D’ni history can be traced back 10,000 years ago to a man named Ri’neref. He was born in 207 BE (Before Earth) to a people called the Ronay who inhabited a world named Garternay. They possessed the Art; that is, through a certain process books could be written that Linked to other worlds, other Ages. Ri’neref was considered one of the best Writer’s known to the Ronay, though his sense of morals called him to defy the Ronay lords and in 73 BE he was thrown from the Guild of Writers.1
In 59 BE it was made known that Garternay would soon be uninhabitable, as its sun was dying. Ri’neref had known this for some time, and had been working on a new Age since his dismissal from the Guild. He gathered several thousand of his followers and obtained permission to take them to his refuge: Earth.2
They settled in a large, lake filled cavern which had been prepared for them.3 They called both themselves and the settlement “D’ni”, which means “New Again” or "New Beginning".4 Ri’neref was declared King and ruled well till his death in 120 DE. A deeply religious man, his primary concerns were with building a temple to their god Yahvo and making sure his people were adequately supplied with fresh air and water. Enormous fans were built into the ceiling of the cavern, and the city of Ae’gura began to take shape on the large island in the middle of the lake.
Much is written elsewhere about the nine thousand years that D’ni flourished. The Guild system was reestablished, and governed the whole of society. D’ni became strong, and wealthy, and proud. A succession of Kings ruled the people until 6977 DE, when King Kerath abdicated his throne and gave the rulership of the people to a council of five Guild masters.5 Wars were fought, plagues were weathered, and the D’ni thought themselves unassailable in their cavern home.
It was ultimately from within that D’ni came undone. In 9400 DE a plague was released into the cavern by the exiled Lord Veovis, with the help of a condemned troublemaker named A’Gaeris. So sudden was the destruction caused by the sickness that virtually the entire population was killed within days. Many sought refuge in various Ages, but had already been infected and could not escape the fate of their people. The Fall of D’ni was complete.
A few people did manage to escape, however. The story of one family is particularly well documented: Aitrus and his human wife Ti’ana, their son Gehn, and their grandson Atrus. Atrus learned the Art from his father, and became very talented at it. He worked for many years to gather the scattered D’ni people and rebuild their society, but eventually came to see the futility of the task and created a new home for them call Releeshan.6
The tunnels to D’ni were discovered by John “Fighting Branch” Loftin in 1987, almost 250 years after The Fall. Working with his friends Elias Zandi and Dr. Richard Watson, they reached the cavern in 1989, and by 1992 had established a permanent presence in the city. The D’ni Restoration Council (DRC) was formed in 1997 to oversee the research, exploration, and rebuilding of D’ni, but was disbanded in 2004 due to lack of funding. By then many people had felt the call of the D’ni. Though there is no longer any official organization overseeing the site, travelers are still occasionally seen to walk the streets of the dead city, as if on some journey to breathe new life into the cavern.
D’ni is located in an enormous cavern several miles beneath the surface of the earth. The main entrance to the tunnel system leading to D’ni is located in New Mexico, and it is postulated that the tunnels and cavern themselves may be linked to the Carlsbad Cavern system. In the late 9300’s the D’ni were drilling an enormous shaft in an effort to make contact with the “surface dwellers”. It was within range of completion when the Fall came, and was never finished. Unknown to the D’ni it was accessible by a small fissure in a dormant volcano, and this has become the major access route to the Cavern in modern times.
The Cavern is roughly elliptical, about 10 miles by 6 in size. An enormous lake covers the better part of the floor area, and many islands rise on jagged rock spires from its surface. The largest one is home to the city of Ae’gura, the original settlement point and home to the major legislative and religious institutions.7 Many of the smaller islands are private dwellings for the elite of D’ni society,8 while the greater part of the civilization is built into and around the sides of the Cavern. These were divided into Districts and Neighborhoods, and cleared by the Mining Guild as more room was needed.
The Lake is home to a species of bioluminescent algae which light the Cavern in a soft orange glow. Before the Fall the light waxed and waned on a 30-hour cycle, providing the D’ni day and night. The poisons used to destroy the populace also affected the algae, and it has taken many years for them to grow back. Currently there is enough to provide a constant dim light to the Cavern, though in time with renewed growth they may exhibit the cyclical brightness of former times.
Due to the barrenness of the Cavern, just about all the comforts of life were provided by various Ages, many of which were written for specific purposes. Granary Ages like Er’cana provided food stuffs, while others provided materials for craftsmen, medicines, research opportunities, and recreation.9 New ages were often studied for ways which the D’ni could profit from them.10 This also lead to the discovery of other races, such as the Pento and the Krell. Sometimes the D’ni profited from relationships with these Outsiders, other times it was necessary to destroy such Links to ensure the safety of the D’ni people.
Started as a refuge for the followers of Ri’neref, the initial colony grew and prospered quickly. With power and wealth came pride, and it wasn’t long before a rigid class system was in place. This was due in part (and highly encouraged by) the Guilds, who saw themselves as above “ordinary” citizens. The people were governed originally by a King, much as they had been on Garternay. When Kerath became the last of the kings and abdicated in 6977 DE, the government was handed over to the Guilds. Five High Lords ruled the Council, which was made up of various Guild Masters as elected by their peers. Common citizens had little to no impact on governmental affairs. While many of the Kings were involved with the welfare of their people, instituting libraries, Minor Guilds, and other projects to benefit them, the High Lords who came after them were apparently not so concerned.
While the upper classes lived in great luxury in The City and the private islands, the majority of the people lived in relative poverty in the outer districts. Families often saved for generations so that they could buy a place in one of the Guilds for a child, ensuring an opportunity for them to be raised to a middle class.
The upper classes, through hereditary titles and wealth, lived in opulence. Often they controlled the imports of the greatest of the Ages, and thus the whole of D’ni society as well. Personal libraries were a sign of great wealth, and to own a private Age was a mark of distinction. Because few of the upper classes were required to work, much time was spent in artistic and philosophical pursuits. Religion was a favorite topic, and many sects rose and fell over the centuries. Among the greatest of these were the Writers of Yahvo, and the followers of The Watcher.
Though we may know the general outline of the people called D’ni, much work remains to be done on the specifics of D’ni culture and 9400 years it was in existence.
- It is said they asked him to write an Age which went against the principles of the D'ni people, possibly involving slavery.
- Although there were assuredly other splinter groups besides that lead by Ri’neref, records were not kept of them. The majority of the Ronay people relocated to an Age called Terahnee.
- Prospecting work was always done before a new Age was settled, culminating in the construction of the Great Zero in 0 DE.
- Linguistically, "New Again" seems to be the proper translation, though DRC research journals have generally used the broader sense "New Beginning".
- He believed that one man should not wield the power of the D’ni: "D'ni is the Guilds - let us be protected by their fortress and be ruled by their wisdom." He established a collective rule under the first Five Lords of D’ni: Lord Taeri of the Guild of Messengers, Lord Hemelah of the Guild of Healers, Lord Moleth of the Guild of Caterers, Lord Kedri of the Guild of Writers, and Lord Korenen of the Guild of Analysts.
- See the Book of Atrus, the Book of Ti’ana, and the Book of D’ni.
- Because of its prominence, Ae’gura is often referred to as “The City”.
- K’veer, owned by the family of Lord Veovis before the fall and appropriated by Gehn and Atrus afterwards, is such a place.
- Please refer to the Garden Ages.
- i.e. Teledahn, on which it was discovered the spores from the giant mushrooms there were useful to make culinary delicacies.