1. That’s correct. The map won’t display unless you have markers, else it’s just an empty map. I can look into having it at least display if no markers are found. You should also be able to insert a link into the message there. There’s currently no way to turn the actual marker into a link.
As far as the map lines are concerned, I’d check out the Mapbox docs. All ASE does is display the tiles from your Mapbox account.
2. The Timeline component offers you to have a label (shown as the nav) and a title (shown as the heading). To make it invisible you could just use some CSS to hide the heading.
Does this help?