Hub2 Ember: Adventure Journal

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Thursday, May 30, 48670

I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that the spell is, technically, called "Hold Person" -- thus implying that despite someone's judgement that it should be used on me, they're still admitting, deep down, that I'm a person. Who am I kidding? That's not much comfort. Maybe I should have a bumper sticker made for Mara's hood. "FAERIE ON BOARD" might work. Or..."BEWARE OF WATCH-FAERIE"? That might send the wrong impression. "THIS ISN'T THE FAERIE YOU'RE LOOKING FOR"? "FAERIES ARE PEOPLE TOO!" Except, we already established that technically, they know that. Maybe Mara can think of something better. Perhaps "DETECT BEFORE YOU LEAP" would be more instructive.

I know I should be thankful she didn't choose a spell that was more...offensive. And that it didn't work. But I'm just not good enough to be like that yet. Every day I see that scar on my arm, my leg, they sting all over again. But now I can't just be angry. Now I feel bad -- like it's my fault, like I shouldn't make people so angry, like I'm the one who did something wrong. Like I'm the one who should be better. Having a conscience is hard work. I thought it might be hardest at the bottom, but it just gets harder as I climb. It will be worth it some day, Oak. Love you.

Sunday, June 3, 48670

Told a fortune today. The guy in the corner of The Dead Duck. I don't know why I offered. I haven't done a free one for a long time. Something about him felt like a little tug of kinship of some kind. So I asked, and he agreed. He threw a lot of dark runes, dark for people and shiny for coin. Money is so new to me, it's still striking to find anyone with that much gold and riches. But there is always a price, right? He's the kind who would not talk about such things, but...Isa, Berkano, so many darkened runes tell that he has, perhaps, paid the price in his relationships with others. He's a dark creature, whatever kind of man he is. My kind of dark. Why did I go? It was all I could think of. We have to find out who is after us. Please don't see me there, Oak. It's not my fault. Which moments of my life do you live? I imagine I must only see the best of you. All the gods in this life cannot help me if you only see the worst of me.

Thursday, June 7, 48670

I think I just met someone famous. Apparently, these woods we travelled through to get to the Temple of Eternal Night is rumored to be the home of the original Bronze dragon. So I'm flying above and scouting and suddenly half the party bolts...and then this guy I can't see says "Oops, sorry." It was totally dragonfear. I mean, he didn't identify himself, but you have to wonder. I apologized, just in case. It's good to be nice to powerful people.

Friday June 8, 48670

It has been a long time since I bathed in the presence of others, let alone under the watchful eye of a temple and deity. I think everyone else was either distracted by the temple or too embarrassed to look anyway. I'm not sure whether my uncomfortableness stems just from showing more of myself when I'd prefer to show less, or if it's still that nagging reminder every time someone new sees my oldest scars. Time has not dulled that moment. Rather, every reminder brings back each of those moments since -- like the priestess, most recently. This place can cleanse my body, but there are parts of my soul it will not wash clean.

Tuesday June 19, 48670

Another dream. Bright light through crystal shards, a faerie-sized home, the warm feeling of seeing a friend. I am glad she has those feelings, but it's always so hard to wake up. It has been a while since I saw her face. That always hits me harder. I know Mara means well when she asks me about stuff, but talking about it never makes it easier. At least I have a friend now too.

And then we arrived in the town of farmers. I'm so afraid to let anyone see me. At least when Mara told Nib not to be afraid, he listened to her. He seems to be okay with me. It sounds like I'll mostly be snooping outside of town anyway. Maybe I won't even have to see a farmer. The most wonderful thing about my dreams is having a break from that fear. I know your life is not easy, Oak, but I am eternally grateful this is one pain you do not have to suffer.

Tuesday June 26, 48670

One hundred and one years. They look like a handful of glitter dancing on the wind...whirling by in a blur, with bright spots and dark spots and not much in between. Being out away from the people and away from the town is nice though. I found an adorable boa to snuggle and picked fresh fruit. I smelled the air and the earth and slept under the open sky. Tents are useful when we travel, but every now and then, I need this freedom. And I can see why people out here might tend to worship darkness and night. But tonight, the stars are beautiful and I do not have to convince anyone else of who I am or who I wish to be. Happy birthday, Oak.

Monday July 16, 48670

Vitra and I had an interesting meeting today. We thought we were going to see some middling priest of Ramver about some research, but instead we found the top 5 members of The Council. They talked to Vitra for a little while and gave her a bit list of things to look for. I'm sure at least some of them could see me sitting there, but no one tried to talk to me. I didn't really know what to do. There were a lot of unspoken things in that room, tensions and questions that cannot be answered. What would you think if you saw that? Do you even see me, when I'm hiding from everyone else? Somehow, I imagine we would always be able to see each other.

Monday August 14, 48670

Another day, another dream -- but this one was different. When I dream, I see what Oak sees. This time, she was talking to me. More than ever, I feel like if I told someone, they'd say it was "just a dream" or wishful thinking. But I don't believe that. It's her. It's really her. Why would she be looking for me? Why would she even want to meet me? I suppose I always assumed that if she knew about me, if she had the same dreams, she saw the bad things I do. She saw me spend so many years truly hurting people, saw how everyone who can see me reacts. I assumed she saw what I see in the mirror. "We'll find each other in the middle somewhere." My sister is so smart. More than ever, I need to find her. First, I need to learn how she spoke to me, and how to help her do that. How to be strong enough that I can talk to her as well.

I need help. But now that I am caught up in something so big, with gods and artifacts and traveling the world...who can I trust? I'm not sure I can trust anyone. I may need to do this on my own. No -- with my sister. With just the help of my sister. I have waited a long time to write those words.

Sunday August 20, 48670

Poor Mara. She had to witness, too late to help, seeing someone she's obviously close to sacrifice himself to take the life of her high priestess. He used some special dagger that he asked Astera to bring back to the temple of Ramver in Skryfe. What a burden to bear. I've carried difficult things in my heart before, but this is so much bigger than any of us. I hope Mara is OK. I hope Astera is OK. I hope the Hub is OK.

Thursday September 1, 48670

I met a god today. The temple was glowing, and when we walked inside, there was Ramver, standing at his own altar. It was both overwhelming and not, at the same time. I should be totally cowed by a power like that...I don't understand. But he spoke to Astera, including giving her a message from Pussich himself that she was doing a good job. Her family must be so proud. All that family -- so many brothers and sisters. Parents. I can't even imagine.

Monday October 3, 48670

I'm at a loss for words. I can't even process what I saw yet. But I watched the whole thing, because I needed to know someone was there to witness it. Something went wrong, during the ritual. Swirling portals to the abyss and the celestial plane. A giant balrog. And astral diva. I actually touched her -- the diva. With my touch of destiny, on the way by. I can only hope she prevails. I tried to tell the guard. I tried to tell the mage guild. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. They practically leveled the city. I'm not sure why I thought it was so important to watch the whole thing, but that experience is now a part of who I am, and who I will be some day.

Thursday October 6, 48670

Rebuilding is hard, especially when the world is going just a little bit haywire. I tried to help, I found some blankets and food at least. Then it stormed a bit, and then it started raining tiny giraffes. I caught one, as he fell. We ate lettuce together and played hide and seek, except we somehow always knew where the other one was. We got lost anyway and then I picked him up and flew home. He liked to lean his head down on my shoulder when I carried him. All the other tiny giraffes disappeared, but somehow, Figgy was still there.

Friday October 7, 48670

Well, it's official. I went to the mage guild to update my registration. His full name is listed as Finnegan. He's one of a kind. Just like me.

Monday October 10, 48670

Mara got her mantis back today, with the recording of the ritual. From what we could see, a solar angel and a huge balor came through. That explains the extent of the destruction. Watching it brought back the whole scene. I think I'll be seeing that for a while. Oh no. Oak, I really hope you didn't have to watch any of that with me.

Sunday October 16, 48670

Met another new person today. Her name is Rena. She got teleported into the same warehouse we did. I guess it was a good thing, because the chaos monsters had almost killed Astera a few times. I just wanted to go pick some apples. Instead, chaos beasts and dealing with a new person giving me the same old look. Oak, I'm tired.

At least I still got my apples later.

Tuesday October 18, 48670

A giant book of demons. Weird null magic from the void. A bone devil forging us a letter with a bone quill. Regular conversations with the High Priest of Ramver. A giant FLOATING STOMACH with nasty sharp teeth. A void bomb.

We were heading outside, but Maggie was still in there when it...happened. I don't even know who to thank anymore, but Manny was able to heal her in time. I've never had friends like this. It was scary to come that close to losing someone.

Sunday October 23, 48670

Mara is dead. Astera's little brother is dead. Manny just dropped dead in the middle of a sentence. He got better a half hour later. Some people are dead for a few minutes. Some people have been dead all day. I know these weird things have been happening, and I know most of them wear off the next day. But it's hard to see so many lifeless people around just waiting. I think the Hub must be hurting. Something is broken. Are we making it better? Or are we making it worse?

Wednesday October 26, 48670

I met an archmage today. I never thought I would meet an archmage. I wish you could've been here, Oak. She even set a place at the table for me. She knows so much about so many things. How did I get from sleeping, hungry, in a tree to a four-course dessert with an archmage? Things move so fast sometimes, but I still feel like I'll never find you.

Friday November 4, 48670

We fought a bunch of void undead and found a box that unfolds into a boat that sails through the sky. I really can't believe I wrote that sentence. I think that's all for today.

Wednesday November 9, 48670

I've never flown so fast before. Unfortunately, it meant we missed our stop at the north tower, and kind of went all the way to the land of the Frost Elves in one day. It's even colder than I could possibly have imagined -- but we're here. We're actually here.

Oak, I was afraid to say it, but we're going to try to come to Faerie too. If we made it here...there's a chance we really can make it there. I don't know if it's going to be home for me. I'm scared it will be. I'm scared it won't be. I just don't know.

Saturday November 12, 48670

Today we met the Snow Queen. I can't even imagine how old she is. How does she even process so much time? Is what's going on with the gods and the Void and all these things so incredibly world-altering, it disturbs even her?

Friday November 18, 48670

I'm trying, Oak, but I slip more often than not. My first instinct was to assume it was a trap. The hunting party seemed nice, the mastodons were easy enough to handle. But no one warned us there was a chance of Remorhaz ambushing us after. It ate Manny. It killed my friend. Of course I thought it was a trap. I tried to think what you would do. So I looked. I just looked. Just in case. And there they were, two other teams of frost elves with similar ambushes.

I was angry. I saw frost worms. I set them on fire. I'm trying, Oak, but sometimes I slip. Sometimes I do things for the wrong reason, even if they turn out right.

Saturday November 19, 48670

I don't know what the Snow Queen did or why, but Manny is alive again. He has crazy frost elf eyes, but he's alive again. I don't understand how I feel. Is he still the same person? He seems to be. I'm so relieved, but I'm still scared. I miss you.

Sunday November 20, 48670

We spoke with the Snow Queen a second time. She gave us the item we needed, she told us what she could about the Void. She confirmed that we are going to be much more involved with the Song and the Silence than I ever wanted to be. It's all so big, Oak. I have to talk to three more of these ancient beings? I have to hunt down beings of such power they could squish me with their thumb? What could we possibly do to help the Song of Creation?

Something terrible is happening to the frost elves. I think maybe it has been for a long time, but something we did, or said, or something about us being here, has sped it up. She was crying, Oak. The tears of an entire race of people across hundreds or thousands of millennia. No one should have to carry so much.

Saturday November 26, 48670

Well, against the advice of the Dwarven senate, we met the Heart of Stone. It actually spoke to us, and answered our questions, more or less. Its voice almost killed us. Almost. Good thing I brought protection.

I'm worried about Mara. These headaches she gets -- I don't think they're normal. I think something's wrong. She gets them when she thinks to hard or talks about things she shouldn't know. I'm afraid if I ask her about them, it will hurt her even more. She has taken such good care of me. I should figure out how to help her.

Sunday November 27, 48670

I found somewhere to set up and throw runes today. I get so wrapped up in all these crazy things we are doing, I forget how much I need those small, familiar things. Do you have something like that, Oak? It's almost like being able to go to a safe place and wrap yourself up in a blanket that smells like home, even when you're half a world away. Or at least, what I imagine home would smell like, I guess.

Sunday December 4, 48670

We got to the elflands today. I met a nice person. Her name is Rin. She reminded me of all the things I actually miss about living in the woods -- my woods, that I know like the back of my hand. I miss the wind in the leaves. I miss feeling the suns come up every morning and set every night. I miss watching the moons when I wake up in the wee hours of morning. I miss the snakes and the beetles and the lizards I used to greet every day. I guess I can see why they don't want to hurt anything here. I just really hope I don't meet any elven bunnies.

Wednesday December 7, 48670

I'm...worried about Maggie. She's having nightmares. We tried to talk about what being "void-touched" means, but there's just only so much we know. We're already finding the oldest beings in the realm and asking them crazy questions. With so many big things going on, are we going to be able to help Maggie too?

Also, I saw the Summer Lady. I guess the group talked to her, and she said something terrible about Mara. Rin was so upset about it. And Mara said some strange things, and got another headache, and I'm worried about Mara. All I do is worry, Oak. Is that really what it's like to have friends?

Thursday December 8, 48670

Lir found something out about those titles Ghada gave us. Apparently, they appear in some kind of prophecy, which says we will cause a terrible cataclysmic event. Then again, prophecies usually say what the reader wants them to. Though it's already pretty clear we're playing some part in a major event. Oak, please help me make the right choices. I'm still learning. I don't know how to do this yet. I really don't want to get this wrong.

Friday December 9, 48670

In the middle of the night, Oak called me. I don't know how, and she said it was giving her a headache, but somehow, she actually called me. She seems to know about the same prophecy, and she's in the faerie lands, and a lot of people don't want us to go there, but some do. She wants to see me, she wants to meet me, but...she said anyone from the army or the government won't want us there and will make us leave. It sounded even worse than here. We already can't talk to the Summer Lady. I really wanted to see the Ent King. I really wanted to see home. I really wanted to see my sister.

Monday December 12, 48670

I'm on my way, Oak. I promise, I'll find you.

Tuesday December 20, 48670

There it is. The Faerielands. The beach is a rainbow and the sky is glowing. The colors are all turned up and the light is beautiful and the jungle is amazing and I feel grayer than I've ever felt before in my whole life. You're so beautiful, Oak. I can't imagine you thinking that about me. Somehow I also can't imagine you not. I'm almost there, Oak.


Oh, Maggie. It's worse than a bit of elemental void, it's some kind of intelligent parasite. What did we let happen to you. And Manny flew into a rage like I've never seen, continuing to fight against us even after all the monsters were gone.

Wednesday December 21, 48670

I met the summer fae army today. I think I made them angry. The Mudflower lady leading them was mean and spiteful and doesn't listen. But I'm not backing down. I'm doing whatever it takes to find you, Oak. The Gods protect me, lest I die trying.

I also met someone nice. Shade Carrot Breath, former Royal Archivist. He...said he met you. I mean he said a lot of things and they're all very important and all I can think right now is, he met you. And you're a bit...pixie. Sis, what are you trying to do?

Thursday December 22, 48670

This might take a few pages.

The closer I got to your room, the more I just wanted this all to be over. I tried so hard, I wasn't sneaky enough. They saw me, Oak, and they moved, and they blocked the door, but I could hear your voice. I could hear you. So close. I knew I could fly past him. All I could think was that I was ready to die trying. I didn't actually feel the blade bite into me until I was already past him and holding you, Oak. And by then, it almost didn't matter how fast I was dying. I'm still glad Maggie saved me.


I don't think I've let you go since I found you. The guard who struck me feels so terrible. But he didn't know. How could he? His mind was poisoned, shaded by magic, something. It's not his fault. But it's nice that he wants to protect me now. No one has ever done that before. And this land...I always wanted a home, but I never dreamed a place could be part of me like this. Part of us. I couldn't have this without you, Oak.


There it is. A white stone palace, set into a mountainside. The marble palace. My half of home. Did you know Queens were supposed to make speeches? I think I forgot about that. I'm so used to being scared now, it's normal. No, it's not normal. It's just constant. But with you here, Oak, in this place...I think I can do anything. Even make a commanding address to a courtyard filled with winter fae. Never in my wildest dreams.


I need to see this place with my own eyes. It's one thing to be able to...feel it. But I want to see it and live it and hear it and smell it and really know what it is. I need to sit on a street corner and see what life here is like. Talking to important people in the palace is all well and good. But I need to know MY people. And I am not palace people. I am not court people. I am street people.

Friday December 23, 48670

Oak, you are amazing. You've been hidden away for so long, in a tiny space. I don't know how you managed. And here you are, brilliant and regal and holding me together. They would not look up to me like that, these summer fae. I don't know what crazy entity decided we could do this, but whatever it is, it was right about one thing -- we need each other. Deeply and absolutely. I love you, sis. You are amazing.


I just realized I got up and gave speeches to all of faerie while still covered in my own dried blood. I guess it does present a certain image. I was not looking forward to bath time. I was sure a sword like that would leave a mark. Between the unnatural sharpness and the burn of cold iron, how could it not? But this time, it's the price I paid to hug my sister for the first time in my life. And it was worth it. And every time I see that mark, it will remind me that I am half the Queen of Faerie, and I have the greatest other half in all of creation. That's a mark I am proud to wear.

Saturday December 24

The Entking is speaking. For the first time in millennia. I guess 2000 years is not that long to an Ent. Especially not to the Entking. And Maggie's void-touch isn't just a bit of void, it's a parasite. But it's not a parasite, it's a portal. And she can hear people on the other side, talking about the oncoming storm. And we can't get it out. And the Silence is looking for the portal, and the Song is looking for the Silence. And we didn't want to be there when they meet. I'm still scared, Oak. We have to save Maggie.

Sunday December 25

I don't want to go. I don't want to lose you, Oak. I panic a little every time I let go of your hand. I don't want to be far away from you, and I don't want to be far away from Faerie. I could feel it, the exact moment we left. There's a line at the edge of Faerie, and crossing it hurt. I left part of me there, waiting. Take care of it.

It's hard to find a spot to be alone on a crazy wooden ship flying through the sky.

Thursday December 22 (again)

Watching the ocean go by. Checking the sky, checking the stars. Something happened when we left Faerie -- we always knew time flowed strangely there, and we were all worried about taking too long. But instead, we seem to have come back at the same moment we left. I don't know what that means, Oak, but I'd like to think that part of me I left behind is still with you, whenever and wherever you are. I just need time to process. I guess now I feel like I have some.

Saturday December 24 (again)

Mara had a dream she thinks was a message from Nox. She told Rena about the things we're doing, and Rena said to get in touch after. But then, after Rena left -- Mara said Rena sent her a message. Telepathically. She used a different name, Maraniel, and saying it out loud gave Mara another headache. Mara says Rena is the Song. I'm not so sure anymore that Mara is Mara. But she has taken such good care of me for so long. Whoever she is, she has shown me I can trust her.