Rain. Constant Rain. Drops of all sizes danced down from constantly shifting skies....fallout from the now constant turmoil in the heavens, from cloud fronts jostling one another for their turn to drown this small corner of the world.
There was rain everywhere and in everything.
Rain had filled the ship’s corridor again. It wasn’t unusual that it should. In fact the corridor of the antique looking vessel would have some water in it most times. Only the pump could keep it out... when it was on. It wasn’t on. The pump had reset when the visitor left, chugging ever more slowly until at last it gave up its fight with the constantly encroaching water. Its last wheeze informing the relentless waves that it was merely saving its strength for the next encounter.
Grey rain drizzling toward the diagonal woodwork is suddenly dragged inwards
by some unseen force into a coruscating amorphous mass born of water and fire. The sudden outrush of heated air causes the falling droplets to redirect around the shimmering cloud. Rapidly this disturbance darkens into the tall form and surrounding fabrics of Dar'nay. He had returned. His dark cloaked figure remained fixed and still in the midst of the broken ship, seemingly as attached to the ship as it was to the rocks below. He stood lost in reflection, as if unable to quite take in his surroundings.
As if insulted by his inattention, sibling clouds quarrel violently amongst themselves. A great bolt shoots through the atmosphere, palely lighting the sky’s thick grey quilt. The storm petulantly thunders its intention to get him where he stands. The gestures evoke a wry smile from the traveler. It would be amazing indeed if such a threat could move him now. As the wind and rain redoubled their efforts, he is at last forced to move. He shifts position to block his precious books and papers against the vandalism of the many fingered rain. To his left a particularly spectacular dagger of purple light lances out of the air rending the turbulent skies with a resounding boom. It takes a few moments to register but the thought soon occurs to him "Purple lightning?" He ponders. Withdrawing a battered book from his sodden robes he makes a quick note to find out why and then replaces it quickly lest it get wetter than it already was.
Reaching an internal decision, he walks toward the pump controls. The valiant mechanism sputters purposefully to life, pleased to be of service once more. Its cheerful chuck-a-chuck-chug brings a quick smile to Dar'nay’s face as he turns back on the mill finished boards and heads to the lighthouse. He slows as he goes, sparing a glance for all he had missed in his rush
before. Where did Atrus get these boards? Their fine cut and smooth finished ends marked them as professional work. Where did it come from? How was this done? These were oft repeated questions in these strange worlds.
Dar’nay slows again at the ship itself, seeking to read the dark grey seals on its side. Did they bear same emblem as Atrus’old seal in Myst? It was now impossible to tell, but it didn't look like it. Odd that he should remember it differently. A closer examination reveals slight spaces at the edges, These are cannon portals! Had they been used? His mild frown eases as he ran his hands along the low, red, seamless rails, absorbs the diagonal artistry of the boards. The wood was wearing into an amazing variety of hues, the rich colours enhanced by its sodden condition.
Dar'nay takes in everything; the gentle edged wave lines that flow into the distant horizon, the constant water now falling about him, the dark angularity of the rocks upon which these few man-made structures depended. Again his face creases briefly into a smile as the stark beauty of Stoneship Age soaks into his seared senses.
The storm abates, apparently mollified by his response. Perhaps it simply felt the need to impress him, to show its force to the one and only visitor to this Age in a long while. The rain falls now as a warm blanket, soft, thick, and all-encompassing.
Dar'nay lifts his lenses and lets the rain drench him, cleanse his heart from the horrors of his journey. He had seen so much wrecked, so much ruined beyond any saving. Its heaven’s grey-rose hues mirror his soul’s own sorrow. As he had longed to assist his friend, now he longed to gather his thoughts, to rest his weary frame....to...... be.....alone.
He makes his way to the lighthouse and descends the stairs, undoing the security he had restored before. Again he raises the trunk and uses the chained key to get the padlock’s key. All this was as before. The very familiarity is a balm. He settles in the glass enclosure and looks out at sea and sky from his protected space. Now he has time to rest, to look.
The different textures and grains of the lighthouse delight his sleepy gaze. He examines the trapdoor carefully, feeling its odd pebbly surface. Strange stuff this. It looks like pressed wood but feels more like stone. Whatever it was, the stuff had been also used in the ceiling, below the ornate dome that he knew capped all. Giving up his explorations for the moment, he leans into the wall, feels the rumbling sky growl into him. It was a curiously comforting sensation, like the purring caress of an impossibly huge cat.
As he relaxes into the corner’s embrace, Dar'nay looks over the seas rolling by in its steady small waves. Amazing that they are never any larger. Again his trusty journal is extracted and he notes their motions, speculates on the lack of spray. Surely the constant storms should stir the depths more than this!
What beauty was in Stoneship Age! But it had changed so much! According to the library journals, rain had been rare here when Atrus first came. The native boys had played in eternal sunshine. Now they were gone.....
The thunder drowns his thoughts, pours its tears with fresh strength. He looks into the intertwined and shifting clouds above pondering its sorrow. Did it cry for those lost souls? For the horrors perpetrated in this innocent place?
Slowly he shakes off his solemn reveries. With a soft sigh, he clambers to his aching feet and freshly winds the generator, leaning on the metal rod behind it. His strong hands tremble against thick, unyielding ladder as he climbs down. He should rest...no ..he must rest now. His strength was fading with the last feeble rays of the remaining day. The hours passed so quickly here!
Dar'nay stumbles a little as he goes toward the doughty little pump. As he rights himself on the boards, he looks down into the ocean. Amazing, he can see layer upon layer of movement, and yet nothing can be viewed below its shifting veil.... fascinating. He presses the middle button, turns back. The wind and rain push him powerfully to the rock’s dark passageway, yet shroud the sound of his motion with their constant tumult.
He enters the nearest tunnel and begins his long and silent descent to the rock rooms. As he descends the five flights, he looks at the arches that are embossed into the walls in every flat area. Surely some of these should open? He presses into the mold and rust stained entrances. But no, only the squared panel, third arch on the fifth level, can be accessed, the one that leads to the compass.
Dar'nay clambers through the small opening. It is lit within like a service corridor in the bowels of some futuristic voyager to the stars. This access-way leads not to outer but inner space...at its heart is a lower observation deck, glassed on both sides. In the middle of this is a compass rose that is a work of art. Graceful arms in red, yellow, and blues mark rounded degree buttons. Pressing the correct button brings up the lamps, calls the white fish schools forever playing tag in the murky water. The weary traveler settles in again, watches their motion with a small smile on his face, at peace until the light under the sea fails.
An alarm echoes down from the entrance, rattling his ears. Bright blue
lightbulbs flash at either end in sequence to the sound... He could almost
stand the light, it is a peaceful color, but that sound....
No, he will have to move.
Dar'nay lurches toward a randomly chosen exit. He climbs back out, straightening his length gratefully into the generous proportioned tunnel. He finishes the stroll to the end room and presses the green button in the middle, the siren still nagging behind him....
Dar'nay steps quickly past the threshold as the door slides up. Ahhhh the noise has stopped! Perhaps he will rest here? No, this is Achenar’s room. Even if he could live with the rib cage centerpiece, it would beyond his ability to rest in a bed stained old blood green. It may simply be mold, but even so.... The effect is hardly reassuring. Even the end-posts of the bed make him wince. They are solid metal, horribly reminiscent of the chains and posts in the Mechanical Age.
There are nice touches in the room, but none will bear close inspection, not without causing nausea. The rose hologram morphs into a skull, the pretty little rugs beneath the lamps just accent the swaying of the lamps above them. He makes a note of their motion. Why are these moving when all else is so still? Circulating air currents? He remains lost for a moment in this contemplation. He gives a quick shake to his sodden locks to rid himself of the notion. How could such things to exist in a sealed room? Puzzles within puzzles.
He staggers sideways examining the floor to ceiling beauty of the woodwork, effectively ending his lingering study of the room’s construction, at least for now ....
Back through the tunnels he goes as quickly as he may, his head aching at every pulse of the alarm....
AAHH...... At last he reaches the sanctuary of Sirrus’ room... It is a bit overdone for his taste, but not beyond bearing. The red carpet and bed covering dominate the decor. Dar'nay spends a few minutes examining his surroundings as he readies for bed.
A shield crest is embossed on the large gothic arches, and gilded in the room corners, a few moments are spent pondering upon the genesis of such emblems. Examining a few assures him they are all one design; three lions or dragons, the Myst chandelier, and checkered design in quarter. The checkering appears to be the same design as that on the green-white vases standing in each corner. This leads him to closer study of the vases and their contents. He finds palm leaves’ condition curious, for each vase holds (exactly) one very dead leaf, one which is rather wilted, and one that still seems fresh. Perhaps they are from different plants? The pastoral wall murals within the arches offer no further insight.
Dar'nay takes out his now damp notebook sighing, and makes yet another note
for yet another day. Then sets his writings to dry on the desk.
The dresser holds no clothes. Jewels, china, candlesticks, and fabrics fill several drawers, but no actual clothing.. curiouser and curiouser. There is no gold either, and that puzzles him. Hadn’t there been some in the small drawer before?
Dizzily shaking off his mild alarm at its absence, Dar'nay makes himself a toga of sorts from the colourful cloths available in the ornate dresser. He tucks into the enormous bed, gazing into the vaulted wood ceiling as he drifts to sleep....
But not for long.....
As soon as the first tides of exhaustion swept over and away, the aches,
concerns, and sorrows of the day made him restless once more. Finally he
sits up, wanders about the room playing with Sirrus’ toys. At last Dar'nay
settles in the desk chair.
He sits back in his chair surveying the work of the past few weeks now laid out before him. His efforts to catalog the various flora and fauna of this Age are almost complete. He has surpassed even his own goals for this trip. And no wonder! This Age had captured his mind and interest in a way that no place had done for so very, very long.
The slim, graceful rays and great, gentle chelonians so like those of his own world had drawn him into what was almost a kinship with this Age. It felt so like home but also so alien and intriguing.
He gazed at the page before him reading the mildly controlled spillage of ink he called his hand writing and read "purple lightning? It must be either an absence of green or an abundance of red and blue." Thinking about this for a further moment he picked up his pen and quickly wrote "Possibly it is the vortices in the atmosphere? Using centripetal forces to cast out the heavier elements."....possibly. So many things unknown, and not purely about this Age.
Dar'nay leans forward in his chair a moment resting his furrowed brow upon his weary hands and massages his temples gently. Looking down to the desk before him he sees that the small inlaid piece has Atrus’ seal in its corners! What does this mean?
Was this miniature Versailles Atrus’ doing? Rummaging through the drawer
brings no further clues. All he finds are Sirrus’ pills and syringe. Dar'nay’s lip curls in distaste as he closes the drawer.... Well at least that part was over... Soon he could return, ask a few questions from one who should have some answers. At this thought, his spirits lifted. Yes, he was ready to return.
Since he can’t sleep he might as well dress. He finds that his clothes are still very wet, they chafe him as he puts them on. He chuckles softly, suddenly amused at his own reluctance to face the weather, as he heads back into the storm..
A thunderclap greets his entrance into the dark. Hunching his shoulders
against the rain and drawing back into his dark cowl to protect his face he
climbs the lighthouse ladder and stops to stare out across the choppy surface of the waters before him.
Dar'nay winds the generator, reseals the structure preparing to leave. But as he comes out his eyes are drawn to the sky. After resetting the compass and pump, he climbs the telescope stairs to get a better view. A haunting tune seems to accompany his ascent into the brisk wind. He smiled into the refreshing watery breeze, and looks below him. An intermittent low pitch whine emanates from the brass telescope at his back as it swings back and forth in the gale.
The lighthouse light winks merrily in what would otherwise be a somber
and dark scene. Even the moon is obscured by the ever present cloud cover that hide it away like a jewel too precious to be seen. Lightning caresses the lower surfaces and jumps from sky to raise steam from the roiling waters.
He notices a definite lightening in the atmosphere, a light peach shade invading the sky before him ruthlessly driving back the many tones of the curtain of night. This is what he had been waiting for.
Standing transfixed by the anticipation of the moment he gazes at the scene before him as the increasing intensity of the light reached out to illuminate details of the construction of the lighthouse and the shattered rigging of the boat blowing and oscillating in the wind. The final dregs of the sapphire shades of night drains away under the onslaught of the warm ochre waves that flowing over them.
In scant minutes the scene was changed utterly.
He lets his tired legs buckle under him as he rests upon the wooden apex of the upthrust rock still reliving in his mind the first force of emotion that bares him yet on a torrent of happiness as he watches his first dawn in the Stoneship Age.
He knows it will definitely not be his last.
Joy has come with the morning.
His heart somewhat lighter, he resolves that it is time once more to visit the island that had once been home to his great friend. He must return to Myst. Slowly he descends the ramp.
Stepping carefully down the slippery wooden stairs of the great aft section of the ship imprisoned so cruelly in the unforgiving rock he reflects quietly upon all he had seen in this Age, knowing without doubt that he will return.
Gently pushing button slides the ever solid door at the base of the stairs open. The tall figure steps into what would have been the hold of the craft if it had ever been used upon these tempestuous waters. Yet it is not devoid of purpose. Dar'nay allows himself a slight smile as he contemplates that no pirate ship had ever held such a valuable as was given sanctuary here.
Stopping for a moment at the small landing, he marvels once more at the great diversity of aquatic life that surrounded this lonely outcropping. Thin fish insinuate their quicksilver way through the gently, swirling currents whilst their larger cousins stand watch near the ship. Lion fish, their warm and bright tones shining though the lightening waters diffracted rays bath their impressively displayed spines and fins in soft sapphire shades.
Not for the first time, he looks out, catches sight of the strange spiny eel. Its sinuous flexing body displaying the ebony spines protruding from it's surface. Yet another mystery, another unanswered question about one of the multitude of wonderful aspects of this place.
Dar'nay turns and heads slowly and deliberately down the last few steps into the very depths of the ship, enjoying the uncertain pressure of aged wooden boards and the gentle song of complain they weave into the air as he journeys down them.
Before him stands a empty table, seeming somewhat out of place here. The chestnut wood contrasts with the azure depths and the shadowy earthen tones of the surrounding woodwork. His gaze drinks in the carved and patterned constructions, ornamented but not overly so. A sure sign of a creation of his friend, it is an exercise in staid elegance and beauty.
Dar'nay passes his hand over the apparently featureless surface calling for that which he knows is within. For a moment there is nothing and then the filigree threads of grain distort as an upwelling force flows from the surface, rises up from the aged wood like a whale reappearing after a sojourn in the deep needing to replenish its vital stocks of air. The burnished sheen of wood morphs imperceptibly into a somewhat tattered and worn cover for a sizable volume. The familiar letters inlaid in the surface brought back images of the light and airy world he was about to visit once more. He gazes up from the table and the volume upon it and spends a few last moments in this Age gazing at the beauty of the oceans outside the windows, the undulating sea-grass, the creatures sliding effortlessly upon each swell.....
As his finely structured hand contacts the page, Dar’nay’s gaze is drawn towards the great sea turtle, leathery fins rising and falling as it's rheumy eyes search for both prey and predator with a permanent expression of untroubled detachment.
Thus the last vision to fill his questing eyes before he was consumed by the pages of the book was the enormous ancient animal making it's tranquil ceaseless journey though the unnaturally peaceful waters surrounding the lonely stone pinnacle.
The turtle blinked in mild surprise as the tall man vanished once more. It considered for a second then turned and swam toward the surface. He knew where the robed ones appeared, hopefully this one would return soon?
That one was fascinating to watch.