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August Myst Writing Challenge

#1 User is offline   J'ohn 

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 03:37 PM

Here is this month's challenge:

Challenge: Write a story that ties directly into the events revealed in, or occuring in Myst IV: Revelation.

Focus: Perspective

Length: 900 words or less

Submission deadline: September 15th, Midnight GMT

Additional guidelines: All entries must be your own original work, no plagiarism and should follow the tenets of MystCommunity's family rated language. WiP's (Works in Progress) are allowed if you would like to submit your work for feedback and suggestions prior to submitting your final entry. Please label all WIP's threads as: "August Challenge WiP"

SBS :arianna:

#2 User is offline   Tiana Luthien 

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 08:06 PM

The Letter


Makal had found the letter on the Shield Island this morning, when he'd gone to tend the roots. The fact that Atrus hadn't delivered it in person - or come to talk to me - had left me with a distinctly ominous feeling and I didn't like it. I liked it even less once I'd read the letter. I knew there were times when Atrus hid behind his writing, but this...

I swore feelingly and slammed the wooden bowl onto the counter, my long fingers gripping it tightly. No, the only reason he hadn't told me himself was because he'd been afraid of my reaction - and no wonder. He hadn't lied to me outright, but for twenty years he'd been lying by omission. Devil take you, Atrus.

…I've often wondered if you thought I'd killed my sons when I burned up those two Books. But never once have I offered you the truth.

Come, my friend, and visit me on Tomahna right away. There is much I have to tell you about my sons. Atrus.

Which was, I knew, Atrus' roundabout way of telling me that his sons were alive. Add to that a few verbal slips over the years and it was obvious that not only were Sirrus and Achenar alive and well, but Atrus and Catherine and Yeesha had somehow re-established contact with them.

You fool.

Things I thought I'd put away had come roaring back the moment I read the letter; the scar on my arm had been throbbing all day and no matter which way I turned, I kept seeing Achenar's cage and the thing in the box. Sirrus' voice, oily and smooth, rang in my ears and every time someone spoke I jumped, thinking it was him.

Ahran had been watching me closely since his return from the Scholar's Room this evening, but he said nothing as he helped me clear away the supper things.

We put Hanny, our six-year old daughter, to bed earlier than usual - much to her dismay. She railed and kicked at her father as he carried her up the stairs, but she fell asleep the moment her head touched the pillow.

I touched her sleeping face, smoothing the dark hair from her forehead; I'd never dreamt I'd have a daughter, yet here she was. The thought of losing her -

My breath caught in my throat and I covered my face with my hands. Sirrus and Achenar were alive.

'Leila?' Ahran whispered, putting his hands on my shoulders.

I shook my head sharply and jumped to my feet, shaking. Atrus, what have you done? Without a backward glance at my husband I ran from the room.

Safe in our own room, I fell onto the mattress that lay on the floor and wrapped my arms around my legs; I could practically feel the letter burning a hole in the small purple bag that hung from my belt. Closing my eyes, I buried my head in my knees, trying to ignore the fear gnawing at my heart.

A floorboard creaked and I twitched nervously. A moment later I heard the rustle of robes as Ahran knelt before me. Gently, he raised my head. 'Leila, what's wrong?'

'Trust me, Ahran, you don't want to know,' I muttered hoarsely.

'Maybe not,' he conceded, eyes black with concern. 'But the days when you needed to carry everything alone are passed. What's troubling you?'

I looked at him, seeing the grey streaked liberally through his ebony-red hair; the obvious sign of mortality frightened me, suddenly. Taking a deep breath, I blew out again and reached for the bag at my waist. Pull yourself together, Leila. 'Here,' I said, handing him the letter. 'It's from Atrus.'

He raised an eyebrow and unfolded the paper. He glanced at it then handed it back, a faintly amused smile touching his lips. 'You read it - you know I can't.'

'Oh. Right.' My cheeks burned. Ten years I'd been married to this man and for whatever reason, I kept forgetting that though Ahran could speak my native language he could not read it.

Clearing my throat, I began to read the letter aloud. At first the words felt strange on my tongue - I'd not spoken much of it this past decade - but I soon found the rhythm. When I finished, my mouth was dry and my hands were shaking again. The Weaver have mercy…

My fist closed convulsively around the paper and I risked a glance at my husband; the break line in his nose was burning white.

'They're alive,' he said, his voice carefully controlled. Reaching out he closed his ink-stained hands over my own. 'They're alive.'

Wordlessly, I nodded, feeling the tremors running through his arms; I saw the anger in his eyes. Such anger, though directed at precisely whom it was hard to say. For all that Sirrus and Achenar had terrified me, they had betrayed their own parents, tortured innocents, and pillaged countless Ages - they had almost destroyed Ahran's world - what was now my world - in their lust for power. The civil war had torn at the very fabric of the Age and so many had died…men and women…children…

I thought of my daughter, sleeping quietly in the other room, and shivered. 'Ahran,' I whispered, clutching his hands. 'Ahran, I'm frightened.'

He pulled me into his arms, holding me tightly. 'So am I,' he murmured. 'So am I.'

#3 User is offline   Wanais 

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 04:27 AM

At the balcony

I left my father with his friend in the lab. That person is really strange, always walking around touching everything, trying to open every locked drawer. Dad doesn’t seem to mind, but I remember mom’s comments about the mess they came back to, both in Myst and in grandfather’s ages.

As usual when we have guests, dad sent me away with a vague order to get back to my studies. I did not really feel like studying so I watered some of the plants, and then I went to the balcony. Now, I am sitting here on the bench, turning my gaze away from the balcony corner, watching the birds over the hills.

I know he keeps them there. They must be in that corner; I think there is a loose stone that’s kept in place by one of dad’s weird code locks. I have tried to figure it out a couple of times when dad was out, but as it is right now I wouldn’t even look in that direction. I never got anywhere with this one, and besides there is probably also an ordinary lock as well because dad has a key that he always carries around.

It is kind of strange that dad keeps our linking books so carefully hidden. After all, he leaves them anywhere while we are using them! And it’s not like we have a whole lot of them, or at least that’s what mom told me. Most of the rescued books are kept in Releeshan and some in Tay. Here, we keep mostly such books that dad and mom wrote.

I like visiting ages, much more than I like studying. I don’t mean Releeshan and Tay, visiting those are like going home – I have most of my friends in Releeshan and my godmother lives in Tay. Linking to D’ni is pretty boring too – the only people there are a small group of Releeshan archaeologists. When we go there, dad spends hours discussing their latest findings, while I wander the fractured stairs, throw pebbles into the lake, or just stare at the gloomy horizon. I can’t really see how anyone ever wanted to live there.

But now and then, mom or dad will bring out a book that I never saw, and together we will travel to an age that I never visited. I love to do that more than anything else! I know mom and dad intend this to be part of my studies, there are always things to learn from those ages. But I don’t mind the lesson that comes with the experience.

This is why I am here, sitting at this bench when I should be going back to my books. My imagination runs wild, I try to imagine what books there are in that corner, what ages I have yet to see. But slowly, a new feeling mixes with the excitement and wonder. It takes a while to recognise it – it is shame.

Lately, I have made friends outside of Releeshan and Tay, and somehow it just does not feel right to view them as objects of study. This age was unique, at first it felt really strange but then the people were so nice that it felt like coming home. I’d like to move there when I grow older. And still, mom and dad haven’t visited these people for years!

This really bothers me. The age was written for my education. It is only a stepping stone, that I am expected to quit visiting as I pass on to more difficult lessons. Somehow, mom and dad never seem to really care about people from the ages they’ve written: it’s as if they are less ‘real’ to them. My dad sees them as objects of study, or at best as business contacts. Mom… it seems like she is taking pains to avoid getting emotionally involved with any other people than those that used to live in Riven.

And then, the ages are too similar to each other. The ages that dad wrote are all really similar. The ones that mom wrote or had a hand in are more varied, but you can still tell that they are hers. I can see why this happens: the ages are real, but since the descriptive book must be so precise it can only link to ages that the writer can imagine.

Oh, I really, really want to learn how to write books! There must be a way to do it differently, to link to ages that you did not imagine beforehand. Dad told me that the age always is richer than the book that you wrote to describe it. Why then, is it so important to describe everything in detail? There must be a way to describe worlds at a deeper level, leaving more potential for the link to shape itself, to connect to an age that is different from anything you can think of. How I would love to visit such ages, and meet the people in them. They might not even be people, come to think of it.

Oupps, what was that sound? Oh no, dad must have short-circuited something again! I must go and check out on him and his friend.

#4 User is offline   Korora 

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 07:59 AM

Acknowledgements to C. S. Lewis for Screwtape, Slubgob, Triptweeze, and Slumtrimpet.


My dear Slagþort,

[Pointers for working on The Stranger’s temper]

Yes, you need to work on the patient on Serenia. Specifically, you have to convince him that Dream is the only way to save Yeesha. Given his personality, you will probably have to be a water spirit.

Yes, if you get him to go into Dream, try to gain his trust. And remember, your first priority is the ensnaring of your own patient, above helping Slubgob’s plan to make Sirrus puppet-king of the universe. Never forget, if Sirrus succeeds but your patient remains totally devoted to The Enemy, you will face trouble. And don’t tell me what Triptweeze should and should not do with Sirrus; both Triptweeze and I are more experienced than you.

And most of all, for the sake of all that is profane and unholy, DON’T LET HIM CONTACT THE ENEMY! If he does, even once, all is lost.

Your affectionate uncle,


My dear Slagþort,

Yes, old Slubgob has been demoted, and yes, he has been placed in charge of the College. But what has that to do with you and your patient?

Yes, you got the patient into Dream, but after Yeesha’s rescue you let him get back on track with The Enemy. And you bear part of the blame for Atrus’ move to the Enemy’s camp!

[Long rant on Slagþort’s blunders]

You fool, why did you make it the patient, WHO HAD READ THE JOURNALS, the one to go down. And Slumtrimpet was ordered to destroy Yeesha if Sirrus’ plan failed. Why did you save her? Did you go overboard in trying to get the patient’s trust? Going overboard is never wise. Or were you trying to stick it to Slumtrimpet? Vendettas between demons hurt our Cause. Therefore, you will go down for a stint in the Houses of Correction for Incompetent Tempters, while Blargrot takes over tempting your patient. You must understand that any more blunders of such magnitude will land you on the dinner table.

Your affectionate uncle,


#5 User is offline   Talashar 

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 06:17 PM

Note on the title: Since Jack Wall hasn't released the Sanskrit lyrics for the Spire music yet, I was forced to hunt through some reference books for a title in that language. If you put a dot under the final <h>, it apparently means "Lord of the World". :mower: Rough anglicized pronunciation: "jah-gahn-nah-tah."

EDIT: Changed pronunciation a bit - I think I was misled by traditional terms for Sanskrit phonology.


He crawls around on the rock, and though it is cold, sweat covers his body. He claws at his clothes. He desperately turns his mind to other things, to a time when he was king over many worlds, to the glint of jewels, to the warm flesh of women, to songs composed and portraits painted, but to no avail. The craving devours his mind and his body. Just a few feet farther, and there will be peace. Eternal peace. To swim among the stars.

“I will not be defeated!” he tries to shout, but it comes out as a groan. “I will not!”

You are weak, little brother.

I find others to be strong for me, Achenar.

But there is no one else here. No one else to be strong. He has to be strong. Has to be. He rips tears of blood down his sweaty face, and the sting draws him away from the ache.

That was the most intense loss, the final vestiges of the chemicals boring out of his system. He would give anything to have that loss instead. Now…now he knows there is no hope.

He remembers leaning over his writing desk in Channelwood, watching the elaborate letters form under his pen, listening to the birds singing. No birds in this world. Nothing but the wind.

He remembers savoring the delicate flavor of wine and cheese from Terrel. Now there is no wine, no cheese, only the disgustingly bland fruit of his garden.

He remembers Aspermere and the illusions he had commissioned, beautiful and strange and wonderful. He remembers Tide and the gentle, relentless, movement of the waters. He remembers Serenia, where the people were bizarre but the landscape beautiful – but then, had he ever visited an Age that was not beautiful in one way or another? It is this…this confinement, this stasis that gnaws at him.

He remembers his fortress in Mechanical, into which flowed all the wealth of the world. Paintings and crystals and gold and fine artistry. He steps back and eyes the carving he has been working on for the past week. It’s all the same color, but at least he can bring out forms and shapes.

What he misses most of all, perhaps, are people. He remembers Stoneship and Narayan and Terrel, where he could read a heart and turn it against its companions. Such a delicate art that. When he had pressed his hand to the Linking panel in that accursed moment, that was what he had longed for, a last pleasure before going to find grandfather.

He had imagined people for a few days, relived old memories. Branch and the jealousy that had consumed him, turning friend against friend. Saavedro, poor brave Saavedro, begging for them let him go, not to leave him on that barren Age forever. Thedda, oh beautiful one. He was using her to find the secret of fire-on-water, she was using him to claim the power of the otherworlders in those endless court intrigues, but their time together had been so pleasurable.

That way lay madness, he had suspected, and so had focused on his art. He looks again at the sculpture, and his father looks back, so preoccupied, so distant, so naive. Ah, but now he knows the cleverness of his father. “You stupid fool!” he shouts, and his voice echoes among the columns. “Didn’t you realize it was a trick? There…is…no…Linking Book! Oh, so clever, Sirrus. Deceiving your mother, deceiving your father, deceiving your deranged brother…so clever. Fool!”

But his rage dies at last, and he knows again that there is no hope. He continues to patiently carve, because there is nothing else to do, and the minutes become hours and the hours become days and the days become months and the months become years…

He had a dream, once, long ago, where he had been climbing two ropes up an impossibly sheer cliff. There had been someone above cutting at the ropes. One had snapped and he dangled helplessly, at the mercy of his assailant. But there was no mercy, for the ropes were tied around something that the other wanted desperately. Then the second rope had broken. That was why horror had gripped him when he first Linked here, for he had remembered his dream and recognized this place.

Only a dream, of course, it had to be, but it fuels the frostbite in his heart. The chisel digs into his father’s face.

“I promise you, father. If I ever see you again, I will exact my retribution for this wrongful imprisonment. You will be greatly rewarded.”

#6 User is offline   Aurélie 

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 07:40 PM

Yep....last moment, but I did it! Probably influenced way too much by my summer reading for its own good.

The Interior of a Heart

"Oh, there you are. I thought you might not come, at first."

Achenar gestured meaninglessly. Yeesha, as she had an uncanny way of doing, had thought correctly. He had woken this morning with the old confusion, and it followed him throughout the day. Blurring the hours. He would start off with the intention of completing a simple task - resetting one of his traps, maybe - and later realize he'd been stalled outside of the cabin for half an hour with just his thoughts, such as they were. One after another they moved before him, shifting and coalescing, as hallucinatory and metamorphic as rainbow shapes on a smear of oil. By noon his head was hot with headaches, and he groaned at the sound of the signal horn.

"I wasn't sure if Dad was going to let me come by myself again. But I'm glad he did."
Settling herself on the bench, she leaned forward so that her red-ribboned hair caught the sunlight through the bars, almost golden. Achenar blinked. It was brown in most lights...

"I visited Sirrus a couple of days ago." At this, he tried to force his puddled brain into focus. Sirrus... Often before, when his family had visited, they had spoken - guardedly at first, and then with less reserve - of his younger brother. He'd watched their bodies carefully, noting a decrease in tension in all of them - particularly in his father.

"...and when we played chess, I won twice in a row!" Achenar let out a grunt of surprise. He couldn't imagine Sirrus letting Yeesha win. "Well, each time before I thought I was going to lose. I guess you just need confidence. Don't you think so too?"

"I was never that good at chess," he managed.

"Neither was I, but now I am! Maybe I can help you," she said, jumping up and pacing a little, a habit she shared with her father. Her hair was too bright - Achenar felt his concentration slipping."I'll bring our board when we come, and we can practice, and maybe you'll win too."

Achenar allowed himself a guarded "Maybe." His head was spinning, and he didn't trust himself to say anything. He didn't understand; he wanted to turn around and run through the jungle, and he wanted to stay and listen - to follow through with the "maybe" so tentatively given. Abruptly, he recalled a story his grandmother had told him about sea-dwelling folk looking up to see the sun through the waves.

Bringing himself back, he saw that Yeesha was sitting down again, looking at something on the floor. He started to follow her gaze and was momentarily surprised by a blur of motion. It was a blue ball. She sometimes brought something with which to amuse herself until he came, or when it seemed like he needed a rest. She bounced the ball twice in a row, then caught it with the other hand and began again.

Thok thok. Thok thok. Thok thok.

On the fifth iteration of this pattern, she tossed the ball too far to the side, and had to bend down and stop its progress. Looking up again, she caught his gaze and smiled. "I have another one that's even cooler. I should bring it next time. It bounces really, really high. Dad found the material while he was trying to make something in Kerithan - have you been there?" He hadn't. "They have really pretty trees. Dad made that one out of hardened sap, and then we painted it."

She bounced it against the wall, experimentally. Kept it in her gaze. "Is it scary living here sometimes?"

Achenar's breath caught in his throat. Why that question, now? "Sometimes." Then, hardly believing he was saying it, "Do you ever have nightmares?"

"Sometimes." She kept bouncing the ball, but something in her expression changed. "I guess I was thinking about Serenia a lot before I went to bed, because last night I had a dream that they put my memories in their globe when I was dead, but I still needed them... Weird, huh? I don't really know why I needed them....but that wasn't the point, you know? The scary thing was that they took part of me and I needed it back." She closed the ball in her fist and was silent a moment.

"Oh, I can't believe it! I almost forgot! " She dropped her toy heedlessly and reached into her knapsack. Achenar almost jumped back when he saw the scarlet thing in her hand. For one awful moment, he thought he saw it pulsing...throbbing out a rhythm that turned him cold with shock:

They took -
(thok thok)
I took
(thok thok)
a part of me
(thok thok, thok thok)
I need it back
(thok thok thok).

Suddenly the smeared rivers in his brain froze into place:

A tree, a branch, ripples in a pool. Bright sunlight. White cloth billowing out in water. The fair hair wreathed in wet, scarlet garlands. Roses blooming where the iron had touched skin. And the white hand....what was it that she was holding in that hand?


"Thank you...." No words before or since ever spoken with such reverence, or such grief.

Notes: I have not actually played Revelation, but I saw the "Bring any apples?" quote in somebody's signature and decided to explore it. I did what spoilery research I felt necessary - hopefully it was adequate. The "chess" part of Yeesha's conversation, btw, was inspired by a little girl with no hair at the moment, but with a lot of spirit and optimism. Go, Jess, go! :mower:

#7 User is offline   River 

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 12:39 AM


The blues were never quite right. They always seemed too pale or too purple, never exactly right. He had searched for many days (for what were weeks and months anymore) and had experimented with dozens of various elements ... berries, petals, roots. The indigo trillium seemed the most promising but, though it produced the most stunning purple, it's flowers had been deceptive. Oddly the best color he had discovered came from the bile sack of the 'Carmine' fish in the North lagoon. Still, it wasn't exactly right.

But it would do, wouldn't it. Wouldn't It?

It struck him suddenly how odd it had become. There was a time when the only things which gave him pleasure were the hunt, and the flow of blood through his fingers - the very idea of which now filled him with stomach-turning remorse. But now... he stepped back and took in the sight which now offered him peace and solace. He felt, very suddenly, overwhelmed. But for the unexpected "Hiy-Hoe" from below, he might succumb to emotion (he felt as a victim of the whim of emotion sometimes). Achenar turned to peer out the over-look, a feeling of warmth and anticipation quickly flushing away the pending remorse which had threatened to fill him.

Looking down toward the gangway, he indeed saw "Hoe-Hiy" (old 'Gray Beard') himself, looking upward to him, returning the searching stare. Achenar (or Hiy-Hoe as they called him) smiled and waved, unconscious of the fact that the Mangree failed to comprehend the gesture. Then a second figure emerged into view, out from under the over-hang roof edge of the 'Lake-house'. It was Ho-Hi, little Ho-Hi. Achenar was, at first, filled with a sense of surprise - little "One-Ear". Little Ho-Hi had been ill lately and he had seen little of her, but here she was - at his door-stop, seeming all the world better.

Again, one emotion gave way to another, and just as quickly Hiy-Hoe was infused with delight. He turned and, rather haphazardly deposited his brushes and pallet onto the table, sparing one more glance to his creation, then dashed down the ladder to see his 'family' and friends.

Hiy-He and He-Ho seldom left areas of the 'play-ground', but rarer still was the presence of 'Ho-Hi'. She seemed always so timid. Achenar reigned in his enthusiasm just enough to keep from bursting forth from the door of the lake house ("calm, control, remember - it took so long to learn, remember"). Opening the door, Hiy-Hoe calmly descended to one knee and beaconed to the two Mangree which hovered on the gang-plank in front of the 'house'. "Anytime... you are welcome my friends, anytime." Thought Achenar as the two Mangree gingerly approached. Whatever illness had kept her away, Achenar was pleased to see that it had passed. Ho-Hi, though looking slightly thinner, still appeared much improved since he had last viewed her, and for that he was glad.

The three sat like that for a time, simply pleased to be amongst each-other and sharing rhythmic tones, neither completely sure what the other was saying, and comfortable in the presence of one another.

Whatever Demons had haunted his soul and his mind had appeared, these last few years, to have faded. He had become insane, or was it that now, after all this time, Achenar had finally found true sanity? It didn't matter to him now. Maybe for the first time ever, happiness was what flowed through him.

A faint 'Boom' quelled the chatter amongst the three friends. - After a moments hesitation, Ho-Hi darted back across the gangway, followed by Hoe-Hiy, who had suddenly cast a wary glance toward Hiy-Hoe before heading back to the 'playground'. Achenar, who had spent most of his life trusting his instincts, had an immediate sinking feeling in his gut. The distant boom felt unwelcome... evil.

Before he was truly aware of it, Achenar was dashing North, blind to everything but the sense of foreboding building inside him - blind to his instincts which had automatically re-set the bridge. He rushed on, fear over-riding his initial panic, instinct telling him that the impossible had become possible, rushing on and forgetting the mangree, speeding North, to the ship-wreck lagoon, forgetting the calm, forgetting the control, and, in a moment, forgetting and abandoning the imperfect blues upon his canvas, forgetting the gift he had made for his mother...

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