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Atrus (D'ni spelling: aytrus) is a D'ni/human descendant. Although he was born well after the fall of D'ni, he holds the legacy of the D'ni civilization and the Art which he has studied by experimenting with it.
He has been known to experiment with the Art, to explore the Ages he wrote himself to understand the Art better. In addition he holds an attitude radically different than his father's: in his Ages he explores and discovers the things that the Maker wrote "between" his own lines, he establishes respectful contact with the Outsiders he discovers, aids them to boost their civilization (as in Stoneship), protect them (as in Mechanical) or aiding them with hazards (as with The Tide). As such, he has been acting as a scholar, explorer, inventor and even physician.
Atrus was born to Gehn and Keta in 9411 and therefore was only 1/4 D'ni. His mother was ill while pregnant and despite Anna's efforts, she died while giving birth to him in the Cleft after a long night. Mad with bitterness, Gehn abandoned his mother with the baby, refusing to look or hold his son. As an infant, Atrus had pale blue eyes. The child stayed with Anna, living in a cleft in the side of a volcano in the desert.
Anna taught him much while raising him, including the D'ni language, D'ni stories, and how to look at The Whole.
At 7 years old Atrus could help her with her garden and repairs of their home and he wished that she didn't have to work so hard. The caravans were the only glimpse he had of the outside world, he longed seeing them; day and night he dreamed about one time riding a camel and see the rest of the world. However Anna kept his existence hidden, as she worried that someone would kidnap him to sell him as a slave; whenever the caravans came, he hid in the shadow of the volcano's rim, with patched dirty clothes the color of the desert, observing and taking in all details thanks to his lenses.
Teen YearsAtrus plays the central character in the Book of Atrus, the prequel to the original Myst game. This book shows Atrus growing up, first in the Cleft with his grandmother, then as he learns to write Ages with his father.
Gehn came back to the cleft when Atrus was fourteen and took the boy from his grandmother. He led Atrus down into the underground D'ni capital and told him about his heritage. Living on the island of K'veer he taught Atrus to write, and how to travel back and forth through Ages safely. By the end of his teen years, Atrus came to realize that Gehn was a madman.
On Riven he met Katran, whose name he consistently mispronounced as Catherine. Catherine was the best student of Gehn, and Gehn intended to marry her against her will to further control the Art. Secretly, Catherine, together with Anna who had, without him knowing, followed her grandson, wrote the Age of Myst Island, and planned to trap Gehn on Riven by destroying every Linking Book in the Age. Doing this, he banished his father to the dying Age, and he jumped in the Star Fissure, linking to Myst.
Atrus fathered Sirrus and Achenar on the Myst Island, seeking to teach them differently than his father did. He tried to be an example of conduct and discipline befitting their D'ni heritage. He tried to teach them the principles of Age writing, and created J'nanin to train them and also sent them to Narayan, one of the most balanced Ages he wrote.
One time on Mechanical, his sons went missing for days. He was waiting for them at the fotress. Unknown to him, Sirrus intended to destroy the Fortress and the books stored in Camder to leave Atrus stranded there. When they returned, he took them to the Myst Library and their worrying mother, scolded them, and said that he will never leave them to explore alone again.
However the boys seeing all the rich worlds Atrus wrote, just waiting to be exploited, grew greedy, plundering the Ages, tormenting their inhabitants and burning some books their father wrote. Eventually they fooled their parents, sent Katran back to Riven, then ripped off a page from Atrus' Myst linking book and sent him to D'ni where he was trapped.
The first game begins with Atrus imprisoned in D'ni. He has left a message for his wife, Catherine, telling her of the destruction of his Library by their sons, Sirrus and Achenar (note that in realMYST, Atrus' message is a lot calmer, compared to the original, where he is very frustrated and upset). He is released if the player brings him the final page of the Linking Book he can use to escape.
He plays the central role in the Book of D'ni as he sets forth in an attempt to rebuild D'ni. In the course of doing so, the D'ni come across Terahnee, a vast Age with ancient connections to the D'ni.
Some time after the events of Riven, but preceding the events of Myst III: Exile, Atrus went to the surface of D'ni, on Earth, and founded Tomahna to be their new home. Here he fathered his daughter, Yeesha, and taught her to Write. It was from Tomahna that Atrus wrote Releeshahn to be D'ni's new home.
In Myst III: Exile Atrus invites you to his home in Tomahna to join him to view the Releeshahn Age that he has written for the future home of the D'ni, leaving you present when an intruder, Saavedro, breaks in to Atrus' home, stealing the Releeshahn book. Exile then leads you through five Ages written by Atrus to teach his sons about the way different elements in nature to prepare them for the Art of writing Ages.
In Myst IV: Revelation Atrus once again invites you to Tomahna, this time to help him with a dilemma involving his sons, Sirrus and Achenar, still trapped in their prison books from the original game.
Atrus does not appear in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, though he does provide the opening narration.
Atrus lived out his old age on Releeshahn. He was said to be still alive during the events of Myst Online: Uru Live.
Atrus had the habit of writing journals about almost everything, a habit he probably inherited from Gehn, and imparted to his family. He kept a personal journal. An entry from it was revealed at Cyan's D'ni Website - It can be read here.
Note & Trivia
- Atrus has always been played by Rand Miller.
- He is supposed to have exactly the same name as his grandfather, Aitrus, despite that the two are spelled differently in the books. Dr. Watson explained that the different spelling was to keep the two persons distinct for the readers, as they may confuse the two characters. Another reason was that the people mispronounced Atrus as "ah-trus", so while the Book of Ti'ana was written, Watson suggested to spell the character's name as Aytrus in order to clear up the pronunciation. The spelling Aitrus (with Ai instead of Ay) was preferred as aesthetically better.