultivating and protecting The Low. They’ve created disconnected factions who could confuse The Silver and send them to dead ends, because their priority besides saving the world is convincing The Silver that they don’t exist. That they were finally wiped out.
At first I thought he meant The Council of the 18 Gates, but then it occurred to me who he was talking about. The path of wool.
He’s a member of Monarch’s Mountain. Turns out he’s their Collector. I was confused. Not only because I thought Monarch’s Mountain had died off but also I didn’t think they still knew about Neithernor. He said I was incorrect on both counts but that’s what they wanted The Silver to believe. Neithernor is like a memorial for them. A place of reflection, and only rarely do they go there.
He sat across from me in the armchair and crossed his legs like, you know, a person. He said I could ask him any questions I had and he’d answer as best he could before he had to leave.
I kept trying to think what you’d want to ask. He said he didn’t know what was in The Book of Briars, which I thought was the obvious first question. He said some think it’s a new story wanting to be told, but no one knows for sure.
I asked him what Neithernor really was. How it came to be. He said according to what’s left of the Monarch history (which may not be completely accurate) there was experimentation with wells. They were hoping to find answers about our changed world in them, and sometime in the Book of The Wild someone managed to harvest a piece of the Fray deep within a well, to study, but it began to grow. They were afraid it would take over our world so they tried to send it back, but reaching out to The Fray is unpredictable and dangerous and it wouldn’t accept the piece. They tried to destroy it and thought they had but it actually grew just outside our world, and it eventually became Neithernor. A place where magiq and imagination could be fully realised without limit, without fear of misunderstanding or retribution, but with its own risks and dangers.
I asked what the “The Book of The Wild” meant and he said it’s what The Monarchs call the time before everything changed. He said “Someone, we don’t know who, changed the Book of The Wild and in its place was this world, this time.” They call now “The Book of Kings.”
I tried to get my head around the fact that we’re living in an alternate timeline from an original timeline that had magiq in it but he said it wasn’t as simple as that. It was magiq after all. He asked me to imagine a book. And then someone decided to edit that book. To remove something fundamental. Stories would have to be changed, characters rewritten, outcomes altered. And the ripples of all those changes would extend into the future chapters and the past. And it would be impossible to catch all the hanging threads. Scattered memories would be missed… and wells. Wells are like “hidden themes that remain, despite the narrative being altered.”
So someone edited out magiq, I said.
And he said “No. We believe someone edited out the Briar Books and all magiq followed after.”
I for some reason thought the Silver or the Storm had changed things but he said that no one knows who did it. But he knew it all came back to the Briar Books. The Little Red House. He said there’s something at the core of those books. They think it’s the source of great magiq. Magiq that someone changed all of history to erase. They don’t know who it was but they believe sometime around the early 2000s history was changed, and the ripples of that change moved outward until it had altered all known history. As far as they know only the wells, a handful of memories, and Neithernor survived.
It wasn’t the Monarchs and it wasn’t The Silver. He said it’s a mystery greater than any of this. And that’s why The Monarch houses want the book. (I was wondering what all of this was about. He hadn’t brought me to the warren just to answer all of my questions.) He said that the Monarch houses want The Little Red House, to protect it, to study it, to understand its place in the changing of The Book of The Wild.
I tried to explain what you were trying to do, how important it was for this to work, to get The Book of Briars and to stop The Storm. It’s everything we’ve worked for. Everything my father wanted. It’s the reason he set me on this path. Mr. Wideawake already knew. He told me that the houses use the lantern spell too. It’s one of the ways they get insight into The Silver’s plans. By listening through it. They were willing to lose that access to help us and The Council to save The Book of Briars and stop the damage the Storm has done, but they didn’t realise what the cost would be. The Monarchs don’t want us to use The Little Red House. Even if it means losing The Book of Briars. They say The Little Red House will be defenseless and unprotected in 1998. If The Silver find it before the Monarchs do, no one could protect the world. There’s no telling what secrets are inside that book, and The Silver would do anything to discover it.
I couldn’t believe it. They’ve had the means to stop The Storm but didn’t. They let people lose their minds, be blown through time. They let people die and become a part of it. The Storm was what kept my father from me. He just nodded. The Collector is just another part of Monarch’s Mountain, he said. He might disagree with their plans and purposes, but at the end of the day, the houses decide what actions to take. He’s tried to change their minds but the role of Collector doesn’t come with that kind of power. Then he stood and said he couldn’t stay any longer. He was also susceptible to Neithernorian time.
I didn’t understand. How could a bird man live on Earth?
Unless he wasn’t a bird.
He said it’s a tradition that no one knows who The Collector is until they have passed from this world to whatever is after. What I was seeing was just a cobbled bit of shapeshifting he’d learned from a gracious mer gost. He hoped I wasn’t disappointed.
I asked why he’d come now, why he’d come to answer my questions, and he said because no one knows what will happen after Saturday, not even The Monarchs. He wanted to meet me and help me understand that as big as all of this feels, it’s so much bigger. And that he was sure my father would be proud of me for all I’ve done.
He said what was most important to keep in mind was that not all the Monarchs agree with the Houses’ decisions. He himself believes that my father rightfully found the book and it has passed to me. I should be the one who decides what happens to it. He said he’d read how I unlocked the book and what I’d done and how I wrote it out had been extraordinarily clever. Then he said I should remember above all of this that “Even those with the best intentions can do wrong.”
He knocked and opened a door to a shore near a dark blue sea somewhere. I felt like I hadn’t asked anything and I’d let you down. That any of you would’ve asked better questions… but all I could think of in that moment… well, I’d always felt guilty about losing it so…
I asked him why King Rabbit wanted my dad’s watch.
Mr. Wideawake smiled and said he wasn’t sure, but he heard that soon after King Rabbit stole it from me, he’d also lost it.
And then the door shut and he was gone.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about any of this. About The Monarchs wanting it, about The Little Red House, about letting it go… I’ve been reading it, hoping there was something else. Another step at the end of the path. I mean, this can’t be it, can it? There has to be another part, a part I’m not seeing. Or is this all there is? Is this all
Guys, this is Cole. That was the end of Dee’s post. She just freaked out about something the bird guy said. Something she just realized… About this part:
“He said he’d read how I unlocked the book and said what I’d done and how I wrote it out had been extraordinarily clever. Then he said I should remember above all of this that “Even those with the best intentions can do wrong.”
She started changing clothes, packing one of the camping bags. She said she had to go back to the vault. I tried to stop her but she said she’d lied in the story when she wrote it. How she unlocked the book was right, but not the placement of the books, and she’d changed one of the locations. She thought that if it meant so much to her dad to keep it safe she should do what she could to protect it too. (It’s why I couldn’t take it.) She’d protected the book and she thinks Mr. Wideawake was telling her without telling her that she was clever and that The Monarchs, the ones who want the book at least, bypassed the Joradian on her blog because they had “the best intentions” and read how she unlocked it.
She thinks they’re trying to take the book. They don’t have the correct combination or the fifth location but they’ve had days and days of Neithernorian time to try and figure it out.
I wanted to go with her but we realized that if something happens and she can’t make it back in time or they took the book, I have to be ready with the scarves and the pendant. To try to get The Book of Briars. I could barely get my head around what was happening before she kissed me, knocked into the tunnel, and was gone.