Age Five

The chamber was as he’d left it, the Age Five book open on the desk, the ink pots and pen undisturbed.

Returning to the desk, Atrus settled in the chair, then drew the book toward him and began to read it, more carefully this time, seeing how each phrase, each small description, contributed to the totality of what he’d seen.

Now that he had been there, he understood just how good it really was. The Fifth Age of Gehn was quite remarkable. Yet there were clear flaws in the way the book had been put together, particularly in the structure of the writing. Elegant passages lay side by side on the page, each uniquely beautiful, yet disturbingly unrelated to each other. It was the trademark of his father’s style. The boldness of Gehn’s eclecticism—his drawing from such disparate sources—was indeed astonishing, close to brilliant.

Had Gehn built his Ages from structural principles, they might have been different, for it was possible that in so doing he might have reconciled the gaps. As it was, his method was piecemeal and the flaws that resulted quickly compounded into a complex network of interrelated faults—faults that could not be tackled by simple solutions.

Atrus turned the final page, nodding to himself as he read the last few entries—seeing there his father’s crude attempts to make small changes to the Age Five world, to stabilize its inherent faults.

“All wrong,” he said quietly, whishing he could just score out those final entries, but, remembering what had happened to the Thirtyseventh Age, fearing to do so. No, if he was to make changes, he would do so only with great care and after long and patient deliberation. One could not meddle with an Age. At least, not with an Age as complex as Gehn’s Fifth Age.

Riven, he thought. She called it Riven. And as he looked up, it was to find Catherine standing there, looking down on him, a large blue book clutched to her chest.

Rand and Robyn Miller with David Wingrove. Myst: The Book of Atrus. 1995, Bantam, London. Pages 234–235.

Copyright © 1995 Cyan, Inc.