D'ni

From Academic Kids

Note: Fictional details from the Myst franchise follow, and will be treated as facts.

The D'ni (Properly pronounced duh-NEE or deh-NEE; pronounced DUH-nee by Atrus in the games), the most-prominently featured race in the Myst franchise, originated from a world called Garternay, where they were known as the Ronay. Their culture developed its own language and its own numbering system, and they had knowledge of how to access ("link to") alternate worlds ("Ages") through special books; they called this knowledge "the Art of Writing".

Contents

The exodus

Over ten millennia ago, the Ronay discovered that Garternay would soon become uninhabitable. They wrote several Ages to escape its destruction; one of these refugees was the great Ronay Writer Ri'neref, who believed that the Ronay had become too prideful in their mastery of the Art. Most Ronay Linked to the paradise Age of Terahnee, but Ri'neref and his followers fled to an Age Written by Ri'neref. He named it "D'ni" (meaning "New Start" in the Ronay tongue), and the newly founded D'ni people began making it their home.

A growing population made the D'ni learn to adapt quickly, and adapt they did. An early concern was their limited supply of fresh oxygen; they found electricity sources with which to operate gigantic ventilation fans. They later developed advanced mining technologies, carving out new space for their growing population and refining the displaced rock into useful materials.

As the civilization grew, the D'ni cavern settled into two main sections: Ae'gura (The Island) and The City Proper. Ae'gura is the largest island on the cavern lake. It is the center of D'ni, both literally (the basis for D'ni's cylindrical coordinate system, The Great Zero, was founded here) and figuratively—as it was the first place the refugees settled, many major sites of commerce, religion, and state affairs are located here.) It is overlooked by the most famous and grandiose D'ni landmark, the giant Arch of Kerath. Human archaeologists originally mistook Ae'gura for the main residential area of D'ni, and grew to call it "The City." However, they discovered later that most D'ni lived in another area, which they now call "The City Proper". The City Proper is located on a steep incline up the sides of the cavern, forming a perimeter to the lake. The City Proper is where the D'ni neighborhoods were located. The neighborhoods were small, compartmentalized residential districts, with their own residences, schoolrooms, auditoriums, entertainment venues, and public transit stations.

The fall

Around 1740, D'ni was beset with a great catastrophe that led to its fall. A woman, Anna, came down into the city from the surface and married a D'ni, Aitrus. Veovis, a conservative D'ni lord, became furious about this, and another lord, A'Gaeris (aka The Philosopher), destroyed the D'ni city--and most of the life in it--with a huge poison cloud (Myst: The Book of Ti'ana; Myst: The Book of D'ni). Again the D'ni had to escape to other Ages, leaving their great underground city in ruin; however, Anna and her 8 year old son, Gehn, escaped to the Cleft, which is near the volcano over the D'ni cavern.

Gehn grew up, and later his wife, Keta, died while giving birth to their son, Atrus. Miserable and unable to cope, Gehn ran away to the D'ni caves, leaving his son in Anna's care. Some 14 years later, Gehn came back and took Atrus away from Anna to teach him how to Write Ages. Eventually, Gehn locked Atrus in the K'veer basement (the last area you visit in the Myst game). Atrus found the Riven book, went there, met Katran, and married her. Atrus found out that Katran and Anna wrote the Age of Myst together, and the newlywed couple went there to trap Gehn in Riven by opening up the Star Fissure (Myst: The Book of Atrus). Atrus lost the Myst book in the fissure, and the book eventually came to Earth, where you, the Stranger/player, find it and use it to go to Myst Island, where you find Atrus' library.

In the library you find a red and a blue book, which are the linking books to Sirrus' and Achenar's Prison Ages (Spire and Haven respectively). On the brothers' request, you collect the red and blue pages, and as you proceed, the brothers each tell you that the other brother is guilty of burning the books in the Myst library. After you collect five pages, they tell you the pattern for unlocking a secret hideout behind the fireplace of the library. Sirrus tells you to bring from there the final red page, but not the blue one; Achenar tells you the exact opposite. However, they both tell you not to touch the green book. If you open the green book, you see Atrus in the K'veer basement, and if you bring him the white page for the Myst book, he goes back to Myst and burns the red and blue books, thus imprisoning his two sons forever (Myst). He then asks you to go to Riven to save Katran from Gehn, who has gone mad and is trying to convert Riven into another D'ni civilization. Once you save Katran and capture Gehn, then you return home by taking the Star Fissure (Riven).

While you are back on Earth, Atrus & company abandon Myst and build a new home, Tomahna, in the desert near the Cleft. They gather all the D'ni survivors that they can find and put them in an age called Releeshahn. When you come to Tomahna, you witness someone, Saavedro, steal the Releeshan book from Atrus to get revenge on Atrus' sons for destroying his own world, Narayan and take it to his new home world, J'nanin. You save Releeshan, help Saavedro return to the main part of Narayan, and go back to Tomahna (Exile).

Years later, Sirrus and Achenar somehow escape from their prison worlds and kidnap Yeesha (Atrus' daughter). You save her from being fatally possessed by Sirrus, who tries to do so in order to fool Atrus into teaching him the Art of Writing Age Books (Revelation).

Modern rediscovery and restoration efforts

D'ni, The Art, and D'ni's Ages were rediscovered by a human, John "Fightin' Branch" Loftin, in 1987. Loftin's discovery began with a place in New Mexico now known as The Cleft. The Cleft is a large chasm in the side of an inactive volcano. As it is described (and later seen in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst), the Cleft has rooms carved into each side of the cleftwall, with several rope bridges spanning the gap. The caldera of the volcano itself houses the entrance to a long series of tunnels, eventually leading to the D'ni cavern. Catherine's Journals, one of our most important early discoveries, later told us that The Cleft was in fact Atrus's childhood home (see the Book of Atrus).

Elias Zandi, a friend of Loftin, founded the D'ni Restoration Foundation, with hopes of restoring the D'ni cavern. When he died in 1996, he left his son Jeff the land on which The Cleft is located. The task of restoring D'ni was left with Dr. Richard Watson, who founded the D'ni Restoration Council (DRC). The DRC continued its restoration effort steadfastly, and opened the cavern in November 2003. However, the DRC was quickly losing funding, and in February 2004, three short months after allowing the general public down, the restoration effort was cancelled indefinitely.

While the Myst games and novels are our main sources of knowledge of the D'ni, some events and principles are not portrayed as they "actually" were. For example, we learned from Cyan (and now also from Myst IV) that the Prison Books in Myst and Riven were actually regular Linking Books to complete Ages. The Prison Books were an element of artistic licence, introduced to simplify gameplay.

In the D'ni canon, the games (except Uru) and novels actually exist as fictionalized histories. In Uru, you can even wear Myst and Riven T-shirts. Uru itself, however, takes place in the present day; as such, it is not historical, and therefore its events are part of the D'ni canon.

D'ni Culture

The D'ni culture was, in some ways, far removed from that of humans. Much of what they believed centered around "The Maker" Yahvo. What follows are four aspects of their culture given to us by the game Uru, found in journals within the game.

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