Rachel was relaxing in the glimmering sun of Antares. Jordan was off picking fruit in the forest, and Brittany and Maddy were still on Myst. It had been four days since they had freed Atrus from his imprisonment in the D'ni cavern.
Living on Myst was a lot more pleasant now that Atrus had spent a bit of time fixing the place up for them and getting them everything they needed. No, he couldn't get them home, he said, but he could make Myst as comfortable as he could for them...
Three days previously...
Rachel, Jordan, Brittany and Maddy had been out on Selenitic, as Rachel had decided that she'd like to see the rest of it, after being knocked out cold when they were there previously. They had linked back into the library, and the first thing that they all noticed was that all the burnt books had been removed from the shelf, something which they had most definitely not done. The journals and the code book were together on the bottom shelf, and on the top shelf someone had placed another book, sitting open, and a piece of paper next to it.
Rachel picked up the piece of paper and read it, with the others looking at it over her shoulder.
Dear friends, it said, As I see you have been doing as I suggested and exploring at your leisure, I took the liberty of cleaning up the shelf, taking all the burnt books and leaving this one here. It links to Antares, a harvest world I wrote whilst I was imprisoned to provide me with food and water. I thought that this may make your time here a little more comfortable. Also, if you go down to the cabin you will most likely find something else that will make things more comfortable for you. Best regards, Atrus.
The four of them linked through the book on the shelf and found themselves in a small stone courtyard. A narrow stone path led winding off into a large orchard. It crossed a second path a short way in that extended off to the left and right into the orchard, and the first path ended at a stone well. Behind them in the courtyard were a few small wooden benches, and directly across from the stone path there were two small pedestals, each bearing a small book – one linking to D'ni and one linking to Myst. It was idyllic, with the sky a crystal clear blue and the temperature perfect, without even the slightest breeze. All the trees in the orchard were constantly groaning with fruit, and at the ends of the side paths were a few berry plants as well.
When they returned to Myst, they headed for the cabin. It was pleasantly warm inside the cabin, as the furnace was on, but the real surprise was the fact that Atrus had thoughtfully laid out four rather comfortable looking sleeping bags for them. In the middle of the circle he had made for them was a lamp similar to that on his desk, and another note next to it.
This is a fire-marble lamp, the note claimed, To light it, shake the marble gently or tap it a few times gently. To put it out, squeeze the marble gently. Be careful when handling fire-marbles, and DO NOT, for any reason, throw a fire-marble.
They slept very well that night.
Jordan came over and sat down next to Rachel, putting his arm around her. She smiled at him.
"All right there, Rach?"
"Never been better."
They stood up together. Jordan picked up the basket of fruit that he'd picked. Together they went over to the book pedestal on the right, touched the image on the page and stepped forward into the now familiar spinning blackness.
Myst wasn't much, but it was home. Or close enough for now.
Close enough to a home.