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Seolar Barayen goes to Myst Through the eyes of an unlikely Stranger

#1 User is offline   x42x 

  • glotahn (beginner)
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Posted 09 August 2010 - 11:45 PM

I've always intended to do some IC Myst journals after having played the games, and since I'm now in limbo for a bit while I get my new hard disk set up and waiting for my adapter to arrive so I can transfer all my old files, I figure now is a good time. (Also, I've been reinstalling, and consequently replaying all my Myst games, so there's another reason.) I couldn't find my Myst Myst CD, so I bought realMyst from GOG for about five bucks. I haven't played Rime yet, so don't spoil me when I get there.

The other thing I've been wanting to do is take a mythological character of mine on a test drive. Barayen is a minor deity/folk hero/folk villain/trickster/demon with a distinctly non-demonic personality and some memory issues. I figure he is perfect for a Myst journal because
a) his abilities to shift between planes would make him right at home in the Mystverse
b) his memory problems make him ideally suited to surviving Myst canon's horrifying retcons
c) his personality and mythical nature make him the only candidate for what I have in mind for the journals, which, to clarify, is to find all of the bad endings first.

Anyway, I've got the first segment of this done. Let me know what you think of the character, and any spoilers/etc. regarding all the bad endings to the games will be appreciated (though I've played them through before, so I already know how to win them).

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I was lazing about in a tree the other day when a rift appeared in front of me.

Now, rifts are not terribly uncommon, if you know how to see them, but my shaky memories suggest that they tend to appear at junctions between realms and fault-lines in the fabric of reality, not smack dab in the middle of the Springland where nothing much is going on. The feeling of comfort and nostalgia always call me into them, of course, but this time I was already quite comfortable and only vaguely nostalgic, and for the record, I would like to make it clear that there were clearly Forces Beyond My Ken at work there (as you will see!) The Void itself was strange as well, and not nearly as familiar-feeling. I could not make a surface to stand on, and simply drifted, surrounded by the stars on all sides. Eventually I gave up my struggle to subject the Void to my will, and relaxed.

A book floated past.

This is strange, of course, because in general three-dimensional objects do not exist in the Void, unless I have willed them into existence, and this book was certainly nothing of my own creation! For one thing, I do not actually use books. The Summer people have books, for writing stories and histories and prayers to their God in, (and apparently for warning each other about me) but their minds tell me everything that is in those books without my having to read anything, so there is no call to actually go read them. For another thing, this book is in no language I have ever seen - certainly not the Summer people's language, and, I have a feeling, not the language used by the creatures in Springland and Winterland either, assuming they even use writing. The title contained four stick-like characters, and the interior is full of swooches and curves, at bit like the Summer people's writing, but with more straight lines. Then I turned to the front of the book and found something even stranger - a rift, apparently sewn into the pages itself. A three-dimensional rift, on a three-dimensional object! I know rifts often spontaneously appear in the Void, but this akin to knitting an entire palace onto a hat. Palaces are certainly useful, as are hats, but there is absolutely no call to go combining them.

There was no mind present to read the book for me, but for a second I caught a hint of one from somewhere far off...

I realized that moment I fell into the fissure that the book would not be destroyed as I had planned...

A strange world beckoned through the rift. Not the hot sandy one that the Summer people go to when they are killed, but a place of ocean and trees and rocks. Fascinating! And anywhere is better than a Void that I can't control. I entered the rift.

I stepped out on a wooden dock beside a seemingly infinite expanse of ocean, with the masts of a ship all but entirely sunken into the water beside me. The rift had disappeared when I came through, or, given that this was apparently a strange three-dimensional rift, possibly had never existed in this world in the first place. The sky was a beautiful blue, with a small white sun shining high above. Behind me a forest rose, one tree confined behind a man-made wall. More buildings where the trees tapered off, great big round ones of stone, and a giant gear on a rocky outcropping at the end of the dock - rising behind an odd wooden device. I went to go poke it.

In the event, there wasn't much to poke, just a handle that flipped up or down and seemed to do a whole lot of nothing. There seemed to be another one at the top of the small rocky hill with the gear on it. I went up to see if it did nothing too.

A short flight of stone steps lead my up to a level strip that gave access to the buildings, and a longer curvier one got me up to the gear. Yup, more nothing. I whiled away some hours happily flipping handles.

The sun was a bit lower in the sky when I noticed the metal door sunk back into the hill that climbed steeply up from the dock. It didn't appear to have a handle to play with, but when I approached it opened itseld with a terrifying roar. Going inside, I proceeded down a corridor of rock and metal, and a metal staircase, until coming into a chamber with a pool of odd swirling water at its center. Or so it seemed... I dipped my hand into the pool, but there was no sensation. An illusion, a hologram? Pushing a button on the front of the "pool" dispelled the false image and showed a bunch of machinery. I turned to go, but behind me on the wall was a panel with more incomprehensible writing on it, the last two characters on each of the three lines being larger than the rest. Touching a small green light on the corner caused the panel to slide up, revealing a symbol entry pad of some sort with two similar symbols on it. Repeatedly sliding the panel up and down confirmed that the two symbols in the entry pad were also on the outer panel itself.

I experimented with the entry pad. Each of the two symbols could be changed to one of ten possibilities, including one that looked a lot like the number 1. A set of numbers, then? There were rumors the Xuzhin in the mortal world where the Summer people went had used ten digits, after all. I would have to try and learn them. In any case, I tried turning the entry pad to one of the other two sets of digits on the panel. Pushing the button on the pool resulted in a hologram of a wooden device like the ones I'd been playing with on the dock. Huh, must be important to someone. The other code resulted in a hologram of an island (this island?). Other combinations seemed to have no effect.

I left the chamber and returned to the dock. Nothing to do here either, really, so I started climbing the bluff towards the stone buildings. At the top of the short climb a path made of wooden slats began, and someone had apparently dropped a sheet of paper next to it. More gibberish, of course. What did I expect, really? Obviously the Summer people had never lived here.

Following the path took me to the doorway of the first round building, which had another flippy switch device in front of it (to which I gave a half-hearted prod) and an ornate seal on the door. I pushed it open.

The building contained only a small circular room, with a very comfortable-looking chair in the center. Near the door, a large blue button compelled me to push it. The ceiling, previously some vague brownish color, suddenly became a dome of the night sky covered in stars. Stars! Beautiful stars! The Void had stars of course, but they weren't real stars. These were real, or at any rate they looked real enough. I was a star too; they'd made me one when I left the Void originally, or so they told me. They'd even named me Barayen, named me Our Star. The Spring Goddess and the Summer people's God had their altars in the official temples, and the Winter Lady shared space with Spring in the old Xuzhin temples in the north, but in every house in every town and city there was a shrine to The Star. The images usually depicted me murdering Summer people in gruesome ways, but I was there and they were not. I was Their Star.

I lowered myself into a chair, and a machine immediately came down to block my view of the starscape. Then I realized I could poke things on it and get it to show individual constellations. I applied my newly acquired knowledge of this world's number system. Two number fields in the middle, one on then separated by two dots, and a string of symbols on the left that didn't look like numbers at all. Well, it made no difference what they all meant to me. I played for hours, and saw uncountable constellations.

When I finally emerged from the building it was night outside as well, and the same starscape appeared in the larger dome of the sky. I lay on my back and stargazed until I fell asleep.

--------------------------------

Next time*:
Will Barayen find someone to read him Atrus's note? Will he even be able to understand the message to Catherine if he ever figures out how to activate it? Will he be able to offer fourth-dimensional insights into the nature of prison ages that do not directly contradict Revelation? Or will he simply spend the rest of the game playing in the observatory?

Find out, next time!

* eventually
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#2 User is offline   Lostthyme 

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 11:52 AM

Hmmm... interesting character to throw into the Myst universe. The three bad endings to Myst are
Click to reveal hidden content
You free Sirrus, you free Achenar, or you link to K'veer without the page for Atrus.


I'd like to see where you're taking this. Could be fun. :P
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Posted 11 August 2010 - 08:50 PM

Thanks. I knew about those endings, but I wasn't sure if there wasn't some fun way to kill yourself in Rime that I wasn't aware of.

Note: Maybe this part verges a bit on fanfic, but the trap book movies are just not doing it for me, here. Also I really did want to try and make this make sense with Revelation canon, so... meh. The first part here is a rather dry description of the island - hopefully the conversations with the crazies later on will make up for it.

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I awoke to the rising sun shining in my face, momentarily disoriented by the sounds of sea breezes. Then I remembered - I had found this strange world via a strange book/rift in the Void.

I had eventually fallen asleep near the wooden-slat path, in between the two stone buildings. The second one was much larger, and, as was now more apparent in the dawn light, there was a series of posts leading up to its unblocked doorway, forming a bit of a path. In the center of the "path" was a pool of water (a real one, this time) in which there was a rather large toy ship sunk up to its masts, much like the real ship off the dock. I tried to rescue it, but it appeared to be stuck to the bottom. Odd.

Near each post was a symbol, faintly glowing red (or could that be an effect of the early-morning light?) - an eye, a snake, a very strange-looking bird, and more stretching away from the buildings. Touching one caused it to emit a strange noise and glow green, making it ever so slightly more disturbing than it was already. I left the rest alone.

On the other side of the pool was another flippy-handle device. I flipped it for old times' sake.

Beyond the "path" made of posts was a proper path leading into the woodsy part of the island that I had seen from the dock. I passed a strange building with a bright white light glaring from above the pricipal doorway, and a small quaint cabin within several feet of each other. Both had flippy-devices in front of them. Eventually the path ended at the opposite edge of the island, a short ways away from which was a tower with another flippy device in front of it, and a strange flat ornament on the front. It looked a bit like a clock, and had what appeared to be numbers on its face, but it was entirely round instead of being a flat oval. Also, the "numbers", though the first three had some superficial similarities to the Summer people's numerals, did not match the ones from the entry pad in the room off the dock, and began to look more and more like the shapes around the island that I had begun to assume where letters. Besides, if I II III really were 1, 2, 3, then these people must imagine the day began just after noon! I would have liked to flip the flippy device, but was unwilling to go swimming. Maybe some other time. The water looked suspiciously cold, and deep, and salty.

Going back, I passed the cabin on the other side, and stopped to admire a gigantic tree apparently growing out of the stone and surrounded by a brick wall. The bark didn't feel like bark, either. I wondered what its purpose was. Pressing on back to the buildings, I nearly tripped over a small stone slab with alien writing on it that someone had inconveniently placed in the middle of a patch of blue flowers. Sheesh!

Note: Wow, either I totally missed this in the original game, or they added it to realMyst later as a treat for the fans. I would have thought that if he wanted to write her name in English letters, he would have used her English name too, though.
Posted Image
The Summer people cremate their dead, so he doesn't understand about gravestones.


Having apparently traversed the entire rest of the island before it was even noon, I headed back to the larger of the two buildings. But wait! On the other side of the building, opposite the planetarium, was a wide platform built out to a round pointed... thing, which appeared to be precariously balanced high above the sea below, behind yet another flippy device. I tried to push it over the edge, but no luck - it was actually quite heavy. A square panel on the side reminded me of a door, but it did not respond much to physical violence, either. From one end of the thing, a long cord stretched back off into the woods on the other side.

So, back to the round building it was. Like the planetarium, it contained only a single round room, and the first thing that made itself apparent to me was a bookshelf, undoubtedly full of unintelligible gibberish books. Fortunately, what looked to have been a massive fire had destroyed most of them, so they could not flaunt their unintelligibility at me. There were also paintings: a painting of the doorway I'd just come through, a painting of some other doorway that did not appear to be in evidence, and what appeared to be a painting of the island as it might be seen from the top down, minus all of the man-made buildings. I thought of the topographic map in the room off the dock. Someone here is sure obsessed with the geography of this place.

There were also two books that had been pulled out of the bookshelf for some reason (possibly to be preserved from the fire?) and placed on shelves by themselves - one red, and one blue. Apparently they weren't in great shape, though; when I picked up the red book it became apparent that many of its pages were missing, though the book itself was not long. It seemed very strange to me, and I realized it reminded me of the "book" I'd seen in the void, the one with the rift in it. On this hunch, I carefully opened it to the first page, where there was, as expected, a rift. Apparently, though, putting a rift in a damaged three-dimensional object is not very good for it, and the opening snapped and shuddered, focused and unfocused. I gathered up some stray pages from the floor of the building, and separated out some that looked like they belonged to the red book. My judgment was apparently unnecessary, though, as the pages fused with the book in the appropriate places as soon as they came within range.

Flipping back to the rift at the front, I saw that it had stabilized a bit, but not enough to be really useful. I managed to stabilize it a bit more, at least to stop its constant stuttering, and a man came into view, standing in what appeared to be a barren rocky waste and looking at me through the rift.

"You fixed it!" he exclaimed manically. "You really fixed it!" He moved his hand towards the rift as if to reach inside, but then seemed to realize that that was probably a bad idea. "It's not really fixed, is it?"

"No," I admitted. "I found a few pages laying around, but it's still missing a lot. This is a very strange... object, and I don't really understand how it works."

"Neither do I." The man frowned, a dark and frightening expression. "Linking books don't usually go both ways, and they don't usually partially self-destruct when you use them. He has trapped me in a cage where he could look in on me like a mocking-bird kept for his own entertainment!" He began gesticulating wildly and doing a crazy dance, by which I eventually inferred that he was actually rather upset.

When he eventually calmed down, he narrowed his eyes at me and asked a thoroughly abrupt question. "Are you Sölëd? Or possibly Sölad? Sölar? Seolar?*"

"No!" I told him. "Or at any rate, Seolar is not my name, it is a description of what I am, and thus no one who is actually a friend of mine ever calls me by it. I am Barayen, I am the Star!"

"And everyone you meet who isn't a friend of yours dies a horrible death?" The man stroked his uneven beard, looking intrigued. "Don't worry, I understand." He gave me a thoroughly fake-looking grin.

"Everyone who meets me dies a horrible death anyway, so it doesn't really matter," I reflected. "Who are you, and how do you know any of my names?"

He puffed up his chest with self-importance. "I am Sirrus, and I summoned you!" he proclaimed. I read something about it, before being trapped here, and according to some backwards sect on some godforsaken primitive age, enough electricity can summon demons! Father thought they were just afraid of it, but it turns out they were right!" He had a frightening look of clarity in his eyes for a second, but then the moment passed. "Funny that you should arrive on Myst, and not Spire, though. But you are Sölëd, yes? You can link from anywhere, you kill gods and destroy worlds?"

"The Summer people say the Xuzhin call me that," I admitted. "I can't remember destroying any worlds, and gods can't actually be killed, unless you want to count the Summer people, but there's a lot I can't remember. We'll go with 'yes'."

"Wonderful!" Sirrus said, grinning horribly again. "Then you can link here and free me, even if this book is still broken!" He gave me an expectant look.

"Even I can't make a rift to a place I don't know," I pointed out. "Where are you?" The place that I could see through the still-unhealthy rift looked stranger than any I'd ever seen.

"Spire!" He shouted. "Can't you see? Floating rocks, crystals, lightning!"

"Floating rocks?" I asked. "Are you sure?"

He looked at me with his crazy eyes. "Of course I'm sure! How can you not know? How can you not link? They said Sölëd was the God of linking! They thought Father was Sölëd himself, come to destroy their world and send them someplace even worse when he came through the first time!" I waited for him to calm down, and he seemed to get a grip. "Even if you can't make your own link, you can repair the book. The pages must be on Myst somewhere, or lost in the surviving connected Ages. You've got to help me! You've got to get me out of here!"

He seemed to be descending into a crazy spiral again, so I closed the book and stopped supporting the broken rift.

I considered the blue book from across the room. The man in the read book spoke a strange language I had never heard before, but because he was speaking to me in person I could hear the meaning in his mind. Maybe if there was someone less crazy on the other side of a rift in the blue book, I could get him to read some of the gibberish I'd found on the island for me.

I cautiously opened the blue book and inserted the pages I could find littering the floor. I opened and attempted to stabilize the rift a bit, which brought into focus the terrifically loud noise of someone hammering something. A few seconds later, a large man holding a crudely constructed hammer appeared on the other side of the rift. "You're not Sirrus!"

"No," I said. "Were you expecting him?"

"It's because of him I'm here now!" he growled, waving the hammer around. "Him and his stupid plan!" He put down the hammer and regarded me. "Did Sirrus send you to torment me? Or did Father?"

"Possibly," I reflected, thinking about Sirrus's claims of demon-summoning, "but I doubt it. Look, could I get you to read something for me?"

He narrowed his eyes a bit at that, but when I held up the paper I'd found on the path the day before, his mind read it automatically and he couldn't suppress a snigger. The author, his father, had written a note to his wife about how to activate a secret message in the hologram room off the dock, but the wife had become trapped on the other side of some other rift-book before she'd had a chance to read the note. His thoughts on how this had happened were confused and full of anger, but I gathered this had been related to Sirrus's stupid plan, whatever that was. "There, I read it," the man told me, apparently enjoying the joke. "Don't think I'm going to tell you what it said, though."

"That's perfectly ok," I assured him. "Who is Sirrus? Why is this rift so damaged?"

"Sirrus is the person who ruined my life!" He raised the hammer again, and for a moment it looked like he was going to try and smash the book, but then he lowered it again. "I don't know why the link doesn't work, probably Father knows, but he'll be history soon if he isn't already." The snigger again. "Can you fix the link? You've got to fix the link, the karnaks are driving me insane."

I promised to try and help, and made a half-hearted recommendation to not attempt to smash the rift with the hammer. He informed me that he'd already tried that and it hadn't worked. I believed him.

I looked at the room and its burned bookshelf, and reflected that if the other books on this island were going all going to be like this I really didn't want to know about it.

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* Moar Note: "Sölëd" is, in IPA, something like [søləd], while Seolar is more like [seɔlɐɾ]. Sölëd is the Xuzhin variation of Seolar. I figure, in this bizarre crossover universe I have constructed, which is no doubt ready to collapse into a plot-hole at any moment, one of those burned books once lead to Xuzhin. Whether Sirrus actually managed to summon Seolar, or someone else did, or he is just on Myst by happy accident though, is up to the reader at this point.
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