Second Restoration of D'ni

From Guild of Archivists
For the restoration led by the DRC in 2007 CE, see the Third Restoration of D'ni.

The Second Restoration of D'ni, sometimes referred to as the "First Modern Restoration of D'ni", was a human-led effort to rebuild and re-inhabit the D'ni cavern that began in the last decade of the 20th century CE. Although the line between "archaeological expedition" and "restoration effort" is blurry during this period, for the purposes of this Archive, the restoration effort itself is considered to have begun in 1992 CE, the last year that D'ni was ever completely uninhabited.

Beginnings[edit | edit source]

D'ni was first rediscovered in modern times by John Loftin some time in 1987 CE (the exact date is unknown). Together with wealthy archaeologist Elias Zandi, they explored the caves beyond the entrance to D'ni throughout the late 1980s, finding their way to landmarks like the Great Shaft and later Ae'gura. When Zandi found the main D'ni cavern, he felt that he had somehow returned home and made it his mission to rebuild it. Knowing that this would require considerable assistance, he began calling in favors from old friends and colleagues, including Dr. Richard A. Watson, who first joined Loftin and Zandi on an expedition in 1990 CE.

John Loftin died during an expedition in 1991 as a result of some lapse of judgement on the part of the three men, which Dr. Watson has refused to elaborate on. His death would heavily shape Watson's attitude toward safety and process in later restoration efforts.

Early restoration efforts[edit | edit source]

In 1992 CE, Dr. Watson and several colleagues traveled to D'ni and later met with Elias Zandi in the city. There, Zandi elaborated on his intentions for the restoration effort. He told Dr. Watson that he wanted to restore the city to its "original glory" and "[re-inhabit] it with people who call themselves D'ni".[1] Elias arranged for the journals left behind by Catherine to be shared with the Miller brothers at Cyan Inc., where they served as the inspiration for the video games Myst (released in 1993) and Riven (released in 1997). He wanted people to spread the word about D'ni in the hopes that others would feel the same "call" that he did to return to the cavern.

1994 saw a sizable expansion in restoration operations, with two large trips bringing large quantities of supplies and equipment down to the cavern. Zandi also spent a great deal of time and money buying up thousands of acres of land around the entrance to D'ni in the New Mexico desert. By 1995, small groups of people were arriving in the desert claiming that they felt "called" there. Many were accepted as restoration volunteers. Late that year, Elias Zandi and his son Jeff got into what Dr. Watson referred to as a "heated" argument over the nature of the restoration. Elias saw it as a purely physical process, while Jeff argued that it required a "spiritual" renewal as well.[1] They parted ways after that, and remained estranged until Elias died of a heart attack the following year.

Following Elias's death, his considerable wealth was left to the D'ni Restoration Foundation that he had established to manage the restoration effort. The land itself, however, was left to his son Jeff. Dr. Watson formed the D'ni Restoration Council (DRC) in January of 1997 CE, staffed by colleagues he trusted to help him manage the operation.

Going public[edit | edit source]

In 2002 CE, the DRC's website ( went public. For the first time, the general public became aware of their operation. At launch, the site contained near-daily status updates about restoration operations, including safety warnings and other memos. At the same time, the DRC forums opened, providing a way for the DRC to communicate with interested visitors as well as with one another.

Authorized explorers[edit | edit source]

On March 21, 2002, the DRC first let a small group of "authorized explorers" into D'ni. These explorers were not DRC members or workers in the restoration effort. Rather, they were visitors given the opportunity to explore the areas that had been cleared by the DRC for public access.

Unexplained phenomena[edit | edit source]

During this period of limited public access, the DRC continued their restoration work, with the goal of opening up the cavern to the general public without restriction in the near future. As time went on, however, small odd occurrences started happening. Tools began disappearing when left alone, only to later re-appear in another place. Strange cloths with spiral-shaped hand symbols started to appear throughout the cavern and other Ages, and would re-appear when removed by the DRC. Most strangely, a door with the same symbol on it was found in the garden Age of Eder Kemo.

On September 2, 2002, a DRC engineer named Phil Henderson went missing in Eder Kemo. The DRC initiated a 24/7 search for him throughout all areas that he had access to. On September 23rd, Phil briefly re-appeared in Eder Kemo, telling an authorized explorer that he was okay, but that he was not going to be coming back to the restoration.

Jeff Zandi, Yeesha, and unauthorized explorers[edit | edit source]

On December 9, 2002, explorers who had not been authorized by the DRC to enter D'ni began arriving from the surface. In less than a month, there were over 100 of them. These explorers were being let into D'ni by Jeff Zandi, with the assistance of Atrus's daughter Yeesha. The DRC scrambled to provide neighborhoods for them to stay in, quickly expanding beyond Bevin to Seret, and then to other neighborhoods of similar design. Explorers told DRC members that they had received a special Book from Yeesha that took them to the Age of Relto.

Over the next year, unauthorized explorers continued to pour into the cavern, and the DRC did what they could to accommodate them. In addition to the areas made available by the DRC, Yeesha also provided explorers with access to Ages and small spaces in D'ni that the DRC had not yet completed. The slow pace of the DRC's restoration efforts, coupled with their lack of communication with these explorers, frequently frustrated them. By the end of the year, small groups had begun to demonstrate and protest. One group in particular caught the attention of a DRC contractor named Douglas Sharper. Sharper, who had been tasked with restoring the Age of Teledahn, was not entirely happy with the conduct of his employers either, and he took the group's leader, Brian Fioca, under his wing. Together, they staged a protest in Ae'gura where they tore down the barricades blocking off access to the Kahlo Pub. As a result of this protest, the DRC stripped Sharper of his control over the restoration of the Great Tree Pub in Ae'gura's J'taeri district.

Also in late 2003, Phil Henderson returned to the cavern. He told explorers that he had met Yeesha and been to many other Ages. He began to espouse a belief that the DRC's restoration was incomplete, mirroring the feelings of both Elias Zandi and Yeesha that a spiritual restoration was needed, not simply a reconstruction of buildings. Sharper, who saw in Phil a way to advance his own agenda, attached himself to the former restoration engineer. Soon the pair were inseparable. They took to spying on the DRC's meetings in the Tokotah II building by using a small "spy room" in the adjacent building. Access was provided via a bahro stone, and egress was made possible by Phil's Relto Book.

New funding[edit | edit source]

On November 7, 2003, the DRC announced that game publisher UbiSoft had agreed to provide them with significant funding for the restoration effort.

Abandonment[edit | edit source]

Phil's death and Dr. Watson[edit | edit source]

Over the several weeks following his return, Phil's behavior became increasingly erratic. He repeatedly ignored the DRC's warnings about venturing into unsafe and incompletely-restored areas. Eventually the DRC locked him inside the Private Room in Kirel for his own safety, but the explorer community saw it as a kidnapping and demanded his release. After several days, the DRC acquiesced, and released Phil with yet another warning not to explore dangerous places. Less than a week later, Phil was nonetheless seen exploring an area of the still-unreleased Guild Hall on Ae'gura. He was communicating with explorers—who begged him to return to a safe area—when a wall collapsed on him. Smoke could be seen rising from the Guild Hall, and his KI signal vanished.

The DRC immediately closed Ae'gura and redirected all efforts to excavating the site of the collapse. They found a smashed KI, but no sign of his body. The DRC concluded that Phil had died in the collapse. Sharper blamed himself for having Phil leave his Relto Book in the spy room, while Dr. Watson was inconsolable that yet another person had died on what he felt was his watch. He left the cavern shortly after the DRC concluded that Phil was dead.

Loss of funding[edit | edit source]

By February of 2004, Dr. Watson had yet to return, and the DRC's funding from UbiSoft had been cut off. On February 7th, Dr. Ikuro Kodama announced on the DRC's website that in light of these facts, the restoration was canceled. Within a week, all access to the cavern was removed, and the DRC abandoned their efforts.

Lasting impact[edit | edit source]

Explorers who had visited the cavern clamored for the DRC to allow them to return, even without the DRC's explicit permission or oversight. While some explorers followed Yeesha's Path of the Shell, many longed for the ability to gather together as they once had. After six months, the DRC relented; Victor Laxman announced that explorers would be allowed to return to the cavern on a strictly "at your own risk" basis, with the understanding that the DRC was not involved, could not guarantee their safety, and would not be doing any further restoration work. Even so, many explorers took the risk and returned to the cavern. Their dedication to D'ni eventually inspired Cate Alexander to invest in the DRC beginning in late 2006, leading to the Third Restoration of D'ni.

Ages recovered[edit | edit source]

The DRC recovered a number of Ages during the Second Restoration. Some were made available to explorers during the restoration, while Yeesha provided access to some others after the DRC evacuated the cavern. Still more were still in various stages of restoration at the time that the DRC left; their current status and location is uncertain.

Released by the DRC[edit | edit source]

Provided by Yeesha[edit | edit source]

Still under restoration[edit | edit source]

Areas of D'ni restored[edit | edit source]

The following areas of D'ni were restored by the DRC:

Ae'gura[edit | edit source]

Cavern wall[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dr. Watson, "A little background on Zandi". DRC Forums. Jan 30, 2003 (archived from the original)