Gamescape: Myst, The Channelwood Age

 

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A seemingly ancient wooden walkway winds its way through a forest of towering trees that extends as far as the eye can see–a necessary structure, as this forest rises from an equally extensive ocean. The depth of this ocean cannot be determined by sight alone, its waters cloudy from constant motion, but the shape of the trees that emerge from it suggest it is not more than a few feet. At the end of this walkway–a rough end, as it seems to wander almost aimlessly through the trees–stands a single island, what appears to be the tiny tip of what was once a mountain or tall hill, now submerged like the surrounding forest. A single structure stands here, an old windmill, still functional years after its abandonment–a power source for an empty village.

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Suspended high above the waters is a small village of treehouses, connected to one another through a system of bridges and stairways. Simple wooden structures, these are built around the trees that hold them, their construction showing a care for nature and a respect for the trees that they tore down for materials.  Many of these houses have fallen into disrepair, missing roofs, floors, walls, and many are empty. Even the interiors have been stripped and broken–the only furniture that now stands looks like garbage, abandoned and abused.

Most of these homes are empty, but not all. The only two structures among the trees that still stand are bedrooms, decorated in a similar fashion to those seen in the previous Stoneship Age. One is clean and well furnished, the other filthy and mistreated; both still house the dark weapons and chemicals seen previously. Empty wine bottles, long forgotten food, books and letters–everything here has been tossed aside, as if whoever inhabited these rooms (presumably the men from the books) left in a hurry. Unlike the destroyed houses around them, these rooms stand high above the rest, possess actual windows, complete roofs, plush carpets, foreign furniture–and have been occupied much more recently than the rest. Those who lived in these rooms stayed much longer than those in the village, their opulent lifestyles a sharp contrast to the relative aesthetic simplicity of what was left behind. It is painfully clear that these men were foreign to the world.

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Perhaps it is that the abandoned homes are made from the same trees they were built in, but this village feels as if it has been retaken by nature. The inhabitants, their whereabouts unknown, are gone and their homes have begun to rot away. As planks fall from the treehouses, they join the natural fallen branches of the trees that hold them in the waters, to rot away slowly, future fertilizer for the trees themselves. The people may be gone, but the animals do not mind. The water is teeming with fish, the warm fog thick with flies and other tiny insects that love warm, slow waters. Wind turbines need little intervention, and the few lights that remain lit within the city will probably stay until they too rust away. But these villagers will not mind the loss of electricity–this is their world, the humans were merely tenants, tenants whose lease finally ran out. The Channelwood Age belongs to animals of the sunken woods, who will remain long after the last house has fallen from the trees.

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