Inspired by Brendan Keogh's project Towards Dawn (a must-read, very well-written and interesting), I decided to recreate his journey. This is my report of a journey eastwards, toward the sun. A story not of mining, but of walking. It is also, incidentally, a study of death in Minecraft. I am playing with the self-imposed rule that death means game over. No respawns, no beds - once my character dies, the story is over. Seeing as how I tend to be a major screw-up, this could prove to be interesting.
Most people are average. That is of course a bit of a truism, but it is good to realise this from time to time. Most people choose the house, wife, labrador and kids. The company car and the traffic jam in the morning. The comfort of coming home to the same place. Not me.
Me, I'm a traveler. I go where the road takes me. Where I'll be tonight, where I will sleep, I don't know. I don't need to know, not yet. That's a problem for tonight. For now, I live in the moment.
Too long I have been one of the homely types too. I built my own place with my own hands, I mined in my backyard, always looking for more. A new farm somewhere on my land, a lighthouse, more materials to build. More mines, more shafts, more cultivation of the land around me. Nature was an obstacle. Hills were meant to be flattened, erased. Everything had to be accounted for, well illuminated, and lined with infrastructure for fast and easy movement. The beauty of nature was found when it was overcome, when I left my footprints on it. My view did not extend beyond the torches I planted on the trees on the edge of my land. My world was a small one.
Well, no more. I'm about to let go of all of this. I'm spreading my wings, exploring my world, and heading East. Toward the sun. There is no destination, only the journey itself. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited.
Part one Awakening
I awake in a forest. I’m not too worried - I’ve been in this position before. Many times. Sometimes it’s in a desert, sometimes it’s on an island. This time, it’s a forest. Good. I’ll need a lot of wood for this trip.
I look around to get my bearings and find the sun rising over a small valley behind me. I grab some wood from a few nearby trees, and head towards the cliffs. There’s coal there, which I take with me - a valuable fuel and light source that I will need when night falls. I take the time to craft some tools out of the rock I found the coal in: a crude sword, an axe, two pickaxes and a shovel. After this, I climb my way up the cliff and head east, toward the rising sun.
After a few minutes of walking, I run into some sheep and a pig. I could sure use some food for my first night, so I slaughter the pig and take a few pork chops with me.
After a bit more walking through changing terrain, I come across a cave. This is good news. If I enter, I might find some iron and possibly even some rarer materials (could I even hope for diamond?). On the other hand, caves are also a danger because they block out the daylight. I in more ways than one on this trek, and it’s not in the last place because the daylight seems to harm the creatures that come out at night. Light is safe. The darkness is a real danger. If I run into an unseen creeper, or fall down a shaft I missed and land among some skeletons, this trip could be over.
This is the first time I realise the gravity and the realness of the danger that the darkness poses. Death is finite. I decide to enter, but I am very careful.
A wise decision, it turns out. I didn’t dare to venture too far, because my supply of torches is limited, but I emerge from the cave with a handful of iron. I look at the sun to gauge the time of day and decide it’s time to find a place to kip for the night. I find it on a beachfront, overlooking the ocean. A room with a view towards the setting sun. A perfect end to a very promising first day.
As the sun sinks in the ocean, I am left with my thoughts. A bunny watches me from a corner. For some reason, it's not afraid. It just stares at me. Funny, i've never seen a bunny before.
I call it Johnson. Hi Johnson.
I feel elated, optimistic about my journey, and also a little hungry. The smell of porkchops fills the improvised room. I could get used to this home on the road..
Light pours in through the window. I am already wide awake. It is day two of my adventure, and I’m well prepared to be on my way and out the door of my improvised ocean cottage. Before I leave it behind, I take a moment to craft a sign that reads ‘Day One’ and place it inside the shelter. I doubt I’ll ever come back here, but perhaps, some day, it will be found by some other adventurer or someone in the future who started to wonder what became of me. Maybe someone will one day retrace my steps. Who knows.
I take a step outside, yawn, stretch and look out over the ocean. Then I notice something. There, on a tiny island just off the coast, there’s a skeleton trying to keep cool in the shallow water. I heard them in the night, shambling around my shelter, their bones rattling. They come out at night, but when the sun rises, they burn up and fall apart. They must be even more scared of the daylight than I am of the darkness.
I can’t be sympathetic though. These are dangerous creatures that would kill me in a heartbeat if they got the chance. Even now, struggling to survive in the shallow water of the bay, the skeleton is still viciously trying to kill me, shooting arrows between desperate gasps. With a few blows of my stone sword, I end its life (if that’s what you can call its dubious existence) and it collapses into a pile of bones. I take a few of them with me. They might come in handy as a flash fertiliser when I need to do some emergency farming later.
I get my bearings, take a deep breath, and begin to walk east. I pass some marshlands, where i come across a few strange cross-like structures of mossy cobblestone that look very man-made. I wonder if there could be a temple or something hidden around here, but decide to press on.
The marsh takes a few hours to traverse. I reach the edge of it unscathed, emerging to find a huge valley lushly covered in trees and flowers. There are caves in the cliffs on the other end of the valley. It’s getting dark soon, so I decide to find a spot in the caves to build my shelter for the night.
In an alcove, I find a nice secluded spot that I can seal off easily. It’s also got some iron right there near the surface. A great find, I congratulate myself, and carefully hop off the shallow drop. The cave extends in two directions: one towards the north, to my left. It leads upwards, towards the surface, and I can see some light peering in on the other end. On the other side, the cave bends east, downwards into the darkness. I seal off the light side with some cobblestone, fire up an oven to smelt some iron and cook some food and head east, even if only to clear the monsters before I go to sleep.
I come across a few zombies and skeletons in the dark, but I am prepared for a fight. I dispose of them confidently, mine some iron here and there, and return to the cave entrance. Then, I get the scare of a lifetime. Ssssss…
Wildly, I spin around, blindly swinging my sword in the hope of pushing the creeper off my back. I hit it once, which saves me - it moves back just enough so the blast doesn’t kill me at once. My heart pounding, i take stock of my surroundings. It must have fallen through the ceiling or something, because the west side of the cave is well sealed off. My oven has collapsed in the explosion, and its contents are scattered across the floor. Fortunately, the iron i smelted seems to have survived. I eat, rebuild my oven, and build a stone wall to seal off the east cave. No way I’m letting myself get surprised again. Unable to sleep, I press my back to the wall of the cave and wait for morning.
Morning comes as sweet relief. Weary and wary, I break open the improvised wall where my door used to be and step outside into the sunlight. I turn around to look at the damage the creeper has done to my shelter and place a sign. Day two ended here. It could have been the end of the journey.
I promise myself to tread more carefully from now on. Armour seems to be the first on my list of priorities in this regard. But to make it, i’d have to either find a whole load of cows, or to delve into the depths for some iron. The former option relies too much on luck, and I’m not sure I’m willing to walk around without protection until I happen to run into a herd. The other option is a risk. Caves are dangerous. Of course, I could make myself a branch mine or a cow farm or something, but the whole point of this journey is to get away from all that. I decide to move onwards, sword at the ready, to see what I find. I’m inclined to go for a cave if I can find a good one.
When it’s not trying to kill you, this world can actually be quite beautiful.
I stumble upon a river lined with trees. The river flows eastwards, so I follow it. Plus I’m a big fan of rivers. After a while, the stream bends northwards, and on the horizon a mountain appears. A big one. I realise right away: that will be my home. I’ll build a shelter on the very top of that mountain, and wake up to sunrise and a grand view of my surroundings. I’ll probably even find a cave to work in for the night.
Home. At least for the night.
It’s a longer walk than I had thought, and by the time I get there, it’s almost dusk. Quickly, I ascend the mountain on a forgiving incline on the side and build a small house there. I use some of the glass that I’d made last night to have a good view around me. As the sun sets, I wonder how far i’ve travelled. It’s only the third day, of course, but I’ve already come a long way. I decide to put off mining until tomorrow and enjoy the view. It’s getting too dark and dangerous to go out there anyway.
Days 4 & 5
Days 4 & 5
Starting the day in this place is pretty spectacular. As the sun rises for the fourth time since i’ve started this adventure, I stand around on my mountaintop just gazing at the scenery for a significant part of the morning. The view is amazing. I gaze towards the west and see the river I followed to come here. Towards the east and north are impressive mountain ranges that would make for a great place to settle - if only I hadn’t given up that lifestyle.
I slowly climb down from my mountain and take some time to explore the valley below. It, too, is magnificent. Cows and sheep graze the lush grasslands in between the giant rocky cliffs that pervade the landscape. I spend so much time just looking around, enjoying the environment, that the best part of the day is gone before I know it. I remember my intent to find a cave to do some mining, and decide to go for the first one I find. It’s getting dark, and I need a shelter. This one will do.
Well. I’m bored. This cave is not exactly what I had imagined. Right at the entrance, it splits off into three directions. The one to the right is the one that most obviously leads down. I follow it, and run into a dead end after a few turns. I retrace my steps, and take the middle road. Nothing. I follow the left arm, same boring deal. I smelt some of my metal, rearrange my inventory a little bit, and hope that a good part of the night has passed after I’ve done this. Nah. I head outside, try to get a good look at my house from last night on the mountain, almost get killed by a mob of angry skeletons, and stumble back inside.
When morning finally comes, I race outside in the first rays of sunlight, underneath an . I stayed in one place for too long, and the road east is calling. The landscape is still pretty damn amazing though, and I can’t help but notice a small feeling of loss for the glorious opportunities at building something here. Oh well. I take a picture of my mountain hut through a weird standing rock formation, and head on out of here.
As underwhelming as my shelter was, my surroundings keep on surprising me. Half a day’s march in, my path is blocked by a deep river valley that cuts through the landscape.
I cross it in the manliest way I can imagine (apart from, perhaps, rocket boots): I take a bunch of cobblestone and build a bridge across the valley. My dad, the engineer, he would be proud.
I have lunch out in a pasture with some cows, and decide that those cliffs there on the horizon will be my next place for the night.
I find a spot in the cliffs with a cave, where I intend to do some mining at night, but I go a bit overboard at building a good looking shelter and time escapes me. Morning comes when I’m just finishing the staircase. It's been a hectic couple of days.
Not exactly avant garde, but not bad either.
Days in the dark
Days 6,7 and 8?
Okay. So I’m writing this having finally coming back above ground after a massive brainfart of an unplanned cave exploration expedition. I know I normally write this more or less as I go along, but it was too dark and too tumultuous of a time to be bothering about my journal. Let me start at the beginning.
Oh, i’ve started recording my coordinates to see how far i’ve come. That number is the Y axis. I guess it would make sense to include X as well, but you know, brainfarts.
Life was simple when I left my shelter where I spent my fifth night. I may have started quite late in the day, with the sun high above my head, but I figured I’d just make it a short day’s march and find a small place in the side of a mountain where I could do some mining and hope to find, perhaps, a diamond or two if I would be so lucky. So off I went, slaughtering a few pigs and cows on the way for sustenance. Things went swimmingly as I hobbled merrily through the meadows, and I soon stumbled upon a nice secluded alcove with a promising hole in the wall at the foot of a hill. But the days in this world pass VERY quickly when you’re not paying full attention.
Uh, wait, wasn’t there supposed to be a shiny sun thing in the sky?
I intended to make a nice little wooden hut for myself, but before I even plopped down a workbench, it was already worryingly dark. I was not too eager about the prospect of being twanged in the face by some arrows from the dark, especially considering the fact that the only place I had to flee from the darkness of the valley was an even darker cave. So I went and frantically built what can only be described as a dump.
Okay, it had a bunch of planks and even a door, but calling it a shelter or even a house would be a gross overstatement.
Not a problem. I wasn’t planning on staying here long anyway. I regained myself, got my sword and my torches at the ready, and went into the cave. Yes, THE cave. Little did I realise at that moment how much time I would be spending underground following that decision.
If I did, I might have considered taking care of this train wreck of an inventory first.
I was well fed and well armoured. I felt strong, confident and alert, and when the first creeper came at me from the dark, I took a calm step backwards and let it do a bit of excavation for me.
You don't sssssscare me, sad green phallusman.
Not even you, red eyes
I quickly settled into an old behavioural pattern. I wasn’t planning on going very deep and very far at all, but caving, for me, is like an addiction. At a certain point, every new unexplored cave section becomes a promise of unimaginable wealth and amazing discovery. I kept telling myself to turn around and head back to my little wooden shack at the surface. But the possibility of well, i don’t know, diamonds, had started a little voice in the back of my head that said just one more turn. Just look at what’s in this hole in the ground and THEN you can go back. Every torch I put up was like a cigarette. Each one was going to be my last. I promise. But I kept going deeper, kept finding new cave sections branching off into the depths, and of course, kept running into tons of iron. I even started a little smelting operation in there, which is something I promised myself never to do again.
But the deep calls strongly to a man led by greed. I furiously tackled skeletons, fearlessly overcame groups of prowling spiders and just kept on going, turn after turn, new section after new unexplored section, all the time thinking, I should head back. But then…
Oh god. A mineshaft. I’m never getting out of here.
Yep. Then I ran into an abandoned mineshaft. Oh hi there, welcome, pop on in for just a moment and find some chests full of goodies here, it whispered to me in a voice made of candy canes and cotton candy. Okay, I guess a tiny quick look couldn’t hurt..
Yayy, look at all the THINGS!
At one point, I found some lapis lazuli in a wall above my head.
Back when I was still living a settler’s life, lapis was by far my favourite building material, with its deep, mysterious blue colour. But my inventory was getting full, and it’s purely cosmetic, so I decided it wasn’t wise to sacrifice the valuable space in my pack for a luxury item. So, being the wise and strong minded person that I am, I overcame my urge to -
you know what, scratch that. I dropped a stack of wood and grabbed the lapis, my greedy little eyes tingling with joy.
This went on for a LONG time. Ignoring every rational thought, I kept going on and on, taking ‘just one more’ turn every time, with the guilt and the shame and the self-loathing of a bulimic housewife bingeing on cake frosting while crying on the kitchen floor.
Then, suddenly, after a thousand tantalising mineshafts, two hundred million inviting little hallways and all in all zero diamonds and zero chests (I kept count), there it was.
The end of the line.
I decided it right when I saw it: time to go back up to the surface.
Let me juuust mine these last bits of iron :’(
With my pockets full of iron and tons of other stuff that will probably turn out to be utterly useless, I dug my way to the surface. After what seemed like an eternity of hacking through stone, my weathered pickaxe finally hit the soft soil. The surface.
I stuck my head out of the hole and looked around outside. The fresh air filled my lungs for the first time since the night of day 6. I had been underground for three full days. I climbed atop the canopy of some birch trees that grew near where I resurfaced and took in the view. The sun was just rising over the horizon, illuminating a very promising landscape with a beautiful sprawling river with large fjord-like cliffs in the distance. I was finally back on the road.
I'll follow, always better to read the story when it's still in the beggining, fresh from your fingers!
EDIT: Just finished reading, awesome man, you got style! Since you'll be guided by sun, I recommend a Clock and Sunflower, so you can have directions while underground =)
Interesting idea. You should post your coordinates to show how far you've gone.
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