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 Stahkoul [Fanfiction]

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chrissifniotis
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PostSubject: Stahkoul [Fanfiction]   13th October 2018, 5:27 am

Title: Stahkoul
By: chrissifniotis
Rated: PG-13
Fandom: Myst/Uru
Pairing: N/A
Notes: Similar to a short story I posted last year this is a story I'm currently making for the artist community I'm a part of; Project Starcall.
Story Summary: The Starcall team discover the Cleft in the desert and go on an incredible journey over the multiverse and discover the wonders of the D'ni and the Art of Writing.
Comments allowed: Yes


This story is dedicated to Tindomiel Silverthrone, a wonderful and supportive friend. She has always been a friendly face and helpful to anyone and everyone she came across. At the time this story had begun she resigned herself from Project Starcall for personal matters. It is one of my fondest wishes that I visit the United States and see all of the friends I met on the internet in various forms, Sylessae is certainly one of these but Tindomiel is a treasured friend I’d enjoy spending some time with and have a good chat. A parting D’ni prayer for Tindomiel;

Bigto b’shehm Tindomiel. Yahvo ahreeuh meht sehltahn g’tagr shehn bahrtah shorah g’soygih f’rehtahleeo. Votahr Yahvo g’bitgo b’bihv kahmrov mehr r’dovah.

Blessing to you, Tindomiel. Yahvo (the Maker or God), protect this writer and give her peace and stability on the surface. Praise Yahvo and blessings to all who watch the words.
[Interpreted as ‘all who read these words.’]


*********



Roon

I realized the moment I fell into the fissure that I made a monumental leap of faith, for some reason I believed Yeesha when she said the chasm led back to Earth but I thought this was just another trick and the ground would be much closer. I was so wrong.

I tried to speculate how gruesome my death would be but I admit that such conjecture is futile. I fell through that starry expanse at terminal velocity, it was only 200 kilometres an hour but with the sound of the air that rushed past me it felt like the speed of light. There was no doubt I was going to die, thinking about it was pointless. Still, upon whose hands with one day steal my Relto book from my corpse was unsettling to me.

I know that my apprehensions will only be allayed at the very last second, and so I close realizing that the end has already been written.

Except that wasn’t true at all. That was exactly what I thought jumping through the fissure in Relto for the first time. Every explorer I met at the time told me it was such a freeing experience to fall through the great crack and soar towards the Cleft on Earth. It really is, but the first time I did it was awful. There’s a great deal of uncertainty doing it at night, you can’t see the Cleft, the volcano, Zandi’s caravan. There’s a lot of hazardous ground and objects at the Cleft. My first dive was nerve-wracking; the entire time I regretted the decision and falling through the atmosphere I channelled Atrus, wondering about my death. Nowadays I always travel between my Relto and Earth via the fissure. Even with my robes the sensation of flying through the air and seeing the world race towards you is spectacular. Everyone needs to do this once in their life.

The last time I did it was the last day I was in Relto, the day I left the great city and ended my exploration of the D’ni; about three of four years ago now. It was a clear Wednesday morning. I had packed up my things and took only a few ages with me; my favourites, Kadish Tolesa, Eder Kemo, Ahnonay and Kosmosfeer - the very first proper age I wrote myself. I was so proud of Kosmosfeer I simply needed to keep it with me at all times and the age itself had links to all my other ages. It was my magnus opus, my masterpiece. It was the age that reinvented the way Age Writers wrote their descriptive books. It was the linking book that defined the new era of ages, from simple shapes and basic mechanisms on vast water worlds into forests and jungles, detailed architecture and beautifully complex design and puzzles in an ever-growing Tree of Possibilities. Kosmosfeer expanded the rate at which the Art of Writing was evolving to the new Age Writers and new ages to explore. I shared my age with at least eleven of my closest friends in the cavern so taking the original copy didn’t really restrict it. There’s also an official copy of it in the Guild of Writers so that’s fine.

I stood at the edge of the fissure, the hessian robe danced about in the cold, frigid wind. The stack of linking books in hand, or rather tucked under my left arm, I peered over the threshold to see a cloudy blue haze filtering the dusty desert below. Slowly I lifted my head, thinking about all the wonderful memories I had; discovering the many ages available, the splendor of Ae’gura and its monuments and the history of the D’ni. I smiled. The time I spent in the cavern was beyond anything I ever imagined when I arrived. My time was done here, I fulfilled my goals and was ready to move on and return to the surface. Without hesitating I gripped the linking books tightly to my chest, took one step at the very foot of the gap and dropped through. The wind rushed all around me, the robe flapped uncontrollably and the one other linking book in my possession – Relto – also felt the wind, it rose up from my belt on my right side.

Interestingly the trip between the two worlds is quite short; at ten meters per second squared the human body reaches terminal velocity very quickly, it’s only 58 meters per second. Relto fissures only appear at night and they seem very distant, they actually look like stars twinkling in the night sky, but in fact my fissure is just above the cloud line, I can’t be certain but I think it’s only a couple of kilometres above the Cleft. I fell through a passing cloud and the haze lifted to reveal the vast desert of the American Midwest. Really, it’s the only part of the US I actually know intimately; New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns and all that. I am one of the very few distinguished people that knows about the volcano in the Midwest. The sound of the air whooshing past me was just white noise, I’m so used to it by now. I can always see the Cleft and the volcano from this height, they are just a couple of small dots in the desert but I was rushing towards the Earth as fast as gravity could pull me. Seconds passed and I already fell more than halfway down. More and more detail started to come into view; the volcano was dormant and the mouth filled in by a large mound of sand and dirt. For its thin features the Cleft was much clearer, I could see all the way to the wet patch at its bottom. The shining glint of rusted bronze was from the telescope from Riven, another age connected to Earth in the same way Relto is. Zandi’s caravan was still parked in the same old spot, I figured he was still sitting on his deck chair listening to Peter Gabriel. The ground continued to fly towards me, I had only a few seconds before I landed. The features stretched further and further, pulled apart from each other more and more the closer I reached the Earth. All of a sudden, my speed decreased. It felt like I fell into water, instant resistance pushed me. As soon as I was centimetres from the ground I stopped, I floated. For a few seconds I was suspended in the air, my books still under my arm. The force then gently placed me on firm ground, I was home. I looked up to try to see the fissure but it was too small. Try to imagine seeing a crack about ten meters long and maybe three or four meters wide from more than two kilometres away. I sighed and looked back at the desert, the secrets this place holds. With a slight smirk I began to walk away from it and leave the Cleft forever, I knew that I experienced all that I could in this world and would move on to new things.

As it turned out ‘forever’ was completely incorrect, but you all know that by now. This story is not about me, nor my place in Project Starcall. This story is how Project Starcall became more than a community, it became physical, tangible. This is an ode to Stahkoul, the age where the community resides and how in all the Tree of Possibilities it became what it is today; an institution of creativity within the mostly reclusive and secret world of Ae’gura, the D’ni city, a single leaf in this awe inspiring and unique multiverse.

- Guildmaster Chris, Head of the Age Writer’s Guild in Stahkoul.


I'm working on this story via Online Word in fact but by request I've decided to reproduce and post it here on Galaxy Cauldron. This is the second time I've created a story for Project Starcall, last year I produced a short story for Starcall and posted it here as well. The chapters are numbered in D'ni numerals and the titles for each chapter are the D'ni terms for each number, Roon is the term for the concept of zero. I do still keep in touch with Tindomiel and she loves the story so far, she's as much a fan of Myst and Uru as I am and she loves how she acts in the story. The D'ni in the dedication is correct but I'm not sure about the structure, the words and prefixes might not be in the right order. This is the introduction to the story, about my final experiences playing the MMO Myst Online: Uru Live and my own ideas for Ages. It's a good starting point for the story to come. I hope you enjoy something a bit different. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Stahkoul [Fanfiction]   16th October 2018, 1:46 pm

Oooo nice start!! I sort of chuckled a bit at the self-explanatory part but I suppose that's sort of the point with Uru online, isn't it? Thanks for posting this! Your description is great and I love that you include the figures for speed and distance, since the technical parts of the written materials in game are quite prominent, so I always expect them to be in the minds of the Age Writers.

Very cool indeed!

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PostSubject: Re: Stahkoul [Fanfiction]   18th October 2018, 11:22 pm

It's kinda more along the lines of I shouldn't expect people to really know about Myst or Uru since I know it's so niche and obscure even nowadays. But that's also the point, to expose the greatness of the multiverse and the wonder it holds. So that really gets played a lot in the story. Anyway I'll keep posted the more chapters I write into it.

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PostSubject: Re: Stahkoul [Fanfiction]   19th October 2018, 5:04 am

Cripes!! I just realized my phone autocorrected self-insert to self-explanatory OTL. So I chuckled at the self-INSERT lol. Again though, it sorta fits.

And YES I think you totally did a great job of describing the world thus far for people who've never played the game!


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PostSubject: Re: Stahkoul [Fanfiction]   9th November 2018, 3:29 am



Fah

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

- Arthur C. Clark


Cavern City Air Terminal, Carlsbad
Eddy County, New Mexico
73.4 miles from the Cleft

A small jet plane stationed at the airport. The terminal was a quiet little outcrop on the edge of Carlsbad, really a metaphor of the city itself. Apart from its tourist traps it really was just another country town buried in the blistering heat of the Chihuahuan Desert, a sandy patch of land sprawled over the souther states and Mexico. Despite the summer heat the city and the desert itself had a strange charm to it; quaint buildings from decades past nestled within the valley, shrubbery dotted the beige land, the plateaus and mountains rippled the horizon into a spectacular artwork of nature’s creation.

Unfortunately, the day was particularly hot and the passengers could not care any less about Gaia’s masterpiece. Everyone simply wanted to get away from the heat, get inside an air-conditioned space and drink plenty of water. Stepping out of the gate was Galder, he slammed down a full bottle of water in no time, the heat was so draining he drunk half a litre in seconds. He was so exhausted that as soon as the last drop of water fell out of the bottle he let out a loud sigh of relief. He wiped his right arm across his sweat drenched forehead. He felt the chill of the liquid inside his body and sighed, the water calmed him down and his breathing slowed. ‘What a cheap airline,’ he complained, ‘who doesn’t have water on a plane?’
Another passenger exited the gate and overheard the complaint. ‘Maybe the same type who won’t put air-conditioning in its planes.’
Galder looked over his shoulder and laughed at the quip. ‘Yeah, you’re right Leila.’ He sighed, ‘Do you know how hot it is here? I swear I’m dying in this heat.’
Leila laughed as she reached into her pocket. ‘Too used to the Finnish weather, are you?’
She playfully punched Galder’s shoulder while she fiddled with her phone. ‘Oh, gimme winter right now,’ he exclaimed, looking up at the ceiling hoping to God the weather would become more hospitable. ‘I’d trade this heat with Helsinki cloud any day.’
More passengers left the gate and milled around the pair, another woman approached Leila and handed her one of her water bottles. ‘You need this Leila?’
Still on her smartphone Leila pointed. ‘I’m fine thanks. Galder could use it probably.’
Too tired to stare any longer he dropped his head and reached out his hand to the woman. She chuckled and passed a bottle to him. ‘Thanks Claret.’
She patted his shoulder – the very one Leila abused earlier, and poked fun. ‘Boy you’re really not used to the heat, are you?’
He shook his head. ‘It never gets this hot.’
Leila gasped at her phone and added ‘No, it really doesn’t.’ She turned over the phone and showed everyone the temperature. The phone displayed ‘105°F’ in big numbers at the top and a smaller weekly forecast of Carlsbad. ‘It’s like forty degrees Galder.’
‘Forty?!’ he yelped and turned to see the disturbing number.
‘Forty? What’s that in Fahrenheit?’ another passenger asked the group.
Leila swivelled her phone into his view. ‘A hundred and five Hollow.’
‘Yaouch,’ he exclaimed. He took off his backpack and opened to, he produced another water bottle and cracked it open. ‘Good thing I got myself another one of these.’
‘Where are the others?’ Leila asked.
Hollowpages grunted while he drank his water. He uttered a refreshing sigh and answered ‘I saw them. They’re coming now.’ She nodded and waited outside the gate with everyone. Leila and Claret fanned themselves with papers and booklets, Galder decided to sit down and rest his wary bones.
‘Who else is coming to Carlsbad?’ Claret asked.
‘I’m not sure how many of us,’ Leila began, ‘I know that Kart and Anna arrived yesterday and Tin is chaperoning them. Lmih and Crisis joined them too and I think Aly arrived even earlier. That’s all I know.’
‘Oh,’ Claret remarked, ‘I heard ZP and Cara are here too. I think Morrack and Angelo might be coming as well.’
‘Wow! That’s a lot of people. I’m surprised he organized so many people this time.’
‘Yeah, I know. This must be really big this time.’ Leila nodded a reply to Claret.
As he finished his water Hollowpages noticed someone at the gate. He began to wave his hand and called out to the group. ‘They’re here!’ Everyone reacted to this and moved towards him. Even Galder mustered the energy to get up and walk up to Hollowpages.
‘Hi guys.’ The approaching woman greeted the group with her boyfriend.
Everyone waved back and said hello in their own way but they all sounded the same. A clear phrase came from them. ‘Hi Syl.’ Sylessae and KarnaughAtlas waved back at them and everyone was reunited.
KarnaughAtlas was just as sweaty as Galder, his face dripped in warm perspiration. His partner looked up to him and asked ‘Do you need any water?’
She started to rummage around her handbag for their bottle but he raised his hand at the query. ‘Nah, I’m okay. I drank a ton before we left Albuquerque.’ He too wiped his brow with his arm.
Sylessae narrowed her gaze at him. ‘That’s gross!’
Everyone laughed at her jab. Leila chose this moment to add to it. ‘Yeah Galder, I saw you did that too.’
‘EW,’ Claret shrieked. ‘I gave you a bottle of water to your sweaty hand?!’
‘No, my other hand!’ he protested.
Leila shook her head. ‘No, it wasn’t!’ The group laughed harder at Galder now.
‘Is everyone here?’ Sylessae asked.
Everyone calmed down and Hollowpages answered the question. ‘Yeah, everyone’s here. Does anyone know if the bus is outside?’
‘No one’s gone out yet,’ Galder replied. ‘We should go out now that we’ve reunited.’
‘Alright. Let’s go.’ Leila commanded, she walked off first and led the group out of the airport. They all continued talking amongst themselves and cooled each other off with water and fanning their papers. The summer heat was not going anywhere but where they were going to was for the most part still a complete mystery, only that they needed to go somewhere near the Carlsbad Caverns. But first things first, they needed to reach the shuttle bus, the roomy, comfortable, air-conditioned shuttle bus with everyone else on board.


A large blue bus travelled up the lonely road, it kicked up dust and sand along the edges of the bitumen. Everyone was seated; they chatted, sketched, ate lunch, took photos of the isolated landscape or simply became lost in their own thoughts. The coach was air conditioned and comfortable, no one wanted for anything beyond the creativity and the sociability of the group. Some brought books to read and pass the time, others took their artist books for any opportune moment to design a new character they happen to create. Tindomiel Silverthrone sat by the window on her seat, she gazed out at the wonderous desert. A churning sea of orange dust made rough by the surrounding mountains, tufts of small green growths raced in and out of view all along the ground. Aly Sedai sat beside her, she typed another short story on her laptop, inspiration struck her on this venture. A brief ruckus broke Tindomiel’s thought, she turned around to check on the children she was charged with. Kartjoffel kicked and pouted at AnnaLama, she hogged time on his iPad. It was his turn! ‘Come on Anna, I want to play some MineCraft!’ he protested.
‘Hey,’ Tindomiel enquired. ‘What’s going on back there?’
‘Anna won’t give me the iPad,’ he replied, he tried to stir some emotion in his plea. ‘I really want to play now.’
‘Anna, why aren’t you giving Kart the iPad?’
Anna concentrated hard on her work, for a second she didn’t hear the question but she suddenly woke up and looked at her. ‘Huh? What?’
‘Are you okay Anna?’
‘Oh I’m okay, I’m nearly done with this. One more minute I promise.’
‘Can I have a look please?’ Tindomiel asked. Anna lifted up the iPad from her lap and showed her drawing, a sketch of a fanart of Happy Potter with some obvious detail missing in the robes. ‘That’s really good Anna, I like it so far. One more minute.’
‘Yay!’ She returned the iPad and continued with her drawing. Kart liked the picture too but her didn’t let it show in his face, he still wanted MineCraft.
Tindomiel turned back and continued to watch the world pass by. After a moment, as the bus continued on its route she noticed something, a familiar shape in the distance. That’s weird, she thought, that peak looks so familiar. But I’ve never been here before. The single mountain in the distance was unusual in shape, it was short and oddly arranged. It looked as if the top of the mountain was missing, jagged peaks could only just be seen, they formed a strange imaginary loop around the plateau. Is that a mountain? she asked internally. All of a sudden a memory returned to her but it wasn’t what she expected. She remembered herself playing a game on a computer years ago. It was not a mountain. ‘It’s the volcano!’ she uttered to herself.
‘Volcano?’ Aly asked, she overheard her utterance.
‘Oh,’ she snapped back, she still tried to process her absurd leap. ‘Nothing. I just saw something that looked like something.’
Aly simply looked back for a moment. Tindomiel tried to hide her thoughts but did very poorly, after all it’s only a game, it’s not real. Her internal conflict was written all over her face. ‘Something like a volcano?’ she eventually asked.
Tindomiel tried to laugh it off. ‘It sounds silly I know. There aren’t any volcanos here.’
‘Yeah that’s true,’ she asserted, ‘but you look kinda worried. What’s wrong?’
‘It’s nothing really. Just-’ Tindomiel reflected on her next sentence, there was no way she would not sound totally crazy. ‘Aly. Have you ever heard of the game Uru?’
‘Uru?’ she repeated ‘Never heard of it.’
‘How about End of Ages? The Myst series?’
‘Oh I know Myst. I love that game,’ Aly replied ‘I didn’t know it was a series though.’
‘Well Uru is a spinoff game,’ Tindomiel explained ‘It’s a really cool extension of the universe. If you like Myst you’ll love Uru.’
‘That’s cool. I’ll have a look when I get back home.’ She then returned to her writing and Tindomiel turned back to the window, she looked at the ‘volcano’ with intensity.
She covered her mouth to make sure any more didn’t spill out of her. ‘That can’t be the Cleft,’ she exclaimed under her breath. ‘It’s not real. It’s not possible.’

Then the bus began to slow down. No one noticed at all, not even Sylessae nor KarnaughAtlas who sat at the front behind the driver. She sketched her own work and he slept on the window. What everyone did notice was the bus turning, the machine swung out to the right and all the artists and writers felt the inertia pull them the opposite direction. At that moment Tindomiel saw the mountain dart out of view, she followed the sight all the way as it raced to the front of the bus. They were heading towards the feature. The bus left the smooth comfort of the road and turned into a bumpy dirt path, everyone jutted about in their seats. The sudden ride woke up the sleeping, distracted the conversations, slightly ruined the artworks and generally upset everyone; none more so than Tindomiel. She stood up and carefully walked to the front of the bus, at every jolt she paused to balanced herself again. As she moved she saw more and more of the view ahead, the bus was indeed travelling towards the site, a landmark that is fake, not real. As far as she knew. Eventually she reached Sylessae and the awoken KarnaughAtlas, dazed and confused by the unusual movement of the bus. Syl was upset, the constant moving about forced her to stop her sketching. ‘Ugh! I just started a new design! Why did the bus get off the road?!’
‘We’re not heading to a city,’ Tindomiel interjected. Sylessae turned to her response. ‘I think we’re heading for that volcano there.’ She pointed ahead and Syl saw the peak herself.
‘Volcano?’ she asked. ‘How do you know it’s a volcano?’
‘Intuition,’ she could never admit to Syl the real reason she knows what it is. The whole scenario is too unreal, way too unbelievable. Tindomiel could barely believe it herself. ‘It’s dormant so we’ll be safe.’
Syl turned back to Tindomiel and asked ‘What do you know about this place?’ There’s no right way to answer that question; Tin has only been to Carlsbad a few times, she never really went to the Caverns and Aly was only half interested, Syl is very attentive right now. If she started to mention Uru or Myst she’d just look like an obsessive nerd, joining way too many dots together. But at least on some level she did work out what’s happening.
‘Jess,’ Tindomiel replied to Sylessae with a serious tone. ‘I have no idea what’s going to happen, but whatever it is it’s going to be huge.’
‘Excuse me,’ the driver interrupted her. ‘Please go back to your seats for your own safety thank you. We’re nearly there.’ Tindomiel raised her free hand, she acknowledged the driver and turned around but before she walked back she looked at Syl one last time. She was still looking up to her, she tried to read her mind and work out what she wasn’t saying. Tindomiel patted her shoulder and looked back with a reassuring face, it was honest and a bit frazzled but also forced. She could tell Tin knew something and was holding it back for some reason. She then slowly walked back to her seat, Sylessae turned around to see Tin walk down the narrow aisle.
‘What was that about?’ KarnaughAtlas asked her.
Sylessae turned back to her partner and shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’ Satisfied he stretched and relaxed his muscles and tried to sleep some more. She on the other hand looked back out at the mountain that slowly loomed over them. This destination seemed to have affected someone on this journey already, she thought, what does Chris have planned for us this time? What’s so special about this place? She continued to ponder to herself.

Once again, after nearly ten years of dormancy and silence the caverns will live again.


“Within the great volcano’s shadow, the desert floor was fractured. There, in a crack some eighty feet by fifteen, the darkness was intense. The casual eye might, indeed, have passed on, thinking it no more than a natural feature, but for the strange lip–a wall of stone some five or six feet high–that surrounded it.”

- The Book of Atrus, Prologue.


The term 'Fah' is the D'ni word for the number one. Each chapter has an opening quote and a picture with a line of information to help the reader understand the finer points of Myst and Uru lore. As another Starcall story once again the story introduces the artists from Project Starcall into it. This chapter places all the mentioned characters to the proposed location of the Cleft according to current Uru lore - somewhere near the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. In the next chapter my typical style of using music to inspire my writing and then inserting it back into the story will return, but with an extra twist to it.

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Stahkoul [Fanfiction]

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