Originally posted Sun May 06, 2007 4:36 pm
I’m grateful for vidkid7′s thread, “The Restoration So Far…”, which does a good job of keeping track of the the “Modern Timeline” of D’ni. Meanwhile, the DRC has been working on translations that help us piece together the “Historical Timeline” of D’ni. But this forum has no account of the time in between: the Fall.
I know that it has been written many times before, but it is a story that I know well, and feel close to, so I hope you’ll indulge me for one more act of historical catharsis. And if the community approves, I might humbly request that this thread be stickied alongside vidkid7′s account, that the threads of the history of the cavern may be tied together in one coil.
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What we know of the Fall, its causes and its aftermath comes mostly from the journals of Catherine, the wife of Atrus and mother of Yeesha. Catherine’s writing was romantic, rather than journalistic, so the details may be inaccurate, but in general, her story is consistent with what we know of D’ni as it is now, and was long before.
Based on Catherine’s journals, the DRC worked with Rand and Robyn Miller, the founders of the entertainment company now known as Cyan Worlds, to develop the PC adventure/puzzle games called the “Myst series,” which includes the titles Myst, Riven, Myst III: Exile, and Myst IV: Revelation. In connection to these, the Millers also worked with author David Wingrove to write the Myst trilogy of novels, which includes the titles The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, and The Book of D’ni.
OOC: This thread roughly parallels geekmonger’s “The Story So Far” thread on MystOnline.com, but from a purely IC perspective. I’ve also written it just ’cause I think this forum needs some form of it.
Until we get a final answer on the cannonicity of Myst V: End of Ages, I’m going to write and update this thread as if it doesn’t exist, either as an event in the story of Uru or as a Cyan game.
The following account includes massive spoilers for all of the above.
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In the beginning…
A summary of what we know from D’ni’s early history:
A people called the Ronay lived on an Age called Garternay (the “root of the tree”), and had the ability to link to other worlds using the “Art” of writing Linking Books. When they discovered that their world was dying, they began an exodus, relocating to other Ages to continue their civilization. Most went to an Age called Terahnee, but some went other ways. Ri’neref, a powerful member of the Guild of Writers, led one small group of Ronay to a new Age called D’ni (“new start”) – the world we call Earth. They settled in an enormous underground cavern, underneath the place now called New Mexico. Cut off from the surface, they established the “Great Zero,” created a governmental system of Guilds under a single King, and, true to their heritage, began to Write.
Seven thousand years later, King Kerath abdicated the throne and gave all power to the Guilds. From then on, D’ni was ruled by the Five Lords, who were chosen from the high council of Guild Grandmasters. The Guilds were soon watching over a veritable empire – over a million people were now living in the cavern, to say nothing of those living and working on ten thousand Ages, including ahrotahntee – people native to the colonized Ages, who were not of D’ni blood. Although the D’ni had a peaceful relationship with these people, for the most part, they held a deep and ancient pride in their civilization, which led to a sharp prejudice against the “Book-worlders.” Meanwhile, within D’ni, an unspoken-of rift had emerged between the common people of the D’ni and the exclusive, hereditary elite class of the Guilds. However, it had been centuries since D’ni had seen any spiritual or revolutionary leaders who could move the overwhlemingly-conservative D’ni Council to bring about real change. So the patient D’ni waited, as the tension lay hidden beneath the surface, waiting for a catalyst.
In the height of D’ni’s long peace and prosperity, there arose a growing curiosity over whether the D’ni were sharing their world with a race of surface-dwellers. In 9336, the divided D’ni Council finally allowed the Guild of Surveyors to launch an expedition to build a tunnel to the surface. The Surveyors, who included a young guildsman named Aitrus, constructed the tunnels under the constant fear that their adventure would be cancelled by the uneasy Council, which came to a head when a mechanical accident caused the death of a guildsman. But they finally received the command to complete the path, with a single Great Shaft that rose all the way to the surface. The completion of the shaft was an historic day for the D’ni, but, only days before the final breakthrough might have been made, an enormous earthquake tore through the tunnel, damaging the shaft and killing several D’ni. As a matter of pride, the shaft was repaired, but the breakthrough to the surface was immediately called off.
In the chaos after the quake, Aitrus saved the life of a young lord named Veovis. Veovis was the son of Lord Rakeri, one of the Five, and thus extremely popular and influential, in spite of his age; and regardless of his social status, he was one of the most gifted Writers that D’ni had seen since Ri’neref himself. Veovis and Aitrus had been enemies in their school days, but Veovis had recently made the first move to offer a clean slate, and when Aitrus rescued him from the wreckage of a dangling carriage in the Shaft, their friendship was sealed. Veovis promised Aitrus any favor he could grant in return for this heroism. And over the next thirty years, as Veovis and Aitrus both rose through the ranks to become members of the ruling Council, they found themselves at the heart of society, “the seeds of D’ni’s future.”
In 9368, Anna, a young woman living on the surface, discovered the Great Shaft with her father, a surveyor, in the North American desert, following the first clue of the giant, inexplicable circle of shuffled rock that had been left by the D’ni Surveyors’ rock soundings. After Anna’s father died, partly of exhaustion brought on by his obsession with the Circle, Anna, having nothing to leave behind, began the descent into the tunnels, desperate to uncover the mystery of their origin. Eventually, she reached D’ni.
The revelation that there were humans living on the surface caused an uproar D’ni. Aitrus and Veovis had been on opposite sides of the debate over the surface-dwellers – Veovis was a leader among those who opposed revealing D’ni’s existence, believing that without being taught D’ni morality, all outsiders could never be more than ignorant, backwards savages who would immediately threaten D’ni with warfare. Aitrus, on the other hand, was
with those who hoped to find a peaceful, intelligent society with whom the D’ni could share their knowledge and progress. Meanwhile, Anna, imprisoned and isolated from all but a small team of trusted Linguists, startled her captors with her human imagination and creativity.
After a heated debate, the Council held a hearing to question Anna and come to a decision on making contact with the surface once and for all. By that time, Anna had already learned the D’ni language well enough to answer the questions herself, taking the Council by surprise. In a way, both sides were vindicated by the hearing: although it was quickly decided that contact would never be made, the D’ni could not deny that Anna herself was no different from them, intelligent and self-aware, and she was allowed to remain living in the cavern, with the family of Aitrus.
At first, Veovis was wary of the situation and hostile toward Anna, and even toward Aitrus for befriending her so openly, but slowly, they came to be friends, and understand each other, equals in passion and pride. Yet this progress was destroyed when Aitrus, against the wishes of his father and his friend, revealed to Anna the existence of the Books, and even began teaching her to Write. When this became known, Aitrus’s family and career were nearly destroyed by Veovis and an outraged Council, saved only by the chance discovery of an ancient precedent.
Though Aitrus was forgiven, he left the world of politics for a time, continuing to write a new Age with Anna, which they named Gemedet. During their first journey to Gemedet, the growing bond between them became undeniable, and in 9377, Aitrus finally asked Anna (who had now been given a D’ni name, Ti’ana) for her hand in marriage.
His only obstacle now was Veovis, whose single vote in the Council would have denied the marriage. Aitrus called on Veovis to fulfill the promise he had made years ago, by changing his vote. Veovis grudgingly agreed, compelled by his honor, but with that, their friendship was ended.
The final barrier was broken in 9392, when Aitrus and Ti’ana conceived their first and only child, Gehn. In his infancy, Gehn was frail and weak, and during one illness came close to death, but the family made it through this greatest challenge intact.
Meanwhile, the schism over the fate of the common people of D’ni was growing. The Council was split half-and-half over a proposal, spearheaded by Aitrus, to restore some of their former freedom and welfare. The opponents, led by Veovis, were unyielding in their belief that the people could never be taught the responsibility that comes with power. “Is it not unfair to ask them to be as wise and knowing as ourselves, when all they have known until this time is service?” The Five Lords, however, broke the tie in favor of the act.
After this bitter defeat, Veovis was introduced to a man named A’Gaeris. Known ironically as “the Philosopher,” A’Gaeris had been a respected member Writer before being cast out of the Guild in shame, for crimes to which he would never admit. But, forging a new life for himself among the slums of the City Proper, the Philosopher began writing pamphlets, slowly wrapping the muted sentiments of the D’ni masses around his finger. Like Veovis, A’Gaeris was a fierce believer in the purity of D’ni blood, and still believed that Ti’ana’s union with Aitrus threatened the very fabric of D’ni civilization.
During this time, a massive search for two missing Guildsmen was undertaken. Not helping their relationship, Aitrus was sent to search the six private Ages owned by Veovis’s family on the island of K’veer. Using his unique talent for forgery, A’Gaeris wove a complex, delicate deception, convincing Veovis that Aitrus was writing and trading illegal Books – unstable Ages that warped and defied the laws of physics – and was planning to frame Veovis for the act. At the same time, A’Gaeris contacted Aitrus, and convinced him that Veovis was behind these crimes, that the two missing Guildsman had discovered the conspiracy, and that Veovis had murdered them.
This fabricated evidence was subtly stacked against Veovis, and A’Gaeris finally gave Aitrus a linking book to the spot where the bodies of the Guildsmen lay, slain by Veovis’s own knife. From there, the rest of the pieces fell into place – Veovis was arrested, tried and convicted of murder; he was stripped of his rank and sentenced to live the rest of his life on a lonely Prison Age. In the hour that Veovis’s fate was decided, his ailing father, Lord Rakeri, died.
In 9396, Gehn was enrolled in the Guild academy, forced to leave his family for the first time. The first few weeks were traumatic for him – he missed his mother above all, and as he became hardened by the Guild life, he buried his anguished resentment beneath the intoxicating D’ni pride that the Guild was instilling in him.
Meanwhile, D’ni was suddenly besieged by a quick series of terrorist attacks from an unknown source – assaults against guildsmen, ransacked offices, stolen Books, a bomb in the Ink-Works, and finally, the desecration of an ancient, masterpiece Book – the words corrupted in the original Writer’s own hand. This was the first clue to Aitrus that Veovis might have been innocent after all; but not long after, he was kidnapped by the insurgents. It was then discovered that Veovis was missing, and Ti’ana, following a mysterious figure in the streets through a hidden Linking Book, found that A’Gaeris had managed to free Veovis from his prison, and the two had planned this campaign to overthrow the Guilds and take over D’ni in their place. On a nameless, desolate Age, the anarchist cell had created a network of Linking Books through which they could reach every corner of the cavern, and Veovis, having grown beyond A’Gaeris’s manipulative designs, had gathered a massive armory of weapons – enough to start a small war. Veovis might have been successful in sparking the revolution he desired, but Ti’ana lured him away, delivering him into the hands of the Five.
This time, the Council decided to put an irreversible end to the atrocity. Although Ti’ana had found A’Gaeris’s journal, which proved Veovis’s innocence of his earlier crimes, it was not enough to pardon him for the revenge that he had taken. The Five chose to sentence Veovis to death.
But Ti’ana, compassionate to the end, spoke on Veovis’s behalf, and convinced the Five to have mercy. Once more, they sent Veovis to an inescapable prison, and once more, Veovis was liberated. And this time, Veovis planned not to conquer D’ni, but to end it.
On Leesahn 8, 9400 DE, they carried out Veovis’s final revolt. They brought on the quakes that left the city in ruins, and they released the Plague, the diseased cloud that spread through the cavern and extinguished every life it touched. And as their final, monstrous act, they walked the streets with a wooden cart, gathering the dead, and sent their corpses into the Ages to which the people had fled, sending the infection along every branch of the tree. And D’ni died.
Aitrus and his family fled to Gemedet. And Veovis spared them.
But Aitrus returned to D’ni, and he, too, succumbed to the disease. He realized that he could not return to Gemedet in his state, so he did the only thing he could for his wife and child – he began the journey to the surface once more, mapping the path in his journal, only linking back when he could not continue. By then, neither he nor the air in the cavern were a danger any longer, and, though he knew he was dying, Aitrus brought Gehn and Ti’ana back to D’ni, and intended to lead them to a new world, where they could start a new life.
Meanwhile, however, Veovis and A’Gaeris had reached an impasse. A’Gaeris wanted Veovis to write a new Age, where they could rule over its ignorant people as gods, and create a new empire under their rule. But Veovis, in a fi
nal act of redemption, refused to allow his last work, Ederat, to be used for that most fundamental sin. A’Gaeris murdered Veovis. But Aitrus discovered his old friend, who, in dying, told him of A’Gaeris’s intentions. A’Gaeris, meanwhile, had taken Ti’ana and Gehn hostage, but Aitrus deceived his old deceiver, luring him to Ederat, whose Book he had corrupted. A’Gaeris followed Aitrus through, and both perished.
Ti’ana and Gehn – as far as they knew, the last survivors of the D’ni Empire – went on, to the surface, and settled in a near-barren Cleft on the side of a dormant volcano near her old home. To begin again.
To be continued.