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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Torri Illan - Flight of Fancy

I woke up this morning with a dull headache.  It wasn't long before I found my way to the medicine cabinet.  I've had too many  of those days lately.  Maybe if I caught it early enough I could stop it.  No work today.  That’s a relief, I thought to myself.

After a quick shower I thought I saw it in the mirror.  Five nights I had seen it.  Stupid Vinsce.  I should give him a punch in the gut for that.  Of course, I'd never tell him.  I needed to get away.  I needed to clear my mind.

I grabbed my KI and sent Hannah a quick message.

"Lets do something fun today"

A few moments, and then my KI flashed with a message.

Sure. I'll take you on an adventure! :)

I closed my eyes for a moment.  A flash of memory.  The Spiral glowed in the darkness; a sound comes from behind me.  I turn to the cloaked figure with daggers in hand.  In the darkness I can hear the sound of blood dripping.  He moves fast toward me.  I force myself awake again.  It's no wonder I haven't been sleeping well.

My hands were shaking again.  I shook my head in hopes of loosing the memory.  My KI flashed again.  Meet me in the Watcher's Pub.  A few links later I was met by Hannah.

"That was fast."

"Yeah, well I figured you'd want to get started early."

"You're not wrong."

Soon we found ourselves in Er'cana.  I had been here before, but never felt the need to return.  I left the lighting of the cavern to others.

“So, why Er’cana?” I asked.”  I turned to see Hannah with bundles of what appeared to be bamboo and canvas.

“Gimme a hand with this.”  Hannah said as she passed one of the bundles my way.  “You’ve been here before, right?”  I nodded.  "I've been working on a project for the past few days."  We began walking from the link-in zone.  "I've been collecting bamboo from Eder Kemo over the last few weeks.  And I lucked into an old DRC tent from a rooftop in Ae'gura; I doubt it will be missed."

“And your plan?”  My question was answered with a grin and a point toward the cliff that brought an
abrupt end to the trail; that was presumably was the cause of the broken tram tracks over head.  “How is a tent going to help you?”

Hannah laughed.  “Not a tent.  A glider!”  I stopped walking.  Hannah turned realizing I was no longer following her.  I began to protest.  Of course, it wasn't long before Hannah had convinced me of her plan.  Convinced, but not thrilled about it.

The glider was large, but still only big enough to support one of us.  Lucky me.  It seems I was going to ride it across the gap with rope in hand.  The tricky part was getting onto the track; but after some time and a few bruised ribs later, I was balanced on the track with the glider.

“Are you sure this is gonna work?”

“Absolutely.”  Hannah called.  “I used it in Eder Gira just the other day.”

I thought briefly about how the steam vents in that age would have made for a prolonged flight and then readied myself for the jump.  I had a short run of track before me.  As long as I didn't slip I should be able to get the lift I needed for the glide.  Ready.  Go.

My heart hung in my mouth as I jumped from the end of the rail.  I tensed up expecting the ground to rush at me.  It was only after hearing Hannah cheering that I realized I had closed my eyes.  I looked around and found I was gliding across the gap.  It was working!

Then I heard a tearing sound.  I looked to the side and saw wing was tearing.  The glider began to roll to the left and then pitched forward.  In a spin, I dropped the glider and reached out to anything I could catch.  When my sense of direction returned, I realized I had one hand on the lip of the gap.  The glider had wrecked below me and I was sliding down towards it.

I fell.  I was dazed from the impact. When I came to my senses again, I opened my eyes to Hannah shouting down at me from the edge of the drop.  My clothes were soaked.  The water was deeper than I expected.

“Torri!  Are you alright?”

“I’m here.”  My voice was weaker than I had expected.  I reached for my Relto.  It must have been lost in the crash.  Where did it go?

I stood up and checked again for any serious damage.  “Torri, I think I’m going to need a rope.”  I continued my search for the book.  It must be here somewhere.  I wouldn't be leaving this pit until I found it.

A rope descended from above.  Hannah wanted me to test it before she climbed down to help.  I took the rope in my left hand and placed the other on the canyon wall in front of me.  I felt a strange sensation.  A soft blue glow drew my eye.

Quickly, I drew my hand back from the wall.  There it was again.  I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again.  The spiral was still there.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No Updates This Week

I realize this is last minute, but there will be no update to TCaB this week.  This is a busy time of year for many people and we want to be sure we bring you the best story we can.  With that in mind, TCaB will be back on schedule for next week.

PS.  Keep an eye out at this AGM for exciting news concerning TCaB

.shorah b'shemtee

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

David Farwell - A Proposition

“You want me to do what?”  I turned around to see Jeremy Reinold close the classroom door behind him.  I turned back to Jessie Pollick who was shuffling through his notes.

“Word on the street is that you have a knack for getting around… regulations.”  Jessie looked up and smiled.

“Then perhaps you've also heard that I got busted just a few days ago for doing exactly what you’re asking me to do now.”  I couldn't believe this.

“We’re aware.”  The response came from Jeremy.  His look was serious as his tone.  “We don’t want D’veeta to become involved any more than you do.

“Funny,” I replied.  This was getting better each moment.  “I was just thinking the same thing.”

“Consider this.”  Jessie was speaking again.  “Until recently, Takotah II was inhabited by explorers.”  He paused.  “Why do you think it is suddenly closed off and monitored by a ResEng?”

I had no intentions of being drawn into this.  D’veeta was already on me for last weeks incident.  Getting caught again would surely mean being banned from Pahrahtehs.  “I would think that the message of structural instability would be a big hint,” I replied.  I didn't care if I sounded snide.  I needed to lay low.  At least until I could get back on D’veeta’s good side.

Jessie spoke up.  “If these buildings are so unstable then wouldn't it be more like the DRC to shut down that section of Ae’gura?  They've had no problems with barricading people away from regions of the cavern before.”

“I think he’s right, David.”  I could tell Jeremy was trying to assure me of the logic.  He continued.  “There’s something more to this.”

After something between a deep breath and a sigh I had a response.  “I can think of several earthquakes in the last year that affected this cavern.  Who knows how many buildings were damaged.  And it’s not like you can just prevent people from going places any more.”

“And that’s where you come in.” Jessie said.  They had me make their point for them.  “You can’t prevent people from going where they please in the cavern.  Structural instabilities in the cavern may seem like a good cover, but in truth the Nexus could be shut down and linking zones could be restricted.  It wouldn't stop people from coming here.  It might not even stop them from reaching the restricted zones.”

I closed my eyes and looked at the light on the ceiling; thinking very carefully about how to proceed.  “Why do you need to get in there?”

“Research.”  Not the response I expected.  “It shouldn't take too long, but if I’m right I may be able to shed some light on the issue at hand.”

“Alright,” I said.  “I can get you in, but I’m going to need help.”  this needed to go off without a hitch otherwise there would be hell to pay.  Jessie nodded his head before sitting behind his desk in relief.
I fumbled with my KI briefly; just long enough to send Terry a short message.  Egg Room.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jessie Pollick - Pieces of the Journey Part 3

A few days after an announcement from Ikuro Kodama that the cavern would be closing, a strange KI
message began to float around the cavern that read 02/09/04 The gathered will tell the path of the shell. 33359/ 58/ -81.  What followed were the first steps of Yeesha’s second Journey, the Path of the Shell.

Two journeys, or perhaps just one Journey.  Yeesha’s Journey and her Path of the Shell were both marked by symbols that outlined a message behind each.  Yeesha Prime taught her followers about the Least.  The Bahro; and their enslavement by the D’ni.  The Path of the Shell’s message was far grander and abstract.  Plenty of works have detailed the minutiae of each journey and its meaning so I will not expand much further.  I only wish to draw attention to the symbols connected to these journeys.

Yeesha’ Prime was not only designated by five ages, but also the five lines used to make the hand.  It doesn’t take much imagination to realize what each line represents.  Furthermore, as enigmatic as the Path of the Shell is, it should be noted that the shell symbol can be drawn from the Yeesha hand by dropping the fingers and drawing a line connecting the thumb to the center of the spiral.  This spiral is an important commonality.

An analysis of petroglyphs from around the world reveals the spiral to be a common motif; being one of the most ancient symbols.  The spiral can represent many things including growth and awareness of the one in the context of the whole.  The spiral also can be given the meaning of journey.  Assuming that the spirals found in both journey symbols are not there by coincidence but to symbolically represent the meaning of the journey they represent then the altering of the Yeesha hand to the Shell symbol is as Yeesha said: a tying of the beginning to the end.

There has been one additional journey symbol found by explorers.  It was first discovered in a garden age released by the DRC during the second restoration in 2006.  Eder Tsogal had been approved for release as a sort of sunny getaway for the explorer population.  Upon visiting the age the explorers found the age to be different from what the DRC had described.  Several journey cloths with a new symbol were scattered around the age.  When the garden age of Eder Delin was released later the same phenomena was observed.

It is assumed that these cloths and the associated journey were the result of Yeesha and the bahro though I have found no direct confirmation.  This assumption is supported by visible changes in one’s Relto after completing these ‘door runs.’  A comparison of this symbol with the previous two clearly shows the emphasis of the spiral in the design.  This strengthens my belief that the spiral is meant to denote some sort of journey.

This brings me to the issue of Pantaleon and the associated cave ins.  It is a commonly held belief by the explorer community that the cave ins and missing persons of the past year can be attributed to the activities of an explorer named Pantaleon.  Tracing the root of this belief reveals that this story originates from The Cavern Today following an interview with Pantaleon.  He claimed that his friends had been tricked into taking a journey they believed was meant to restore the Path of the Shell but would ultimately leave the cavern vulnerable to invasion from a conquering race.  The story he provided is as unbelievable as the details concerning certain associated cave ins is disturbing.

His knowledge of the circumstances surrounds the cave ins, understanding of how the cave ins were triggered, and the continued absence of anyone who can verify his claims serve to.  The explorers Esto, Dean, Adelia, and Laroon were all named by Pantaleon as being involved in this ordeal, but none have been seen in the cavern for quite some time.  First to go missing was Dean; there were also rumors of Esto having fallen into madness.  In the case of Adelia, her disappearance followed her recovery from injuries acquired during a cave in in descent that claimed the lives of many explorers.  Following her disappearance, a community effort began in hopes of finding her.  Again, Pantaleon can be found at the root as he is noted as organizing many of these searches.

Occam's Razor dictates that the the simplest explanation is often the most accurate.  Are we to believe Pantaleon’s story of an elaborate deception put together by the leader of a race of conquerors or is it more likely that this tale was a fantasy of a deranged explorer.  The crime of murder is an awfully heavy accusation to make especially in a community as tightly woven as the cavern community.  In truth, we have no evidence of deaths or intent.  The likelihood that Pantaleon is some sort of serial criminal with a penchant for elaborate story is as likely as the chance that his story is true.  While he may believe his story to be true, the actuality of the events is probably somewhere in between these two options.

Having lost his credibility, Pantaleon has left for the surface.  Any attempts at contacting him have been met with silence.  His absence has lead to the proliferation of the story of “Panta in Takotah II.”  The practice is regrettable, but it serves to educate and remind the explorer community of the recent tragedy and its perceived source.

The story Pantaleon gave to TCT involved an elaborate symbol that he described as a Triple Shell.  Regardless of whether his story is true, I am curious to see if this symbol shares the similarities noted from earlier journeys.  Finding a representation of this symbol in his notes could go a long way to revealing the truth of these events as similarities in the symbol may give weight and credibility to his story.  In the case that the symbol does not share these qualities it is more likely that we can discredit his tale as fantasy.

One thing more.  Jeremy Reinold has given me a page with an odd symbol upon it.  Like the Yeesha hand, the Shell symbol, and the garden age symbol, this symbol shares the spiral motif.  At first glance I found some familiarity in this design.  After some research I find that it is strikingly similar to glyphs drawn by the Hopi on the surface.  This "Hopi Spiral" is another curiosity I hope to investigate in the future.  Perhaps some field work is in order.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jessie Pollick - Pieces of the Journey Part 2

The Great Tree Symbol
Phil Henderson may have been the first to take Yeesha’s Journey but by the time he returned he was not alone.  Many had taken Yeesha’s Journey and often spoke of what Yeesha had taught them; what she had shown them; and that they had seen her.  When asked about Yeesha, the DRC would avoid any real answer but refer to her as "that dead girl."  This seeming denial of Yeesha's involvement drove much of the cavern into two camps: those who sided with the DRC and those who followed Yeesha.  Yeesha’s followers found their ranks bolstered with those who disagreed with how the DRC had been handling the restoration.  These explorers made up a group known as the Great Tree.  It was this group that rallied against the DRC when Phil returned to the cavern.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating moments during this time occurred on December 2nd.  Phil had come to the URU Obsession Neighborhood and was met there by many explorers including Douglas Sharper and Brian Fioca of the Great Tree.  In an attempt to curtail the efforts of groups such as the Great Tree and the followers of Yeesha, whom the DRC found increasingly polarizing, the DRC began confiscating Journey cloths and Yeesha Pages that had been spread around the ages.  When asked about this act, Phil told the explorers that “She knows,” before vanishing and then appearing in a different location moments later.  His teleportation was erratic and based upon the accounts of those who saw him teleport it was unclear if he had full, if any, control over this ability.

After appearing in the light garden, Phil was told by an explorer that a page Yeesha had placed on the wall had been recently removed.  His response was that Yeesha would come to that location again and he asked the explorers to wait with him.  Chat logs show that Brian Fioca and Douglas Sharper remained highly skeptical about Yeesha but chose to wait in the light garden with Phil.  Phil asked those who remained to watch the stone.  Moments later, the page that had been confiscated reappeared on the stone wall.

It is important to note that at this time Phil did not have a Relto, a gift from Yeesha which serves as a junction to many ages in a similar manner as the Nexus, and as a result had to rely on other explorers to travel to different locations in D’ni.  Following the events in the light garden he sought out his own Relto and began to help others on their Journey.  Douglas Sharper was one of those he helped.  When the two returned, Sharper was a changed man.

After this event, skeptics Douglas Sharper and Brian Fioca were seen wearing the Yeesha shirt now believing fully that Yeesha was alive and could bring about the change the cavern needed.  With an increasing number of explorers showing their support for Yeesha, the DRC felt increasingly battered and often became frustrated with the explorer community.  Phil Henderson only exacerbated issues when he began climbing the Guild Hall.

Dr. Watson and a crowd of explorers pleaded with Phil to leave the dangerous location, but Phil replied that it was part of his Journey.  He went on to speak to the crowd who asked him about Yeesha and her plan.  “She wants you to know what D’ni was.  She wants you to know what power does, the power of books.”  Despite this message, there were still those in the cavern who did not trust Yeesha.

Eventually, Watson was able to encourage Phil to meet him at the bridge.  Sharper warned Phil not to go.  Sharper’s bad feeling about the situation worsened when Laxman showed up and onlookers called across the cavern for Phil to run.  He did not.  Sharper panic linked off the bridge hoping that Phil would follow behind.  Soon after, Laxman stole Phil's Relto book, forced Phil through it,and then followed after with Watson.  Phil was kidnapped and kept secluded in the Egg Room of Kirel for two weeks.

On Dec 26, 2003 Phil was released by the DRC.  Almost immediately he was climbing on the Guild Hall again.  The DRC pleaded with him to come down.  The explorers didn't understand what danger he was in saying "let us help.”  Laxman is noted to have told the explorers “There is no safe way to get up there.”  It seems the area around the Guild Hall was so unstable that even the nexus link did not work.

It is also of note that during this event many strange cries could be heard throughout the cavern.  When asked about these sounds Laxman is on record as saying “We believe Phil is effecting this somehow.”  Some explorers proposed these were the cries of the Bahro.

Regardless of the source the cavern was in awe when the section of the Guild Hall wall where Phil had been climbing collapsed.  Phil's KI went offline.  The cries had stopped.  When the DRC cleared away the rubble all they found was a smashed KI.  Phil was presumed dead and two months later, after much silence from the DRC, the Cavern closed.

Officially, the reason for the closing of the cavern was due to lack of funding.  Funding aside, it seems likely that the close had much to do with the death of Phil Henderson.  The cavern was divided but neither side wished to see Phil die.  Records show that Phil often told explorers "The journey continues.”  He was right.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jessie Pollick - Pieces of the Journey Part 1

The cavern community is much like any other group.  They provide social function, entertainment, and support for its members.  As a society they are not terribly exclusive but membership is only there for those who find their way to the cavern.  Those who inhabit the D'ni cavern hold an enormous reverence for the city and the Journey.  This is the defining mark of this community.

For some, that Journey began nearly 20 years ago when the DRC contracted Cyan to produce Myst.  The subsequent releases all acted to inform the public about D'ni before the cavern was open.  The DRC knew that people would feel drawn to D’ni.  They took great care to hide the location of the cavern until they felt it was ready.  When the DRC finally did open the cavern in 2003 there were those who had already made the Journey.

I take care when using the word journey, as before in its generalized form it has such a general

meaning.  In this case it refers to explorers finding their way to the cavern.  There is another form.  Journey in it’s proper capitalized form is very specific in it’s meaning.

When explorers in the desert first came to the cleft they were greeted by a hologram of Yeesha, the daughter of Atrus.  Her speech is profound now as it was when it was first witnessed.  It is here we learn the second meaning of Journey.  To quote Yeesha:

It's as a fine tapestry. Complex beyond comprehension, but now torn.  We will show you remnants, pieces of the tapestry. Pieces of the Journey. Find these remnants, these Journeys. Seven. Seven in each age. Seven here in the desert. Consider it a quest; no a request.  Worship.

Worship.  Worship of what?  Yeesha sought to warn the explorers of the pride that had destroyed the city of her father’s father.  Her wish was that the city would not be restored physically but that through us D’ni could be reborn spiritually by learning how to right the wrongs of the past.

Perhaps the first to take Yeesha’s Journey was a man named Phil Henderson.  Phil was a Restoration Engineer for the DRC who had vanished while surveying Eder Kemo in September 2002.  When the DRC realized he had gone missing they called for a twenty-four hour search party but found nothing.  Phil’s KI signal would be picked up from time to time over the next few days.  Eventually an explorer was able to make contact with Phil.  The conversation was brief with the message ultimately being that he was safe but would not be returning to the cavern.

On November 20, 2003 Phil Henderson returned.  He was found in Eder Kemo by an explorer by the name of Zardoz.  He asked to meet with the DRC and eventually spoke with Victor Laxman in Ae’gura.  Onlookers overhead the conversation which began with a request to meet with Laxman and Dr. Watson and ended with Phil responding to a sound that only he could hear, apologizing for his mistake, and then running into the city.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mark Loren - Ghost Stories

It was night in Eder Gira.  The twin moons added an eerie glow to the surrounding hills.  Wind howled through the caves and the thistles in the pond swayed back and forth.

"Hey! hurry up here!”  Steven Peterson said from above.  “Come on now, you don’t want to miss the stories.”

The path was at the end of the network of caves bending behind the waterfalls.  The air was cooler in the caves as the wind circulated fresh cold air around.  The lanterns spersed throughout the caves were the only source of late, without it there would only be darkness.

The glow of the lantern lit the cave just enough to see everyone’s faces.  Someone had moved logs around the lantern as makeshift benches.  Hannah Renshaw patted the space next to her inviting me to sit.  Next to her was Torri who had wrapped herself up in a large blanket.

“What?”  Torri shivered.  “It’s cold okay?”  I nodded and chuckled.  Sometimes it was worth it to poke fun at Torri.

Eric and Steven Petersen had been discussing something before I had sat down.  The later fumbled with his KI occasionally nodding as Eric spoke.  Shortly after Flora’s KI flashed and after checking it I could have sworn I saw her give a thumbs up to the two.

"So who will tell the first story?" Flora asked.

“I have a chilling tale about the mysterious cones.” Steven scoffed., “It goes something like this.  Every Halloween the cones come to life and gather in a circle to summon the mighty Cone demon”

“And the cones chant cohhhhhhhhhhnnnne, cooohnnnnnee, coooohnnnnnnnnnnnne!”  Eric added while moving his fingers around in the air for maximum spookiness.

Steven continued, “When the demon is summoned beware, for it will blend in with other inanimate cones, so you never know when it will come out to ATTACK!”  The two began to laugh at their story.

Everyone laughed.  “come on.”  Flora said.  “That’s not even a scary Halloween story.”

“Do you have something better?” I replied.

“Panta in Takotah II, tied up his friends in cavern blue.”  Pam Foster said gazing into the light of the lantern.  “The cave collapsed and tunnels fell and after, only he was well.”

Eric continued, “‘Delia spoke with healer’s tongue to right a wrong that had been done but Panta left a gruesome fate for any who followed in his wake”

“Laroon was looking for his friend.”  Pam spoke again.  “Now Panta found that he must rend another soul to end in stone another one to die alone.”

“Now Panta’s goal was nearly done.”  Steven joined in.

“His friends no more would see the Sun.”  Eric responded.

“He told the people a sack of lies. Death of all was his true prize.”  The two spoke in unison.

Flora finished.  “Panta in Takotah II.  Tied up his friends in cavern blue.”  She paused.  “The cave collapsed and tunnels fell and after, only he was well.”

Suddenly, the lantern turned off.  When it came back on a cloaked figure knocked over a stack of fishing baskets while wielding two bloodied moiety daggers.  Torri screamed and ran from the cavern.  Everybody laughed again.

        “Torri!”  The cloaked figure yelled after her.  “It was a joke”  Artus Matloff pulled the hood of the cloak back.  We all laughed, except Hannah.

“You’re such a jerk, Vinsce.”  said Hannah.  She punched him in the arm.

“What?!”  Artus took on of the daggers and poked the side of his head with it.  “They’re just rubber.”

Hannah sighed.  “Well, we should find her.  She couldn't have gone far."

After a few minutes they found Torri in the cavern above the waterfall.  Pam had reached her first but was soon followed by the rest.  Torri had lit the cave with the light of her KI and was tracing a  symbol on the wall with her hand.

“I don’t remember this being here.  Did you do this?”  Hannah asked.

Torri was transfixed on the image.  “No…”  She replied.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jeremy Reinold - Symbols

My preparations to spend an evening at the DMR began early as I linked into Ae’gura in hopes of killing some time before the show.  I began at the ferry terminal and walked up the Great Stair keeping an eye on the now abandoned Takotah II.  When I reached the second landing I found D’veetah having a very heated conversation with a ResEng.  I stopped for only a moment, but from what I overheard it seems that a few members of Pahrahtehs have not been holding to the safety regulations enforced by the few ResEngs left.

Not wanting to eavesdrop I made to hurry up the stairs and nearly collided with Jessie Pollick.  He told me he had come to investigate the abandoned Takotah II building but decided rather quickly that he’d never be able to get into the building with a ResEng on watch, not to mention D’veetah.

“What does a cultural anthropologist want with Takotah II?”  I asked as we moved away from the dispute.

“It all ties into my study on the culture of this cavern.”  He offered to show me his findings if I accompanied him back to Pahrahtehs.  I agreed.

When we reached the classroom of Pahrahtehs I could see he had been busy.  The imager and walls had been covered with chalk boards and presentation boards.  Photos of DRC members and various explorers littered the tables along with bound and unbound notes covering the events of the cavern over the last ten years.  I sifted through the notes and raised a transcript from some of the earliest days of the cavern.

“We firmly believe that this place was meant to be inhabited…. it was meant to be alive. We are here because we’ve all felt that same feeling, that same calling…”  I read the words aloud.

“Even now many more are beginning to feel that calling as well.”  He spoke the words before I could finish.  “They will come, and D’ni will live once more.”  He looked up from a pile of notes he was consolidating.  “Dr. Watson has a way with words.

“We stand on the edge of a precipice of discovery and enlightenment, and now we take the first step off the edge.”  He placed an image of the DRC members on the easel.  “it’s interesting to look at that statement and think about all the plans they had for this place.”  He drifted for a moment.  “Of course, other people had different plans.”

“So, what does all this have to do with Takotah II?”

“Panta in Takotah II.  Tied up his friends in cavern blue.”  Jessie looked up at me.  “You’ve heard it right?

“Yeah, I never understood why people felt the need to trivialize such events in rhyme.”

“It remains a cautionary tale to explorers about a recent tragedy.  The events of which seemed to revolve around something called the Triple Shell Journey.”

“Triple Shell?”

Jessie nodded.  “Journeys are typified by symbols:  The Yeesha Hand, the Shell symbol, even the door symbol in the garden ages.  Supposedly, Pantaleon kept rambling about a symbol associated with this Triple Shell Journey.”

“So you wanted to check the ‘scene of the crime’ for evidence?”

“Essentially.”  He sighed.  “It’s a long shot, but I want to be sure.”

“Symbols…” I looked at the notes scattered across the room.  “Wait a minute…”  I searched my pockets and produced the mysterious page I had been given in Ae’gura.  “Have you ever seen this symbol before?”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Steven Peterson - Kadish Getaway

I had been away from the cavern longer than expected. Upon returning, I saw that I missed some KI-Mails from Eric. The KI-Mails said that Hannah had fallen ill. Without Hannah to support her, Torri was too shy to participate in the Heek tournament. It’s a shame, that would have been an interesting match! Being on the surface has put me behind on my writing. There is no better place to write than in Kadish Tolesa; especially in the beautiful and awe-inspiring Moon Room. It is always peaceful here which allows me to collect my thoughts. Of course, you are never truly alone in the cavern.

“Steven!” a voice suddenly called out from above. It was Eric. He must have seen me on his KI. “Shorah, Eric. This is a surprise," I said. “Didn’t expect to find you here. Where have you been? You missed the Heek tournament,” Eric said. “The Richmond game kept me on the surface.” I replied. “We won 30-21 against Liberty. It was a great a game!” "So, why are you in Kadish? I thought you completed this age already," Eric asked. "This is my getaway,” I replied. “I come here to write.” "Whoa, what are you writing about? Is it about the Cavern?" Eric asked. I laughed. “That is a secret. No one will know until it is completed.” Eric made a face. “You'll just have to wait," I said. "Well then, I better leave you to it,” Eric said. “We’ll be in the plaza at 17:00 KI time. You should drop by.” "Thanks, I’ll take a break from writing soon so I should be there," I responded. "Peace," Eric said before linking away.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

David Farwell - Preparations

Terry Sugino rapped his fingers on the table.  "And the results are in..." He said as he waited for my final submission.  "Boom!  What did I tell you?"

"Tell me, are you always so humble?"  I replied.  Terry chuckled to himself.   "Laugh it up Terry.  I had you on the ropes."

"Oh, is that why I've beaten you the last 4 rounds."  The smirk on his face was unstoppable.

"Final tolls.  Yes you won, but who brought you to the wire. each. time."  It was always like this.  I never could seem to beat him at this game.

Terry chuckled again.  Meghan Albrand sighed to herself as she counted her remaining points.  After some time she looked my way.  "So when's the tournament?" she asked.

"Just a few more days."  I replied.  I fiddled with my KI trying to read Terry as subtly as I could.

"Well, in the mean time, I'm going to go relax in Eder Delin." Meghan said.  "The colors haven't changed back home yet, but I could really use a brisk fall day."

"Mind if I meet you there soon?"  I said.  She nodded.  "There's something I wanna check on here first."

Terry and I climbed the stairs from the heek table toward the fountain.  Terry had been quiet since the game had ended.  "What did D'veetah have to say."

"Oh."  Terry looked up at the arch above the look out.  "She liked the idea, but wasn't to thrilled about how we proposed getting the sign up there."  He said as he pointed at the arch.

"I just don't see why we don't have a single ladder anywhere in this cave."  I said looking around the plaza.  The presentation that had been taking place in the hall above had just ended.  It was nice having an active neighborhood, but sometimes it made doing things a little difficult.  I looked around the crowd.  "Well.  I say we move forward anyway."  Terry looked surprised.  "What?  Nobody has to know."  I tried to play it down.  "Finish the banner and then shoot me a message.  I'll deal with getting it up there.  If D'veetah asks: you don't know anything about it."

Terry nodded and headed off in the direction of the classroom.  D'veetah  I thought.  I looked across the lake at the dim orange glow that lit the cavern.  I checked my KI once again.  D'veetah was in Ae'gura.  There's time.  There's plenty of time.  My KI flashed.  Almost forgot Meghan!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mark Loren - Surface Troubles

The city was quiet but this would change. Soon the Plaza would be filled with explorers from around the world.  Small groups started to appear.  Some by the map, some by the tree.  From the King's Lookout I saw explorers enter and exit the Kadish gallery and pass through the canyon mall.  Occasionally one would jump from the holes in the walkway towards the lake before panic linking out only to return a few minutes later to repeat the process.  Poor fools I thought.  Trapped in their GZ calibrations.  I chuckled to myself as I remembered doing the same thing years before.

Sure enough, I was joined on the King's Lookout by many friendly faces.  Flora and Hannah Renshaw were joined by Artus Matloff and Eric Gibson.  Sometimes we'd watch the groups moving through the canyon mall or give style points to those leaping off the cliff only to return moments later.

"Wait, wait, wait."  Artus Matloff, or Vinsce as he had recently chosen to be called, struggled to keep from laughing.  "How long have they been trying to get that marker?"

"Maybe an hour?" I replied.  Vinsce could hardly contain his amusment.

"Come on now, Vinsce."  Hannah was trying to take the high road, but she couldn't help but smirk.  "Surely you went through the same thing when you got here?"  Vinsce shook his head while laughing silently as he showed her his KI.  Hannah punched him in the arm.  "You!  I don't believe you!"

"What is it?"  Flora's interested was peaked.

"The dunce never calibrated his KI."  Hannah started ranting.  She just couldn't understand how someone wouldn't want to calibrate their KI.  Vinsce could only laugh making her more flustered than anything.  Eric, who had been leaning against the railing as we watched this exchange leaned over to me and directed me to look across the way.  Torri was on her way.

".shorah, everyone." Torri spoke very softly.  almost not audible.

"Hey there,  Torri.  What's up?"  Eric asked.  He took care as he removed his sunglasses and placed them inside his jacket pocket.

"It's been a bit rough at work lately."  She seemed to be counting the stones on the floor.  "My manager," she began, "Always makes me deal with the unhappy customers.  It's pretty stressful," Torri said.  She seemed pretty frustrated.

Flora quickly took her to the side and spoke to her in a hushed voice.  Vinsce and Eric exchanged glances as Torri threw her head back in laughter.  Flora kept giggling as Torri struggled to catch her breath.  Artus shook his head and sighed as he turned back to the balcony to watch another attempt by the most unfortunate explorer.

"So, what's this about a Heek Tournament I've been hearing?" I asked.

"We've been practicing."  Hannah said with a glace to Torri.  "It's a lot more in depth than I thought."

"Who would've thought Torri'd be such a ringer," Vinsce said.

"Well..."  A sly smile crept across Torri's face.  "Don't give me too much credit."  Torri said.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Jeremy Reinold - Celebrations

When I linked into the city this past Saturday, I found the cavern buzzing in anticipation for the Myst 20th anniversary.  D'veetah quickly found me on my way to the plaza and brought me up to speed.  Apparently the Grey Hats started everything off with a bang the night before as they shared their illusions in Kirel.
"Mister Magic made an appearance."  I had no idea who that was, but I continued listening as we proceeded up the stairs to the plaza.  "Oh, yes!  I almost forgot to say: You missed the Bots' birthday!"
The look on my face was undoubtedly one of confusion.  “Bots?”
“Yeah.”  D’veetah turned toward me and began fumbling with her KI.  “MagicBot and MimiBot,” she said.  My KI flashed.  “We can go meet them later.  I just sent their KI numbers for future reference.”
I shrugged off the question burning in my mind as we continued our way into the plaza.  “Oh!  One more thing!  You missed the water polo game.”
I looked at her for longer than a second before looking out at the lake.  “No!  not out there!”  She read my mind.  The game was in Ahnonay.  No one’s sure who won though.  It was pretty fun to watch.
My KI flashed again.  D'veetah was buried in her Kai again.  A look of frustration crossed her face and was gone with a brief sigh.  "I gotta go," she said.  "Something has come up at Pahrahtehs." I wished her luck and she was gone in an instant.
Its a good thing she has so much energy I thought as I turned toward the Hall of the Kings.  Out of the corner if my eye I saw a light shining through the dark behind the curtain looming over the entrance to the guild hall.  I headed up the stairs and saw a few explorers trying to climb their way into palace.
I looked up and saw someone I had never seen before.  Brown hair and a tattered Yeesha shirt.  “Hello,” I said.  Something was strange about this one.  The smell of the desert and a worn Yeesha shirt were not a frequent sight in the Deep.
“The passing of time brings the path to the gathered,” he said.
“I’m sorry?”
“A breach has been cut, and now the paths are joined.”  He reached into his pocket and produced a page with an unusual symbol on it.  “The giving of gifts heals the wound of the builder.”
I took the page from him.  My KI flashed.  I looked to check it.  “Listen, is there something I can do...”  I looked back up and he was gone.  I looked around.  There was no sign of my mysterious friend; if I could even call him that.
I returned to my KI.  The message came from David Farwell - a member of Pahrahtehs.  It read simply DMR 20th anniversary celebration in 10 minutes.  Be there.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mark Loren - A Night on the Town

Early morning.  My KI flashed with a brief pause before it flashed again. It continued repeatedly flashing until I finally decided to wake up and check my KI Mail.  It was a message from Hannah

Come to the Plaza.  

I grabbed my relto and before long found myself in D'ni.  Hannah was there of course talking to a small gathering of people around the map about her recent explorations.

"I've been spending a bit of time in Minkata," Hannah began.  It was easy to tell out of those who had gathered who had been to that age by the look on their face.  I had only traveled there once.  The three suns and arid conditions had not given me reason to return.

Hannah had started to send KI images to us.  I was astounded to see stars.  More than stars, but Galaxies and constellations; Hannah insisted that the pictures didn't compare to seeing them in person.

"You guys should come with me next time," Hanna insisted.  Uncomfortable laughter.  These KI shots were amazing, but I don't know that I could stand Minkata long enough to see such a sight.

"What'll you do when you get lonely.
You've been running and hiding much too long..."

Eric had begun to play his guitar.  Right on cue too.  The pressure to join an expedition to Minkata was releaved.

"You know it's just your foolish pride.
Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind."

Eric had launched into a full on performance.  It seems he's been working on his solos too.  I leaned back against the tent post and looked toward the D'ni ceiling.  Fire marbles and orange glowing algae kept the cavern lit, though always with a unique cycle.  Soon the algae would not be so bright.  Soon the cavern night would begin.

Pam arrived sporting a maintainer's suit with an assortment of other items to complete her ensemble.  She and Flora Kuldell had ambushed Torri Illan.  Their presence had garnered the attention of Artus Matloff  who had decided now was the time to enlist Steven Petersen as his wingman.  It wasn't going well.  Soon Artus, or Vinsce as he preferred in the cavern, would be coming to me for help.

To get away I decided to take a stroll around Ae'gura.  I walked down the great stair, walked past the memorial near Kahlo pub, and soon passed by Takotah II.  It looked worn and run-down.  Not too long ago a passerby explorer had exclaimed to everyone who would listen that a crazy person lived there, that they believed they had helped save the cavern from some great evil and somehow lost their friends during the whole ordeal.  Some people even had said that on some nights you can hear cries of sorrow from the building.

Of course, every explorer received a KI Mail from the Guild of Greeters a few months ago warning us not to go near this "Pantaleon."  Apparently he had been tied to the cave-ins that had occurred the previous year.  To be honest the whole story seems nothing more than a ghost story to ward people from going into Tokotah II.  From the looks of it you'd have to have death wish to go inside Tokotah II so since it appears as though it could collapse at any moment.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jeremy Reinold - A Change of Pace

I've had to do some serious thinking over the past few days.  Up until now I have used the cavern as an momentary escape from life on the surface but it may be time that changes.  Not that the surface life has gotten any better, or worse for that matter.  Just that there is a different sort if feeling in the Deep.  D'nipalooza was a great example of that.

After getting my job with Issac Foust I've had little time for anything short of integrals and derivatives but since the summer session has ended I may find myself in the cavern more often.  I can't remember the last time I went to a festival like D'nipalooza; or even a show for that matter.  So great to see so many in the cavern at once.  The DRC would have cringed at the number of bodies in the area.  Even a week later I can still feel the buzz about the cavern.

 When I linked in I was greated by Evelyn Sayers, or D'veetah as she likes to be called.  She sent me an invitation to her hood.  Pahrahtehs.  Looks to be a nice little community.  I found a full table of Heek players, more than a few around the fountain and around the clock.  Certainly beats my own desolate neighborhood.  Apparently more than a few of these 'explorers' have found lodging either in the hood or in Ae'gura.  It's a little strange to think about people living down here but I guess it works for them.

Before we left, D'veetah introduced me to Jessie Pollick.  He was busy creating an outline of his cavern studies in the classroom of the neighborhood but took time out of his schedule to greet me.  It seems he is an anthropologist who has been gathering data on the various groups of the cavern.  Jessie's interest is in how the cavern became a home to the explorer community.  One thing struck me as odd: why do such a study when those on the surface would never accept the presence of an ancient city in a giant cavern roughly a mile below New Mexico; much less one that was currently inhabited.  I guess I shouldn't have brought it up because he got quiet for a moment before saying that he planned on using a cover for the final report.  Something about the personal dynamics of an online community.  Regardless, his research sounds interesting.  I'll have to follow up on it soon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mark Loren - D'nipalooza

A gathering was taking place.  Hundreds of people filled the halls of Kirel.  D'ni was alive. 

"Welcome to D'nipalooza! Tonight, we will be showcasing musical specials, partying, and remember to support CAVCON awareness so that we continue to enjoy the good times here!" Kaaja announced to everyone in Kirel via her microphone.

"Mark!"  I looked around and saw Hannah Renshaw waving her hands around to get my attention.  "You made it!  Looks like we have the whole gang together."  She was right.  The whole gang was here.

Hannah is the a true explorer of our group; capable of solving the most intense puzzles in the cavern as though it were child's play.  Torri Illan: pragmatic, but relatively shy.  Artus Matloff, an energetic self-proclaimed genius who brags from time to time.  Then there was Flora Kuldell - an energetic outdoorsie explorer type who always finds herself getting into trouble.  Leaning against the railing was Steven Peterson, who was often consumed in writing or reading of some kind; he's kind of nerdy if you ask me.  Then there's Eric Gibson with guitar in hand.  No doubt he'll be playing tonight.  Last we have Pam Foster: an outgoing explorer/fashionista sporting the latest trend in the cavern, albeit a bit weird looking.

After a brief introduction we the show started strong with music from Krossfire and Tete Plongeant.  The cavern had never seen such an incredible opening act for the biggest music event of the year.  Who knew the cavern knew how to rock?

After Jet Blast had finished their set I ran into Eric Gibson.  "So, When is your big debut?" I asked.

"My group won't be playing until much later.  These guys are pretty good.  I've been practicing."  he said with a grin.  "I aim to please the crowd."  I looked about.  I had been expecting a small crowd but I would have guessed there was easily over a hundred people.  Eric shook out his hand as he began to warm up.  "You should have some fun tonight.  Forget the cavern problems."  I looked at him and he shooed me away saying "Go! Go! Dance with some girls." Eric said with a laugh.

After a several hours I found myself watching fireworks set off across the lake.  The D'nipalooza was far from over, but I needed to head topside again.  I said my farewells and headed back to the surface.  D'ni is a truly fascinating place.  It's lasted for over 10,000 years and if we're lucky it'll last another 10,000.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thank You!

Sorry for taking so long in getting this out but we at the Cleft and Below would like to thank our readers for keeping up with us as we have shared this story with you.  When I first started this project I never guessed that it grow as much as it has.  I didn't mean for it to be a story.  I didn't expect to bring so many friends in on the project.  Looking back on it, I am proud of the work we have done and I am delighted so many of you have taken this journey with us.

That said, what does this mean for TCaB?  I've been putting a lot of thought into this.  Currently we are wrapping up the first public reading of this story in the cavern known as TCaB Live! and have been making minor edits to the entries as we go along.  For those of you who missed the initial run of TCaB Live! know that we will be reading it again at a later date.

In related news, as we've been working through our current material for TCaB Live! we have also be making minor edits to the material in an effort clean up our earlier work.  The hope is to improve the overall experience.  Nothing too major, mostly grammatical or phrasing errors and the occasional run-on sentence.  We tend to get excited.  Of course these edits will be apparent in any performance of TCaB Live! but this will go a long way to making our publishing of the story in PDF format.

I have begun working on a new secret project.  All I can say is that it is TCaB related but still quite different.  In the coming months I hope to share it with you.  More than that?  We at The Cleft and Below are on a brief hiatus before we begin working on arc 2 for TCaB.  That's right!  TCaB is coming back for more!  We hope you stay with us and we hope you enjoy everything we have coming!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pantaleon - The Final Problem

Esto left.  He headed for the docks.  I'm sure he had a lot on his mind.  Laroon and Adelia wandered off together.  Midnight Sun stayed up on the roof.  There was still so much I didn't understand but I was exhausted.  I returned to the apartment laid back on my bedroll and closed my eyes.  My journey weighed heavy on my mind.  Strange and familiar images moved through my mind.  I saw the Cleft, flew through the earth, down The Great Shaft to the Cavern and its' golden lake.  Forward to Kerath's Arch.  Flashes of other places appeared in my mind.  The slave cages of Teledahn, Kadish's vault; the truth behind Ahnonay...

In the darkness I saw Yeesha fight a cloaked figure.  I heard a familiar voice.  What does it mean to walk the Path of the Shell?  The Yeesha hand glowed.  The fingers faded and a new line drawn from thumb to the center.   What does it mean to walk the Path of the Shell?  The Watcher's grew dim and soon the darkness was filled with sapphire eyes.  A Pellet dropped and the Bahro cave lit up.  The glyphs appeared on the wall.  What does it mean to walk the Path of the Shell?  The images on the walls glowed blue getting brighter and brighter.

I woke to the glow of the lake coming in through the window.  Esto had reclaimed his bed roll and Laroon was passed out on a cot in the center of the room.  I got up quietly, sat at the desk, and began looking through the notes - remnants of the journey that had reunited me with my friends.  What did I dream?  I looked through the images.  A red cloak and Yeesha.  Why Ages?  Then I realized what I had seen.  I opened my Relto outside so as not to disturb anyone and linked.

Using the Journey symbol I linked back into the vault filled with riches; The bones of Guildmaster Kadish garbed in red - a testament to D'ni pride.   He's still here.  I spent some time examining Kadish's possessions. 

I did not die with nothing.  I died with everything.

He certainly tried.  I continued searching through the boxes.  Soon I found a linking book.  I wondered if somebody moved the Gallery Linking book?  I opened it and found Yeesha's seal on one page and a paradox on the other.  This was impossible.  The linking panel appeared to lead back here, but why would one link to the same location?  I remembered my dream, checked my relto, and linked.

There was no corpse, there were no riches and wealth, just a few pieces of broken pottery.  I checked my KI.  This was the Vault.  What was Yeesha trying to show me?  Strange messages were scrawled across them.  I got a flash from my dream as Yeesha and the cloaked figure battle in the darkness; the strange figure in the bahroglyph… This message spoke volumes: I SAVED HIS LIFE.

I understood.  Words fulfilled.  A grower to move through time.  What does it mean to walk the Path of the Shell: to know that Yeesha is the Grower.  My journey was complete.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Esto - An Ending Has Been Written

Home.  How long have I been gone?  How many questions will need to be answered?  And once these questions are answered, will I be able to return here to D'ni?  My  journey has taken me far from where I expected.  Very quickly my responsibilities on the surface were left behind.  Now the question is: how do I pick them back up?  Can I pick them back up?  Tomorrow when I wake it will be the last day I spend in D'ni.  I hope to return some day, though said surface responsibilities make such things difficult; explanations make them even more so.

I could not stay up there on that Takotah rooftop.  After such events I feel I must think.  Alone.  I stand gazing across the lake at Kerath's Arch and find myself thinking about Yeesha.  In discovering that she was the Grower even she did not know what her journey would bring.  If we be the water that goes where it wills then downward is the journey.  I never expected this journey to go so deep.  Yeesha.  How many years have you been gone?  You told us to find a way.  You told us to make a home.  We have done that.

The explorers here will be safe.  He was delt with; the Triple Shell Journey is sealed and locked away; and the Bahro have found new allies in myself, Adelia, Pantaleon, Laroon, and MidnightSun.  It won't be so bad having to return to the surface.  I will return.  Saying this I feel even more now that She will return as well.  Yeesha is more connected to this place than any of us.  She will return.  Her journey has just taken her away for a time  She will return.  I feel it.

Pantaleon - The Result

I couldn't believe what Adelia told us.  Esto was the first to speak.  "That must have been the void.  If I'm understanding what just happened, He is trapped there."

"So that's it?" Laroon raised his arms in question.  "It's over?"

"It sounds to me like He is trapped there with a sealed book."  MidnightSun said as he rubbed the shell tattoo on his shoulder.  "No way in.  No way out."

The thought of the whole process gave me chills.  The Bahro stranded Him.  Stripped him of his linking.  But now what?

Laroon slumped to the ground.  "Now what?" he asked, echoing my own thoughts.

"Now we can finally go home." Adelia said.  She must have been tired.  Even after what they told me had happened, I cannot imagine what they went through.  Esto looked distant.  How long had he been away from home?  How long had I been gone for that matter?  Perhaps it was time after all these months in the deep to return to the surface.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Adelia - The Void

I had the book in hand. The power I could feel from the pages beneath my fingertips was incredible! So tempting just to leaf through and link... I could be gone from this. Hidden. New adventures. But what of my friends? Could I really abandon them like that?

No. More important things were at stake. Besides, if He were to find this book, maybe I wouldn't be as free as I'd hoped after all. Only one answer to this.

The Bahro reset our positions once more and I handed the book to Esto, feeling the book's power fade from my grasp. I turned to Laroon's open hands as he held the book open to me. I hesitated before linking through. His eyes were difficult to read. Perhaps we've grown apart; this time in separation has done ill to our relationship. But it wasn't the time for rekindling. I placed my hand on his relto book.

I was waiting by his bench for him to return, glancing across the fog of clouds surrounding the island of relto. A deep breath.  I stood up and walked back to the hut.  Laroon linked in and handed the book to me.  Still hesitating.  Maybe I was imagining it.  No.  I was certain something was wrong but before I could say anything he was gone.

The book felt different.  The pages would not turn.  Sealed.  I moved my hand relto out and linked away.  I closed my eyes as I passed through the link.  I opened my eyes expecting to see Relto.  I saw nothing.  No light.  No ground beneath my feet.  No stars.  I heard the sound of a link.  Then many links.  I saw nothing, but I heard the screams.  I heard Him and I heard the bahro.  Soon it was done and the book was taken.  A bahro linked me away just as cries of a new sort began in that empty place.

After the link I opened my eyes and saw the golden arch and the harbor of D'ni.  I saw my friends - Esto, Pantaleon, Laroon, and Midnight Sun.  None of us expected to be here.  Questions were on everyone's faces and soon a bahro linked in beside us.  He bowed low, thanking us, before stretching up as tall as he could before letting out a final cry and linking out.  I had a lot to explain.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Laroon - The Plan Starts

I stood in awe of my new tattoo. Triple shell. I had been branded. Part of me was ecstatic to be part of the plan; part of me heard my mother's chastising about getting a tattoo. I shook her voice from my mind. It was time.

I linked into Esto's Relto and awaited his return. Sweat poured down from my temples as I rehearsed the plan in my head. I would wait for Esto to pass me the book, then Relto to mine where Adelia would be waiting. Oh Adelia... she had been so distant lately. Had we grown apart these past months? Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder, not promote disinterest. Again, I shook the thought from my mind. More important things were at stake.

Esto appeared, a slight grin on his lips of seeing me, but imperativeness in his stare. He handed me the book, his palms damp with sweat. I reltoed.

Adelia was there in my relto, waiting for me. She smiled at me as I handed her the book. Her quick glance and then she was gone. What did that mean? Was she suppressing feelings? Or was this just because she was happy to get this plan in motion? I went to the city to find Esto. One loop down, countless to go.

I hope the Bahro work quickly. Rapid linking makes my stomach churn. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Esto - The Plan

Laroon, Adelia, MidnightSun, and I would be the first to leave the Bahro cavern.  With the Bahro's aid we would each link to another's relto.  Once in place, Pantaleon would be sent to my Relto and link to through the Triple Shell book.  Once through, he would relto out.  From my relto MidnightSun would take the book and relto out before He could acquire it.

In MidnightSun's relto he would pass the book off to me and I would in turn relto out and pass the book to Laroon who would in turn give the book to Adelia in his own relto.  From there a Bahro would reset our positions and we would continue the process.  It wasn't to be infinite.  This was nearly to buy time.  While we performed the Relto Loop, the Bahro would be working behind the scenes to seal the book.

After three months in Noloben we had learned the Bahro had no difficulty understanding our language.  Unfortunately, this was not a mutual understanding.  Through glyphs on the walls they shared their plan; though our understanding of it was only enough to learn of the Relto Loop.
The power of the Bahro astounded me.  I knew the rules of linking.  I had studied Regestoy.  I knew what was possible.  What the Bahro could do made the D'ni art seem like a parlor trick; something to amuse a small child.  What a great thing that these Bahro were not our enemies and by some miracle the Nekisahl had not returned to the cavern.

You link with whatever you would carry for a step.  That was the rule I knew.  Somehow the Bahro would be sealing the Triple Shell book while we were moving it from one relto to another.  How?  Was it done mid link?  How could they do these things - and seemingly with only a thought?

A thought in my mind: why did they need us?  With such power surely they could act of their own volition; and yet they needed us.  Perhaps it was their fear of the Venalash and what He represented.  The fate if the Bahro and the T'chuvahk could have been the same had the D'ni been any different.  Or perhaps we are just a convenient distraction for Him while the Bahro wait and watch as they always do.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Esto - On the Same Foot

I had never seen Pantaleon so dumb struck - not even when he first saw D'ni.  Adelia lit up like a candle at the sight of Laroon.  They were like peas in a pod.  Eventually Pantaleon came to his senses and we greeted him as old friends.  The Bahro stayed back.  Some hanging from the ceiling; others huddled across the room from us.  This reunion was long past due.  They understood it too.

"It's so great to finally see you guys," said Pantaleon.  "But I didn't expect you to be the ones to do the finding."

I looked at Dean for a moment.  'Yeah, we had a bit of a detour.  Didn't think we'd be gone for this long.". I paused; soaking in the moment.  It had been too long.  "There's a reason we've brought you here."
Pantaleon and Laroon looked around the cave.  It looked like any other Bahro cave except that it was missing the hole in the floor and the fire cast a green shade on the walls.  We explained to them what we knew: the Venalsh; the T'chuvahk; the Triple Shell journey, and of course, Him: the one who had set everything in motion.

"Which brings us here," I said.

"We needed to find a way to contact you without Him finding out," MidnightSun told Pantaleon.  "He's always watching."

"He's right," I said. He is always watching.  But he can't find us here.  Don't ask me how; they made this place special."

"But the shell tattoo?" Pantaleon started.

It was Laroon who answered.  "You won't get one.  He already has his gaze on you".  He was catching on fast.  "It sounds like we need you to be seen."

Adelia nodded her head.  "The Bahro will give Laroon a shell.  He needs to be invisible to Him.  For Him to complete his ritual, he will want to collect the book after you link.  Once you have linked through we will begin the Relto Loop.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pantaleon - In Secret

I crept silently through the streets of D'ni.  It was darker now; the glow of the lake was soft.  I climbed the Great Stair and found the perpetual gathering in the  Takotah Plaza.  None recognized me.  Must have been visitors or commuters from the surface.

In Takotah alley my linking would not draw attention.  I walked to the nexus terminal and quietly linked to my relto with my other hand.  From there I linked to the cleft.  My KI read D'ni-riltagamin.  Anywhere on the surface would be 'unknown.'  I placed my KI in the cleft, climbed the caldera and began my descent.

It had been sometime since the first and last time I walked this path.  My first journey to D'ni begun along this path and yet, I had never returned.  I remembered the sense of wonder I felt the first time I passed through these tunnels and realized that now I felt only worry.

I came to the Great Shaft fully realizing what a monument it was to D'ni - its accomplishments and failures.  I walked the path entered an Eder Tomahn about halfway down.   This us where I spent my first night in D'ni.  This is where I would take my next step.  An empty nexus pedestal made for a convenient place for the Triple Shell book.

This was the moment.   I would link and take the journey.   I would find my friends.  I opened the book.  An odd glow came from the linking panel.  Some structure - difficult to make out.  I reached for the panel.   I was stopped.  Laroon had grabbed my wrist before I could link.  Despite my efforts to throw him off my trail, he had found me.

He was furious.   I was mortified.   Our argument was halted by a most peculiar sensation.  We were linked.  We looked around.   A Bahro cave glowed green around us.  The walls were covered in glyphs I had never seen before. And then I heard a voice.  Two, no three voices.   I turned my head. Could not believe what I saw.   Esto was standing beside several Bahro along with Adelia and Dean.  Laroon could not believe his eyes. My words failed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pantaleon - The Path of the Shell

From books Laroon borrowed from the Archivists we learned more about the Path of the Shell.  It was a puzzle.  A mechanism designed by Kadish to further convince everyone that he was the Grower.  Apparently he invited people to solve it but in the end, only he could do so.  I remembered the door in the upper chamber of the Watcher's Pub.  To think I had been so close to it the whole time.

Laroon and I went to the Watcher's Pub and went to the upper chamber.  We found the door but it seemed to be locked.  We searched and searched for a way to open the door.  Laroon found an answer in Archives, but it was not the answer we wanted.  It seems that on December 19, 2006 there was an event known as the Great Scream.  The cries of the bahro were heard through all the ages and explorers were instantly linked back to their reltos.  After this event many things changed; including the Watchers Pub.  After that date, the doors would not open.  The Path of the Shell was blocked.  Unable to continue we headed back home to Tokotah II.

It came to me during the middle of the night.  I had a strange dream the bahro warping to and fro places. Once again, I witnessed the star fissure and its wonders but then it changed; everything fell to darkness and I found myself trapped in a prison book.  Void of life.  Alone.  Terrified.

I woke up  screaming startled, panting, and sweating.  It was rough night.  My mind returned to the book I found in Vahmen district.  What if this was what I had really been looking for the whole time?  The blocked path; the allusions to Words.  This book must be a new way to take the path which was blocked!  Esto, Adelia, and Midnight Sun.  They must be waiting for me.  Laroon would likely not let me link.  I told him the book was dangerous, but is it?  I must act now while Laroon is sleeping and use the book.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pantaleon - Bahroglyph Study Part 5

A grower to link at will.  Laroon and I figured we would head to the Guild of Archivists to look for answers.  We were greeted as soon as we linked in.  "Do you have any information on Yeesha?" I asked.

"Why yes, we have records on much of D'ni history including the the events of the last restoration.  I think you'll find what you are looking for in there.  To get there just go down the hall and take a right. You can't miss it." He responded.

We found the library without problems and began skimming through the books.  Laroon found something relating to linking without a book.  Apparently it is a power of the Bahro.  Soon after we found a journal that mentioned things about Yeesha.  Apparently, when she would visit the Cavern there were eye-witnesses that saw Yeesha link without a linking book.  She would appear to crowds of people and then vanish without a trace of a linking book.  Relto or no.  Among these witnesses was DRC member Richard A. Whatson, aka RAWA.  We found what we were looking for.  Laroon borrowed a few books from the library and we returned to Takotah II.

I looked back at the open text on my desk.  A grower to follow the shell.  What does it mean to follow the shell?  The Path of the Shell showed us that Yeesha is the Grower foretold by the Words of the Watcher.  What does it mean to follow the shell?

The next line: A grower to banish the darkness.  Kadish.  He believed banishing the darkness meant bringing light into the cavern which he successfully accomplished via Er'cana's pellet manufacturing.  Perhaps banishing the darkness does not literally mean bringing light into the cavern.  From Yeesha's journey I have learned that we, the new explorers, have come to D'ni and with open minds have rebirthed D'ni; leaving behind the old D'ni ways; bringing in new thoughts, ideals, and beliefs.  The growing of D'ni was different than I expected.  D'ni was not meant to be rebuilt physically it is a spiritual renewal leaving the prideful ways of the D'ni in the past.

That leaves the question: What does it mean to follow the Shell?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pantaleon - Bahroglyph Study Part 4

Yeesha is The Grower.  At least, Yeesha calls herself the Grower.  The Watcher foretold the coming of one
known as The Grower.
A grower to bring the gathered.
A grower to restore the least.
A grower to move through time.
A grower to link at will.
A grower to follow the shell.
A grower to banish the darkness.
A grower to bring the gathered?  "Is it the D'ni people Yeesha was gathering Laroon?"  I asked.

"I don't think it would be limited to just one type of people, Pantaleon.  Not from what Yeesha has mentioned in he journey."  He responded.  "The Call applies to anyone.  Maybe Yeesha was not gathering the D'ni people but instead anyone who desired to discover, share, and grow in D'ni."  He leaned back in his chair looked at the ceiling.  "We are the gathered."

I thought about that for a moment.  He had a point.  I thought back to my earlier days in the cavern; constantly surrounded by explorers old and new.  Esto told me once how he was called to this place.  I couldn't understand it.  How could an ancient city call someone?  After everything I've seen here I think I'm starting to understand.

The grower to restore the least.  By following Yeesha's journey I realize now that the least are the Bahro; once enslaved by the D'ni.  They appear through the bahroglyphs, but how have they been freed?  "Laroon," I said.  "You've completed Yeesha's journey correct?"

"Oh yeah.  Years ago."  He replied.

"The Bahro.  How have they been freed?"

He looked down from the ceiling.  "Really?  Hmmm."  He was quiet for a moment.  "You remember those pillars we had to take to our Relto?"  I nodded.  He took a deep breath.  "Apparently they represented the souls of the Bahro."  My eyes must have gotten bigger when he said that because he quickly told me it was only what he had heard.  "Our taking the pillars from the bahro caves to our relto and then to the cavern Rudena was symbolic of release of these creatures.  I guess they're free now."

A grower will move through time.  This is very strange.  I remember that Kadish had used Ahnonay to convince people that he could move through time.  He tried to convince everyone that he was The grower.  Does this mean that Yeesha has this power?  That can't be right.  Such power... This must mean something else.  But what?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pantaleon - Bahroglpyh Study Part 3

The next day I received a message from Laroon.  He was bounding up the stairs from the Takotah alley before I could finish reading it.

"You will.  Never guess.  What I.  Found," he said between breaths.  He held up a book with the Guild of Greeters symbol on it.  I took the book and opened it.  The Yeesha symbol was emblazoned on the top of the page.  I read.
These pages are my journey, my story, my path. They are not meant to cover up, but to reveal. Sometimes in poem, sometimes in story sometimes clear, sometimes vague, sometimes long, sometimes brief. But the release of these words is a soothing elixir to my burdened soul. The words must flow from me, or I will die.

 "Yeesha's journals?" I asked.  Laroon nodded

"I thought they might give us some insights into the glyphs."  I agreed and we returned to the apartment.  I thought about what Laroon had given me and hoped it would fill in the gaps.  This puzzle, if it is a puzzle, seems to be missing a few pieces.  Maybe this is what we've been looking for.