Information about the lake algae from various Cyan sources.
DRC statement about The Lake
The Myst Reader
DRC wrote:The lake is the major light source in the D'ni cavern. The lake contains a special bioluminescent algae that provides this light. When the cavern was first re-discovered, the algae was dormant, giving almost no light at all. We have been attempting to revitalize the algae so it will provide more light. We have been successful in raising the light level slightly, but we're still working on it. Historical accounts tell us that the algae before the Fall dimmed and brightened on a regular, thirty-hour cycle. Currently, the level of light given by the algae is constant. We believe that once the algae is back to full health that this cycle will return. However, there is no way to be certain of that at this time.
by Rand and Robin Miller with David Wingrove is a set of books (The Book of Atrus, The Book of Ti’ana, The Book of D’ni) ICly
based on the journals of Atrus’ wife, Catherine/Katran. The following excerpts are references to the lake and light that might interest anyone considering research in this area. Keep in mind that none of these are firsthand accounts (having been relayed to Catherine and then reworded by the authors), but may provide some food for thought, nevertheless.
The Book of Atrus, page 99
The Book of Atrus, page 101
“I just wondered why the sea is less bright now than it was earlier, that’s all.”
Gehn leaned back, relaxing. “That is easy to explain. The plankton has a thirty-hour cycle that corresponds with that of the D’ni. It sleeps when we sleep, and is most active when we are most active. Thus we have night and day down here. Of a distinctly black and orange kind.”
The Book of Atrus, pages 104 & 105
For several days he had been working on the question of why the water at the north end of the island was clear of the light-giving plankton, and had traced the problem to the spillage from an old pipe that led down from his father’s workroom. He had taken samples of that spillage and found traces of lead and cadmium in it—elements that were clearly poisoning the plankton. Not having the equipment to make a proper filter, he decided that, as the spillage was only a trickle, it would probably be best to block the pipe off altogether. He was busy doing this one morning, standing on the steps below the seawall, leaning across to fit the tine stone cap he’d fashioned to block the end of the pipe, when Gehn came out to see him.
He turned and looked. His father stood at the head of the steps, cloaked and booted as if for a journey, looking out across the sea toward the great rock and the city beyond.
“I have a new task for you.”
Atrus straightened up, then threw the steel facing-tool he had been using down onto the sack beside him, waiting for his father to say more.
Gehn turned, combing his fingers through his ash-white hair, then looked to him. “I want you to come into the city with me, Atrus. I want you to help me find some books.”
“The city? We’re going to the city?”
Gehn nodded. “Yes, so you had better go and change. You will need your boots. And bring your knapsack, too.”
Atrus hesitated a moment, then, with a curt non to his father, gathered up his tools and hurried up the steps.
The Book of Ti’ana, page 594
As they steered through the last narrow channel, out into the open sea, he looked to his right, his eyes drawn by a disturbance on the water a quarter of a mile away. There was a kind of haze over the water, like windblown sand, that cast an erratic shadow on the orange surface. As he watched, it came nearer, attracted, perhaps, by the boat’s slow passage through the plankton-rich water.
When it got to within fifty yards, he stood, openmouthed, staring at it, then looked to Gehn, but his father seemed not to have noticed.
“What’s that? he asked, intrigued, seeing tiny glittering shapes within the cloud.
Gehn glanced across. “Ah, those… They are a kind of damselfly. The feed on tiny insects that live within the plankton.”
Atrus nodded, then turned back, watching in wonder as the cloud of insects drifted just aft of their boat’s trail, unable to keep up with their progress. He was about to look away when suddenly the water beneath the cloud rippled violently and a long, thin snout poked out, stabbing the air. A moment later and the water beneath the damselflies began to thrash and boil as a host of brilliantly colored fish went into a feeding frenzy.
In less than thirty seconds the cloud was gone, the water calm again.
“And those?” Atrus asked, his voice almost a whisper.
“Fish,” Gehn answered, with what seemed like aversion. “The water’s much deeper out here beyond the islands. Usually they live deep down, but they surface now and then to feed.”
“I see,” Atrus said quietly, suddenly wary of the placid waters that surrounded them, noting, through the clear yet glowing water, the presence of much larger, fleeting shadows in the depths.
Disturbed, he looked away, trying to focus his mind on something else.
The Book of Ti’ana, pg 596
Slowly, the dark cloud spread, like a mighty veil being drawn across the far side of the cavern. Inch by inch it crept across the lake, edging towards D'ni, and where it touched the surface of the lake, the light from the lake was extinguished.
The light-giving algae were dying, by the look of it; poisoned by the noxious fumes of the cloud.
And if that cloud were to reach out its fingers to D’ni city?
Then they would also die.
The Book of Ti’ana, page 601
Though it was day, lights burned in most of the houses, for a strange twilight was falling over D’ni as the great cloud spread, its poisonous fumes dousing the lake’s soft glow.
The dark cloud now filled almost half the cavern, its color now discernible as a filthy brown. The edges of it drifted slowly, in a dreamlike fashion, more like a sluggish liquid than a gas. Even as she watched, wispy brown tendrils of the gas extended about Kerath’s Arch and slowly curled across the surface of the harbor.
And where the gas touched, the algae faded, the bright glow dying like sputtering embers.
The Book of Ti’ana, page 604
He went down the stairs, into the lower level of the house. Here some of the gas remained, pooled in the corners of rooms. Faint wisps of it drifted slowly through the doorways.
Aitrus watched it a moment. It seemed alive, almost; hideously, maliciously alive.
No sooner had he had the thought, than a second followed. This was no simple chemical mix. He should have known that by the way it has reacted with the algae in the lake. This was biological. It was alive.
The Book of Ti’ana, page 615
“It’s some kind of virus,” he began
It was the twenty-second day after the fall.
Anna stood beside Aitrus on the balcony of the mansion, Gehn in front of her, her arms about his shoulders as they looked out over the ruins of D’ni. To her surprise the air had proved clean, and after several tests in the workroom, they had decided to remove their masks. There was no trace now of the gas that had wreaked such havoc, though its residue remained, like a dried crust over everything. Moreover, someone had reactivated the great fans that brought the air into the cavern, and the algae of the lake had recovered enough to give off a faint, almost twilight glow. In that faint illumination they could see the extent of the devastation.