Ascender was a natural-born leader. As one of the only remaining '94 Mountaineers, he was the de-facto leader of the new age of Mountaineers. Although he was loyal and caring to his friends, Ascender was willing to make big sacrifices, if it meant doing the right thing. A Weatherwatch to the core, he spent most of his life traveling and never stayed in one place for long ever since the '94 Mountaineers were attacked by the Churning Storm.
Ascender was one of the original Mountaineers, joining an online message board in the '90s. During his time in the Mountaineers, he encountered Orvin Wallace and Sullivan Green, who Orvin referred to as “fans of books that Ackerly Green had published.” During this time, the original Mountaineers had acquired the Book of Briars and had been unlocking fragments. During Fragment Twelve, the Churning Storm came for the Mountaineers, decimating all except for Ascender, Knatz, Saberlane, and Augernon, who survived, but without his memory. Because the Storm wipes memories instead of directly killing, it is uncertain whether or not the remaining '94 Mountaineers are alive.
In the years after the original Mountaineers were destroyed, Ascender wandered from place to place, trying to avoid the same fate as his friends. During the years leading up to the rediscovery of the Book of Briars, Ascender found and recruited the “core” mountaineers: Itsuki, Bash, Endri, and Eaves.
After finding the Book of Briars website and recreating Ackerly Green’s Guide to Magiq, Ascender made the decision to post the Guide online and seek help from new recruits by creating the Basecamp 33 Forum. Ascender created the first post, “Basecamp’s Beginning: The First Post,” which introduced the Book of Briars, the Mandela Effect, and the Mountaineers’ reasons for seeking the Lost Collection.
Shortly after kickstarting the Basecamp, Ascender tracked down the heir of Ackerly Green Publishing, Deirdre Green. Poring through her blog posts, he noticed the post about Sullivan Green’s remains and approached her on Instagram about taking photos of the book left to her by Sullivan. The page Deirdre posted started Fragment One.
After Fragment One, the Mountaineers were unable to get in contact with Ascender. He disappeared, seeking a way into the United States without going through border control or possessing legal documents. He made his way to Maryland, where he spoke with his friend, Augernon. Although Augernon was a husk of his former self after his contact with the Storm, he became himself while he slept. Sleep-talking to Ascender, Augernon was able to communicate the fact that he and the core Mountaineers were not meant to solve the Book of Briars, but to pass it down to the new generation, as guild-masters. Ascender took this to heart, and posted “You Are the Mountaineers” on the Basecamp site.
After this, Ascender left the Mountaineers, saying he “followed the butterflies and found a new path. A path I can’t climb with you.” Abandoning the Basecamp, Ascender left with one final message:
“There are wheels turning in the shadows, Eaves. Augernon showed me. A machine churns in the dark places of the world. Growing in size and power. An old machine that wants to separate us. Crush us.
We are at war. A war I’ve been too blind to see until now. You have work to do, I have a war to fight.
We have different paths to climb but we’ll meet at the end, where those paths meet.
Where all our paths meet.”
Though it was not revealed at the time, Ascender was leaving to infiltrate The Low.
While recruits communicated with Augernon in the past, they were able to learn more about Ascender’s history with the Mountaineers. Augernon noted that, when Mountaineers started to go missing, Ascender went looking for them. He had found the contact information for a girl in Missouri, and had tracked her down. Ascender tracked down Missouri (this is what Ascender called her), who had lost all her memories of magiq. However, after Knatz arrived from Chicago to assist Ascender, Missouri awoke from a dead sleep and said she wanted to show them the truth. According to Augie:
“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.”
After the incident with the missing Mountaineers, Ascender disappeared, just after waking up in the hospital. In her private journal, Knatz noted that Ascender was “AWOL” and unable to help her pursue information on the next fragment. Later, when the Storm was closing in on the Mountaineers, Augernon made a last-ditch effort to save them all, by making them forget magiq existed. To do so, he rallied all the remaining Mountaineers, having Tinkerdown reopen the forums, trying to gather as many people as possible. Augernon had acquired a coin that he claimed could protect them from the Storm until they could perform the spell. Ascender, however, was aware of what the coin could do. It could mask a person from far-off forces, maybe shield someone up close momentarily, but it couldn’t protect dozens of people at a time from something like the Storm. Ascender tried to reach them in time, but he was too late. He learned that the spell was real and that it had worked. Augie had cast something else on the Mountaineers who showed up. It channeled all harm that would be done to them to Ascender himself. He bought them time to forget about magiq by sacrificing himself. It wiped him away completely. The Mountaineers walked away without remembering anything, and the Storm thought it did its job.
In Fragment Fifteen, the modern-day Mountaineers were able to communicate with Ascender on the old forum. Ascender reached out, trying to find anyone who had not participated in the spell or otherwise been taken by the Storm. The Mounties responded that they were still there and didn’t know what had happened to Augernon, and Ascender filled them in on what he saw. When the Mountaineers asked him for help on Fragment Fifteen, he said that he didn’t know what was going on with it, but he had a plan to someday stop the Storm. Ascender had realized that a poem from early in their version of Complication Three had been half of The Lantern of Low Hollow. He was able to use the spell to listen in on the Storm. Ascender continued luring out the Storm so he could learn more from it, trying to get an edge in the fight. However, at one point, he cast the spell while his laptop was open to the virtual Mountaineers’ Lodge, and he was able to reach through time to hear the thoughts of the Mountaineers. He realized that they were not quite who they said they were, so the Mountaineers came clean and admitted that they were from the future. The Mountaineers asked Ascender for his half of the Lantern spell. Ascender agreed to give up the spell, realizing that, if he ever succumbed to the Storm, he would ruin their plan, Ascender chose to forget about the future Mountaineers by using the memory-erasing hex on himself. He forgot them, but he remembered the '94 Mountaineers and Augernon. Ascender ended his final message by wishing the Mountaineers luck, telling them to unlock the Book for all of the '94s.
While the Mountaineers faced the Storm, Knatz dealt with the Monarchs, together with Ascender. The pair had used the chaos as an opportunity to lead a mutiny against the more conservative forces of the old houses. They won, but the result was that Monarch’s Mountain was in shambles.
The Search for Magiq
During the Search for Magiq narrative, the Mountaineers used Peering Arts to discover what was keeping them cut off from the rest of the world, revealing shards of Ascender’s memory from the time after he left the Mountaineers in the process. The fragments revealed that he had also encountered the Last Oracular Eye, and had chosen Despair and Illumination.
In the first shard of memory, the Mountaineers learned that he, along with several other Mountaineers including Knatz, Endri, and Bash, had taken up residence in the Monarchs’ old headquarters in Philadelphia, calling it “Monarch’s Manor.” The small team of Mountaineers was working to sort through everything the Monarchs had left behind after fleeing the Storm’s attack, but Ascender could see that their safeguards were failing and knew that magiq was draining from the world, leaving the Mountaineers at Basecamp 33 vulnerable.
When Knatz attempted to call an audience with someone claiming to be the Collector, it turned out to be a ploy by the Silver to infiltrate what was left of Monarch’s Mountain. Although he attempted to hide it, the Silver had succeeded in getting to Ascender. Knowing that he was compromised, he volunteered to cast a dangerous, incomplete spell called Determiner-12 that would protect recipients against physical and virtual places and groups, intending to use it on Monarch’s Manor.
Understanding the risk the spell entailed, Endri made him promise that if anything would go wrong with the spell, he would use it to protect the Mountaineers by way of the Guide to Magiq. The memories revealed to the Mountaineers end just before Ascender casts the spell, signifying the failure of his attempt to cast Determiner-12 on Monarch’s Manor and his subsequent self-sacrifice. However, the Mountaineers also realized that he had been successful in placing a protective veil around them and the forum, which kept them safe from the Silver even while magiq drained from the Book of Kings.
In the last shard of memory, Ascender also mentions regretting not ever having met his daughter. It is assumed that he is referring to Alison, due to his relationship with Knatz.