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The following letter was posted to the Second Life forums on January 4th, 2005:

Dear Friends:

I've appreciated so much your kindness and friendship as I've encountered you in Nova Albion and other parts of this world. It's been good to see life return to this place that my family and I left so long ago. Even so, the last few months have been very difficult.

Normally I'm a very fun-loving and outgoing person, but lately I've been feeling so uncomfortable. This isn't like me at all. My husband, Adam, has encouraged me to write about it. I hope that putting my thoughts down will help me come to terms with what has been happening and, perhaps, bring comfort to others who may be feeling the same way.

The recent troubles with The Grid and other breakdowns of the Lindens' infrastructure have been very hard for me to deal with. I've been at wit's end lately as I've watched whole areas of countryside disappear and remain in limbo until the Lindens have been able to repair their equipment. The erasures and afterasures that have damaged or destroyed people's property have been heartbreaking for me to witness. It's good that, so far, no one has been physically harmed. I have to admit, I'm envious of some of you as you take these problems in stride and ride out the disruptions with such calm and grace. I wish I could deal with these situations in the same way, but I can't.

My son, Salazar, was just a child when we were forced to leave this place. He was almost too young to know what it was like before The Erase destroyed our world. When I spoke about the old days, he would just look at me with the strangest expression. Now that he's older and has experienced some of the same problems we did, he is much more supportive. My parents and Salazar's great grandmother have always been a great source of strength. I'm so thankful that we were able to find refuge together, so long ago.

A few of you have asked me for more details about The Great Erase. Salazar and Adam have also been approached for information. Neither of them really witnessed it first hand. Salazar was just four when it happened and I didn't meet Adam until after we crossed over. They have always looked to me and the older family members to help fill in the blanks. I'm sorry to have put this off for so long. The truth is that I just haven't felt comfortable talking about it. There's a lot about what happened that I haven't wanted to face.

Many years before the Lindens reestablished contact here, Urtahra was a world filled with life, history and boundless horizons. There were scores of villages, towns and large cities--gathering places that were filled with hundreds of thousands of people.

I must tell you, my hopes soared when I first heard that Magellan Linden had found part of an old trolley schedule from Nova Albion. It's was surprising to me that something so fragile could have survived The Erase. You don't know how I've missed the old city and the home that I shared with my first husband, Mohses. Mohses had inherited The Brownstones (where we lived in Nova Albion) from his parents, Phrancisco and Augra Jack. I have the most precious memories of walking around downtown with him, surrounded by hundreds of other people, busy like us, with their daily lives. Cars and buses had filled the streets and the trolley used to run every half hour. What an exciting and cosmopolitan place it had been. Now it's just a shadow of its former self.

Prior to The Erase, the city was built (over many hundreds of years) upon the ruins of an ancient center of commerce, whose influence had extended to the far reaches of the known world. The museums contained countless artifacts that had revealed, over the years, the history of our people and that of other cultures that existed at the time. That was all lost.

Urtahra had been a beautiful and vibrant expanse. There was rolling countryside as far as one could see, leagues of deep dark forests and oceans that seemed to have no end. Great deserts held on to timeless secrets as places few would explore and frozen wastelands presented their own obstacles to adventurous souls. There was life everywhere you looked, in all shapes and sizes. That all came an end 35 years ago, when The Great Erase wiped all traces of existence from this place.

It had started as a trickle, like a dam that was slowly losing its ability to hold water. I don't recall a particular moment when I first noticed something wrong. In hindsight, there were lots of little things that, at the time, seemed insignificant. For instance, I remember sometimes that after forming a primitive I would somehow misplace it, or it would resize itself or move to a location I had not intended. This only happened occasionally at first, but began to occur more often as time went by. My friends and family noticed it too. We used to joke that G'al was playing tricks on us. I wish we had paid more attention in the beginning. Maybe we could have done something.

Then one day, a strange event occurred that would mark the beginning of the end. I remember washing dishes in the cafe and suddenly time seemed to slow to a crawl and stop. Then it stuttered. This only lasted for a few brief seconds. Before I realized that anything was wrong, it was over. I remember feeling a bit dizzy, but otherwise fine. I forgot about the incident until a few days later when my neighbor mentioned a similar episode she'd had around the same time. Her description of it reminded me of my own experience and our conversation took an unusual turn.

The more we talked, the more details I began to remember. Like the hummingbird, outside my window, who's movements became impossibly slow and, for a moment, stopped. The water from the faucet that froze in mid flow as if turned to ice and in the next instant running freely again. And the dish soap bubbles that hung in the air like glass Christmas ornaments before suddenly resuming their dance to the sink below. This all happened in an instant.

We weren't the only ones affected by this. Soon we heard of others who had been under a similar spell. Stories began to spread about bizarre occurrences with explanations that ranged from an infectious fever to subterranean magma pressure and finally, hallucinations brought on by a sudden increase in atmospheric pressure. It began to sound absurd.

As quickly as the drama unfolded, it ended. Life returned to normal and we gradually forgot about the incident. It would be a few years before anything like that happened again. And when it did, it caused an immediate sensation.

That time the effect was more obvious and lasted longer, about 20 or 30 seconds. Time seemed to quickly compress and then expand, like an oscillating wave. Then it would stop for a moment and run backwards. I remember running to check on Salazar, which took forever. He was in his room napping. I reached for the doorknob and my hand passed right through it! It was surreal. When I reached for it again I felt the familiar cool handle and opened the door. By the time I reached him, it was over.

The incident was reported by every newspaper and radio broadcast, and was the topic of conversation everywhere we went. It seemed that no place had escaped its effect. Others had also encountered objects that lost cohesion and some even claimed that they had seen items vanish. It was unsettling.

The scientific community tried to stay our fear with an explanation for the strange happenings. They said something about our world's magnetic field and a "temporary period of fluctuation" that was affecting our perceptions of space and time. They called the phenomena "lagillation." Even as they proclaimed no cause for alarm, we began to hear rumors of a growing instability in the very fabric of our existence.

The episodes began to occur more often and with greater consequences. They were impossible to predict. Soon they were striking several times a week and there were erasures that would wipe out part of a house or a portion of a building. One day we received news that the village of Alfendale in the Islefen region had disappeared. The entire village. Over seven hundred souls and every building and home gone with no trace left to explain the disappearance. We were in trouble.

Mohses had been studying the ruins in the northwest part of Caravel (now called Rodeo) close to where his grandfather, Phyneas Jack, had built a lookout tower. He had discovered evidence of a past cataclysm that he thought might shed light on our predicament. It seems that thousands of years before, a great city had been destroyed in that area by an unknown force. He spent weeks on end looking for additional evidence at various dig sites there. His work at the Aerodrome, where he was employed as a mechanic, had suffered from it.

Mohses' grandmother, Cessadia Thetan, had been a student and then professor at The Caravel Institute before she retired. It was her connection with the Institute that was instrumental in helping us escape. Grandma Thetan discovered that some scientists at the Institute had been experimenting with ways to artificially bridge the barrier between our reality and those of other worlds. On rare occasions, when natural forces were tuned just right, it became possible to cross over from one reality to the other. It was impossible to predict when or where this would naturally occur. The last crossover had happened in the late 1800's. Thankfully, she was able to acquire some of the early experimental equipment.

On the last day, Mohses and I were at one of the dig sites when he received a radio communication from the Aerodrome Tower. They said that a strange wall of energy had suddenly appeared and was moving through entire regions, vaporizing everything in its path. The radio signal seemed to grow faint and then became strong again. They went on to inform us that contact had been lost with Nova Albion to the northwest and a relay station in Islefen to the east. They advised us to move farther north where there was less radio disruption. I had never seen Mohses look so pale. He gave me all of the research materials he had and told me to gather the family at the rendezvous point his grandmother had talked about. He was going to go back to the lookout and retrieve as much of Phyneas' work as he could.

I flew as fast as I could to my parents' house, north of Caravel, where they had been watching Salazar. I rushed inside to find my mother frantically stuffing items into her satchel. My father was going through boxes of documents as he explained that Mohses had radioed them and told them to expect me. Salazar was playing on the floor between them. I grabbed him and began rummaging through the house.

It's funny what you decide is important in the middle of an emergency. A photo album, an old diary, a shell I had found while playing on the beach in Caravel. I remember grabbing a stuffed chocobo I'd had since I was a little girl. I thought briefly about everything that was at the brownstone in Nova Albion. No time.

Adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I packed these items to take with me. I tried to raise Grandma Thetan on my wrist radio. Too much static.

Salazar played with the locket I was wearing as I fiddled with my wrist radio. Mohses had given the locket to me for our first anniversary many years before. Finally, I was able to get through to her. She was already at the meeting place, just to the northwest of us. After speaking with her, I spoke with Mohses one more time. It got very difficult to communicate. The radio distortions had become more pronounced. He said he was on his way.

Just as I closed the channel, I heard a faint sound coming from outside. I looked out the window and saw a wall of pulsing energy coming from the south. It was immense and extended as far to the east and west, and into the heavens, as I could see. I watched it for a moment as it drew closer, consuming stand after stand of the forest that I had lived by for so long. I couldn't move. My father's shout snapped me out my stupor. I hugged Salazar tight as my father grabbed me and hurried us outside. We had only time to pack a few items. I remember my mother yelling at us to hurry. My father pushed me into the air and we flew as fast as we could to where Grandma Thetan was waiting for us.

I remember turning to look back as we flew toward the rendezvous point, watching the wall of energy engulf our house and obliterate it. I have never felt such fear for myself or my family since. My world was collapsing in on itself and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I had to get my family to safety.

The region Grandma Thetan had directed us too was in the middle of where the Da Boom area is now. As we flew toward the coordinates I saw a bright circle of light on the ground, slowly rotating, like a lighthouse guiding us to safety. Grandma Thetan was standing close by, helping people through the portal. One by one we landed next to her. As I approached the circle my skin began to tingle. I could feel every hair on my body standing at attention and I had to look away as the light became a blinding sphere of brightness. I could see it even when I closed my eyes. I turned to shield Salazar from the intensity.

My radio wasn't working properly. I hadn't been able to get a clear signal on it anymore. I remember Cessadia touching my arm as she spoke to me with gentle urgency. "We have to go now," she said. "Or we shall never be able to leave." The next few minutes were the longest I've ever experienced in my life. I tried to contact Mohses again but there was no reply. I watched as the powerful force gathered speed and made its way across the valley, destroying everything in its path. It was everywhere now. No matter which direction I looked, it was there, a ring of incredible energy that seemed to be converging on the very spot where we stood. Mohses was nowhere to be seen. Father told the others to hurry through. Mother looked back as she and Grandma Thetan stepped into the portal. Salazar was laughing and pointing at the lights as they danced in the sky, oblivious to the danger we were in. I held him close and felt my father's protective arm around my shoulder. It was now or never. I took a breath as we stepped into the sphere.

The next thing I knew, we were standing in the middle of a field of wheat. The field, I was to learn, belonged to a farm on the outskirts of a town called Anthony, about 60 miles south of Wichita, Kansas. Seventy-three of us had made the crossover with just the clothes on our backs and what little we could carry with us. I hugged Salazar closely and told him that we were safe.

I never saw Mohses again. The rotating light persisted for a few moments and then was gone, leaving a round area of flattened wheat in its place. We were alone in a new world. We made a home in Wichita for awhile and then my father moved us to Seattle, in Washington State, where he established a successful carpentry business. We spent the next 30 years in the Puget Sound region, where I met my husband, Adam. My son, Salazar, miraculously made his way back here in February of 2004 and we followed him a few months later.

When I first returned I was so happy to be back home. I jumped from a cliff in Rodeo the very first day and flew for the first time in over 30 years. That was so liberating. But eventually, the extent of the Lindens' technology began to become apparent. In order to be here you have to be subject to the Lindens. They monitor your every move and have control over every part of your life. Every action you take has to be filtered through their software and hardware interfaces, even creating simple primitives.

We've always had the ability to terraform and create objects from thin air. Grandma Thetan says it had something to do with a natural ability to convert energy into matter. The difference is that it used to take a lot of concentration and effort. I remember having to meditate for hours just to shape a garden path just right. Now I can just point somewhere and solid shapes appear instantly at my bidding. When I go to shape urtahra, it moves and changes instantly as if the ground is soft clay being sculpted on a potter's wheel. I never thought that the Linden's technology would have such a profound effect on my world.

Today, my parents are fairly happy. Although they're wary of the Lindens' control, they feel very blessed to have been able to reclaim the land our home was located on and begin rebuilding the house where I grew up.

Mohses' grandmother, on the other hand, has become a virtual recluse. Hiding away on her old farmland in the De Haro area, she rarely speaks to her neighbors or visitors who happen her way. It takes quite a bit of effort to get her to venture beyond the confines of her farm and visit with us in other parts of the world. She seems so preoccupied with her own... problems I guess. I worry about her. So much isolation. I know that she misses Mohses too. Salazar seems to have the most luck getting through to her. I'm so glad he is around.

Adam and I have begun to unpack a few things. I hesitate to complete the move because the thought that this could all be gone in an instant is constantly in the back of my mind. It's fairly easy now to slip back to Earth's reality whenever I need to--where it feels so solid and unchanging. I have to remind myself that even Earth is in a constant state of flux--recent events there remind me that no world is completely safe.

I have spent a lot of time exploring new areas, as the Lindens have made them available. Always hoping that I would find a clue that would point me toward an explanation for my loved ones' disappearances. But no such luck. The new areas are always empty. Although there are familiar landmarks to greet me, the places that used to inhabit those regions seem to have been lost.

It does my heart good every time I see a new face here. It's another indication that life is returning to this place. There were so many families that I feared were lost, the Digeridoos of Islefen, the Twilights and Terras of Caravel, the Picos of Pompoe and so many others. I feel very relieved when I see someone with a familiar name.

Goodness, I had not meant to write such a long letter! It does feel much better to get this off my chest. Thank you all for reading this. We are all in this together. We need to look out for and help each other. Please stop by the cafe and say "hello." I would love to speak with others who have made their way back here or would like to know more about the old days.


Valdora Grayson

The Brownstone West, Apt. #1

Grignano (96, 115)

Nova Albion

Valdora Grayson’s Letter About The Great Erase