Sunday, July 23, 2006


This time, before the official re-opening of the Cavern, but after the DRC reappeared, has been called D'mala by many. It is a time of returning, both for the DRC and for the explorers. Many who had moved on with their lives on the Surface came back to the Cavern as soon as they heard the news, and had gathered together a few supplies. Of course, many of us had been in the Cavern since it returned to sleep, usually alone, but sometimes in groups. But while there was life in the Cavern, D'ni still slept. The hope, while not gone, was very low that she would ever wake.

But since the DRC returned, the hope has flown high! Life has returned to D'ni, and the explorers again find ways to amuse themselves. For while there is still little new to explore (that will come after the official re-opening), we must keep things going ourselves. We party a lot (hey, we're a group that loves a good party), both in organized events, and in random groupings. We share stories with each other. We have sewing circles, and scholarly discussions. We just hang around and talk about whatever comes to mind. Yesterday, I participated in a race through the five Ages we have available to us. I did quite well, finishing in two hours and 14 minutes! (The best time was set by Mark Dev and his team, at one hour and 20 minutes. That'll be a tough one to beat!) In short, we find things to keep ourselves busy in the D'mala, until the Restoration truly begins again.

Some time back, the DRC asked for five Liaisons, people who could help with gathering and spreading information. After all, the DRC are few, and the explorers are many. They wanted some people who could help to spread information around, who would be around when the DRC wasn't and could answer questions. They left it up to us as to how we should pick the five, and that in itself was a task. But after much discussion, debate, and a couple of scandals (for what's an election without scandal?), the five Liaisons were chosen. I was lucky enough to be one of the five. (Lucky?? That may be debatable, but I think in the end I was lucky.) We've been doing our part to keep D'mala alive, scheduling meetings with DRC members to keep the explorers up-to-date on where things stand. As usual, the DRC hasn't answered all the questions, but they've done quite a bit better than in the past.

In the end, we do what we can. Our time has truly been short, but it has been good. We'll make the most of it, gathering together to enjoy our company. We will relax and enjoy what we have, before the work begins again. And it will start again, sooner than we think.

Monday, July 17, 2006


The anticipation is growing. Soon, the Cavern will wake, filled with Explorers. There will be new Ages to explore, new events in which to participate, and new people to meet. D'ni is already waking, its long slumber ending, as a few explorers have found their way down to the Cavern. But soon, after trying to wake her once, she will truly come alive. She's been hitting the snooze alarm enough.

For those of you who don't know, let me fill you in on a bit of the history. About 10,000 years ago, an ancient race called the Ronay left their world, Garternay ("Root of the Tree"). Their sun was going nova, and their world would be destroyed. However, the Ronay had discovered the Art, a way to write books that would literally take you to another world! These worlds, or Ages as they were called, were written by masters of the Art, and used for any purpose of which you could concieve. Once the Ronay realized they would have to leave their world, they commissioned their greatest master Writers to create new Ages for the Ronay. Many went to the same Ages, but there were smaller splinter groups. One such group was led by a man named Ri'neref, who wrote the Age of D'ni, a great cavern beneath the surface of our very planet. They came to the Cavern to avoid the pride of the Ronay society, and become humble under Yahvo, the Maker.

Now, over the last 10,000 years, there has been a lot of history. The D'ni civilization, and the Cavern, grew. At its height, there were about 6 million D'ni, living in the Cavern and the myriad of D'ni Ages. If you want more detail, search for "D'ni history" and you will find all you want to know. But about 250 years ago, the D'ni civilization fell. Most of the D'ni died in Veovis's Revolt; even those who escaped to other Ages were not safe. The Cavern was left damaged, with many places reduced to ruins, and empty of nearly all life. One of the survivors was Gehn, father of Atrus, writer of Riven. The history of Veovis's Revolt and Atrus's family prior to Myst is told in The Book of Ti'ana and The Book of Atrus. The Book of D'ni follows the events of Riven, and Myst III: Exile, Myst IV: Revelation, and Myst V: End of Ages complete that history.

On to more recent events. In the late 1980s, John Loftin (an avid cave explorer) discovered the Cavern, lying beneath a dormant volcano in New Mexico. He and his friend Elias Zandi made several trips together into the D'ni caverns, joined by Dr. Richard A. Watson in 1990. Rand and Robyn Miller were brought into the group in the early 90s to work on translating D'ni journals, and Dr. Watson brought in some former colleagues to help with the work in the Cavern.

Zandi set up the D'ni Restoration Foundation, and the group began work to both learn the history of D'ni, and return the Cavern and Ages to their former glory. It was a project that would take decades. In 1996, Elias Zandi died of a heart attack. He left his funds to the DRF, and the land around the volcano to his son, Jeff Zandi. Dr. Watson took over as head of the DRF, later to become the DRC (D'ni Restoration Council), a non-profit scientific and research organization. Some of the journals of Atrus's family had been found, and became the basis of the Myst books and games we know and love. Again, this is a simplified history; you should search the web for more details, if you want them.

In 2002, the first Authorized Explorers were allowed into the Cavern. These were people who felt the call to D'ni, and were allowed in by the DRC to explore the City and some of the Ages. They helped to find problems in the restored D'ni technology, and assisted the DRC in other ways as needed. However, Jeff Zandi had been at odds with the DRC's way of handling matters since the time his father was in charge. In 2003, he helped others who felt the call to D'ni gain access. Yeesha, daughter of Atrus, had prepared a Journey for us to follow. Zandi allowed these new explorers access to the Cleft, and to Yeesha's Age of Relto. From Relto, the explorers had access to D'ni and to five other Ages, where they learned the secret history of the D'ni. The DRC was not terribly happy about thousands of new, unapproved people appearing in the Cavern, but they tolerated it.

Sadly, in 2004, the DRC's funding ran dry, and the Restoration ended. For the first time since 1993, the Cavern was again empty. Some explorers were able to explore along or in small groups, and Yeesha allowed access to two more Ages where her Journey continued, but the DRC was gone, and there would be no further restoration of D'ni. It was a very sad time for all involved, as D'ni slept once again. But the explorers never lost hope, for as Atrus said, "Perhaps the ending has not yet been written."

Late last year, the DRC site's forums started to show activity. Someone was interested in funding the DRC, and restarting the Restoration. Nothing was definite, "cautious optimism" was the rule, but it was a beginning. D'ni fluttered her eyes, and began to wake from her dream.

In February, almost exactly two years after the DRC left, the Cavern was again opened to the Explorers. Nearly 2000 flooded back in the first month it was open, and the City again rang with the sounds of people. The Neighborhoods again grew, and the Ages opened. Old explorers returned to a home closed to them for two years. New explorers, who had missed the previous chance, began the Journey. The DRC returned, and began to repair problems that had developed over the last two years. They also began to restore new Ages. Things remained uncertain, but the hope of the Explorers and the DRC was soaring. D'ni quickened her breathing, the dream fading from her memory.

In May, it was revealed that Blake Lewin, of Turner Entertainment (Time Warner), had convinced his superiors that the DRC's efforts were worthy, and the Restoration was funded! Celebrations broke out throughout the Cavern and the Ages, and "cautious optimism" was replaced with "flagrant optimism". Even though the DRC assured us time and again that nothing was certain, and that things still might not work out, the Explorers could not contain their glee. The Ending had NOT been written! D'ni stirred, and her eyes opened. Her dream was quickly becoming reality.

Which brings us to now. The work goes forward, as the DRC members expend great effort trying to do so much with so few. The Explorers gather, growing in number daily. The Journey is completed, and a new Journey is set to begin. We wait, and watch, and hope. The stone is hard; the stonecutter is patient. Soon, the new Journey will begin. Destruction is coming. Find a way. Make a home.

I am Vortmax. I am an Explorer, Called to D'ni. I follow the Journey. I walk the Path of the Great Tree. I am a Liaison to the DRC. I move through Ages at the touch of a Book. I am Gathered with friends and family, for all the Called are a family.

D'ni wakes. D'ni breathes. D'ni calls. Will you heed her call?

Join the Gathered. Heed the Call.