Finding Avalon

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Deer College Odyssey

The Buck Stops Here




by Andrew Brádach

At this point in the year, every student at Deer College will have at least a passing idea of how deeply entrenched Fae culture is to Three Portlands. The Avalon Fae built up this city. They worked their asses off. They studied, followed their dreams, fell in love, had children, and eventually, they died here. We see it in the Sidhe text on our road signs, in the sweet smell of freshly-baked sweet-rolls from the Avalonic bakeries on our street corners, in the brightly-colored parade floats that travel through Prometheus Plaza in every year's Summer Festival. And yet, in the conversations I've had on campus about this history, not nearly enough people seem to know much about it. Some here even mistakenly believe that it was the Third Great Diaspora that brought us here, with the name "Avalon" meaning nothing to them. Excluding the most ignorant cases, too many residents of Three Portlands only know that name as a footnote in our city's history, as an aside in a history textbook. I guess that's just how it tends to be. People forget, and generations forget far faster.

I think it goes without saying to state that it's been hard to be Fae these past few years. We've seen the wanton destruction of Esterberg and Hy-Brasil, the two places that we've found shelter and safety in, catalyzed by the "normalcy" organizations that always seem to be behind such things. At the rate this is going, it feels as if Three Portlands could quickly become one of the last major enclaves of Fae culture, and judging by how few Portlandsers outside our community actually seem to care about it, that's saying something. These last two years have been utterly demoralizing for me, and I've begun thinking not just of what we've lost recently, but what we've lost generations ago, what I'd never get to experience.

And then, my friend Elaine came to me with a proposal: she believed that she had figured out a way to bring Avalon back, if only temporarily. She doesn't know much about the Fae; her research comes from concerns about the stability of Three Portlands and the creation of a safeguard should something happen to it. Avalon would be a "test case" for this theory, and should this work, she wanted me to be the first to see its glory in almost 90 years.

I could finally return to the home I've never known.


For my entire life, I've been led to believe that Avalon's death was not quite the same as the death of its sister nation, Hy-Brasil, which you have doubtless read about at this point. In the coming years, there will come a day when the fog surrounding Hy-Brasil lowers and the island resurfaces as the nuclear wasteland the GOC left it as. One would hope against hope that despite the devastation, there would be something left: the remnants of buildings, of a home that one could look upon and get some form of closure to the situation. Some have even put forward proposals to resettle the island, although I doubt that anything will come of them. Avalon, whether it is a blessing of a curse, did not have such a fate.

Elaine called what happened there "complete mythical deconceptualization." My family and community do not have that name for it, but they know just as much about how it happened. Towards the end of the Fae Empire, nomenclative magic was developed, treating the spoken and written word as a physical pillar of the world and using someone's name to change them, to exert power over them. It was created by a tyrant to destroy her enemies and exert greater control over her people, but with her defeat, it was adopted for more constructive purposes. As the dust settled and the remaining Fae had to find hidden ways to live, the founders of Avalon asked a new question: what if nomenclative magic didn't have to end with names? They discovered that the power of the word could be extended to storytelling and mythmaking, and through these stories, they built the physical foundation of their dimension. Avalonic story-weavers would go out and seek to create legends about themselves, meddling in mortal affairs as a way of empowering their homeland. Even when a curtain of normalcy had existed in the past — the Church often being the driving force behind it — cracks could form in such a narrative which these story-weavers would exploit, building their houses on the metaphysical backs of the whispers of the humans who lived just outside the Ways to their city.

The Sixth Occult War changed that. The world was permanently changed by said events; the fig leaf that maintained normalcy among the general population would no longer prove sufficient, and so-called 'anomalous' activity was projected to increase at a staggering rate. A new organization was formed, one with an ironclad grip on normalcy and thus, on the world as a whole. The damage to Avalon was apparent from 1884 onward, but its pace quickly hastened with the invention of amnestics and even more new technologies to keep the anomalous world subjugated from the rest of the world. Adding to this, the thaumaturgical backlash from the war necessitated more story-weavers to work more often to keep the dimension from collapsing; the demand was higher than ever, even if the supply was at its lowest. Pleas were made to the British Occult Service to provide amnesty for story-weavers; they refused to let that happen, but instead evacuated the population to Three Portlands. And on July 11th, 1905, the dimension known as Avalon simply ceased to exist. The same would happen to four other smaller Fae enclaves, the fates of their people varying wildly between them. This was not an intentional event like the Third Great Diaspora; no one wanted Avalon to die. That said, the people in charge didn't necessarily seem to care enough to let it live, either.

Three Portlands, too, is a dimension built in much the same way. Unlike Avalon, it was an unintentional creation: the three cities known as Portland had enough nomenclative and narrative ties that said dimension simply sprung up overnight one day. As such, it has the same vulnerabilities: if something happened to any of its component cities, I, and my friends who are much smarter than me, would wager that much the same thing would happen to it. Many of you might be new to this city, but I grew up here, among the shadows of buildings and on streets full of magic and chaos. If Three Portlands went the same way as Avalon, I would remember this place dearly, and keep it in my heart, but my children would never know of it, never truly know. And so for me, realizing that this had already happened to me without realizing it — it was crushing.

My only reference for Avalon was a single photograph, a sepia-tone picture of my great-grandparents next to their old cabin. My grandfather, Petraic, gave it to me the day after we received the news about Hy-Brasil; he wanted something of Avalon's memory to remain. They are standing, their arms around each other, underneath a giant tree, light shining through the leaves in a way that one can't quite place from the picture alone. According to my grandparents, the leaves of the trees were crystal, and the light refracted into brilliant rainbow colors across every surface. Next to them was a river, which my grandfather would say tasted like honey when drank from. And then, there was their cabin, a small, simple wooden shack. Even for how small it was, though, every plank was carved ornately, every surface had been turned into a scene from one of the great stories that made up Avalon. In the cabin walls, even in the grainy photograph, I could see images of tricksters running away from villages, of story-weavers handing fresh fruit to the mortals who could not handle its taste, of short love affairs between human and Fae. In this one wall, it felt as if I could see all of Avalon.

Over the last few years, I've been learning the names of as many figures on that wall as I could, and lamenting the loss of those names I could not. I would hear stories from my grandparents about growing up in Avalon, but they never captivated me, for one reason or another. I guess it's a difference in context: before, being Fae was simply a fact of my existence, but now, I have to think about it in a much deeper way. What happened to Avalon, to Hy-Brasil, to the people massacred in Esterberg's Living District, to the victims of the Third Great Diaspora: they all came from the same root cause. To me, the opportunity to rediscover Avalon meant that all this could be reversed, and that one day, we could see a world no longer defined by normalcy and all of its destruction. Perhaps that's optimistic. I sure as hell didn't feel optimistic.

Elaine's proposal was simple. Ideas could be taken away from the world, but as long as there were those who remembered them, they could return. She ran the numbers, and she realized that Avalon's resuscitation would only take a small auditorium full of people, at least for a proof of concept. It wouldn't survive long, and I would need to be out of the dimension in less than two hours before it collapsed and I would cease to exist with it. The risk was complete; if something went wrong, there was nothing I wouldn't lose. That was fine with me. Everyone has something for which that's an acceptable risk.


The first step, of course, would be to create the conditions necessary to restabilize Avalon. To this end, Elaine planned to hijack a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at a local theater Maine-side, using thaumatology to perform miraculous feats as well as telling the four core stories upon which Avalon's foundations were built. Elaine boiled this down to three main principles:

1) that those who know the truth about Avalon's formation cannot power said formation. If you're in on the secret, it doesn't help.

2) that widespread belief of legends does not work as well as intense, utter belief and transfixion on the truth of these stories. The people at the theater are a captive audience who have been bottle-fed a world by normalcy organizations; this kind of belief is easy to get out of them.

3) that the oldest stories told are the most potent. Elaine and I sat down with a Fae History professor and determined four stories to be contemporary with Avalon's founding: the theft of the infant Jodrí by the Twelve Wolves, the marriage of Resna to the Prince of Crows, the poisoning of the drifter Lóchai with a glass of strawberry wine, and the contest between the three Brothers of the Wind, who had been carved from logs of pine.

Explaining any of these stories right now would take up far too much space here, and I can hear the distant hum of my Editor for even considering it, but make sure to come down to the Wondertainment Memorial Theater next Monday night to see a reenactment of the festivities that took place in Maine. I know I'll be there; as much as I cared about the mission's purpose, I was really interested in seeing these stories brought to life. We'd love to have you!

To that end, Elaine and I recruited a team of actors, mostly Fae and coming from Deer's theater program, the local Sidhe Shakespeare Company, and the pathetic excuse of a theater program ICSUT offers. (Whatever horrible war crimes the GOC plans to commit with theater kids, I shudder to think about.) We also got three thaumatologists to help with the backend of things there — Bennett, Loch and Clarence — and Sara, Elaine's friend from the Paratechnology department, would read the measurements and make sure everything goes smoothly.

Then, there was the other team: we planned to go out Isle-side and find our way to one of the Ways that originally led to Avalon. Elaine had retrofitted a reality anchor from the ontology lab into a "focus" of sorts, a way of taking the initial flickering of the dimension and stabilizing it into a place I could explore, touch, and potentially even bring something back from. The two of us would be accompanied by my friend Caitlyn, another Fae from Three Portlands who wanted to explore for herself as well, and my grandfather, Petraic. For him, it would be a return home: he would get to see the crystal trees, taste the springs of honey one final time.

We hit our first roadblock when scoping out the Ways that originally led to Avalon. At the time of Avalon's deconceptualization, the residents used five Ways in and out of the dimension. The first was in an old pub in Weymouth, which was easily the closest to the Isle, but the pub had long since been torn down. One was a door in St. Joseph's Cathedral in Swansea, where the people there had very distinctly destroyed the doorway with fire. I guess someone in the British Occult Service tipped them off that "unholy" creatures used to pass through it. The third and fourth ones were in the woods, woods which have now been developed into shopping centers, and the fifth was at the base of a statue in a public square in Belfast. That one is still possible to use, theoretically, but it would be incredibly public. The Foundation would show up within minutes, and we'd be fucked.

At first, the project seemed lost, and Elaine was prepared to test this on another one of the Fae's smaller pocket dimensions that were the victims of similar events. I told Petraic about this, and he just laughed and said, "Well, why don't you try using the old Way in Esterberg?" As it turns out, Fae civilizations tended to keep in contact.

I can't say I expected anything from this development — massive swathes of Esterberg had been thoroughly destroyed and were presently being rebuilt from the ground up by its destroyers, so the chances were slim that the Way was still there. And there was no way for us to go out there to scout it out before the day — it was simply too far. We simply had to hold our breath and hope for the best.


There are good and bad things about Free Ports. One of the good things is that they're free — no matter how choking a grasp on the magical world the Foundation has, there are places where the people deemed "anomalous" can live without fear. One of the bad things is that they're incredibly self-contained; there's no way of getting messages between Free Ports without actually going there yourself. I've been told that the people at Marshall, Carter & Dark are attempting to find a way to make that work, but I have low expectations of "Project Void" considering MC&D's past track record with unprofitable projects. Either way, for the time being, anything that we needed to plan out between both groups had to be done before we set out on our journey.

Flying to Częstochowa was out of the question considering the SRA in our luggage. So Elaine and I rented a van, and the four of us drove across Europe over the course of two days. It was hard to keep to the timetables; the European countryside was beautiful, and I kept finding myself asking why we couldn't spend another day to visit a town in France or Germany that we were passing through. Caitlyn was even more distracted than I was; while I was still focused enough on the mission at hand, she seemed to be wondering why we couldn't just take a trip through Europe instead. Petraic mostly just complained about Elaine's driving; living in Three Portlands, you don't often get a chance to ride in a motor vehicle because of the size of the Ways, so I guess I understand where my grandfather was coming from.

We got to Częstochowa and located a nearby Way in an alley between two apartment buildings, renting a hotel for the night. I had visited Esterberg once as a child — it was through a Fae outreach organization with Triumviraté, who snuck us across the then-Soviet occupied border — and I remember how beautiful it was: the thin streets surrounded by brick buildings, the monumental temples, the crowds of the Grand Market. There wasn't anything like it, and there still isn't. When we walked through the Living District, I expected to see that beauty destroyed, with only feeble attempts having been made at its restoration. What I saw instead was almost worse. The renovations were almost complete at this point; only the odd house out was under construction, but I could immediately tell which houses had been rebuilt and which ones had not. The rebuilt houses had no soul, no history, as they attempted to imitate the centuries of history the city had. It was a mockery of Esterberg, an attempt to make someone look at any given street and not be able to tell that anything had happened, although you knew immediately. It would have been less offensive if they hadn't tried to make it look as if the houses were a part of the rest of Esterberg, because that would at least acknowledge that violence happened here, that people had died.

We found a small hotel, a small two-story building next to Ambrose Esterberg, and took one of the rooms there. The innkeeper, a black-furred Yeren named Humphrey, was one of the nicest people I've ever met, and made sure that our every need was attended to. We had a celebratory dinner at Ambrose — it was incredible, though I highly advise against getting the Recursive Stuffed Peppers, as it felt like I had been eating them for an entire day by the time I'd finished. When we got back, Humphrey had brewed us a few glasses of tea, and we explained to him our mission as we sat by the fire. He found our goal incredibly fascinating, and asked us questions such as whether Esterberg was built on a similar foundation as Avalon — as far as Elaine could tell, it wasn't — and about Fae culture in Three Portlands. Petraic retired to his room early, and after a while, Humphrey went to work to start his day. That left Elaine, Caitlyn and I to talk about the task at hand.

Caitlyn told me that she had been adopted by a human foster family at a young age, and had never had a chance to connect to her Fae heritage. When Elaine had mentioned her project to Caitlyn, she had had no idea of what she was getting into. She told me about how beautiful she thought Esterberg was, how she'd never seen anything like it, and how she finally felt connected to her heritage being here. I told her how much more beautiful it was before what had happened, about the massacre and the rebuilding efforts, and she asked me why I didn't seem to think that the people rebuilding Esterberg actually wanted to help restore the city to its former brilliance. Maybe I am too cynical; I'm not sure. Only time will tell, really. But can you blame me for being cynical after everything I've seen? We went to sleep in beds that Humphrey had meticulously made for us — there were a few spindly black hairs between the layers of the sheets, but I didn't mind — and dreamed of a forgotten land.

It was 1 AM when Elaine shook me awake. Esterberg's sun and moon rise at the same time as in Częstochowa, and an evening production in Maine would be in the middle of the night in Poland, so, fittingly, we would be reopening Avalon's gates during the witching hour. Caitlyn and I woke up without much fuss, but Petraic cursed my friend out when he was woken up, before coming to awareness and profusely apologizing. Elaine had slept a little later than she had wanted to, so time was of the essence; we hurriedly rushed out of the inn, barefoot on the cobblestone streets of the Living District. The moon was full, and the chill of Poland's October breeze surrounded us as we followed the signs to the Market District. We ran up and down the hills, past the Yeren going about their daily lives and the occasional nocturnal Finnfolk member, until we got there. It is a well-known fact that the Grand Market never slows down; every hour of Esterberg's day, there will be someone willing to buy something, and ten more people willing to sell you exactly that. We passed by an old Fae woman selling Ortothan charms, a family of Under-frogians selling blankets, and a homemade pastry stand where despite our rush, I did buy some sweetrolls from a pair of twin brothers. They tasted just like home, and — though my grandfather would kill me if I said it directly to him — might have even been better than the ones at our local bakeries.

Eventually, we found it: a large stone gateway built into the side of one of the buildings. It was ornately decorated just like the house I had seen in the picture I was given: I could see Lóchai about to drink the glass of wine he had been offered by a wayward traveler, the horrifying visage of the Prince of Crows being revealed for the first time to his bride, the Twelve Wolves presenting the child that they had found to their master and being rewarded for their diligence. This was the gateway, and it was standing just as it had on that last day. As I stared at it, I realized just how real this was. I was about to visit Avalon, a place that had not existed for almost a century, a place that my parents did not even have the chance to see. I think Petraic saw how nervous I was, patted me on the back, and told me that it would be fine. Elaine took the reality anchor out of her bag and placed it next to the doorway.

"The production started 5 minutes ago," she said, connecting the anchor to a generator from her bag. "We'll be seeing results any time now." We watched it begin to whir to life; no one seemed to notice what we were doing, too focused on all the other goings-on of the Market to see us. It took ten more minutes for anything to happen, and I began to worry that nothing would happen. Eventually, I saw a faint image of a forest appear against the brick wall behind the gateway, almost imperceptible if you were not looking at it. 15 minutes after that, the image began to fill with color, and I could see the canopy of rainbow crystal trees appear before my eyes; it was more beautiful than I could have imagined. Elaine had to physically restrain Caitlyn from entering the gateway — she wanted to give the new dimension a bit of time to stabilize its existence before we entered into it. I was using all of my willpower to stop myself from doing the same; my grandfather's face had the biggest smile I had ever seen on it. He told me it looked just like it did when he was a child.

Finally, Elaine pulled out a Kant counter and held it up to the door. The readings were stable. She handed us headsets so that we could communicate with her through the rift, reminding us to be back out of the gateway in an hour and 43 minutes. We were cleared to enter. Now, we were truly in uncharted territory.


Caitlyn was the first to walk in. We all watched as she entered the forest where a wall had been seconds before, overcome with joy as she ran through the threshold. Petraic was a bit slower; even though he had shown some of his old youthful energy running to the gate, he cautiously approached the entrance, walking slowly through the door. I helped him through as he admired everything around him, stepping into Avalon by his side.

It's hard to describe what I felt walking in. It's like every one of your senses is expanded, more easily able to take in the glory of the world in front of you. I could see further and in far greater color, I could hear every change in the summer winds as they rustled through the crystalline trees, I could smell and taste the sweetness in the air, feel its every minute vibration. It was unchanged from the July day in 1905 when everything ceased; everything was in the place that it was, simply waiting for life to be breathed back into it.

Petraic took the lead immediately. He knew the terrain intimately, even though he left Avalon when he was only 8. He looked at me like a proud father, guiding us along a dirt path through the forest. The first thing he wanted to see was the old mill by the river, where they ground up the flour to make bread and sweetrolls for the whole town. As we walked along the path, none of us dared to speak; there are times in life where you speak, and times in your life when you simply shut up and take everything in.

I was surprised by how sparse everything in Avalon seemed; it wasn't like Esterberg or Three Portlands, where every part of the pocket dimension was covered in buildings. Instead, Avalon was expansive; we walked past the occasional cabin, each one carved in ornate patterns, but much of the walk was only the path and the crystal forest around us. When we got to the mill, the water wheel was still turning, but it seemed to be slowing down, ceasing. It was not ornately carved like the cabins, serving its function without worry of its form. Petraic cupped his hands in the river below us and took a drink; Caitlyn followed his example. They both looked refreshed, content, like the sweet honey-taste of the water quenched a thirst that they had been heretofore unaware of. I did not drink the water, however, as my eye was caught on the horizon, where the land and the river seemed to end in a white haze. It was like someone had taken an eraser to the expanse of the forest and scrubbed away at it, and I wasn't sure, but it appeared like it was moving closer to us.

Petraic gestured to me to keep moving forward, and we crossed the bridge. The next stop was his childhood home, the one I had seen in the photograph, and then to the town center. We crossed the wooden bridge over the river and continued onto the path, but on this leg of the journey I found myself focusing on the edges and corners of the forest around us, small pockets of white unreality bubbling up around us and vanishing like TV static. It had not yet even been an hour; surely we had more time, right? But the more I stared at the instability of the world around me, the more I felt a crushing sense of dread, the more the beautiful world around us felt so sickeningly sweet, as if it was hiding something from me. Caitlyn was inquisitively asking Petraic hundreds of questions, practically shaking in her excitement. She was feeling what I expected to feel when I thought about this project. I didn't voice my concerns, too nervous to ruin their excitement, telling myself that I worried too much over nothing.

We first realized just how wrong things were when we got to my grandfather's cabin. On the one hand, it looked exactly how I imagined it would from the photograph. I saw the carvings in so much more detail, noticing a hundred more small details that I could not see from the pictures on the walls. But to our right, its edge almost grazing the house's corner, was an all-consuming wall of nonexistence. Caitlyn immediately turned on the mic on her headset and asked Elaine if anything was wrong on her end. The longest three seconds of my life followed before our earphones crackled and we got a response.

Elaine responded to us saying that she had slightly overcalculated the amount of time we had; there wasn't a huge rush, but it would be best if we turned back and made our way to the doorway at a brisk pace. Having known her for as long as I have, the barely-disguised panic in her voice told me all I needed to know. We would have done so immediately, had I not felt a pat on my back.

It was an old woman, asking us if we were with the British Occult Service.

The implications of this had not yet reached me, but Petraic recognized her immediately as Cáetria, one of the town elders. Cáetria narrowed her gaze and immediately recognized the child, the rascal who would always be running around town, now over 90 years old. The horror on her face as she realized how long it had been mirrored mine as I realized that there was one last evacuation planned, one which never ended up happening. "We were supposed to leave for Three Portlands tomorrow," she kept repeating. "We were supposed to go tomorrow."

Caitlyn immediately said that we needed to get them out, that it was our responsibility. I protested. I gestured to the abyss right next to us, almost nibbling at the corner of my great-grandparents' home, and said that we had to leave. Caitlyn wouldn't; she ran further down the path, towards the town center. I ran after her, and Petraic followed after me. Eventually, we reached the top of a hill; below us was the town center, and I don't know if I can give justice to what I saw down there.

Large pillars of white jetted up into the sky, like jagged rocks or tornadoes. In the sky, on the grass, on every house, tiny white spots appeared and disappeared like a field of TV static encompassing the place. The remaining Fae in the town center huddled together in rags, weathering the storm around them, grasping onto anything nearby to steady themselves. Some of them simply sat and drank whatever form of alcohol they had with them. Some people were missing hands, but not as if the hands were amputated; their arm just faded into the surroundings around them. Still others had holes in their torsos or their sides, bits coming off of them as they desperately tried to find shelter. Caitlyn and I exchanged glances, and we both came to the same conclusion: these people were beyond help. Right here, right now, with no resources to get them out, we could do nothing. We saw Petraic climb his way up the hillside, panting, out of breath. Immediately, I ran to him and turned him around, covering his eyes as I did. There was nothing for him to see. The only thing we needed to do was to leave.

I don't remember much more after that; my mind was focused on the singular goal of abandoning the lifeless, maggot-infested corpse of Avalon that we failed to revive. Caitlyn ran back in terror as fast as she could, just as she had run in joy a few moments earlier. I was focused on helping my grandfather get there. All of us ignored Cáetria as we passed her a second time, her pleas for salvation falling on deaf ears because there was nothing we could have done. I do not know how close we came to annihilation that day, but I know that it was not far from it, as Elaine had already packed the reality anchor back up when we returned. The relief on her face when she saw me said enough.

We didn't speak to Elaine about what we saw in there, and she didn't speak to us about waiting for us at the gateway. We had planned to spend a few days in Esterberg after the experiment. We didn't.


It's been a few weeks since we got back to Deer, and I still don't know what it all means. I apologize to any of my friends who I've blown off in this time; I've mostly kept to myself, sitting in my dorm and drifting through classes as I've seen fit. When I sat down to begin writing this, I didn't really know if I even could do it. Now, staring at the page I've written, I think more of it makes sense now. Not much more, but more of it nonetheless.

I haven't spoken to Elaine since the return. She's spoken to me, though. A thousand apologies on my answering machine for the miscalculation. I don't really know if I blame her for any of it, honestly; it depends on the day and on my mood. For her, Avalon was only an afterthought. The goal was to get more insight into how to protect Three Portlands in case something similar happened, and we got that, did we not? We know the numbers that don't work, at least. She doesn't know about the suffering we caused, the missing hands, the huddled masses. If we even caused that suffering in the first place; perhaps that was just how the dimension was on the day of its deconceptualization. We prolonged it, nonetheless. An additional hour, maybe even more, where they were forced to exist in a world that couldn't.

Caitlyn and I have gotten through it together. Deer has appointed us both free counseling sessions after we told them what we saw, and we've become our own source of sanity as well. Several nights were spent watching the strangest public access TV shows Three Portlands has to offer, eating cheap snacks and lying on our dorms' commonroom couch. It's misery, but it's the kind of misery which doesn't feel so miserable, all things considered. Petraic says we're bound to marry each other one day. I highly doubt it.

Petraic's been telling all his friends about the experience during backgammon nights at Mrs. B's Sidhe Diner, bragging about how beautiful it all was, about tasting the springs of honey one last time. I don't think many of them believe him. Cáetria doesn't come up in any of the tellings, which makes sense. He's always been a man of few words when something rattles him, but I can see in his eyes that the new knowledge of the last uncompleted evacuation weighs on him. When I hear his stories, though, his eyes light up with uncontainable joy. I can at least find solace in the fact that he went back to his homeland at least once more, and even more solace that I did not let him see the sight at the town center. I'll let him die ignorant of it.

There are so many emotions swirling around my head about this situation: the excitement to be able to visit Avalon, the joy of the first few minutes there, the quiet contentment of the night in Esterberg, the dread of unreality, the knot in my stomach after seeing Cáetria, the visions of immense pain and suffering at the town center. I'd like to say I wish we hadn't done it, but that's just not true. If anything, it's given me a sort of hope. Ideas can be returned to the world. As long as there are those who remember Avalon, there will be a way to get it back. Even if it is centuries from now, when the empty throne of normalcy falls and nothing stands in the way of the story-weavers, the people I saw were not lost forever. We know that now. And hey, maybe if everyone completely forgets about Avalon somehow, someone can find a copy of this newspaper in the archives a hundred years from now and do what we couldn't. Maybe that's why I wrote this. Who knows.

I guess I'll leave you with something that I heard around campus a few days ago. Rumors of the activities of the Foundation, while abundant among Three Portlands, are almost always false, so I'm taking this one with a massive grain of salt. But I've heard people saying that a few weeks ago, in October, the Foundation discovered a group of people emerge from a door at the base of a statue in a public square in Belfast. They were malnourished, and parts of them did not fully exist: they were missing arms and legs and part of their torso. The Foundation transferred them to Site-120, where specialists might be able to rehabilitate them. I don't know if it's true, but if it's not, that's a hell of a coincidence. Maybe we saved some people after all.

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