93.5.25I always feared this day would come. For years, Catherine and I have dreamed of restoring D'ni. We have dedicated our lives to the task, taking it upon ourselves to locate the citizens of D'ni and convince them to return to their ruined city and rebuild. Our dream has become the dream of so many now, and the progress we have made toward achieving it is something of which we can all stand proud. But I know now that it has been a mistake.

The city of D'ni should not be restored. It should stand forever in ruins, as both a symbol of our past mistakes and a memorial to all who lost their lives when D'ni fell. The devastating events of recent months - the way on Terahnee, and the death of Uta, in partcular - have driven this truth home to me quite forcefully. If we rebuild the city walls today, are we not giving approval to the very illness that destroyed our civilization in the first place? Are we not setting ourselves up to repeat that pattern again in future generations?

I have put much thought into this tonight and have found only one solution. If we, the men and women who survived the downfall of D'ni, are to thrive, then we must break the pattern of hatred which has destroyed so many lives. We must begin our civilization anew.

And we can only do that if I write us a new Age.

I have spoken with Catherine about this and she agrees. I only hope the others will see it, as well.

93.5.26Will these people never cease to amaze me? I thought they would object to my decision. After all, most of them linked back to D'ni specifically to see the city rebuilt. But when I told them why we should not restore it, their response was immediate and unanimous. Whereas yesterday they thought only of rebuilding, today they concentrate solely on salvage. They intend to take from their ruined city only that which is best and move on.

Everywhere I look, the enthusiasm for this new task is obvious. It heartens me, even as I face my own monumental contribution. I have written many Ages in my lifetime - from my first timid attempts under the tyrannical tutelage of my father, to my most recent accomplishment, Averone. Never before has so much been riding on my skill. The Age I am about to write must be all I ever imagined and more. How am I going to achieve it?

93.6.1Catherine laughed this morning when she saw me drudging out my old notebooks. I must have made a quite the picture: sitting near the embers of a fire, surrounded by countless commentaries and journals. Some of them seemed more dust than paper. But the hours I spent sifting through them was worth it.

Ideas for what this new Age might be are tumbling around in my head. There are almost too many to catch hold of.

Obviously, I must choose some starting point as my anchor. Writing Ages is a science — a precisely structured equation of words. Every equation needs as its foundation an underlying concept around which the Age can develop. In the past, I have written my Books around whatever idea intrigued me most at the time. I wanted to discover how the Age to which the Book linked would manifest the results of that idea. Sometimes civilizations had arisen. Sometimes they had not. But whether a society had come to exist on the Age or not, it was often in response to whatever concept the Book I had written embodied. This time, my search for a concept must be weighed very carefully. I already have the civilization I wish to see develop. I know our history as a people, and the paths we have followed to arrive here. Today I must write a Book which will link to an Age that will allow us to continue on our way, growing ever stronger as one people. What underlying concept must this new Age reflect that will best allow our civilization to thrive?

I fear I must think on this some more.

93.6.5It has taken me some time, but I may have found my anchor. It came to me as I was considering what I know about the survivors of D'ni. We have seen so much tragedy in our lives, from the destruction of the city, to the suffering and loss of loved ones due to plague and deprivation. Yet even in the midst of these adversities, my kinsmen and I have found the strength to keep going. We have tapped into our individual strengths and transformed ourselves into something much stronger.

It is a characteristic I have seen in several of my Ages, whenever I focused my Writing on the inherent energy sources in a world. Long ago, Grandmother taught me that no life — no possibility for life in an Age — exists without the presence of energy. By tapping into its latent energy sources, an Age moves out of stasis. It grows, transforms, and develops. Energy is the underlying fuel that powers all activity.

To put it more simply: energy powers future motion.

Yet, as Grandmother also liked to remind me, energy in an Age takes on diverse forms. Each one has strengths and weaknesses of its own. How many forms will this new Age contain? Which type will be its dominant theme?

Tomorrow I will link back to Myst, and from there revisit several of my Ages. Perhaps in my old worlds, I will discover new ideas

93.6.6I had almost forgotten how painful it is to revisit Myst. In the ten years since my sons, Sirrus and Achenar, left me trapped on K'veer Island and burned so many of my Books, Catherine and I have rarely linked back. I told myself we were always too busy. First with writing Ages like Averone, then with searching the Ages of D'ni for survivors. I always said we would spend more time on Myst eventually.

The truth is, I have been avoiding the Age. Seeing the island in its current condition ignites such anger and grief. I am immediately reminded of the betrayal of my sons, as well as the cruelty and greed with which they plundered my Ages. I know I am partly responsible for these acts. I constantly wonder if there were something I could have done to reach out to the boys before—

Enough! Nothing can change the tragedies of the past. Like my D'ni kinsmen, I must salvage what is best and move on. Perhaps in the process, I will find forgiveness and hope.

93.10.17Once again I am back on Myst island, having completed a lengthy sojourn through several of my Ages. The trip itself was not as inspiring as I had hoped. The Selenitic Age was especially disturbing, but has it not always been so? The very first time I linked to the Age, its uninhabited landscape was shaking with tremors. At the time, I felt it was because the energy in the Age was unfocused, as if it were at war with itself. Stability finally came but even after it did, I never truly felt comfortable there. I missed the more natural balance of Ages like Channelwood.

Perhaps that is the lesson to take home with me. The D'ni, too, have faced much turmoil in their history. Their lives have been unsettled enough. Perhaps I should be striving to offset the energy that already exists within our civilization by providing it with a more stabilized environment in which to grow. An environment in which the natural equilibrium of the world serves as a counterpoint to the upheavals of civilization.

The more I consider it, the more I wonder if I should make Nature the foundation of this new Age. Worlds like Channelwood attain equilibrium quite easily, primarily because of one reason: nature encourages mutual dependence. As one life withers and dies, it provides nourishment so that another might live. Plants become food for other animals, and the waste products animals cannot absorb become nutrients to sustain the other plants. So long as nothing intrudes to upset this balance, nature can maintain itself indefinitely.

An interesting metaphor to set as an example for my people!

I think I will confer with Catherine on this subject. Her Ages always exhibit symbiosis more dramatically than mine. Perhaps she should help me Write this new Age.

93.10.24I am so tired, I can barely think right now. But I will force myself to stay focused for I have not written anything in days. The moment I linked back to D'ni, I was besieged with requests for my assistance. Master Tamon wanted to consult over which stone cutters were worth salvaging — and did I think the rock in this new Age would be difficult to sound? Oma and Esel needed my opinion about a new history they had uncovered — should they hold off on stating its translation, or would paper supplies be scarce in the new Age? There were so many questions needing answers, I barely had time to see Catherine!

She, of course, laughed at my dilemma, saying that I had no one to blame but myself. After all, I was the one who encouraged the D'ni to start over. Naturally, they would look to me to keep them moving in the right direction, unless some other force stepped into change that view.

Her words made me realize a fundamental principle I had thus far been ignoring. All this time, I have been debating whether to make energy or nature the underlying framework for the Age. But there is another equation to consider! An Age based solely on the future motion of energy will face constant upheavals, most likely at the cost of tranquility. And an Age based solely on the mutual dependence of nature can become so balanced over time, it may cease to tolerate change. Yet to continue to grow as a people, D'ni civilization needs both: occasional upheavals followed by periods of balanced stability.

I have seen such situations occur naturally on several of my Ages. Each time, it was because I centered the Writing around some dynamic force that I had decided to make prevalent in the Age. Such forces allow the balance between forward motion and mutual dependence to fluctuate. As one concept take precedence, the other recedes until another force surfaces to change things. As Catherine's insightful comment reminded me, dynamic forces spur change.

I am too tired to think more on this tonight. Hopefully in the morning, my thoughts will coalesce.

93.10.25Catherine surprised me today. Apparently while I was off visiting my Ages, she linked to Myst by herself. She did not say so, but I could tell that her visit had been painful. More than ever now, I am convinced we must find a place to begin again ourselves.

Perhaps when I have written this new Age for the D'ni, I will put some thought into where Catherine and I might live.

93.10.28I cannot believe I did not see it before! All this time I have been struggling to describe the perfect Age for the D'ni. I have considered and then rejected several underlying concepts which I felt might best set the course for their future — as if I alone should determine how D'ni civilization will grow! In my own way, I have become as egotistical as my father!

In truth, I owe this realization to Catherine. Sensing my indecision about the new Age, she led me on a walk around D'ni. Salvaging efforts were well underway, with teams of people scouring the ruined harbor district. As I watched my D'ni kinsmen deciding which parts of their culture to retain, I realized they do not need me to determine their future. They are quite capable of setting its course by themselves, regardless of what Age I write!

This realization has opened my eyes to the best way of approaching my task. I no longer need to worry about which underlying concept — energy, nature, or dynamic forces — I should make prevalent in the Age. Rather, I must strive to include them all. I must write a balance of systems into the descriptive Book, enough so that the D'ni people will constantly be challenged to attain their ultimate potential. As Grandmother often pointed out to me when we spoke about Ages back on Myst, balanced systems stimulate civilizations.

At last I feel I am ready to begin Writing this Age. Indeed, I am eager to begin, and have already come up with the perfect name. I know Grandmother would have loved it!

Of course, Catherine could tell the moment I turned to her that I had finally found my starting point. I babbled on excited for some time before I noticed the smile she was hiding. When I saw it enough to grow suspicious, she handed me one of my oldest Age Books. She must have picked it up when she linked back to Myst. Seeing the name "J'nanin" emblazoned on the Book cover, I could only shake my head. The one Age I never got around to revisiting was the one that might have helped me the most! How foolish was I to have completely forgotten it.

I think, after I have finished this work, I should take one final trip - if only to help restore an old fool's memories!