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Fletcher Dawson Correspondences is a list of messages back and forth between The Mountaineers and Augernon from 1998, and later Knatz from 1998. The messages were sent and received from the Chronocompass page on the Fletcher Dawson website.

A Reply Edit

Augernon Edit

July 19 - Recruit Edit

Hi,

Sorry about before. We're the Mountaineers and we have a couple of questions for you: Who are you? When are you? Have you heard of something called Neithernor?

Thanks!

July 20 - Augernon Edit

Good to find more mountaineers. Especially now. After losing the forum I’m over cautious… Won’t even let my boys answer the phone. Whatever’s out there is looking for us now. Don’t know about Neithernor but I can tell you “when” with some certainty (haven’t lost my mind completely in all this craziness) I’m now. With you. Haha. I don’t know if I can get you on the fragment chain though, if that’s what you’re hoping. I don’t do the “admissions” stuff now that things got crazy. Tinkerdown’s in charge of that. If he chooses to approve you, you’re approved. Otherwise you just have to wait for all-mounty announcements or emails from the book.

By the way, what’s your name?? My user name’s Augernon but everybody calls me Augie.

“We see the mountain no one sees. We seek the mountain no one seeks.”

July 20 - Recruit Edit

Hi Augie!

My name's Nimueh, and I’m one of a small group of Mountaineers. We only just found out how to contact you guys, actually. What happened to your forum? What is looking for you and why?

As for the fragments; Is there a way you could put us in touch with Tinkerdown? Or maybe you could tell us how we might get approved? We’d really like to see if we could help you guys out. Which fragment are you on, by the way?

Thanks again,
Nim

July 21 - Augernon Edit

Good to meet you Nimueh. What’s it mean?

It’s been weeks and we’re still trying to figure out what happened to the forum. A kid from Missouri was the last one to post before it went dark. She got on to tell everybody something was watching her through her window. Nobody heard from her after. A dozen mounties went silent that night. Everybody who replied to her. It was the weekend and I don’t have dial-up in the flea bitten backwoods of Maryland so I didn’t get the email alerts until the next week at work. Ascender tried to track the missing mounties down and found Missouri’s number. Her parents said there was an electrical storm outside their house that night that made the lights blow out and the radio and TV start screaming backwards. They’re convinced their daughter got so scared she ran into the woods like a dog and just got lost.

We got locked out of the forum that night and then it just disappeared.

So that’s why Tink is over cautious now. We’re still picking up the pieces. Give him a couple weeks. We’ve dealt with some crazy stuff, but nothing like this. We don’t scare so easy though. We’re hoping to find some way to track the missing mounties down, figure out what happened. Find who’s behind it. Maybe the book will help. We’ve done and seen minor magic (if you believe that sort of thing) but there must be some powerful mojo in that thing to have it locked so tight. So we’re back in the email chain. We know it’s not really safe, but what are you gonna do? This is bigger than all of us now and aside from my real family these wackos are the next closest thing. Some of my best friends. Can’t abandon them now. Especially not now. We have to see this through.

To answer your other question, the forum broke right after the third evaluation (we get tested after every four fragments.) We’re stewing on fragment 13 right now, but we’re a little stuck. We might be missing something and I’m hoping it didn’t get lost in the storm that night.

Where’s your group been congregating? I’ve heard of other mountain lodges, glad to have you come around to ours, terrifying as it is right now.

Take care,
Augie

July 21 - Recruit Edit

Hi Augie,

Thanks for the reply! Nimueh possibly comes from the Greek ‘Mnênê’ meaning ‘memory’, though I use it cause it’s one of the names given to the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend. What does Augernon mean? I talked it over with my fellow Mountaineers, and with all the disappearances going on, it might be best not to give up our location.

You said you all were stuck on something with Fragment 13 - that's right near where we are as well! We just received the Cosmos key. Is that the same key you guys got for the third Assessment? We always wondered if the process for opening the Book is the same for all groups of Mountaineers. We never got a new Fragment email from the Book, though. Maybe you could copy what the Book sent you and send it over, and we can start helping out with clues for Fragment 13! I've attached a spell our lodge has been using to protect digital content. Hope this helps keep you and yours' safe while we work on the next fragments together!

All the best,
Nim

July 22 - Augernon Edit

Nim, just when you think you’ve seen it all. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find this spell? We never thought to look for something like it. Man, I’m trying not to think about how the past few weeks woulda turned out with that in our back pocket. I should’ve thought to look. It’s my responsibility to keep this group safe.

Anyway, yeah, we got the cosmos key after we finally figured out how to assemble the seven panes of sky in the wishing scope. That one almost killed us. You? It’s weird you didn’t hear from the Bob but I wouldn’t take it personal, it’s an odd bird even for a talking book.

So what we have now is obviously only half of what we need to solve fragment 13. Everybody’s scrambling to try and solve it anyway cause they’re freaking out but I’m trying to figure out what we missed. There’s gotta be something else. I don’t have a connection at home so I won’t be able to write until Monday but let me talk to Tink and even if I can’t get you on the thread maybe I can share some of it with you. See if you see something we don’t. We wouldn’t be in any worse a situation if you had the clues… I don’t think you have ill intent but even if you did, having copies of the clues won’t hurt us, right?

Augie

Oh yeah, Augernon’s a name I made up when I was a pup. My imaginary friend. First thing I thought of when I heard about other people looking for the LC and so I made it my user name.

Nimueh’s a great choice. I’m a big Arthurian buff too, that’s why I asked. You an Ebie by chance? Although lady of the lake… she’s a benevolent chaos bringer for sure so you might be a Balimoran. Am I close?

You and yours stay safe please.

July 23 - Recruit Edit

Hello again Augie,

Hope you are well and that your lodge is holding okay still. We knwo what it's like to loose members. We lost one of our leaders before I joined, and the guys used some magiq to lay him to rest. We found the spell we gave you though sometime during fragment 9 or 10 though from someplace called the Low. Ever heard of it? All I can say about the spell is that I wish we'd been able to give it to you guys sooner. But as a couple of my lodge mates keep telling me, the flow of magiq is a strange and unpredictable thing. At least you have it now.

A few of us were wondering if you'd like some help with your missing mountiies too. It was someone called Ascender who said was looking for them, right? If you think we can help him in any way, please do let us know!

Yeah, fragment 12 was a killer for us too! In all honesty, I'm still wondering how we got through it! There was something we were wondering though, if you knew anything about a Fletcher Dawson? There's a bit of excitement going around the lodge at the news that we might be back on the fragement trail and helping you guys out with this.

Anyway, stay safe!
Nim

Oh, also, yeah, I'm Balimoran. I take it from your first guess that you're an Ebie? It's funny though, we have another here who uses another name for the Lady, Viviane, and she's Flinterforge. Strange, huh?

July 24 - Augernon Edit

Hey Nim,
Always a lotta stuff to get through on Monday but I finally read your email. First off, yep, Ebie through and through. We’ve heard of the Low, found a couple scraps from them here and there, but nothing as powerful as the protection spell, that’s for sure. Really appreciate it. We’re gonna try it later this week by putting the symbol in our email signatures. Would be nice to keep the fragment thread safe if nothing else.

This might be too personal but with everything going on, it reminds me of this recurring dream I have sometimes. About my family. Where something bad happens and I can’t stop it. Like my boys are in the water and get pulled out to sea and I’m stuck in the sand. Scary, but I can always wake up from that, you know. But now I have that feeling every time I talk to a fellow mounty. I wanna do whatever I can but know I’m helpless right now. I can’t protect them. Not all of them.

You gotta promise me your folks will keep their heads down or else I’m gonna spread my worry too thin.

Now, onto the meat of the matter. Tink didn’t write me back about you guys so I’m gonna assume that’s a soft yes and will beg for forgiveness if I have to. I attached what we have and maybe you can see if you can make heads or tails of it.

Fletcher Dawson! Boy, that brings me back. I’ve been into fantasy books and magic and the like since I was a pup so I pretty much wore out my copy of Forest of Darkening Glass. I think he wrote some follow ups but we didn’t have a lot of bookstores where I grew up and I think they’re all out of print now… What’s your interest in Dawson? If I remember, he’s not young but he’s too young to have anything to do with the LC. You know something we don’t?

You know what? These days my brain tries to connect everything to all of this. Just lemme bask in talking about books for the love of books for a change.

Augie
P.S. I’ll shoot Sender a message and see if he needs help. He’s a bit of a loner, but desperate times…

July 24 - Recruit Edit

Hey Augie,
Don't worry about us, we don't seem to be getting any attention here luckily. We'll keep alert though.

You may be gald to hear that we made a lot of progress on the fragment actually. So a couple of us decided to focus on the letters under the grid and Robert began rearranging them. Viviane, the mountie I mentioned last week, and Crytter got them to make sense; "Cut into strips on solid lines. Past horizontal. Vertical Present. Weave the timelines together." We think the page you sent us is the "past" refered to, so it seems you're rigth about missing half. We're currently looking for a page which we're assuming will be named "Now". Did these pages come directly from the book?

I remember Dawson’s name coming up recently, along with ‘The Myth of Elainnor’. Do you know it? We didn’t realise he was connected to the Forest of Darkening Glass! Shame to hear it’s out of print; you don’t happen to know somewhere we might get our hands on some of his works? I think a few of us here would love to read them.

Stay safe,
Nim

July 25 - Augernon Edit

Hey Nim,
That’s as far as we got too. I was hoping fresh eyes would find something we didn’t. Sorry. It’s gotta be incomplete. We’ve been going through all the past complications, hoping we missed something. Nothing yet.

Last night Tink got a bunch of weird calls. Just quiet on the other end but he said he could feel someone there, like the energy of somebody on the other end, listening. And then the power in his house blew. Feels like we’re running out of time. These pages came from somebody we call “Benefactor.” We don’t know who it is but they been supplying us clues every now and then, with old stuff from AGP’s offices.

Never heard of the other Dawson story. Don’t know where to find more. Sorry, mind’s cloudy today. Preoccupied. Wondering what we got ourselves into. If we don’t open this book…

We gotta figure this out, Nim.
Augie

July 25 - Recruit Edit

Hi Augie,

Viviane here, or Viv if you like. I'm part of Nimueh's group. She said she mentioned me? Anyway, Nimueh's not available right now - she's fine, just badly needed sleep - but we made some urgent progress on the fragment and wanted to let you know.

Earlier today, a "Benefactor" of ours with ties to AGP sent us these two additional pages: a "Now" to match the "Then" and another story page with a blank circle.

Following the instructions we already had, our Mounties cut out strips and did a bit of paper weaving. Turns out, if you weave the strips in order of the numbers, one pattern of over and under reads "Overlap equal times and tape," and the opposite weave reads "The times are one instruction."

Laying out the strips so that the matching times overlap gives two more sentences. The first row of small letters reads, "This is the present timeline," and the bottom reads "Cut out dashes / use the clocks." We've tried out different things from there but not gotten anywhere yet. Given our work on past fragments, we're wondering if something will appear in those blank spaces? If not, maybe your group will have some other ideas for this new information.

Don't worry about us; our group has stayed safe so far, and we'll look out for each other. Someone wise once told us to "Trust the flow of magiq." And, what do you know, progress! I have faith that we can get this book unlocked if we work together.

-Viviane

July 26 - Augernon Edit

Whoah, this is incredible! I’m forwarding everything onto Tink and company right now (We got far better puzzlers than me.)

Man, I’m feeling more hopeful right now than I have in weeks. We might have a shot at this. Cheers to “benefactors.”

And good to meet you, Viviane. And just cause I gotta ask, you’re absolutely sure Nim’s okay?

Really sharp work. Where the heck have you guys been this whole time?

Augie

July 26 - Recruit Edit

Hey Augie!

Nim back again. Thanks for your concern, but I was just really tired from trying to get the page solved. But seriously, don't go worrying about us! We're all fine here.

Anyway, how's the progress coming with the 'Now' page for you? Wondering if you guys can find anything we missed. Right now, looks to me like we're waiting for something...

Have you heard more from Tink or Ascender? Hoping everyone's okay, especially after what you said happened with Tink. Hope everyone’s okay!

Regards,
Nim

July 27 - Augernon Edit

Glad to hear you’re okay.

Wish I had better news. The puzzle chain worked through the night and they got as far as your folks did. Even had my wife look at it cause she’s a hundred times smarter than me.

We gotta be missing something. Don’t worry though, we’ll keep plugging away.

Haven’t heard from Ascender but Tink’s okay. On edge, but okay.

Every time the phone rings I think it’s whatever’s out there, coming for me and mine, but we can’t give up. We can’t let them take our hope too. Like Viviane said, we gotta trust the flow of magic.

Augie

July 27 - Recruit Edit

Hey,

Still getting nothing much new here. We did have an idea though. We were wondering if your loop and ours are the same? Someone said that there was a chance things got changed when the pages were exchanged through the net, and right now it seems like our only lead unless we're waiting for the text pages to change. I've attached a picture of ours.

Nim

July 28 - Augernon Edit

Thanks for sending this Nim,

It’s been a crazy day. I’ll fill you in later, but in the meantime I’ll forward this on to Tink and company and let you know what they say.

Take care, talk soon, Augie

July 28 - Recruit Edit

Oh my! Did something happen? I hope you’re all okay there! If there’s anything you think we can do to help, please just say and we’ll try our best.

As for our fragment progress, we found something we overlooked previously; a picture telling us how to shape the loop. I’ve attached it so you guys can take a look for yourselves. We think you make the 1 first, then turn it into the 8. Not sure what it does though as we can’t seem to find anything new with it, but we’re thinking the centre of the 8 is the 15:04/03:04 times.

The clocks and dashes are still bugging me though, not sure what to do with them…

Stay safe,
Nim

July 30 - Augernon Edit

Nim…

Whatever you did, it worked!

We made the “8” like you showed us and then Tink checked the journal page again. He just sent this to the group: (Picture of page with clock)

I’m praying you have one on yours too. They might be the clocks from the clue, yeah? I wanna kiss each and every mounty in your lodge. After this week we really needed some good news.

Augie

July 30 - Recruit Edit

Hi Augie,

Viviane again. Our journal page also changed! I've included an updated copy that you can pass along to Tink and your Mountaineers. We've cut out the clocks like the previous instructions indicated, and we noticed that there are 3 tabs on each clock face, and three dashed spaces on each edge of the figure-8 strip. We think the tabs fit into the dashed spaces on each edge of the figure-8 strip, although it's not exactly an 8 that way since the loops are no longer the same size. We also noticed that the 5 words on your clock pair with the 5 words on ours (a child, in time, becomes an adult, et cetera). Unfortunately we haven't gotten much farther than that.

We're all fine here, still. Hope you're staying safe. Nimueh mentioned that you'd had a "crazy day" late last week. Was it something related to the Mountaineers? Anything we can do to help?

-Viv

July 31 - Augernon Edit

Hi Viv,

I will definitely pass this on to Tink and the rest. Will let you know if they come up with something. We’re all working overtime on this to try and figure it out.

Sorry about not filling you in last week. Ascender was helping with the search for Missouri. Last week, he found her. She can’t remember anything. Not just memories, but about herself. She kept saying something about “seeing the separation” and hearing “them” now. The poor girl’s there, but isn’t anymore.

Thing is, my grandpa lost his wits a bunch of years back. It wasn’t dementia, the doctors said. He was healthy, still young, for a grandfather. My dad said it was the war finally getting to him, but he had moments of clarity, like he’d sort of wake up. He said we won the war, but he learned later that the bad guys had already conquered the world and we never even knew it. Everybody thought he was nuts. But he told me something. Something that Missouri told Sender last week. He told me “they” hide in a palace made of doors. That’s where they rule from. They watch us from behind the doors. Waiting.

I feel like I’ve been heading this way since I was a kid. I got no idea what it means and even now part of me wants to think it’s just a mixed up memory. Like my brain’s hitting play and record at the same time. Like deja vu or something. But I remember him telling me. Remember how it felt.

It gave me chills. Still does.

There might be a place out there, that’s everywhere. And at any moment something could come out of it and take away everything you are.

How do you stop something like that?

Augie

July 31 - Recruit Edit

Hey Augie!

Hope your Monday went well! Hi there, I'm Mr5yy, a fellow Balimoran alongside Nimueh, but you can call me 5! Thank goodness you found the Missouri, if that's her name. Even though she's lost her being, atleast she's safe. We are staying safe currently, making sure not to take any risks. Is everything going well for your Lodge? Also, we thought it would be a good idea to update you on our progress with the puzzle. We're getting close to finding the instructions from the "rhymes" in the clocks, so don't lose hope yet! Also, if any of the Mountiees in your Lodge has made any progress with them, would you be willing to share?

Have a good Tuesday,
Mr5yy

August 1 - Augernon Edit

Great to meet you 5, and thanks for asking about Missouri. Sender’s still down with her, will let you know when we know anything.

Okay, so Tink sent this over late this afternoon for me to forward on to you:
“Hickory Dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
And down she run
The mouse was not yet done”
They tried making one verse out of all of em but there were a bunch of words they couldn’t fit in. Then they figured since there’s been “pairs of everything” this complication, maybe there are two verses too. One for each clock.
They’re playing around with the leftover letters but wanted to get this to you ASAP.
What do you think? We on to something?
Augie

August 1 - Recruit Edit

Hi Augie,

We aren't sure if the others were awake to send this to you, so we thought we would give you the run down on today. First of all my names Oraclesage, I'm a friend of 5 and Nim and a leader here at our lodge. I'm here with Furia, one of our Weatherwatch.

We might have figured out the poem "Hickory Dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
And down she run
The mouse was not yet done

Hickory dickory shut
The mouse began to cut
The clocks did chime
She split down the line
Right the longest time"

And while we were looking it seemed another done slipped into the mix! We are correcting the problem now, and I think our fragment finders will make quick work of it!

How are things on your end? Your latest corespondance has us all worried.

August 2 - Recruit Edit

Hi Augie,

I'm Ashburn, one of the Mounties working with Nimueh. She mentioned you're an Ebie too?

OracleSage and Furia said they'd tried sending you where we got with the rest of the rhyme yesterday, but they didn't hear anything back yet. Everything okay? (Beyond the other craziness Nim's mentioned, I mean)

If our last message got lost in the web somewhere, here's where we got with the rhyme:

Hickory dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
And down she run
The mouse was not yet done

Hickory dickory shut
The mouse began to cut
The clocks did chime
She split the time
Right down the longest line

We're not completely sure whether the last two lines are like that or "She split the line - Right down the longest time," depends on how important it is to have the slant rhyme in the middle of the last three lines.

We've tried cutting the infinity strip in half down the full length (since it's the longest line we could think of not already cut), but still working on what exactly is gained by having the two clocks separated but still linked by the strip.

Viviane and I also noticed that the arrows seem to be pointing across to the words on the clock faces, and that there's a pattern to how the newer things match up with their older counterparts. 5 pointed out that it may be good to mention that a famous comedian once said that Tragedy plus time equals Comedy since that pairing stumped a few of us on our end.

Hope everything's okay on your group's end,

Ashburn

August 3 - Augernon Edit

Thanks for the check in Ashburn, I appreciate it. Will sort through everything you sent.

Yesterday was bad. I’d been having problems getting in touch with any Mountaineer for the past 24 hours. You folks included. I finally heard from Tink when he called my office.

Found out Sender’s been in the hospital for two days.

Knatz went down from Chicago to help (she’s a school counselor and word is she and Sender have been a thing off and on for years.) Missouri, the girl, woke up from a dead sleep and said she wanted to show them the truth.

They got in the car and Missouri told them where to go. They drove for a while. In the woods, off the road, she took them to two more Mountaineers that had gone missing the night Missouri had. They’d been waiting in the woods. Missouri said Sender didn’t find her, she found him, so she could bring him here. Then all three of the kids attacked them. They were crazed. Knatz got to the car before she realized Sender wasn’t behind her. She took a tire iron out of the trunk and went back in the woods. She said Sender couldn’t move, they were on him like jackals. He’d throw one off and another would jump back on him. He was cut. Missouri had a knife. She’d cut a slice of skin off Sender’s forearm. Then the weather changed, the sky turned black in an instant and this thunder storm came out of nowhere, moving through the woods like a wall. Knatz said she could barely hear herself think over the sound of the wind.

But the recruits were scared of it. They backed off and Knatz put the storm between them, half-dragging Sender out of the woods.

They got to the road, to the car. Knatz said the storm, the dark of it, “reached” out to Sender before she got the car door shut, touched him… Sender howled like an animal in a trap. She was close enough to hear that the wind wasn’t wind. It was voices. Hundreds of voices.

They barely got away. The sky turned light again when they got into town.

Sender was knocked out and bleeding so Knatz took him to a hospital a couple hours north. He woke up about ten hours later. He could hear the same stuff Missouri could. The whispering in his head. But after a few hours it went away.

Whatever got those kids, almost got Sender. Got part of him. There’s things he can’t remember, Knatz said. God knows what woulda happened if Knatz hadn’t been there.

Those kids’ minds weren’t just wiped, something took them over, controlled them. I have no idea what to do. How do you protect your friends from something like this?

And how do you stop a storm?

When Sender woke up he told Knatz to send me a message via Tink:

“They want to pick us off, one by one, in secret. We we need an army of our own. We have to stop hiding because that’s what it wants. To separate us and pull us apart one piece at a time. Like we never existed. There’s power in numbers. Real power. A story is magic Augernon, but a story told, a story shared, is where the power comes from. We need to tell everybody who will listen, maybe someone will remember something, maybe somebody can help.”

Who can help us? Who knows as much as we do, who’s seen what we’ve seen? We can’t bring anybody else into this. Missouri, those kids in the woods… all the other Mountaineers who have dropped off the map. Blood on our hands.

Even now Sender’s trying to rally, bring everybody together. But that’s what “they” want, right? Get us huddled in one place so they can erase us all at once. I’m not gonna let that happen. To you, to them. I can’t.

Augie

August 3 - Recruit Edit

Augie,

Viviane again. We're so sorry to hear about what happened with Sender and Knatz. Your story was frightening, to say the least. We do have some good news for you, though...we think we might have cracked the fragment!

Last we talked, we had mentioned that some of us followed the rhyme and split the timeline strip into two interlocked loops by cutting down the middle. We went back over every piece of info we had and decided the best thing to try would be using the arrows on the clock faces to point at certain letters on the outside strips. We went back and forth all day, trying different methods and combos for solving the Time Donut - Robert's name for it, which stuck. Finally, a couple of us who had cut the center circle out of the clock face tried linking the faces together and found that, when you linked the clock faces together like chain links and matched the paired words, the arrows suddenly pointed to the letter outside the paired word. So, when you put "Acorn" and "Oak" together, the 1 arrow points to the letter outside "Oak", not at "Acorn."

I tried every position where the clock faces could fit and wrote the indicated letters in order 1-10, and we think we have something that might work: "INLAUDETUS."

There's a bit of a catch, though: we don't seem to have access to the Book of Briars. Since we didn't get an email from it either, the circumstances lead us to think that, although we can help with the puzzles, your group has to be the one to unlock the Book. I can't explain why, but...trust the flow of magic, right? Anyway, we're pretty sure about this. Just, try it on the Book and see what happens?

-Viv

August 4 - Augernon Edit

I entered “Inlaudetus” into the book. It worked, Viv. Really nice work you guys.

It was a black screen with writing that said:
“Inlaudetus. More commonly referred to as The Obscured Age. A time known in classical magimystic parlance as The Book of the Hidden. “

And then two numbers:
“40.7038 – 74.0108”

Congrats to your lodge for finally figuring this out. We’ve been too preoccupied with everything else going on but I sent all this to the puzzle thread.…

We’ve been reaching out to everybody who joined up in the past year. Emailing, calling… Too many bounced messages and answering machines picking up. I couldn’t sleep thinking that all I wanna do is protect my friends and a lot of them might already be gone. Minds swept clear.

Sorry, don’t mean to rain on your parade. I was hoping the book would maybe offer up something… advice, help, a spell… Not just another clue to another puzzle.

There’s still hope. I know it. But it seems further and further away every day.

Augie

August 4 - Recruit Edit

Hello Augie. My name is Furia, I'm a Weatherwatch at the lodge I'm sending from, I'm glad to hear the word worked and thank you for the numbers, connected to this message is a spell that we used awhile back for one of our close friends. We believe that the numbers that you sent to us lead to a place in New York, but our field person isn't feeling great and isn't able to go today

August 5 - Augernon Edit

Thanks for the spell. I appreciate it and I sent it on. I wish we'd all met sooner, but I guess there are bigger plans in place, huh?

So, I had an idea last night. About what's happening. What we're facing. You can't stop a storm. But you can make yourself a lightning rod.

Gotta take Monday off and make a short trip. Should be back Tuesday. Won't be around to check email but will follow up when I can.

Augie

August 5 - Recruit Edit

Hey Augie!

It's 5 again. Is everything going alright? Your last message scared quite a few of us. Can you tell us why you're going to be a lightning rod for the Storm? So that we can understand? And would it be possible for you to give us an email so that we could get into contact with other Mounties? Sorry for the questions, we just don't want anything bad to happen.

Mr5yy, along with the Lodge.

August 6 - Augernon Edit

Hey 5, just got back a few hours ago. Stopped at the office so I could send you this.

I went to see my dad this weekend. Told my wife that grandpa was sick and I needed to check in. Took aout six hours to get there. I should get out there more, but life happens, yeah?

Since my mom died about ten years back it's just been my dad and his dad holed up in that little mountain house. Nothing but cold and quiet and time. My dad wasn't a good dad, that's for sure (I always thought of my imaginary friend Augernon as the closest thing to a real father I ever had.) My dad was a haunted man, a cold husband, and a cruel father. But he was a good son. He loved my grandpa, held him up to be this idol, but I think he also felt like he could never measure up to the man he was breaking his neck to look up to.

I'd end up okay though. Saw all the things in him I could use as a checklist of what I wouldn't be to the people who might love me someday. I wouldn't ignore them and hate them and resent them because I'd failed at my own life. No, I'd love them and cherish me. I'd protect them.

I'd pretty much moved on from that cold and lonely house on the mountain. But a memory has always stuck with me from my childhood up there. One winter my dad decided it was time for me to hunt. I was the oldest. At the time, I was eight. My mom bundled me up. I whispered to her that I didn't wanna go but she knew he'd get his way. My dad took me way out in the woods, farther than I'd ever been. He took me out to a tree blind, put a .22 rifle in my hands and left me u there. I didn't know where he was, if he'd gone to another blind, or back to the house. ours passed. And this fear in me bubbled up and started to spread. I'd fired a gun before, and I had a coat and a sandwich my mom had stuffed in the pocket. None of that scared me. But what scared me was the idea that my dad might forget I was there. Or might not come back for me at all. Might've put me out there on purpose Imagine that Thinking your own dad had left you out in the woods to die and it seeming within the realm of possibility.

I started crying. Then, after a while, I started screaming. As loud as I could, for somebody to help me. I screamed until I lost my voice.

And after a long time I saw him. Breaking through the tree line, coming back for me. The look in his eyes... shame, and rage. He'd heard me. It was the only thing worse than him leaving me there... him coming back for me knowing how scared I was.

Mom tucked me in that night after supper. Dad never usually came in to say goodnight, always gave a nod at the bedroom door and flipped the light off, or called mom out if he felt she was lingering.

But that night he came in, sat at the end of the bed, told her to go He asked me if I was scared up there in the blind. I said no. I was gonna go to the grave pretending I hadn't been screaming my head off. But I could see in his eyes, the disgust at my weakness.

He said he wanted to tell me a story. A story his own father had told him when he was little, before he lost his mind. About the war, and what they found over there in Europe. He wanted to tell me a story about the doors. I honestly don't remember all of it, because it scared the hell out of me. But that was my first experience with all of this. The stories his dad had told him and then he told me. He wanted to scare me. Really scare me. He told me there were real horrors in the world, in the shadows, and they came for grandpa and his friends. And if they'd come for the brave and the strong, just imagine how easily they'd come for me.

He wanted to scare me, punish me, but also toughen me up. And in a way, it worked. That story stayed with me. Started a fire in me. My little mind started connecting all sorts of dots between those stories and my own imaginings and things I'd seen, and memories of books I never read. Friends in school pretended to be astronauts or soldiers or cops. I pretended to search for magic.

No one was supposed to talk about 'that time' when we'd visit grandpa. But I would sometimes look out the window at night and see dad talking to grandpa on the porch, asking him to tell him the stories again. And I'd listen too. All about secret societies and magic he swore he saw but couldn't quite remember, and exciting adventures, and terrible enemies, and palace made of doors. And how grandpa had almost saved them all but in the end they were all wiped out and made to forget. I used to asked him to me too, when no one else was around, but over the years his mind degraded more and more, and eventually what little he remembered was one.

I took all of that with me off the mountain. My fear of my father led me here. That broken man who never saw one glimmer of the hidden light in this world. Over the years I wanted to tell him I was a good father, a good husband. I wanted to tell him I was a Mountaineer. I'd found magic and I'd found a family of friends just like grandpa had. But I never did. He suffers up there, on his own with the old man. That lonely mountain is punishment enough.

But I went back this weekend, to see the old house and the two ghosts rattling around in it.

I went back with a case of beer for my dad.

And tin of tea for me and my grandpa.

Augie

August 6 - Recruit Edit

Augie,

Please continue with your story! Our lodge read your last email together and have a number of questions, but we’ll save them until you finish telling us what happened this weekend with your father and grandfather.

Mr5yy

An Entry Edit

Knatz Edit

August 10 - Recruit Edit

Robert Aug 10

Hi there, this is going to sound either incredibly insane or make no sense, or sound incredibly insane and make perfect sense. We're with the group of Mountaineers and we're looking for Augie. We were talking to him through this channel and then we lost contact, and when we came back, we're not quite sure who we're talking to. Can you help us find him please?

August 11 - Knatz Edit

Still rattled by what happened in Ste. Genevieve. Can't get the images out of my mind. Those kids. The sound of the storm. Ascender blacked out in the seat next to me. Bleeding like a slaughtered animal.

He bolted the minute he woke up. Now he's trying to rally the lead mountaineers to organize, "get out in front for once." That might've worked six months ago. But everyone's scared now, myself included. I still get chills every time I think how stupid it was for me to go help him. I care about him. Maybe love him? Sure. I don't know... but I have a daughter for christ's sake. I have a sole responsibility here. And it's her, not him. Not the book.

I'm at this precipice. If I back away is that the only way she'll be safe? Or should i keep trying to open the book before it comes for the rest of us... is that how I save her? Which is the way to go? Or is it too late either way? All I wanted was to see magic. Finally see this through. And now the world seems darker than ever.

I'm grateful Saberlane suggested putting my journal online, even if I'm not sharing it with anyone but him. It's motivation to keep it up in the face of everything that's happening. So far I've kept my secret just that, mine (aside from you, Lane.) What would the rest of the lodge say if they found out some small part of me knew all this was coming?

Almost forgot. Nothing last night, except a dream about Ali, but it wasn't a memory. She was outside playing, but in my mind she was grown up, and I heard someone I couldn't see asking her to help them find something they lost. Don't know what it was. Just weird dream gibberish, but it made me uneasy. But yeah... five nights in a row now. Nothing. I'm starting to wonder if something happened to me in Ste. Genevieve too...

August 11 - Recruit Edit

Chey Aug 11

“Knatz, my name is Chey. Listen and try to remember. Please don’t give up on the Book of Briars. There are other of us Mountaineers out there working alongside you to open it. You are not alone. We can do this together. Remember, hope is its own form of magiq. As a friend of yours says, ‘trust in the flow of magiq.’”

August 12 - Knatz Edit

I can't remember what I dreamed last night. Just woke up feeling... I don't know, optimistic? Hopeful? Seems nuts. I can't explain it. Something just hit me. It's not hopeless.

It's just a race.

And they're hoping we stay distracted, on defense. Slow. Too busy freaking out to try and do the one thing they don't want us to do. Which is open that damned book. Ascender believes there's still a plan, and even all this is a part of it I didn't believe him, maybe that's what you do to survive? To keep going against a storm. You do what mountaineers always do. You believe in the face of the unbelievable.

I think I've made up my mind. I'm going to figure out how to finish this.

Ali's can stay with her father for a little while. Keep her schedule the same. I'll tell her I have to go to a conference or help open a school or something. She'll be safer with him. She doesn't know about the book, or the mountaineers. Not yet. She doesn't know what's been passed on to her.

And if we do this maybe she won't have to. Maybe she won't grow up like we did, knowing there's something more to a world that swears there isn't Dying inside.

I'm sick of it. This has to be it. This has to be the time the mountaineers win.

I'm scared out of my freaking mind but we do what we have to. Right? Worst case... I'm wiped out trying to make a better world for her and she'll know her mother refused to run.

August 12 - Recruit Edit

Chey Aug 12

“One day, a beautiful tawny lioness with shining golden fur was padding through a sun-dappled forest. She was hunting for something, but not food; her belly was full, but her curiosity was not. She made her way down through the wooded vale towards a river, always searching, always seeking. She passed by a bright turquoise stone. This was not what she sought out. She passed by a fiery red bird. This is not what she sought, either. She padded on and on silently over the leaves and twigs on the forest floor, always searching, always seeking. She came to the bank of the river. She peered into cool, clear river’s waters. At the riverbottom, she at last found what she was seeking!”

August 13 - Knatz Edit

I’ve been reaching for anything. Something we missed. I sent out an email to everyone, I knew Huma had been keeping track of loose ends, things in previous complications that hadn’t panned out. Never heard back from her.

I had a dream last night that I was walking with this lion. She had a sword stuck deep between her shoulders, blood all over her. I kept trying to pull it out but she was looking for something and I couldn’t catch up to her. In my dream I remembered animals want to be on their own when they die. It made me so sad. I thought, if I could get the sword I could save her. Then she’d be hunting, not looking for a hole to crawl into. I tried to pull it out but it was jammed in.

And then I noticed the sword was stuck in what looked like a perfect seam that ran down the length of her body. Like someone had tried to pry her open with the sword. I wrenched the blade to one side and for a second I could see inside the lioness. There was all this light. I woke up completely freaked out.

My ancestral dreams have never been anything like this. They’re always more memory than metaphor.

But the lion dream had actually triggered a memory. It was about this sweet guy. Nib.

He was a mountaineer who was active on the forum near the beginning. When the Benefactor sent materials from the Ackerly Green offices to some of us (not me) Nib had received a locked briefcase.

He’d tried figuring out the combination, breaking it. Nothing worked. He even took it to a locksmith who said he’d never seen anything like it. But he could never get the damned thing open and even though it seemed like a massive loose thread, there were a lot of artifacts that weren’t in play, and we were all so busy figuring out the other complications, we forgot about the briefcase.

I spent all morning trying to find him. Ascender is AWOL, no one knows where Augie is, and the only person I could get in touch with is a 20-year-old kid in north Florida who’s even more freaked out about this than I am (that’s you Lane.) So tomorrow, we’re meeting in Spartanburg, South Carolina (let me know if you have any issues with the plane ticket, they said you’d just need to show up with your ID) and we’re going to try and find out what happened to Nib and the benefactor’s briefcase.

I don’t know what I’m thinking and frankly, I think it’s best if I stay a few steps ahead of my mind right now. Because this is all manner of completely batshit insane.

See you tomorrow, Lane.

August 14 - Recruit Edit

Revenir-Aug-14

“The late afternoon sun is streaming through the windows on a mild Autumn day. A steaming hot cup of cocoa, a warm quilt and a favored book sit waiting for you. You feel a surge of joy and optimism.”

August 15 - Knatz Edit

We got to Spartanburg and had no idea where to start. We spent a day and a half asking around and of course Nib wasn’t Nib’s name. But asking about a possibly nerdy, bookish, perhaps reclusive guy in a small town like this… we narrowed down our choices. We were eventually sent to an old house just outside of town, near Lake Blalock. The whole place had been trashed. We weren’t sure if was messiness, the storm, or a combination.

Lane found him in the cellar. I think he’d been down there for weeks, maybe a month, I don’t know. He’d been eating food his mom must’ve canned twenty years ago. He thought a hurricane had come through Spartanburg. He thought he’d made it through and we were coming to rescue him.

He hadn’t made it though.

I can’t put into the words the state he was in. His mind was wiped like everybody else’s. He was agitated. Scared. It took everything that made him him. I was trying to talk to him, using basic counseling techniques, but he talked in circles, saying the same things Missouri did. Lane didn’t want to leave me alone but I convinced him look over the house for the case. It wasn’t there.

We started thinking maybe, somehow, the storm had taken it, or destroyed it. I mean, if it could move through a house and leave it structurally untouched, and wipe someone’s memory, why couldn’t it destroy a briefcase or at least fling it into a hillside a hundred miles away?

We’d asked him over and over about the case and then when we were about to leave he said he knew something was coming. Could feel it. And when he knew for sure, he’d left the case with “Faris.”

We had no idea who Faris was. A mountaineer? A family member? Lane went next door to call an ambulance (and ask if they knew who Faris was) and I scoured the house again.

Nothing. No mention of Faris on the backs of photos or bills or mail. And then I looked out the back window, onto the lake. Tied to a little rotten dock was a sun-bleached boat.

Boats have names, I thought. Sure enough, this one was called Faris. One yellow rope tied it to the dock and another was thrown over the edge. I pulled it out of the reservoir and found the briefcase tied up in a black plastic bag. Still locked, but dry as a bone.

We’d found the damned thing. We’d actually done it.

I heard thunder off on the other side of the lake. Quiet, but coming closer. The sound sent chills all over my body. Lane heard it too. He called to me from the front yard. An ambulance was already on its way. We figured we’d stay as long as we could.

But then we realized Nib was gone. He’d slipped out when I was in the back yard.

We weren’t due to fly out until the next morning so we drove back to Atlanta and found a hotel near the airport. I didn’t tell Lane at the time (sorry) but there were a couple times on that dark road that I thought I saw Nib in the woods. Watching us pass. And then a half hour later I’d see him again. Somehow staying ahead of us. Before Missouri I would’ve shaken it off as exhaustion or paranoia. We can’t afford to shake those feelings off now.

Believe it or not I slept well. Something about the hotel, Lane being there, the people in rooms all around us… I felt safe. I felt like we’d made a plan and we executed. We were on track. But when Lane fell asleep I grabbed the briefcase and put it under the covers. I, and it, were safe under there.

Now we just need to get it open.

Lane flew back to Jacksonville and I’m back home too. The minute I hit the ground I wanted to go get Ali, hug her tight. But that’s not the plan now. I have to be strong enough to stay away. That’s how I protect her.

She’s going to start having the ancestral memories soon. I had her pretty young and I’d barely gotten used to them. I’d seen so little before they faded away. I regret not being better prepared to protect her before I passed them onto her.

No. I can’t do that. We have to stay focused.

The briefcase. The briefcase is something. Now we just need eight numbers. Four and four. This has to be the next complication. And then two more. And then…

I can do this. We can do this.

August 15 - Recruit Edit

Revenir-Aug-15

“1998. Cartocrasmucatalystic. 2017. 1998. Cartocrasmucatalystic. 2017. 1998. Cartocrasmucatalystic. 2017. 1998. Cartocrasmucatalystic. 2017.”

August 16 - Knatz Edit

I just want to be sure my math is right. 8 numbers with 10 options each is 100,000,000 possible combinations, right? Lane?

Okay.

Yeah. So I got to 11111118 before I got a calculator to double check and quit. I’ve been trying to think of numbers that could work, numbers we missed or haven’t used. They wouldn’t be random. We either overlooked them or haven’t unlocked them yet.

I’m not usually on the thread but I emailed the puzzlers. Tink said it’s only him and thirty or so on the thread now. He doesn’t know who’s been attacked and who’s just trying to distance themselves from the mountaineers to try and stay safe.

I haven’t heard from Ascender.

Tink hasn’t heard from Augie.

I thought about calling Martin but if he’s not on the storm’s list…

I worry about you even reading this. I think about the night the forum went down. It took out all those kids at once, because they were connected.

We’re running out of time. If whoever or whatever is coming for us wants to stop us from opening the book… I’ll be the main target now, won’t I?

All I can do is keep trying numbers.

LATER: I woke up thinking about dates. I started putting them in. Tink said this part seemed to be about time so I started with months, then years. Backwards, forwards, the year AGP was founded, the year it shuttered. I’ve been up all night trying different combinations.

In case you were hanging on the edge of your seat, nothing worked.

I might need to get out of the city. Being so close to Ali and not being able to see her feels like torture.

August 16 - Recruit Edit

Mr5yy Aug 16

17 years after two thousand

A message the mounties sent to your housin’

To show the answer to the case

That’s taken up so much of your mind’s space

They got the message 19 years before the date

Somewhere in the year ninety-eight

August 17 - Knatz Edit

I just want to be sure my math is right. 8 numbers with 10 options each is 100,000,000 possible combinations, right? Lane?

Okay.

Yeah. So I got to 11111118 before I got a calculator to double check and quit. I’ve been trying to think of numbers that could work, numbers we missed or haven’t used. They wouldn’t be random. We either overlooked them or haven’t unlocked them yet.

I’m not usually on the thread but I emailed the puzzlers. Tink said it’s only him and thirty or so on the thread now. He doesn’t know who’s been attacked and who’s just trying to distance themselves from the mountaineers to try and stay safe.

I haven’t heard from Ascender.

Tink hasn’t heard from Augie.

I thought about calling Martin but if he’s not on the storm’s list…

I worry about you even reading this. I think about the night the forum went down. It took out all those kids at once, because they were connected.

We’re running out of time. If whoever or whatever is coming for us wants to stop us from opening the book… I’ll be the main target now, won’t I?

All I can do is keep trying numbers.

LATER: I woke up thinking about dates. I started putting them in. Tink said this part seemed to be about time so I started with months, then years. Backwards, forwards, the year AGP was founded, the year it shuttered. I’ve been up all night trying different combinations.

In case you were hanging on the edge of your seat, nothing worked.

I might need to get out of the city. Being so close to Ali and not being able to see her feels like torture.


EDIT:

Saberlane. You owe me a beer. I opened the case.

I kept trying dates. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t let it go. Maybe because Tink said something about time. The left combination is 1998. The right side is 2017. I have no idea what it means, why 2017, but it’s open.

The case is full of wood and metal parts. A bunch of little bits and pieces, like metal tines, a brass plate with holes in it, and flat wooden pieces and trim. It’s definitely supposed to make something. Maybe it’s some kind of magical time travel thing? We’ll be able to communicate with 2017?

Whatever it is, it’s unassembled and assembling is so not my thing. Wanna take a trip to Chicago? On me? I remember you said your dad built things. I know you’re a musical theater major but there’s gotta be some of that carpenter blood in you somewhere.

We’re gonna do this Lane.

August 17 - Recruit Edit

Cheyyyme Aug 17

The key to the case you discovered

Is a clue in itself to the spell we uncovered

During the year you entered in the second space

We ourselves will be in a race

To open a book hidden away

We think you had the answer, back in the day.


August 18 - Knatz Edit

I was supposed to show up for a semester staff meeting today. I called in. If I don't figure this out, job security will be the least of my worries. Lane's landing tonight and he can take over trying to put this thing together. It's a nightmare. There are no instructions. Pieces fit together in different ways. I have them spread all over the apartment. Metal pieces on the dining table (I think they go inside?) and wooden pieces are on the coffee table in the living room. I take a break from one room to work on the other.

So far I have a lid. Or a bottom. A side? Something. I was hoping to give Lane somewhere to start. It's maddening. We don't have time for this!

Even my dreams are about the box. I dreamed I'd somehow put it together and when it was done I could hear a voice coming from the inside. Someone was inside the box and needed my help but I couldn't get the damned thing open. I was scared that if I broke it open I'd hurt them. But if I didn't they'd die. And for some reason I felt like I would too. So I picked it up and smashed it on the ground. And Ali was inside it. And I'd killed her.

August 18 - Recruit Edit

Mr5yy-Aug-18

In the future there is a Mountaineer.

Her name is Alison.

Her wit and intellect have aided us through many complications.

She has a sense of humor which can make people smile.

She gets frustrated when it takes her too long to solve a puzzle no one else could have ever solved.

Her bravery leads her down her own path, when it would be easier to sit idly by.

She has risked her own life to save an innocent girl who was being tormented for her abilities.

And she succeeded in saving this girl and getting her to safety.

She is without a doubt a member of our family, just like she is is a member of yours.

You will have much to be proud of.

You are not alone.

August 19 - Knatz Edit

An Entry

Saberlane is officially my new favorite ginger. Just putting that out there.

I was at my wit’s end. We’d spent something like twelve hours on that thing. That’s in addition to the two days I spent. We were working together, working apart… I had a crushing headache at one point and I had to take a nap. I woke up groggy, on the couch, on the verge of quitting. I just wanted to take Ali, Lane, anybody else who’d fit in my car, and bolt.

And then I remembered the life I’d be sentencing my daughter to. How long could we run? How long would it chase us? Until this book thing is finished or I am, I’m a curse to her. She deserves a greater life than I can give her right now. She will be great. By god I know she will. And to ensure that I had to get my ass off the couch and get back to work.

Then Lane screamed at the top of his lungs.

He’d put the box together. Well, almost… He’d assembled everything, all the metal parts inside. Everything fit perfectly. He said the brass bits had given off one loud ding and he knew he’d gotten it. He demanded I do the honors and put the lid on the box ( I was at least right about that, it’s a box.)

The second I did, it slammed shut and now it’s impossible to open. The color, which was just raw, unstained wood started to change. It got darker until it looked like it was covered in a green-black lacquer. It looks like an antique music box, except on the front there’s a round brass grill, almost like an old speaker. And nothing else.

Well… until all the words started appearing.

On the lid of the box this appeared:

“Scurious breath did lie upon the cheek as Flinter’s hand stretched claws over the burrow. The unowl was hasted. This news wouldst bring many minds to precipious ferriedge. This he knew. The acoded words flew fast with him. Their weight acreepsing his otherwise diregilous path. At the first sight of Castorton he made dive toward the mill tower.”

And on the back side, this was written:

The acoded note Owl brought to Toad: 1 – WITEBKINGIGREDIENT
10 – NHNNONRTHNINENSION
14# – THRONEYTHRAIDTHRORTHRTHRERVICE
15# – WNEHREPEATEDACMLAINGERPXESSION
18 – ROUSONFOUACOUDSOUAT
20 – THEILETTERIIAFTERIIIRIVANDVALSOVIBEFOREVIITVIII
28 – EANTSEFTEREEOLIDAYEEAL
32 – HETOUNDTTORSETAKEST

And then about five minutes later… we got a message from the book. We both screamed that time.

“There must be holes in this unrhyme.
For else how could you find the time?
I wonder would it trouble you
Barring fours from thirty-two?

The mourners all dressed in the nines
For thirty-two’s the length of times
And then unriddle what’s been wrote
To find the heartbreak in the note

A heavy heart upon a feather
The characters all brought together
To ready up the mourning glade
A grieving air’s what must be made”

August 19 - Recruit Edit

Cheyyyme OracleSage Aug 20

“We don’t know if you’re receiving this but If you are then we are a fellow lodge of Mountaineers. We have been working with Augie on Complication 13 but due to unforeseen problems we lost with him. We got your message about the box and it’s riddle. Great work on putting together by the way! We have managed to solve some of it but we’re still working on the rest. If we can we’ll send you what we have other wise it’ll be dictated. Hope you are well and stay safe!”

August 20 - Knatz Edit

My dreams haven’t been the same since Ste. Genevieve. The splintered ancestral memories I used to have are just… gone. Nada. Ascender made me swear the storm didn’t “touch” me, and I did. I’m sure it didn’t. But that’s the only thing that could explain it. Right? My dreams now are… occupied, if that makes sense. Like the opposite of a night terror. I feel like I’m not alone, but it’s… not scary. It’s not exactly soothing, but… it’s like something is reaching out to me. Could be Lane being here for all I know. We ended up sleeping top to toe to keep each other company last night because SOMEONE wanted to watch a scary movie at a godforsaken time like this (me.)

I dreamed about the mountaineers all night. One of those nights where you wake up but every time you fall asleep again, it’s the same dream. Voices. In the dream I thought they were the voices of all the mountaineers who are still left, the lonely few scattered around the world.

Except these voices are hopeful. Encouraging. Not scared. I can’t understand them, but I feel them. Missouri said she felt some sort of connection to something else. Maybe that’s what this is? Maybe the storm got me, or maybe it doesn’t have to touch you? When it got Missouri it reached out to everyone who was on the forum at the time. Maybe it passed through Ascender to em?

Is it only a matter of time before I turn on someone, on Lane? You want to believe that evil feels evil, right? Not helpful. Not hopeful. God, if it’s a force of good in my head… they picked the most cynical sob in Chicago. I’m so not the point person for positive vibes.

Anyway, more importantly… Lane’s still here.

And we made big headway.

He figured out most of the riddles pretty quickly, but then we didn’t know what else to do. Stuck, I started writing down how each riddle was “riddled.” And then, for reasons I know not, I applied the method of riddling to the answers… And it freaking worked!

They’re all numbers. 4, 9, 3, 3, 4, 6, 8, 8. So congrats to us for figuring out a bunch of numbers we don’t know what the hell to do with.

So we took a break, had lunch, and when we came back… there was a new set of clues on the left side of the box:

“The acoded note Toad sent to Mouse:
2 – LETTERYOURFORUSFAILINGWEGRADETHEIR
3 – FHEREFEESFAKEFONEY
4 – THREXFRXCATERPILLAX
6 – YIVNGDIVRIIIIVFIVSTYIVR
12 – TNEFNESUNNENESUNRNE
21 – SEVOFWRVTTENREVORDS
23 – AINBBREVIATIONFINORNINORTHEAST
24 – ZIINHNINAZINO”

I guess it’s gonna be another long night.

August 21 - Recruit Edit

Mr5yy-Aug-21-2

August 22 - Knatz Edit

It’s been a hellish 24 hours. Lane’s still here and he’s not leaving so I don’t know why I’m doing this anymore. I guess part of me thinks this might be the only thing that I’ll leave behind if it comes for me. Maybe I’m leaving this for Ali.

I emailed Tink and the puzzlers for help with this batch of clues. He wrote back a few hours later to tell me they were gone. All but one. Everybody on the puzzler chain but Tink and a kid called Seashifter. Shifter told Tink that the puzzlers were frustrated with how slow and confusing the email chain had gotten, so they’d been secretly working together on a conference call from one of the puzzler’s offices. These calls sometimes had fifteen people on at a time. They knew Tink would freak because of what happened on the forum so they didn’t tell him (I didn’t tell Tink Saberlane was here either.) The puzzlers had been discussing old complications at night to try and find any loose threads (like Lane and me and the case.)

Two nights ago Shifter got stuck at work so he was late for the call. When he got on it there were maybe ten people talking. But it was all gibberish. Nonsense. Someone had been on the call when the storm came for them and it got them all.

Just gone. Kilvesh, Nevergreen, Pippette, those are the ones I knew. They were kids, basically. And now they’re zombies.

How many of us are left… fifty? Less? We’re all too damned scared to pick up the phone now so there’s no way to be sure.

So yeah, anyway.

I finally sent Ascender an email. Screw my pride. I need to know he’s okay. I know ghosting is his thing but there are people who need him. And need to know he’s safe. I’m worried how hard this will hit him. There’s no army to rally anymore. We’re all disappearing.

I dream about this puzzle now. The numbers, the clues… I’m reading them out loud but it isn’t my voice.

We just finished this round and another set showed up. We still have no idea what the hell we’re supposed to do with these numbers. It all seems so damned arbitrary when you’re facing the deaths of your friends and the people you love.

I woke up in the middle of the night. Frank called because Ali had a nightmare and wanted to talk to me. She was in tears.

I told him I couldn’t talk.

I couldn’t risk it, right? I couldn’t risk her.

Mouse’s note she sent to Cat:
8- STIRSOGETHERSOSOMBINESNTOSNE
9 – OHTELEOFREVOERNIGHTERTAVELERSE
13# – THREEEELEERTEERCORMONTIRLEEBEERINNING
17 – VOUTIONGYEISOUN
19 – BONTRIBUTENRCISPENSE
26 – EASUREFOWEAVYNBJECTS
30 – EICHAICEIRDEIANINGEITHING
31 – VISIBEERAYSORSOURCEOFIEEMINATION

August 23 - Recruit Edit

Mr5yy-Aug-23

August 24 - Knatz Edit

Distracted. So damned distracted. Barely sleeping. I considered not telling Lane about the puzzlers so one of us keeps a level head but we have to be prepared for anything.

Thought about us packing up and getting out of town. Being so close to Ali is impossible. But part of me thinks the only thing we have going for us is that the storm shows up when there aren’t a lot of people around to see it. I remember seeing it in the rear view in Missouri. I saw the way it showed up in the woods. If it wanted to catch us it could’ve.

So I’m keeping my ass in Logan Park for now.

I wonder what Ali dreamed about. Will her memories manifest in dreams like mine? Hard to think she might be starting to have ancestral recall and will be confused and scared and I’m not there. Worse, she’s going to start having my memories too. There are things about my life, and about hers, that I wasn’t ready for her to know.

Lane and I don’t discuss it but we’ve taken to not sleeping at the same time. I try to sleep at night. He’s up til dawn and crashes when I crawl into the kitchen for coffee. We’re keeping watch.

He’s a good kid. Wants to do a thousand different things with his life. I want him to be able to. Would he be safer in Jacksonville than he is here, with me? With the box?

We thought we had the next set of numbers down. 69345188. But something’s wrong. The box hasn’t changed. Lane’s breaking down the clues again to figure out where we went wrong.

I can’t look at them anymore so I’ve been ripping apart the book’s clue. “Bring the characters together” stuck with me. Could “characters” mean something besides the animals in the unowl story? Could it mean the actual letters?

August 23 - Recruit Edit

CJ Heighton Aug 24

“The number order that you seek

Only needs a little tweak.

6, 9, 3, 4, you do have straight;

The next four, though, are 5, 8, 8, 8

Apologies if we misspake,

We hope you’ll pardon the mistake!

And if there’s only one more set

Don’t lose hope; we’ll finish yet!

Each piece is one more step we’ve took

To save our friends and free the Book.”

August 24 - Knatz Edit

I’ve been in bed with a migraine most of the day. It’s getting to us both. Weight. Not ton. We figured it out.

This appeared in the bottom of the box:

The message Cat sent on to Vidivinty for preparation:

5 -HIGBIDTIMPERATUR
7 – DRINXIXSMALXAMOUNTX
11 – BCUXIUHOUTXOSDS
16# – LHRGEPHANTWHTHTHUNK 22 -FETAFIXINFINFFOL
25 – EXHALETEUDIBLYTEITHTEELIEFT
27 – DNGAGEHNBONFLICTVITH
29 – RETENHTHTOHTNOHT,ITHTGNORANCHT

We’re out of box sides so this better be it.

August 25 - Recruit Edit

Cheyyyme Aug 25

“The Cat sent on a new array

to friends who hope they’ve won the day.

We conferenced long on what it meant,

unpuzzling what the Cat had sent.

The latest fruits of our debate:

5, 6, 9, 3, 5, 8, 8, 8.

And now we pass them on again

and wait with bated breath to see

if we must still more answers pen,

or if this set completes the key.”

August 26 - Knatz Edit

56935888.

All the clues disappeared.

And then a new one appeared on the lid:

“They will find the mourning song.
Six verses on the wind.
Sing that lullaby to me.
My contents I will lend.”

I guess I was keeping this journal for you. Why else? Lane is here, so there’s no else to read it. I was sending you the clues.

I must’ve known, somewhere. Somehow.

So what’s the deal? Are you trying to help me, stop me, or beat me to the punch?
Who are you?
And how the hell are you inside my head?

August 27 - Recruit Edit

Nimueh-Aug-27

"As the news spread o’er them, The Great Wilds fell still,

Forges dimmed their fires, Hammers ceased their trill,

Great minds paused their pond’ring And their tomes they dropped,

Brave adventurers tarried And their travels stopped,

Guardians of gold shed tears upon their bows

Kindly healers bless her spirit as it goes."

August 28 - Knatz Edit

I want you to know, whoever the hell you are, that I’ve had that song in my head for 24 hours. And I can’t sing. But I did, to the box. After I explained everything to Lane.

The box opened.

“Obscuriotempus” was written on the inside.

We fed it to the book, and this was on a black page:

“Obscuriotempus. More commonly referred to as The Shadow Age. A time known in classical magimystic parlance as The Book of The Dark.

40.7774 -73.9695”

Whatever you’re doing, we both want the book open, so I guess we’re on the same team. I’d just rather you not be in my head.

Lane thinks you’re us, in 2017 (because of the briefcase combination), helping us solve the book using magic that we unlocked by actually opening the book now, in 1998. God, I hope that insanity is true.

It means we survived. It means we succeeded. It means we’re doing everything we can where you are to keep the rest of us, and everybody we love, safe. I gotta believe that.

And if it’s true, and you’re us, it means you already know what I’m about to tell you… Augie’s back.

August 28 - Recruit Edit

Mr5yy-Aug-28

August 29 - Knatz Edit

You seem worried. That doesn’t feel super reassuring. I’m assuming because things are going to get tougher now? I can’t hear you, but I get the gist. It’s like when someone you know is talking to you from another room. You know what they’re getting at even if you can’t hear the words.

Augie wants to meet me somewhere that’s meaningful for us early Mountaineers. I don’t want to say, just in case I’m wrong about who you are, but if I’m not then you already know. There’s something important Augie wants to tell me and he says it’s worth the risk to tell me in person.

I told Saberlane he couldn’t go. Augie just wanted me (sorry Lane), so I sent him to New York with the box. We’re all in danger now. He knows the risk, and he knows what it could mean to bring back a clue from the Ramble.

Right now it could mean everything.

My train leaves in two hours and I’ll try to sleep on board. Feel free to send me good news. I wish you could tell me where we find complication 15. I wish a thousand things. I sometimes even wish I’d never gone looking for magic. But we did. And we found it.

See you soon, nightmare buddy.


August 29 - Recruit Edit

A young woman in hiking boots stands on a trail near the summit of a mountain. No one has yet reached it, but she is determined. She will. She has climbed long and hard, carrying a heavy pack filled with troubles and complications, and of course, she is tired. But as she looks at the clear, untroubled sky before her, she feels a renewed sense of confidence in what she goes to do, a certainty that her next steps will take her where she needs to be. She can feel it; she will reach that summit.

August 30 - Knatz Edit

I went to see Augie with a shard of hope. Lane could find something useful. Augie could help. We could be close. I know you’re wanting me to feel upbeat and hopeful and it’s working, whether I want it to or not.

Augie and I both realized we had no clue what the other looked like but we finally found the two people in the train station who looked like they were worried a magical storm might come at any moment and turn them into brain-washed zombies. We got smashed in a bar next door.

He rambled for hours about proto-mountaineers in World War 2 and before that and the storm and some dark force working in the shadows and how he’d put together the fact that his grandfather had a friend and fellow magic-seeker who also had ancestral memories and my last name. I just have to assume it’s true because I lost my damned power, but as crazy as it all sounded… it also sounded familiar.

He said this isn’t the first time the book had appeared, which also feels right when I hear it.

His grandfather said he tried to save himself and his friends but the storm came for them in the middle of whatever they were trying to do and it messed them all up. They were too late. He said he made it out of Europe with only pieces of his memory and shrapnel in his head.

When he came back it was too hard to hold onto so he buried everything from that time up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And that’s where Augie’s been for weeks. He’s been digging.

And he finally found a box of stuff from the war. Most of it was useless or waterlogged. But not all of it. Inside he found what was left of a Nazi spell book. Yes. You read that right.

Inside the book was something Augie translated as a “bastard hex”. A spell made up of a bunch of spells that he thinks, if performed correctly, could either kill us all, or hide us.

Hide us all from the storm.

But it will erase every memory of our time as mountaineers. Our usernames, knowledge of the book… each other. Anything connected to magic will disappear from our minds. We won’t remember any of it. But we’ll be safe. And we’ll be us. It will take us back to who we were before we ever went looking for the LC.

Augie already talked with Tink. He started up the forum again because it’s going to take all of us together to make this ugly thing work. If it works. The problem is the storm will definitely come for us again when we’re all together.

So Augie gave me a coin his grandfather stole from the SS. I don’t know how it works but he says it saved our grandparents’ lives in the war and it should buy us enough time to perform the erasure before it breaks under the force of the storm.

But I didn’t get it. Why me? Anybody could’ve held the coin. Tink. Augie. Why me? Why did we have to meet?

He said it was because he now knows the friendship we formed this past year really stretches back decades, to our grandparents before us. He said he always valued my candor and my bravery and trusting him with my secrets and he wanted to finally meet and have a drink. See each other face to face and honor the bond we built before it’s all washed away.

He’s been contacting the rest of the lodge to come back one more time. They trust him more than any of the rest of us. If he asks them to come back, they will.

The big question we hadn’t answered was… what about the book? Fourteen complications down. Two to go. We went back and forth the rest of the night about when to do this, if we should do it, and what about the book.

Should we hold off on the spell to try and find the last two complications, or let this all go and save whoever’s left? It could be weeks of waiting and searching and clues and roadblocks, and how many more people will be wiped away while we’re waiting for a damned book to open?

On the one hand, magic. Knowing it’s real but losing all memory of it.

On the other hand, for me at least, Ali.

Believe it or not I was the one who said to wait. Wait to hear from Lane. See what he finds in the Ramble.

I took the train home, feeling confident that one way or another we were going to be okay, damn it. And secretly optimistic that Lane would find something before we had to try this crazy spell. Before we had to forget each other.

But Augie had left a message on my answering machine. While he and I were in a bar debating what to do and when to do it, the storm had come for Tink. And his family, because they knew.

All of them, gone.

So that’s it. We’re going through with the spell.

I guess you weren’t us after all.

August 30 - Recruit Edit

Thank you, Knatz for all of your help. We were glad to be able to work with you. Please take care and stay safe, and always trust in the flow of magiq, wherever it may lead you. Ali will be alright.

August 31 - Knatz Edit

She skipped school today and come to the apartment.

I told her I was having a hard time and it had nothing to do with her. I told her everything was fine. And every time a car door slammed outside I thought the storm had come to take us both.

Tell me what to do.

I don’t know what to do. For the first time in my life.

You think it would be easy for a parent. Sacrifice yourself to be her mother. To be there for her. Done. But is that really what’s best?

Giving up the search and being there for her, whoever I am after this? Or risking everything to try and show her a world that is so much more than anyone wants us to believe?


August 31 - Recruit Edit

-

August 31 - Knatz Edit

This is gonna be a quick goodbye. I’ve learned that goodbyes don’t matter much.

I thought of writing out everything I know, the little that matters, but who knows what’s going to happen to all of this, so I’ll say that in the end we did what we thought was right. We sought the secrets of the world and it cost us. Some more than others.

I just hope some part of what we did here is left behind when we’re all gone. We failed to reach the top, but part of me believes some good might still come from our long climb up the mountain.

Mountaineer's Lodge Edit

Ascender Edit

September 7 - Ascender Edit

"If anyone’s left, know I’m with you.

The Storm stole parts of me I can’t get back. More memories fall through the break everyday. But I won’t just give the rest away.

It can chase me the rest of my life. You’re not alone. We will rebuild this. We will find a way to fight.

Ascender"

September 9 - Recruit Edit

Ascender, we’re here! We thought you guys were lost. We were talking to Augie on Complication 13 and then we lost touch with him and were scared the Storm got you. We briefly talked to Knatz and know she figured out Complication 14, but we lost her too.

We’re a small group of mountaineers working on the complications and after compilation 12 and the third assessment everything went haywire. The Book stopped sending us anything, but instead pointed us to your lodge. We figure we’re meant to be helping you.

We want this to succeed and the Book of Briars open as badly as you. What can we do to help you? Do you know anything of Complication 15?


September 9 - Ascender Edit

“I’m sorry you lost contact with everyone. It means you don’t know what happened here on the forum. Augie offered mounties a chance to hide from the storm, but they had to forget everything about magic.

He gave Knatz a coin he said would hold off the storm long enough for us all to get on the forum and perform it together. But I know what those coins are for. They can mask you from far off forces, maybe shield someone up close momentarily, but I know they can’t protect dozens of people at a time from something like the storm.

So I knew Augie was lying. But I also knew he wouldn’t do something to endanger these people, anybody actually. He’s the best man I’ve ever known. So I tried to get back in time, tried to get to him, to stop him from doing something stupid. The bastard spell was real. And it worked. And the storm came for them all.

But Augie had cast something else on the mountaineers who showed up. Something secret. Something that channeled all harm that would be done to them, to him. He bought them time to forget, by sacrificing himself. And I was too late to stop him. It wiped him away completely. And far as I know, the mountaineers walked away not remembering anything, and the storm thought it did its job.

We’re the last ones left who remember.

I don’t know what’s happening with the 15th complication. I don’t even know how long we have left. The Book is fading. It’s not there half the time I check it. It’s like it knows what happened.

And to be honest, I’ve been working on something else. Something that won’t save the world or uncover the truth or bring magic back. Not now. But maybe someday. And I have to do it before I lose the memories I still have left.”

September 10 - Recruit Edit

Thanks for telling us what went down… I’m sorry about what happened with Augie, he sounds like he was a really good friend. We knew a small amount of what went down, but hearing the full story in detail is a shock. Could you tell us what you plan on doing? If we can help with your plan, would you help us with the 15th Complication?

September 10 - Ascender Edit

I don’t know how much I can help with complication 15 but if you tell what you know, what you need, I’ll do what I can. But I have to tell you, my mind is elsewhere these days.

First off, the Joradian safeguard seems to work here, on the front face at least, but the storm can get in through us, bypassing its protection. Don’t spend to much time here. We jeopardize anyone who’s still hiding and checking here for help when we do.

Do you remember when Luminor found the poem hidden in complication 3? It had nothing to do with that phase so we thought it was just a bonus narrative. (Back when a lot of us thought this was some kind of game. We were all naive then.) Well, a couple months ago I found a reference in a book from the “AG vault” the Benefactor found. It was a book about witchcraft and historical magic myth. It referenced a half-finished “story spell” called The Lantern of Low Hollow. The page had the illustration of a snake. The same snake that surrounded the Record of Loss in complication 3. The poem they found was The Lantern of Low Hollow.

The old story says there was a blacksmith whose wife had become possessed, ranting and raving, hurting herself and other people. Cursing god and swearing allegiance to the devil. Her doctor wanted to perform trepanation. Their community wanted her drowned. Their friends and family abandoned them. Desperate, the blacksmith wrote a prayer, a poem, that he hoped God would hear. He hoped it would help reveal she wasn’t possessed at all, but as he suspected, being controlled by some physical force. Not by some devil, but by a vengeful person. With the poem he created a way to hear “voices on the wind.”

I’d tried it on the book, but it didn’t work. So I forgot about it. Until we saw Missouri and the others in the woods, like they were commanded by someone to wait for us. Until Knatz and I saw the storm firsthand. When it touched me and I thought I saw something in it. Heard something. I started wondering what it was and how it worked. Was it some metaphysical force of nature, bent on stopping anyone who tried to learn the truth? Or was it guided by something, or someone else.

So a few weeks ago I rented a motel cabin, left my laptop logged into the forum, and hid in another room across the street. The storm came again. Searching for me. I cast The Lantern of Low Hollow and heard the voice of someone telling it to come for us. To wipe the mountaineers out. To “seek them and take their minds until none remain who know.”

I’ve been luring it out, the storm. Listening. Trying to figure out who’s talking to it, where they are, and how I can get to them. There are other sounds, other thoughts, I just don’t have the power to hear them. But they have to slip up at some point. Say something that reveals them. I know I’m playing a dangerous game. The storm’s almost found me more than once. I think it hears me too, listening. And it’s getting closer to catching me every time I light the lantern fire.

September 13 - Recruit Edit

Actually we don’t know Luminor.

This is going to be complicated. We are from another lodge, another community entirely. And it’s become clear to us we’ve been following a similar, but different path from the Book of Briars than you.

After the third assessment the book stopped speaking to us. It simply left us a small window we could use to communicate to someone. We had no idea who. Turned out it was your lodge.

Our tin foil hat wearing theorists (I’m assuming your lodge had them too?) thinks we were a backup lodge. We were meant to learn how to solve our complications, and learn some lore, but we were never meant to open the Book ourselves. We think the book stopped speaking to us as a safeguard of sorts. To protect us so we could solve the last complications. Unfortunately for your lodge it still wants to be opened. So it had to keep it’s connection to your lodge open and it sent us to help you. Maybe with your connection to the book open and our remaining resources, we can make this work.

This was, to put it lightly, a punch in the gut to all of us. We worked this hard to open the book only to find out it didn’t want us to do it, but someone else. We soul searched a while. Some of us even wanted to quit. But in the end calmer heads prevailed. We want that book open, no matter who does it. That’s why we are here.

Without any information from the Book we are totally in the dark. If it’s sent you any communication about the 15th Complication, we could use it.

Also to help you out, here’s what we know about the storm. Forgive me for the parts you already know. This is from a history we were given by our own Benefactor.

It begins with Anne of Brittany and a secret guild of artists who studied Magiq. Upon her death the guild split into two paths they intended to follow to search for magiq in the world, the path of Wool and the path of Silver. (Don’t ask me why they are named that. Her burial rituals were rather disrubring.)

The path of Wool changed over the years and became the group known as Monarch’s Mountain, our ancestors. They discovered a land outside of ours, a place of magiq called Neithernor. It’s a pocket world of sorts, protected from whatever happened to ours that took away magiq. The Monarch’s were happy there for a while.

Eventually those who followed the Path of Silver found it as well. For a time they lived there together in peace, but one day, we’re unclear why, war started between the two. Whoever started it, the Monarch’s won, and banished the Silver from Neithernor.

The Silver, were not happy, and holed up in a corner of our world known as the Palace of Doors. They’re still there, plotting to get back to Neithernor, collecting any Magiq they can find, and worst of all, sending their creation the Storm to destroy anyone who knows about Magiq so they can keep it all to themselves.

There’s a machine in this world. Ancient, angry and massive. It wants to destroy everything we have built, everything every generation of Mountaineers have built and keep it for itself. It will not hesitate to wipe our minds to do so.

We have to stop this Storm. We have to stop the Silver. What happened to your lodge can’t happen to another. You and we can make that happen.

All we need from you is to tell us anything the Book says. Anything it added after the 14th Complication and the word Obscuriotempus. That’s the start.

September 13 - Ascender Edit

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. What to ask.

I lured the storm out yesterday, like before, by signing into the forum and then hiding. I cast The Lantern and I could hear the voice that controls it… I had a pen with me because I felt the need to write out the words last time and the spell mentions that might happen. My hand scrawled out what the voice was telling the storm. I was lost in it… listening, trying to find something that would give me a lead. There were other sounds there I couldn’t make out, like always…

But then I heard other voices.
And my hand started writing those words too. It was chaos. Painful. A dozen voices, maybe more. They were all talking at once and then, like a door shut, they were gone.
I hid from the storm until it passed. And then I looked at the paper.
There were commands for the storm:
Seek them out.
take their minds until
none remain who know.

But I also wrote…
help us open the book
now in our time.
paradox
If we give it to Ascender and he frees the storm
we have a problem
need his help
we’d change history
The storm
seen in our time
to help us
The Council is rationing power
might jeopardize the plan

I didn’t understand where it was coming from until I checked my laptop. You sent the message to me while I was logged in.
After I’d cast the spell. I think your thoughts were channeled here somehow. For less than a minute I could hear you.
Who are you? Really?
What are you trying to do?
How much of what you wrote me is a lie and how much is the truth?
I need you to tell me everything.

September 15 - Recruit Edit

Okay here’s everything.

Everything I told you is true. We are Mountaineers. Our Book of Briars stopped speaking to us after Fragment (we call them Fragments) 12. All it left us was a window to your lodge that I’m speaking through now. We were apparently meant to help you open your book, and that really hit us hard.

The only part I kinda left out was we’re not in the next town over. We are talking to you from the year 2017.

After the 12th Fragment, the storm came for us, like it did for you, like it has for the generation before you, and probably a bunch before that. The keepers of the Book of Briars decided to do something different this time. Instead of letting the Storm wipe the mountaineers and preserve the Book, they decided to risk protecting us, and let the Book burn. Our Book of Briars is in ashes, and we don’t think there will ever be another. Then it connected us to you, and your existing Book. We need to open yours. There are no second chances here.

I’m sure you have many questions that you do or don’t want to ask. What happens to you? What happened to Augie, or other people? We know Augie. He’s resting well in a hospital in Maryland. With the help of some Magiq he was able to speak to us a bit and give us some important information. He’s stubborn and insistent on protecting everyone as always.

And we know you.

At some point in the future, at least in the history we know, you go on to gather a group of people to search for Magiq after a special book is found. You’ll know it when you see it. That group of people snowballed into the Mountaineers we are today. You are our founder. As far as we know you’re still alive, about 9 months ago you left on some quest you were rather nebulous about. Apparently being brave and crazy and sort of a loner is a trait you’ve kept for a couple decades if that helps.

Right, that’s mostly sorted. Let’s get down to business.

Since we last talked to you our Benefactor revealed something fascinating. The second half of the Lantern of Low Hollow. (Attached below).

Where your half is designed to hear voices, this half is designed to take control of the voices. With these two pieces together, we think we could control the storm and tell it to disperse. Also, we’ve discovered that the storm has the power to take things from the past. That’s how it’s changed history. Before we make it disperse, we think we can ask it to bring your Book of Briars into our present, and open it here.

Now the dilema. We didn’t know whether or not to give you the second half. Because in our present, the Storm exists. If you control it, and disperse it, then we’ve changed history and who knows what chaos that might cause?

But you know what? I’m a Balimoran. Let’s cause a bit of chaos and let the Magiq fall where it may. We trust you, Ascender. We always have.

We have a plan to use the spell to end the Storm. That assumes we get your half (please?) and the Storm still exists in this time. Before we end it, we hope to bring the book forward to a more stable time with no Storm, and living Mountaineers and open it. Then maybe we’ll solve world hunger while we’re thinking big.

In all seriousness, I want our plan to go forward, but I’m not going to (and can’t if I recall) talk you out of using your best judgement. Here’s the second half.

=================Edit

Only a partial diary entry and the last three stanzas of this spell story have been found. Without the first half, the spell seems to be inert. The remains of the poem seem to infer its purpose was to first hear the “commanding voice” of a magiq user on the wind, and then take control or hijack the voice, whereupon one could either control the suffering, or break the malevolent hold over them.

This spell is steeped in the new world witch hunts of the 17th century.

“It has worked. Evelyn is not possessed. There is a voice on the air that commands her to do these things. To howl and hurt herself and those around her. I have heard it. Just tonight. My ears prick at its whisper. My pen scratches out its thoughts. I know now that someone has taken the reins of my beloved’s mind. There is a verse on the tip of my tongue and the edges of my fingers. A verse that might allow me to break the voice’s hold, to usurp its command. But though I have the wordly skills to bend its voice to me, I do not have the strength to break its will.”

I lack both skill and sufficient power to rid my bride of this curse. Some demented force beyond these walls seeks to drive her to madness, to drag me tooth and nail behind her, and all that I am able to do is listen as it tears her apart. What I would be, or break, to have rid of it.

Though it seems the second half of the spell story was finally designed (referred below), the first half of this accidental spell has never been recovered.

“I cast all ill intent aside
The song begins to wane
As dark dominion loses hold
And burns upon my flame
I am become the voice aloft
High above the ashes
Ringing in the darkened eaves
And slipping through the sashes
The reins are now belong to me
To stay or turn to ill
To set the dark devoted free
Or do with as I will”

September 15 - Ascender Edit

You’re the mountaineers I always hoped we could be.

If this is true, I have an insane choice to make. I could try to control the storm here, now. And risk changing everything for you, and risk giving you the chance to see this through… for what? I don’t know what happened with the complications. I don’t know where to go, how to start. Do I really think I have a chance at finishing this on my own, with the book fading more every day? While outrunning the storm?

Do I try what I’ve tried to do my whole life, or do I try to come up with a way to make the world you live in happen?

I have questions I need answered. Did I tell you how I managed to outrun the storm for twenty years? What else did I tell you about it? About us here, now? About the book? I need to know about me, then, so I can figure out what to do, now.

September 18 - Recruit Edit

The past little while we’ve combed through everything you ever posted, and we’ve harangued the first Mounties you brought together for this generation to see what you’ve told them. In the end the answer is ‘not a lot’.

One quote you put into a post saying “It took me almost two weeks to get to the States and get out again without going through border control or booking transportation in my name. It’s not easy to stay off the grid and get across the world, but I’ve been doing this a long time.” In our history, you’ve been hiding and running for a long time.

One time you mention that the mountaineers had ‘kept secret in the past…and it cost us’.

Another time you mentioned some ‘thing’ came for you and the other '94 Mountaineers, but you never elaborated beyond that.

When the Book of Briars arrived and contacted us, you seemed as honestly surprised as the rest of us.

The way we figure it, if we’re not changing history one of two things happened. Either you deliberately didn’t tell us what was coming, perhaps in fear of scaring us away, or maybe you just didn’t know it’d happen again. Or, as you mention earlier your memories are still slipping away. It’s possible you just won’t remember much of this discussion and what I’ve told you at some point, and only remember that you need to keep moving and find the truth.

It actually really pains us to suggest you spend the next 20 years in hiding, waiting for a chance to bring the Mountaineers back. No one would blame you if you took your shot now. But I’m afraid I doubt we could help you so you’d be without a lot of backup. Plus if you change history we have no idea how we would have helped Augie and Knatz with Complication 13 and 14. But like I said before. Sometimes you have to let Chaos run wild.

My fellow mountaineers did want me to mention one fact I neglected to mention. Our numbers. We currently have almost 2000 Mouintaineers in our lodge in some capacity. All of them owe what they know and believe in in some part to you. If you do change history and we never actually have this conversation (that’s like Sentence #109 of the ones I never thought I’d write before I joined the Mounties) then on behalf of all of us thank you for everything.

On a last side note though. Can you please send us your half of the Lantern before you do anything? If you succeed in stopping the storm, then no harm done we won’t get it. If not, well we’re going to need it. Not to be dark, but we have to cover our bases.

Be careful, Ascender.

September 18 - Ascender Edit

It almost caught me. I finally got away after running for hours. The lantern spell never broke the entire time it was looking for me. I finally heard what the other sounds are. They’re voices. The thoughts of other people it took.

I know it seems crazy but I swear I heard Augernon. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the time it stopped coming after me, so yes, I could be wrong, about Augernon. But I’m not wrong about the voices.

I have to admit I was going to try and control it. See if I could at least. But I couldn’t get hold of it, it was too strong, and before I could control it or disconnect from it, it found me. I have to get as far away as possible from all of this if I’m going to survive, if I’m going to last long enough to make it to you.

The only problem… I’ve either kept all of this from all of you, or I don’t remember you or what I know. But if I’m right, if I did hear the thoughts of other people in the storm, that means they might be able to hear them too. And if it ever catches me, they’ll know what you’re planning to do.

Before seeing what Augernon did, I might’ve risked it, just run for it, out of pride, out of recklessness. But he took the hit for us. For all of us. I have to lose the war today if we ever hope to win it decades from now. I can’t just count on losing the memories that could jeopardize all of this. I have to perform the bastard spell on myself.

I don’t know how effective it will be because there’s no one left here to help me cast it, but I can’t risk slipping up and giving you away. I know, from you, I still run. So I somehow remember what the stakes are. I know I have to go off the grid (which isn’t new to me.) And I still remember Augernon. Somehow. But something is still out there, looking for me. So I don’t forget completely. I figure the bastard spell is my best chance for how I get there, how I survive and bring you all together. So maybe Augernon saves us all.

I just can’t believe this is what it comes down to. I thought that being brave would be enough. It isn’t. I should’ve counted on them more. Depended on them, believed in them. Been there for them. But now it’s done. Now I just have to do what I can to make sure the fight goes on. I can’t let you down too. All of this has to be for something. Unlock that damned book, Mountaineers. For all of us ‘94s.

It has worked. Evelyn is not possessed by some demon. There is a voice on the air that commands her to do these things. To howl and hurt herself and those around her. I have heard it. Just tonight. My ears prick at its whisper. My pen scratches out its thoughts. I know now that someone has taken the reins of my beloved’s mind.

There is a verse on the tip of my tongue and the edges of my fingers. A verse that might allow me to break the voice’s hold, to usurp its command. But though I have the wordly skills to bend its voice to me, I do not have the strength to break its will.

I lack both skill and sufficient power to rid my love of this curse. Some demented force beyond these walls seeks to drive my wife to madness, to drag me tooth and nail behind her, and all that I am able to do is listen as it tears her apart. What I would be, or break, to have rid of it.

[Use a lantern with new oil and an unburned wick or an unlit candle to represent your untainted intentions. Find a dark and quiet place. It’s helpful to be near the person or thing you believe is being coerced. Light a new flame and repeat the incantation. If successful you will not only hear the disembodied voice but may also be driven to speak or write the words you hear spoken.]

The voice on waves of aether’s air
Be drawn upon the light
I call you from the nether’s lair
To bring you into sight

Whisper toward the lantern, mine
A fire burning clear
Your shadow thoughts are bending now
And turning to my ear

That sullen song is echoing
Black bell that has been rung
Your words are at my fingertips
And spilling from my tongue