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    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE: Tangled Fates [Book 2] [COMPLETED] [60 Chapters up]

    So, after a longer-than-intended hiatus (as usual), we're back and ready for action. Don't worry, this time we have a HUGE backlog of chapters ready to post in advance, so updates should be much smoother. Get ready for more action, more emotion, more drama, more nice fan-servicey nods than ever before as the story kicks into high-gear and we learn what the Entity's real plan is.


    Assuming you're new to the story, welcome to THE CONVERGENCE! This story is a collaborative project run by myself, SuperFire131, Asanetargoss and several other authors. Inspired by the sadly failed RIFT project, we started THE CONVERGENCE up back in 2015 in the hopes of bringing the characters of our various stories together in a unique, new context which reveals new aspects of their character. We see a Fire from long before the events of "Slaves of the Desert Mine", a Fristad lost somewhere in the middle of "The Book of Dreams", a Tyron from long after the events of "Cubic Fire" and many other beloved Minefic characters. I recommend checking out Book 1 if you want to understand all the nuances of what's going on, but don't worry, we've provided a handy-dandy character sheet below, and have written the opening chapters with a new reader in mind.


    Anyway, I'm rambling. We've had an absolute blast bouncing all these different characters off each other and we hope you have just as much fun reading their triumphs and tragedies. Now, we hope you enjoy:


    THE CONVERGENCE


    Book 2: Tangled Fates


    The Story So Far


    For years the Entity has lived in darkness on the edge of creation, stealing fragments of more complete realities for its own world, Nexus. It has waited patiently, but now its desire to possess grows too strong and it readies to expand its dominion indefinitely.


    At least, until recently. You see, a disparate gang of heroes has recently found itself stuck in Nexus by various means. Some, like the powerful wizard Astro, the heroic power-couple David and Destiny, and the Herobrine-slayer Tyron Dragoknight were actively abducted by the Entity from their various worlds as curiosities and potential chess-pieces. Yet others, such as the young, Herobrine-supporting General, Kay Mandy, or the Herobrine-slaying Steve Brine and Jennifer, interfered in the Entity's plans, and found themselves facing a far larger conspiracy than they'd ever imagined. Yet others, like the Farlands-dwelling sheep farmer, Fristad; the quarter-demon wizard and taco enthusiast, Warnado; and Fire, inhabitant of a Minecraft-based world created with technology ahead of its time, have found themselves in Nexus by random chance and happenstance.


    Initially, rather turned around and confused, those heroes not immediately captured accepted the Entity's hospitality and negotiated with it. But then they discovered the horrendous acts of kidnap and torture and murder the Entity has been conducting across the many worlds. The tipping point came when Kay discovered that Astro, a dear friend of his, was being held in wretched conditions by the Entity. This developed into a full escape attempt and then into an out-and-out battle. After surviving being trapped in an arena and an explosive confrontation with The Ender, the Entity's top captain, the new group of allies at last seem to have reached a lull and might be able to escape with their lives.


    Characters


    The Team:


    Fire: A man of two worlds. Fire, whose real name is Peter, is a human being from an alternative earth. Patron of an brain-computer interfacing program, he spends most of his time retreating into a Minecraft-like world to escape from his traumatic past. In the game-world, where time is slower than our own, he has spent the equivalent of 5,000 years as one the immortal Mencur-Besh, fighting and questing and growing stronger and stronger. Standing at a huge three metres tall, covered in black scales, possessing three hearts and being able to extend foot-long claws, Fire is one of the most physically powerful members of the party. He arrived in Nexus after consuming an experimental potion and accidentally being drawn into Nexus. After arriving he encountered Kay and Warnado and the three became an effective trio in the negotiations at the Tower. He departed the Tower shortly before the escape attempt began and has been able to return to his world. Now, having reequipped himself, he is ready to return to Nexus and discover the truth of what is going on.

    From "Slaves of the Desert Mine", by SuperFire131


    Fristad: A rather unremarkable young adult who, until recently, had the luxury of a life of stable mediocrity, working on an animal farm with his enderman half-blood farming partner. That is... until he encountered a mysterious sentient book with unknown intentions, which would quickly become a large part of his existence. Due to sheer coincidence, Fristad's struggle with the book would eventually lead him through a portal to a Nexus, where he met Steve and Jennifer, and later the rest of the group of travellers misplaced from their former worlds. Now, the book has manipulated him into creating a modified set of diamond armour which can transform him into an enderman, under the promise it will give him the strength to protect his newfound friends.

    From "The Book of Dreams", by Asanetargoss


    Kay: Kay Mandy has led an eventful five-and-twenty years. Banished at least three times and sentenced to death an embarrassing number of times in his life he has moved from kingdom to kingdom and briefly flitted in and out of public life as a profoundly controversial figure. Most recently, he distinguished himself as "Herobrine's Lap Dog" during the Great Onslaught, playing a key role in the Defence of Zine Craft - where Notch ascended to godhood, the traitorous Israphel was exposed and Herobrine was finally reconciled with the House of Persson. However, in the aftermath of the conflict he has renounced politics, and wishes simply to find a place where he and his friends can settle down. Now, separated from his friends in another dimension and faced with the prospect of another epic quest he's rather miffed about the whole thing. However, he nonetheless is growing increasingly protective of his new companions, particularly the young Warnado.

    From "The Tale of Gaia Before Gaia", by astro_joe


    Astro: Astro is just ready to pack it in at this point. Having lived through the rebellion of the Court of Righteous Protest and still recovering from Kay's untimely death, he was ready to devote his life to patrolling the Fields of Acrisius, collecting the frozen bodies of the survivors. However, an old enemy recommended him to the Entity as a powerful magic-user to study and he found himself captured. Now, all that defined his world has dispersed. Kay is alive and not crazy and discussing whether or not they should bring Warnado home with them. There are thousands of other worlds. New systems of magic and creatures he had never conceived of are presenting themselves to him as if they always existed. He finds himself suspended between joy at this new start and profoundly saddened by the past he has been torn away from.

    From "Fall and a Rise: A Vanillacraft Tale", by kmandy


    Warnado: As a taco-loving, part-demon, thirteen-year-old wizard, it's safe to say Warnado is the wildcard of the group. He is energetic, tricksy and inexplicably powerful. Problem is, he doesn't know how to use it. What's worse is that he know he is one of the "heroes of the prophecy" who will rise up and defeat Herobrine. As such, he feels he should probably get home soon and find out who the other prophecy-kids are. That being said, this interdimensional escapade has brought him into contact with several fellow magic-users of different kinds, and he rather hopes he can use this as an opportunity to learn from them and git gud.

    From "Minecraft Origins", by TurtleMaster217


    Amanda: While Warnado was wandering around, he found himself protecting a small human village and even developed a small relationship with another girl his age, this was Amanda. Sadly, bandits attacked the village, massacred most of the population of the village and sold those they captured into slavery. All this contributed to Warnado's extreme surprise when he found Amanda in a small town in Nexus, having totally forgotten her past and in the possession of a mysterious and powerful-looking energy crystal. Amanda decided to join the party after this, eager to figure out who she was. For someone who was running a cheese stand in a market she is surprisingly adept with a crossbow, making her a valuable addition to the team dynamic.

    From "Minecraft Origins", by TurtleMaster217


    Steve and Jennifer: Having defeated Herobrine, the Ender Dragon, the Wither and a huge army of undead creatures, Steve Brine and Jennifer are no strangers to adventure and war. However, after Herobrine was defeated and transformed back into Steve's dad they expected their lives to calm down. Aside from Steve's brother Ozen experimenting too much with his cooking, they didn't expect to have much hardship to deal with at all to be honest. As such, they were exceptionally frustrated when a servant of the Entity burst into their lives, tried to steal some mysterious crystals from them, and then warped them into another world with no obvious way back. As such, they were reluctant to go into negotiations and eagerly joined the fight when it started. However, that's not to say they like the other members of the newly-founded group... Aside from Fristad, he’s cool. Oh! and Fire made a good first impression. And-

    From "The Herobrine Chronicles", by Nomolos1


    Tyron: Tyron is the hero of Minecraftia. He has faced all odds. He killed Herobrine and then for a victory lap stopped the genocidal enderman leader known as The First. Armed with his sentient sword, Kir, and a powerful magic-wielder, he thought he could take anyone. He was wrong. In the course of an attempt to rescue a boy lost in a mine he was captured and psychologically tortured for several weeks by Freak, a phantom in the Entity's employ. Understandably, he is now deeply concerned about The Entity's activities and is ready to write a strongly worded letter and SHOVE IT DOWN THAT NOTCH-DAMNED TRANSLUCENT PSYCHO'S THROAT! It hasn't been all bad though. He's made fast friends with Astro, Destiny and David in their shared captivity and is optimistic about working in a group again.

    From "Cubic Fire", by DragonTyron


    David & Destiny: David and Destiny are a power-couple if ever there was one. After waking up with total amnesia in a forest, they have spent the last few months surviving massacre after massacre and saving each saving the other's life on multiple occasions. They fought through the Eternal Mine, defeated Herobrine's apprentice, Martin, and confessed their love for each other. In this time they became totally in-sync. David's substantial skill with a bladed gauntlet is complimented perfectly by her offensive magic. No sooner could they breath a sigh of relief than they were approached by the ghosts of their ancestors/past selves and directed toward a mysterious portal which had appeared in their world. Reluctantly, they entered the portal, knowing a great evil lurked beyond that they must defeat. Immediately upon their arrival they were ambushed and captured by the soldiers of Glibby the Ape, one of the Entity's most powerful captains. Now, they are as fully committed to their cause as they are fiercely protective of each other.

    From "The Legion Chronicles: The Eternal Mine", by TheLoneAssassino

    The Tower:


    The Entity: Little is known of this being. It created the Nexus and the Tower, indicating it is a being of immense power. On account of a tightly-fitted suit of bronze armour, it has few obvious weakpoints aside from a pair of white, fabric gloves it wears instead of gauntlets. Without its armour, it appears to be composed of grey TV static in a deeply unstable but vaguely humanoid form. All that is clear is that it will kill and murder and steal anything that gets in the way of its esoteric motivations. It appears to spend its time in The Tower, overseeing the business of dimensional transactions and the coordination of troops.


    The Ender: An enderwoman who is the main commander of the Entity's forces. She wears obsidian armour and carries a purple sword that crackles with energy. Acutely observant, she maintains an alliance of convenience with The Entity, in the hope of advancing her people's ambitions. She is currently responsable for suppressing the prison breakout.


    Freak: The phantom who kidnapped Tyron. He appears human, aside from talon-like fingers and the fact that light passes through him. He also has the strange ability to only appear visible or tangible to one person at a time, though he can appear before multiple people if he chooses. He has a love of mindgames and is perhaps the cruellest of The Entity's officers. The Entity accordingly allows him the most freedom to roam as he wishes. He has no known troops under him and could be just about anywhere he wishes.


    Glibby The Ape: A relatively recent addition at The Tower. Kay and Astro know him as a serial killer who looks like a gorilla, but in Nexus he is one of the Entity's more powerful captains. Covering his huge hands with metal gauntlets, he is formidable alone and even Fire would struggle to walk off even a glancing blow from him. Worse still, he leads the Grey Ones, an elite group of enderman and human mercenaries who streak themselves with grey paint. He has been sent here by the crime-lord known as The Silhouette to defend his interests, under strict instructions to maintain a good relationship with The Entity. So far, he has done well in this respect, helping in the initial capture of David and Destiny and then in suppressing their initial escape attempt. However, due to defections from her own forces, The Ender deeply distrusts him.


    Marinus Bul: The Entity's attorney. A smooth negotiator with a stressed streak a mile wide. He has access to The Entity's files on each of the heroes and knows most of their emotional weak-points. It is unclear how he came into The Entity's employ or why. He really hates Freak. Just so much. He makes things so difficult.


    The Dog: An officer in The Ender's forces. He has the head of a dog and the body of a man. He is notably polite and wears a monocle.


    Silver: Glibby's second-in-command. He is one of the three original Grey Ones, endermen under the Ender's command who were trapped in Kay's world for over ten years. Glibby looked after he and his brothers during that decade, giving them assassin work and protection. In return, Silver reveres Glibby. Silver has also been plotting revenge on Kay ever since, and unsuccessfully attempted to kill him during the prison-break by trapping he and several others in an arena full of deadly monsters. He and his brothers were the Endermen who initially kidnapped Astro.

    Others:


    Steve (as well?): A strange figure who appears to be able to teleport. He has contacted Kay on multiple occasions, warning him against The Silhouette. He also appeared to Astro, David, Destiny and Tyron before their ill-fated escape attempt.


    From "A Tale Known by Only One" by Bruvvy.


    The Lady of Dreams: A benevolent phantom who occasionally visits Peter/Fire in his dreams with the goal of helping him come to terms with his traumatic past. However, since she followed him into Nexus she has seemed increasingly distressed.


    We hope you enjoy!


    Don't forget to check out Book 1: Shattered Dimensions: https://www.minecraftforum.net/forums/show-your-creation/fan-art/literature/2377178-the-convergence-book-1-shattered-dimensions

    Posted in: Literature
  • 2

    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE Book 1: Shattered Dimensions [COMPLETED] [65 Chapters + Prologues]

    Part 4: Escape


    Chapter 63: The Escape Part 1 (Kay)



    Kay noticed that huge furball, Tyron, was standing behind the key-holding Warnado.


    “I can’t help but notice you went out of your way to free the big green guy first,” said Kay, half-jokingly. “Any reason why? Some personal connection I don’t know about?”


    Warnado shot Kay a look. “You can’t tell me what to do.”


    Kay raised his hands innocently and nodded in deference.


    Warnado inserted the key into the lock on Astro’s cell.


    “Thank the Divines… I don’t think I could have stood being stuck in that cell listening to Kay’s incessant rambling any longer.” Astro gave Kay a mischievous look.


    “You don’t suppose you could free that David guy too, then, so we don’t forget about him in the excitement of battle?” suggested Kay.


    “Excellent idea,” the girl in the cell pressed.


    “Why would I stop at just them,” said Warnado, tossing the keys in his hand, “when I can break the whole prison?”


    Kay looked at Astro, and then at Warnado. “Are you really sure that’s-”


    “Too late; I’ve made up my mind.” Warnado sprinted away, laughing maniacally.


    “Well then,” Kay mused, “now that our prison escape problem is more or less taken care of, perhaps we should consider who else should join us. The Brines seem like reasonable enough people, and walking, bulletproof-diamond-armored people could really come in handy. Especially since that combat juggernaut Fire isn’t present… IF YOU CAN HEAR ME FIRE NOW WOULD BE A DAMN GOOD TIME TO POP OUT!”


    Kay’s words echoed through the halls. There was no answer.


    Warnado suddenly reappeared next to Kay, a hand on his shoulder. “It’s alright, Kay. Fire probably isn’t coming back. He likely has better things to do than hang out with the likes of us, being an overpowered, half-enderman-half-fire-creature-hybrid-or-something capable of multidimensional travel and all that.”


    “Thank you, Warnado, for your insightful and completely unsolicited advice that is absolutely not irritatingly true in any way,” Kay acknowledged.


    “This is Warnado, by the way,” he continued, directing his eyes towards Astro and the girl. “Warnado, this is Astro and Destiny.” There were some stiff but mostly genial nods between the three before Kay turned once again to Warnado and asked: “Say, would you happen to have any idea where we could find Steve, Fristad, and Jennifer?”


    Warnado pondered really hard for a moment. “No idea. Anyway, prison to break.” He sprinted away.


    Kay jumped in response to the unexpected sound of a teleporting endling. He tried his hardest to maintain his composure in front the obsidian-armored creature, but he knew it was aware of the small crowd of prisoners being emptied from their cells, and was certain it would alert the castle authorities at some point. All Kay could do was stall for time, and hope not to provoke the endling into choosing him as its personal punching bag.


    “Can I help you?” Kay asked in the most polite voice he could muster for an enderman, hand twitching towards his sword.


    “Don’t worry. It’s me, Fristad - the guy with Steve and Jennifer. I’m wearing some magical armor which turns me into an enderman at night.”


    “Oh, you’re a magicking wizard, too?” exclaimed Kay with a significantly large dose of bitterness and sardonic “wit”. He only barely stopped himself from drawing the sword. “Oh dear, it seems I’m surrounded by professional oddities. At least you aren’t one of the Entity’s. We’re planning an escape attempt. Would you, Steve, and Jennifer like to join us? We could use a few more warriors and a magic user.”


    “Sure; I’ll go wake them up.”


    Fristad the endling vanished.


    Tyron, a recently arrived David, Destiny, Astro and Kay gathered together.


    “So… we need a plan,” said David, his voice tired from his imprisonment, but urgent and serious.


    Astro nodded. “We know what we’re up against: a vast fortified tower whose leader, the Entity, is affiliated with multiple criminal organizations. It’s guarded by henchmen from many worlds, not to mention the endlings and a creature called, ‘Freak.’ Tyron seemed to recognize him.” Astro motioned to Tyron.


    “He is a sadistic phantom that creates nightmares,” Tyron growled, “forges illusions, senses fear, and far stronger than any human. He brought me here and has stalked me ever since.”


    “Which means he’ll probably go after you first if he finds us,” Astro reasoned. “And then there are also the purple lamps throughout the tower, which seem to disrupt magic. Wherever we encounter them, we must destroy them as quickly as possible.”


    “My gauntlet seemed to be disrupted by the lamps,” said David, stroking the hand-shaped metal assembly which covered his lower arm and wrist.


    “Most of our equipment uses magic in some way,” added Destiny.


    Warnado and Amanda rejoined the group.


    “Then the Brine couple should guard our front, and should be responsible for destroying any magic-inhibiting devices in our way.” reasoned Kay. “We should all stay together as one group, so Freak and the endlings don’t overwhelm us. Have a vanguard with two prongs - but draw away attention from it with a larger central body. In a pinch, the Brines might be able to turn and help us a bit, with the benefit of the enemy being turned away from at least one party. I like that. Patchwork, but decent.”


    “They could still overwhelm us,” countered Astro. “The tower likely won’t take too kindly to the idea of so many escapees. We need to-”


    Astro’s voice was caught off as he witnessed the approach of a large number of armed guards in their direction. Yet other guards were fighting, capturing, and beating some of the anonymous prison escapees. The crackdown had begun. There was no time to waste.


    “The best laid plans…” groaned Kay.


    Warnado and Amanda began to hurl conjured projectiles and crossbow bolts at the guards, thinning their numbers.


    “Are Steve and his friends returning soon? Because now would kind of be a good time to leave,” suggested Warnado.


    “We can’t stay here and waste our energy on these prison enforcers,” reasoned Astro. “Let’s find our way out of here before endlings show up.”


    “I can stay here and hide, and wait for Steve and the others,” Warnado said. “The rest of you should go.”


    “I’m not leaving you behind,” insisted Kay, an aggression entering his tone as he placed one hand on Warnado’s shoulder and twirled his sword with the other. “I made a promise to bring you back home and keep you safe. Let’s be reasonable and not make a martyr out of anyone. Besides, the three of them have better odds of survival than you do alone.”


    “I think you underestimate me, but on the other hand I kind of like living,” reasoned Warnado. “Let’s go.”


    The group sprinted out of the prison and down an ornately columned wall. Tyron rushed in front, tore purple lamps onto the floor, and the lamps shattered one-by-one. At first, no armed challenger stood in their path. It was only after the group ascended a flight of stairs and burst through the first overstuffed room of miscellaneous junk that existing guards started to take notice. When they approached one-by-one, they did not last long. Stairway by stairway the escape group ascended, beating down guards along the way.


    Then there were ten of them. Astro staggered backward as he broke the arm of a man swinging at him with a fleeting instinct. Kay twirled his sword and finished the job. David’s gauntlet began to crackle and sputter with green lightning, a murderous look in his eyes. Destiny would point and a sword would heat to melting point and a man would fall aside, clasping his hand. Amanda’s crossbow bolts flung true. And the rest of the guards were slain by claws borne into the backs of their necks, or by the edge of that glowing blue sword that constantly chirped in their ears.


    Then there were thirty of them. Astro imagined translucent barriers of energy. Warnado spawned permanent dimensional holes. Tyron’s fervent sprinting and twitching began to slow, and the guards began to gain ground. Then, an enderman and two enchanted diamond-clad warriors surrounded Tyron. With impressive speed, the two diamond-walkers sprinted apart and sliced their swords through the guards like knives through vegetables. Steve and Jennifer had arrived. Warnado and Amanda became bold. The protective barrier was lifted.


    The air was fresher, the night sky visible through small windows. The newly united group advanced.


    “Keep faith! We’re getting close!” Kay proclaimed.


    Then, the group halted. A multitude of dimensional warping sounds echoed around them. They were surrounded by endlings, each clad in intricate, enchanted armor with magically glowing joints. Their weapons were equally formidable, and the sizes of these creatures were impressive even by enderman standards.


    Warnado glared. “Well, well… if it isn’t ‘THE Ender’ and her elite Enderman Dunksquad. I’m guessing you want to enforce your prison sentences, or kill us, or something like that? Too bad. We made up our mind and we’re leaving”


    “You will all suffer greatly for meddling with our operations and breaking your word… I will see to it personally,” the Ender sneered. “Most of you are of little value to us. Some of more. Nothing irreplaceable, though. I may not enjoy watching you all die, but there will be a satisfaction when it’s done.”


    The Ender twitched her head, and endermen surrounded Kay and Steve and teleported them away. Astro and Jennifer became fuming with rage. Ender-Fristad grabbed them both and teleported them with him.


    Those who remained; David, Destiny, Tyron, Warnado, and Amanda; clustered together.


    Tyron closed his eyes and began to concentrate, and a coat of translucent ice condensed and spread across his fur to form protective armor plating. His angry eyes and extended sentient sword threatened all who dared approach.


    Destiny clasped a handful of arrows, pulled them against the bowstring, and shot them. The endermen in their path warped away, but the temporary gap gave her room to move. She tried to sprint behind the enderman ranks, but a pair of ender claws gripped her from the shoulders and pulled her off her feet, only to let go in surprise as their hands burst into flames.


    Warnado stood beside Tyron, swinging his conjured battleaxe against the obsidian armor behind which ender flesh was hidden. Behind these two fighters, Amanda lurked unnoticed, crossbow loaded.


    Seeing Destiny separated from the group, David rushed vengefully between a gap in the attackers to fight by her side. But his movement did not go undetected. In a sudden shift, the endermen closed in around David and Destiny. Just as David buckled when blocking the strikes of two endermen at once, Destiny was pinned to the ground with a blade above her poised to kill.


    In desperation, David smashed his gauntlet upon the stone floor, and the entire gauntlet, from its lightning orifices to its metal armor casing, began to glow a vibrant green.


    “Stand back!” David warned, eyes barely in focus. ”Whatever enderman dares to try and hurt her gets disintegrated!”


    Undeterred, the enderman above Destiny raised their sword. Sparks began to dance in a growing sphere about David’s gauntlet, the gauntlet began to hum, and with a loud crack, David, Destiny, and the endermen that surrounded them became engulfed in a green explosion.


    Chapter 64: The Escape Part 2 (Steve)



    Steve hit the ground rolling, struggling to keep his sword away from his face as his form was inverted and his legs found their way back to the ground. He didn’t hesitate to get up, knowing that at any moment he could feel claws raking his freshly unhelmeted skull and leaving his scalp looking like a freshly ploughed field.


    He gripped the sword in his right hand; in the usual stance. He swept around, crouching slightly to avoid any arrows. The enderman who had brought them there was gone; for now at least. He saw Kay but didn’t stop sweeping the area.


    The idiot he’d been forced into allying with, the general guy or whatever, had the opposite reaction. He took a couple of momentary glances around, nodded his head and stepped forward. The point of his sword was down and he hadn’t assumed a fighting stance, instead standing with a hand on his hip.


    “What are you doing, moron?” Steve whispered harshly. “Are you trying to get us killed?”


    “Kay will do nicely, Mr Brine,” He sighed, looking upwards.


    They were in some sort of yard, with lines of metal gates stacked on top of each other in neat rings rising upwards. This rose for about five levels, at the top of which was a walkway with windows of red-coloured glass. A huge glowstone chandelier hung in the middle, casting bright but also delicate and ghostly shafts of pale light down to the bottom.


    “As to your questions,” Kay blinked, swallowed and then perked up considerably, stabbing his sword into the ground so he could rub his hands together. “I’m not trying to get us killed. We’re just at an interlude. I feel a villainous monologue coming on.”


    Suddenly, the chandelier seemed to shift, so as to narrow the light down to only illuminate the bottom ring.


    There was a click, and another light came on far above. Steve could make out the dim shape of an enderman. Then a whooshing noise echoed throughout the pit, and Steve saw them more clearly.


    Standing in front of them was an enderman with grey scales, calloused and rough, whose purple eyes were so lined with veins as to look like shattered glass. Their wide jaw was stretched into a grin.


    “We meet again at last,” it said, eyelids descending.


    Steve looked at Kay, who shrugged and said “I think he’s talking to you.”


    “Oh,” Steve clapped a hand to his head in realisation. “You’re the guy whose staff I broke! I mean, you weren’t nearly as ugly before - was that something to do with the staff? I mean, if it was I’m so, so sorry-”


    “No! I’m not! I’m not that guy!”


    Kay smirked, stepped forward and said: “I am sorry, he’s very rude. I must say you are among the most handsome endlings I’ve seen in some time.”


    “He was talking to me, shut up… Cade?”


    “Kay. Kay Mandy.”


    “Actually-” The enderman tried to break in.


    “What an awful name,” Steve responded. “Your surname is seriously Mandy?”


    Kay looked to the enderman: “You see, I told you he was rude.”


    “Yes,” The enderman nodded impatiently. “But can I-”


    “Hey!” Steve grunted. “Your first move upon seeing me was to punch me in the face and now you talk about manners?”


    “Enough!” The enderman shrieked in a tinny, echoey voice. “I am neither talking to you,” he pointed to Steve. “Nor am I Clarence! He’s over there.”


    He pointed to a familiar obsidian-clad enderman sitting atop the bottom ring, a ray of glowstone light conveniently illuminating them.


    “Hi,” ‘Clarence’ waved. “Still mad about the staff! Really was very valuable!”


    “So, you’re talking to me?” Kay said, trying to steer the conversation towards its conclusion.


    “Yes,” The enderman said. “You thought you’d escaped me, but I bided my time, and now here we are, face to face at last. Eleven years have been building up to my revenge.”


    “Sir, you must have me mistaken for someone else. I haven’t encountered your sort of creatures before the last three days. Also, eleven years ago I’d have been a child and could you reasonably hold me responsible-”


    “The Eye,” The enderman cut him off, severely disappointed with the way this was playing out. “You leapt in, stole it, and then jumped through a portal that exploded?”


    “Oh that,” Kay said. “That was roughly three days ago. I think you’re being a little melodramatic.”


    “I’m not. I counted it by the day-”


    “Steve!” Fristad called, just having materialised behind him. “We’re here to rescue you! And Kay!”


    Jennifer drew her bow. That wizard Kay had freed, Astro, was there too, and he raised his hands, evidently ready to do some crazy magicking.


    “You see,” Kay turned to Steve and gestured aggressively. “My name isn’t that bad after all; especially in light of the enderman called Clarence in the corner of the room.”


    “Do you all mind?” The grey enderman fumed. “I’m explaining my backstory.”


    They all nodded and quietened down at Steve’s behest.


    Two other gray-scaled endermen appeared behind the first, similarly impatient and excited. One’s face appeared halfway melted.


    “You left us to die in your world; isolated from our people. All we had that was similar was a subtle mockery - an aesthetic similarity that had fallen into the uncanny valley, making it chilling and horrifying to look upon. We waited 11 years to come back here and kill you, and the Silhouette and the Ape showed us kindness and took us in! Now, here we are - old, gray and ugly, but with experience you could never match. We are the Gray Ones, the clawed limb of the Silhouette, and we are the harbingers of your death!”


    “So, what I’m getting from this is,” Jennifer broke in. “You’ve come back in time to kill Steve?”


    “No!” It seethed. “Not everything revolves around him!”


    “It sort of feels like it sometimes,” Jennifer remarked.


    “I’m here to kill him - Kay! That one!” It pointed furiously. “I’ve not come back in time - a portal blew up and some nonsensical interdimensional science stuff happened and we were stuck in his world for 11 years! And for the record we’re the ones who captured you!”


    He pointed at Astro.


    There was a silence.


    “Is that all?” Kay asked.


    “Well, yes. Does it not make sense?”

    “I mean, I guess, I just have to question whether we really needed to know all this? I mean, you’ve wasted a tonne of time you could have spent killing us.”


    “We’re leaving - say hello to the Dangerous Containment cells. I’ve promised the sentient ones freedom if they kill you. We’re gonna open those and you’re going to die. I have been Silver, leader of the Gray Ones, I hope you’ve had a lovely time and that you’ll now die painfully.”


    They then dematerialised. The gates then began to open and out of the shadows emerged countless beasts. Pigmen clad in gold flourished their swords. Blazes lit up the skies in hellish orange. Shrieking ghasts lingered about above, ready to hurl down fireballs. Strange things resembling creepers, with four claw-like legs supporting a twisted greenish-brown cocoon of a body. Then there were various vaguely humanoid creatures who seemed to skulk between battered bands of the aforementioned creatures.


    Steve could hardly believe his eyes, and briefly felt the cold breath of death upon his neck.


    “Just say the word, guys,” Fristad muttered to the group, stooping uncomfortably, “and I’ll get us out of this freak show.”


    Kay could not help but be relieved. But years of knowing better the nature of endlings triggered a failsafe in his mind, and he reminded himself how ridiculous it was relying on an endling to bring him to safety. He reckoned that if Fristad had met the Entity’s endlings first, he would have joined their ranks. A human one minute to earn their trust… an endling the next...


    Kay seemed to shudder at the thought of this, and eyed Fristad suspiciously. Steve was already preparing himself to clip him around the ear.


    With lucid anticipation, an enderman rushed toward Fristad, knocking him to the ground. The force of the impact caused Fristad’s goggles to fling off of his face. Fristad covered his eyes and turned his head away, suddenly and mysteriously incapacitated.


    The creatures looked at them for a second, hundreds of black and burning and bronze eyes staring into and through them. Then, someone screamed and ran forward.


    It was a weedy man in grey robes with skin like moth-eaten rugs. He pointed at Steve.


    “You! You wanna throw hands? Cuz I’ll throw hands!” He then raised his fists appropriately.


    The entire arena looked at Steve expectantly. He awkwardly shuffled forward, fists raised.


    “We shall start, you,” He pointed at Kay. “Count us down!”


    Kay counted down from five, stifling baffled laughter. Then, on “go”, Steve felt a cold, slimy hand slam into his face.


    He peeled it from his face to find it disembodied, and that the weedy man’s left hand was missing. Then it wasn’t. It grew back into existence, almost instantaneously, right in front of Steve’s eyes. He was totally done with this interdimensional nonsense.


    “What?” The hooded creature called. “I’m a dab hand at throwing things!”


    Steve was going to kill him so hard.


    Steve rushed forward through a rain of hands and started slashing wildly, and then he heard the shouts of all those assembled creatures. There was a rumbling sound as they leapt into the arena.


    Steve slashed through the body of the grey-clad man, only for that strange being to glide back. There was a tear in the cloak, that reached the whole way through, but the severed half of the cloak just stayed moving in perfect sync with the rest of their body.


    “You may think this is weird,” it cackled. “But it definitely comes in handy.”


    Steve prepared himself for burial under those gross hands, but Fristad appeared behind and crushed the creature’s skull, sending blood spurting across his black armor plating. Steve just realised that none of it clung to his own armour.


    He only narrowly avoided getting caught up in this weird realisation when a ball of fire struck the ground beside them. There was a bursting cloud of flame that lifted them from their feet and separated them. Steve didn’t see where Fristad landed, only seeing a shattered pair of goggles lying on the floor.


    “Don’t look around!” Steve heard a familiar voice yell. “Just hold out, I’ll be right back. I promise.”


    There was a whooshing sound, and Fristad was gone.


    Steve saw one of those pale hands and felt his head spin a little. He didn’t see as the cubic head surrounded by spinning molten rods descended on him.


    Then he saw another fireball flying at him at a thousand miles an hour, and he realised that he was done for. He raised his sword desperately but couldn’t hope to catch it properly.


    Then, Kay leapt in and bashed the ball of flames aside with his sword, looking very pleased with himself as it exploded a few feet away, whipping up his fringe. Astro then appeared at his side, and pointed at the Blaze, which promptly extinguished and after a few seconds of twitching, fell to the ground.


    Jennifer followed on and pulled Steve up, scanning for approaching enemies. She looked at him in concern, and he smiled confidently, before rushing past her to cut down a large spider.


    “Where’s Fristad?” Kay yelled, laxly dodging the blows of a golden-armoured pigman. He struck it on the side of the head and it staggered. He promptly slashed it across the neck and it fell aside permanently.


    “He vanished,” Steve struggled. “He said he’d be back in a moment. I think it was something to do with his goggles.”


    Kay spat. “Damned Endlings! You just can’t trust them.”


    “He’s not an enderman,” Steve yelled. “Besides, I’ve known some trustworthy ones in my time.”


    Astro looked at them both, turning away from a ghast that was falling like a deflated balloon. “You’re really going to need to explain who and what everyone is if we get out of here.”


    “Oh you haven’t seen half of it yet,” Kay grinned, cutting down. “You’ve yet to meet the condescending reptile-man.”


    Astro turned away and flinched as a pigman crumpled. He seemed to grasp his head.


    Kay placed a hand on his shoulder. Steve moved to cut off the new pigman who rushed at them.


    “You okay, Astro?” Kay said in a near-fatherly manner.


    “Just a moment, not as strong as I used to be,” He reached for a golden sword from the ground and assumed a fighting stance alongside Kay. “Can still damn well fight.”


    And so the fighting continued. Steve kept advancing forward, cutting through the hordes, cracks and chips appearing through his armour. Jennifer would fire arrows behind them, while Kay and Astro straddled the gap, holding their formation in the shape of a diamond. Kay would occasionally shout to Steve to slow down, or come closer, but he didn’t much heed it. He’d just shout back “Don’t worry! Fristad’ll be here in a minute, you count on it!”


    In the corner of his eye, Steve could almost swear he saw a pair of distant endermen gripping each other by the arms, phasing in and out of existence. He was certain one of them was Fristad, and that eventually Fristad would use his powers to break out of the fight and end this confrontation once and for all.


    However, as time advanced, and as his boots seemed close to shattering, Steve became less certain of this. No matter how many creatures he killed, or how many fireballs he knocked away, they wouldn’t stop coming. And Kay kept on screaming about the need for a formation.


    “If you don’t get back here and get in formation I’ll kill you myself after this you sparkly-looking, arrogant…”


    Steve tried to block out the wide and impressive selection of swear words Kay was able to offer on that day, but thought him something of a connoisseur thereafter.


    The fighting continued for some time, until something distinctly worrying happened.


    “My bow’s broken!” Jennifer called over her shoulder. No one was coming for her yet.


    “Switch to your sword!” Steve cried back, batting a fireball away.


    “Low durability!” Jennifer said as it popped into her hand.


    “Okay, I’m coming, I’ve got a spare” He turned in Kay’s direction. “Cover me!”


    He was sure Kay screamed something along the lines of “So now he wants teamwork!”


    He and Astro drew their net tighter as Steve ran to Jennifer, batting away fireballs. A pigman bearing a halberd advanced, standing at a considerable height of seven foot.


    Steve rushed at it, sword ready to connect with its head. The creature proved too fast for that, blocking the sword with its metal shaft, and then striking Steve on the side of the chest. The axehead struck his chestplate; diamond shards scattered around his feet and he found himself barefoot. It moved to strike Steve again, but Kay leapt in front of the blade, the black armour on his wrist absorbing the blow but staggering him severely.


    Jen then cut into the creature’s wrist with a sword lined by ever-growing cracks. Deprived of a hand, the pigman fell back, though it landed a blow on Jen’s arm as it staggered. She fell, clasping her arm, and the beast readied to swing again, lifting its weapon over its head.


    However, as the swing reached its apex, the creature’s neck snapped and it fell aside. Astro passed into Steve’s field of view, golden sword in hand, he and Kay sharing a brief grin. There was a peculiar reflection on his sword.


    “Look out!” Kay yelled.


    A fireball struck right behind him and he was lifted from the ground. He landed in a heap, back scorched and his head bleeding. A huge blaze lingered in the air. The rods circling the head were tall as some men and the head was a molten boulder that hurt to even look at. Faced with the blinding glow and wave of heat, Steve’s eyes began to water. He raised his sword regardless.


    “Astro!” Kay ran forward to his friend, cutting down a spider as he ran. “Astro!” He knelt down. “Come on! Stay with me.”


    Suddenly, two fireballs came in quick succession from different directions. Kay looked from one to the other, the desperate look shared by trapped animals and condemned men in his eyes. He ran forward. He batted the first aside, and turned his back to the other. Steve took a moment to compute what had happened. Then, the fireball hit Kay in the back. He collapsed to his knees over Astro, teeth gritted and arms shaking, embers mingling with his auburn hair.


    Steve and Jen ran forward, Steve throwing Jen a new sword. They stopped, stood either side of the two injured men and started desperately cutting back the tendril-like fighters of the encircling hoard. Kay tried to rise shakily to his feet and Astro was groaning, eyes half-shut.


    The fireballs kept coming, each time more fiercely, and they only just sent them flying away. Then, as Jennifer finally deflected a fireball into that damned giant blaze, Steve got a chance to survey the field.


    Despair washed over him. They’d hardly made a dent in the numbers of their enemies. The pigmen seemed to be communicating and lining up for a coordinated charge, grunting to each other as communication. The spiders were undeterred, and the blazes already moved in to replace the large one. All seemed to promise a fiery and loud and chaotic death, but in that moment there was silence.


    He looked up to the Grey ones in their control room as though they were gods.


    “Give us a hand.”


    Kay had just about got into a hunching position and was asking to be helped to his feet. Steve grabbed his hand and pulled him up. Kay stretched, fighting back tears and he strained his scorched back.


    “Oh, I’ll feel that in the morning,” He laughed. He looked around, turning fully, before turning back to Steve. “So, is this it?”


    Jennifer looked at Steve, and he fought the urge to nod sadly.


    Kay placed a hand on his shoulder.


    “You killed Herobrine,” Kay smiled. “You won’t die in a place like this.”


    Just as Steve worried that he had just seen a moment of tenderness, Kay winked at Jennifer and laughed as she scowled.


    He ran up to a fairly large corpse and stood atop it, knocking aside a fireball as he ran. Steve thought he looked about ready to say something rousing and raise his sword above his head, when they heard a whooshing noise.


    “Oh thank Notch!” Kay yelled.


    Fristad now stood before them, glancing at once at the fallen Astro, and then between Kay, Steve, and Jennifer. “By Jeb, you all look terrible,” Fristad said urgently. “Let’s get out of here.”


    Fristad grabbed Astro’s leg and the other three rushed to him and just as the fireballs began to fly and as the pigmen screamed their warcry, they vanished as if they’d never been there.


    Chapter 65: The Journey Home (Fire)



    Fire woke up to the weak stench of blood, there was no smell of decay, the cold prevented that. The flask he had used held enough healing potion to heal most humans completely from the brink of death. It was definitely not enough to do the same for him, not only was he much bigger but due to his different biology he couldn’t benefit from the potion nearly as much as humans could. A lot of Fire’s wounds were still there but they were all just on the surface, any internal injuries had been repaired by the potion.


    He painfully rose up and walked out of the bushes he had slept in. It was now night, he could still see the corpses lying in the snow with perfect clarity. Fire shook his head. He could have avoided those deaths… Actually no, it was them who could have avoided this, but they didn’t. This still wasn’t an excuse for him to lose control though. Claw was the manifestation of the emotions he had suppressed after what he had taken to calling “the incident”. Fear, anger, sadness. In the real world Claw was no danger to him but on the server and apparently in any of the worlds it was connected to who he very much was. Every time Fire felt one of those emotions and didn’t immediately suppress it, Claw’s chains became a little weaker. If they were strong enough the chains would break completely. The only positive Fire could ever find was that Claw was only a small part of him and couldn’t stay in control forever and once he had returned to his cage Fire was rid of him for a while.


    He picked up his halberd and turned to go, then stopped. He reached into his backpack and took out the satchel with the diamonds, then threw it into the middle of the carnage, he didn’t need them anymore. It was a sick joke, really. Warriors of a culture that was all about hunting for treasure and trophies defeated by biting off more than they could chew, their families would then find unbelievable riches in the place of their death. Would they still be mortified? Probably yes. It was none of Fire’s concern. Even though he often wished that he could change the past, he knew that there was only one way: forward.


    Fire took another swig of the potion he had brewed in Nexus, he once again discovered that amplified senses and wounds didn’t get along, he flinched in pain before getting accustomed to it again. The tunnel to the next world was reasonably close, he could feel his own world quite strongly now, it was now only a matter of one or two more tunnels and he would be there.



    Fire stepped through the tunnel, all of a sudden he was overwhelmed by a stream of information. He knew that this meant he was home. It took a few minutes for his brain to synchronize with the network of the Mencur-Besh, it was the first time since his sudden departure where he truly felt in control of the situation again. As he looked around he saw that he was in a desert, there were houses in the distance and above them rose a tall pillar of smoke. He knew where he was, he was near Drysprings, the town of blacksmiths, horse breeders and people acting and dressing like they were in the wild west, minus the guns.


    Fire mentally called for somebody to move a locomotive to a railway station near Drysprings. He himself started walking in the opposite direction of Drysprings, he wanted to get to his base as quickly as possible. His destination was a flat area not far from where he was now, an entrance to the Mencur-Besh’s underground railway network was hidden there.


    As Fire walked, the sand was being pushed away by his bare feet, some of it got annoyingly stuck between his scales. Then he remembered something. With a thought Fire brought up the pause menu.


    “Huh.”


    It seemed like everything was back to normal, in the other worlds he hadn’t been able to access the pause menu but in his own world it still worked. No, at this point it was clear that this wasn’t something the admins had done. Fire wasn’t sure what exactly was up with the other worlds but he knew that it was something supernatural, even if that thought was greatly repulsive to him.


    As the hours passed, Fire could feel his wounds closing slowly but surely, the pain also fell off with time. The sun was already setting when Fire reached his destination. The entrance to the railway station was hidden below the sand by an intricate mechanism that had been built thousands of years ago; he himself had taken part in the construction. Fire stopped above the entrance, after his mental command to open, the sand started vibrating. Fire tried his best to hold balance as the ground below him destabilized, after a couple of seconds he started sinking slowly, then more quickly. As the sand closed in above him he shut his eyes and mouth, it would only take a few more seconds for him to reach the entrance room.


    His feet left the sand first, the rest of his body followed. His fall was cushioned by a magical spell that filled the spacious room under the sand. As he looked up he saw the desert sand being held up by the magic. Sadly the magic hadn’t cleared the sand from between the scales all over his body and from his hair, he’d have to do that himself on the way down.


    The sandstone room he was now in was lit by glowstone, by comparison some other entrances were only lit by torches and the Mencur-Besh hadn’t gotten around to permanently lighting them, there were much more important things at hand than lighting up railway entrances that were only used twice in a millennium.


    The green locomotive was already waiting on the rails when Fire arrived, a blue-eyed female Mencur-Besh named Stream was in the driver’s cabin. Fire climbed up to her and she started the locomotive again.


    When they were on the booster rails of the main line, Stream asked: “How did you get all that blood on you?”


    Even though Mencur-Besh could relay information quickly over their network, having a conversation was near-impossible since the network only transmitted concepts, like a call for help or strategical information. Language was still important, the language used in this case was the demonic language, spoken by demons and Mencur-Besh alike. In this language misunderstandings were impossible, which is why mages also used it to instruct demons they summoned.


    Fire replied: “I was transported to another world, on the way back a couple of hunters with spears and crossbows ambushed me, I only had one healing potion left.”


    Stream didn’t answer, everything that needed to be said had been said. Fire just leaned back and enjoyed the wind on his scales.



    Fire and Stream arrived at the train station near Fire’s base, fortunately the torches in this one had not burned out yet so the staircase was free of any hostile mobs. The mechanism that opened the entrance was slow as always but they eventually got outside, the sun was just rising above the savannah in the distance.


    “Thanks for your help Stream, I appreciate it.” Fire said.


    “No problem.”


    Fire asked: “Do you have something to do near here since you came up with me?”


    Stream answered: “Yes, we tracked down the crash site of our experimental airship, seems like we won’t be going down that line any time soon. We’ll just focus on the bedrock-breaking drill.”


    The two Mencur-Besh walked in opposite directions, Stream went deeper into the extreme hills biome they were in, Fire walked down the mountainside and towards the savannah. There was a dirt path in leading through the dry grass towards a jungle in the distance, the jungle where his base was.


    There were some residual undead from the night but they posed no threat to him, he was moving too quickly for them to catch up or shoot arrows. A couple of minutes later they had been burned to dust by the rising sun. Fire thought about what exactly he needed from his base. He would need his set of armor for sure, then also some more food and water along with various potions. He would also take his set of diamond weapons and tools with him, he didn’t use them under normal circumstances since losing them would be devastating but the situation he faced now would require all the resources he had available. And then he would need Ender Eyes… about a dozen of them, Fire had something special planned with those.



    By the time Fire was at the entrance to his base, night had fallen again. Fire was dead tired, having a battle, two world hops and more than a day of walking behind him. He was slouched over as the richly decorated elevator descended into his base, his halberd was just being dragged along. The elevator reached its pedestal and Fire slowly went down the stairs. He tossed his halberd at one of the demons in his sister’s service who was walking by, telling it to store it in the armory.


    As he reached the living quarters, he saw his sister Shadow sitting at the table in the room below the stairs to the bedrooms. While Shadow was human, she looked very much like Fire. Her skin was pitch black, so black that you could only see her silhouette, she had entirely red eyes and long white hair, she was about half as tall as Fire. Shadow was wearing her usual black mage robes.


    As she saw Fire she jumped up and asked: “Where have you been? You just disappeared about two weeks ago.”


    Fire sat down and sighed. “It’s a long story.”


    Fire told his sister his entire story, his fall in the red rock canyon, meeting Kay and the later Warnado, the events in the village, the Tower and lastly his journey through different worlds.


    Shadow stared at him in awe: “So you're telling me that there are more worlds out there?”


    Fire nodded. “Yes. And I plan to return there.”


    Shadow said: “If you go back there, I’ll come with you. It seems like a lot is at stake.”


    Fire was honestly relieved that his sister would come with him, he could use both her company and her tremendous magical abilities, she was an ascended mage after all.


    He said: “We’ll talk in detail tomorrow, now I just need some sleep.”


    With those words he stood up from the table and went up the stairs, as he looked back, Shadow gave him a smile. Fire walked to the end of the dark oak corridor where his bedroom was, he let himself drop into his bed without even bothering to close the door, he fell asleep in a matter of seconds.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 2

    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE Book 1: Shattered Dimensions [COMPLETED] [65 Chapters + Prologues]

    Chapter 52: The Lady Smiles (Fire)



    The children had pointed Fire to a tavern which was run by the parents of the group leader. At first the parents had looked at Fire questioningly but like in almost any other case, a diamond said more than a thousand words and prevented words from being said in the other direction. The room Fire had taken was one directly under the roof and was only reachable over a ladder through a trap door.


    This was the room where Fire put the supplies he had chosen as a reward to use. Using a blaze rod Fire constructed a brewing stand, using some iron he made a cauldron. Fire’s plan was to brew a potion that would allow him to sense the connections between worlds. He didn’t know much about the Entity’s plans but what little he knew he didn’t like.


    With the information he had gained from the Ender’s dimensional atlas he knew how to get to his own world. He didn’t intend on staying there for too long, he wanted to get a few things including his armor and weapons. What was most important though was the potion that brought him here, the way he understood, it was a free passage to Nexus from the outer worlds. While thinking about his plan Fire kept on adding ingredients to his potion. Nobody bothered him while he refined his plan.


    First came a dried creeper heart, it made the water violently bubble as it was dropped in. The heart was followed by wither bone dust, which caused the the now swollen heart to slowly decay and mix with the rest of the liquid. Fire stirred the potion for a while and then added in some yellow flower petals which wilted the instant they touched the potion, after stirring for some more time the dark oak stick Fire was using had decayed as well, it was yet another ingredient.


    This potion would prove more difficult than most others Fire had brewed since he had only the materials he chose in the tower and nothing else, most importantly he didn’t have his potion journal or any of his tools. This potion would be trivial if he would have some of his rarer ingredients but it turned out that not even the Entity had a mob puppet from a spawner in its stores.


    In the evening Fire went to bed, the potion was half-done, it would need some time before he could add more ingredients so sleeping was the best thing he could do.


    Before he laid down he took the diamond he had enchanted in the tower from his backpack. It had lost its signature blue color and was completely clear now. He had enchanted it to store life force in case he would have to cast spells that were more powerful than the embers he had created earlier. His own life force was very limited but when he got his hands on a bigger supply he could make good use of it. He would also need a lot of life force to open portals back to the worlds next to Nexus.


    Fire held the diamond in is right hand and concentrated once again, he felt his life force flowing towards the diamond. When the first drop arrived a faint glow appeared inside of it which brightened as more of Fire’s life force was stored. After Fire had deposited a large portion of his life force inside of the diamond he felt very tired. The last thing Fire did before falling asleep was storing the gem back in his backpack. His life force would be refilled by the time he woke up.


    After Fire had fallen asleep he found himself in the black space with the bench again, the white phantom known as the Lady of Dreams was already sitting next to him, which was unusual.


    “You have been waiting for me?” Fire asked.


    The Lady replied in her otherworldly voice: “Yes, I have. After my sudden departure I have some explaining to do, I think.”


    “Yes, you talked about dead dreams and then you were gone.”


    The Lady looked at Fire with worry. “I didn’t throw you into a nightmare, did I?”


    Fire shook his head: “No you didn’t.”


    She said: “I have been exploring this world’s dreams. Most of them are like the ones I know but I came across about a dozen of them that were strange. When I tried to enter them I just saw… I saw… nothing I can describe with words. The closest thing would be grey but not only the color, every sense was grey. I managed to enter one of those dreams but inside was nothing but more grey, in the middle was a body. It was hard to tell if it was sleeping or dead. I have never seen something truly sleeping or dead in dreams. The longer I remained the more the grey started pulling on my own essence. Tearing away was painful, almost like I had hooks inside of me. I then tried to get into the other dead dreams, they were different kinds of grey but they all had something connecting them.”


    “That is worrying. As you said last time, I should definitely try to find out more about this.”


    The Lady just nodded.


    Fire said: “In other news, I now have a way to get home.”


    The Lady smiled. “That is great news!”


    “I won’t be staying for too long. There is a warlord here that has some strange plans and I intend on finding out what exactly it is and if it is dangerous to my world. Or any other worlds. As it stands now, it could very well be.”


    “Fire, I’ll have you know that I have seen you in someone else’s dream here, recently even. I don’t know who the owner of the dream was, I didn’t meet them, it is none of your companions though.”


    The Lady usually didn’t talk about other people’s dreams, Fire was one of the few who she trusted with them. She had told him about things where she had no advice to offer to the dreaming person and hoped that Fire with his long life had some advice of his own. Above all the Lady cared about that the dreamers she visited were helped.


    Fire was curious about the dream, especially since it involved him. He asked: “Anything special about that dream?”


    “It was unusual to say the least, very heavy on emotions and also decidedly purple. I had problems seeing more as if something was actively keeping me out.”


    Fire only said: “Interesting.”


    The Lady put her arm around Fire, she had a cool aura that went straight through Fire’s scales. Even if it would look that way to onlookers, her touch had nothing romantic about it, it was more compassionate than anything else.


    She looked at Fire directly and said: “Enough about my findings or others’ dreams. These are difficult times for you. Tell me, Fire. How do you feel?”


    Chapter 53: I Sense an Opportunity (Fristad)



    After an expectedly long conversation, Clark and the enderwoman become satisfied with information about my world. I successfully leave out how my mother left town when I was little, how my farming partner is a halfblood, and the existence of the World Organization of Crafting. I fail to avoid talking about my encounters with the mage Dan and his attempts to help me, and the prevalence of magic in my world, although I do manage leave out the details of void magic. Clark now knows much about my hometown, my world’s geography and history, its technology and economy, the peoples which inhabit it, the monsters we fight, and the gods we worship, to the extent of my own knowledge.


    It’s a sting to part with so much information when I don’t know how it will be used. However, I don’t see any other choice. The more information I give now, the more likely the enderwoman will trust that I am sincere. I am going to need all the trust I can get if I am to keep more valuable information secret, like the book’s ability to use me to read and control the minds of others, and the strange nightmares that the book gives me which echo of memories of a distant past...


    Now, the enderwoman and I walk down a hall again. This time, we descend the stairs again and again, descending past the light-filled windows until there are no windows left. The elegant castle stone bricks darken into obsidian walls. The only light piercing through the darkness is the flickering purple light from the omnipresent lamps. Our footsteps no longer create an echo, and all else is silent. It’s as if the enderwoman and I are the only creatures in this world.


    We descend the last step. We are in a small room. In front of us is a large steel door.


    “I bring the undocumented human and its book!” the enderwoman shouts into the door.


    “Our preparations are ready. Proceed,” a muffled voice replies from the other side of the door.


    The enderwoman disappears in a flash of collapsing purple light. I hear a high-pitched shrieking sound reverberate through the metal as the door begins to open.


    Through the opening gap, I see the enderwoman’s slender arm leaned against the door. Surrounding her are two humans, both with wrinkled skin revealing old age. They are dressed to the brim with bulky armor which is colorful, flashy, and unique in appearance, nothing like the standard obsidian-colored armor I’ve seen before. They are mages, without a doubt.


    I follow the enderwoman through the now open door, and hear it shriek closed behind me. The footsteps of the mages follow behind us.


    Here, the walls are reinforced with steel, the background material a dark grey blue. The air is slightly damp, with a hint of rust. There is a quiet, deep hum whose source I cannot place. A few hallway turns later, and we enter a large room whose floor is recessed beneath the halls.


    The room is mostly empty. The lower portions of the walls are covered in metal grates. In places, pipes shoot out of these grates and snake along the floor, leading to the center, where there are strange machines made of metal, wood, and glass. One of them resembles a telescope facing downward, whose tube is greatly thickened near the center and is encircled with colored indentations. The telescope-like machine is pointed toward an armchair with leather straps. Sitting in front of the armchair is a box which slightly resembles a crafting table, but has arcane symbols and geometric figures on it. Finally, there are three hourglass-shaped machines with translucent interiors, arranged in a ring surrounding the strapping chair.


    Three more mages can be seen in a corner of the room muttering quietly to each other. They notice us, and begin walking toward us, as we all converge on the center of the room.


    “I guess I’m supposed to sit in that chair?” I ask reluctantly.


    “Precisely,” the enderwoman utters. “You are now the wizards’ test subject.”


    The coldness of the enderwoman’s statement of reality sends a shiver up my spine. I walk toward the chair, as there is nothing else to do, and sit in it. One wizard walks up to me and tightens the straps on my arms, my chest, and my forehead. The other four wizards stare at me with child-like curiosity.


    The enderwoman places the book in the hands of one of the wizards. “The book and Fristad are connected by some form of powerful magic. Find out what it is, uncover the full extent of their powers, and lastly, find the origin of their powers. Use any methods necessary, but keep them both alive. Are the instruments operating correctly?”


    “They are; we just tested them,” the wizard holding the book replies, slightly giddy.


    “Good,” replies the enderwoman. “I will leave you to your work.”


    The enderwoman departs in a final flash of purple.


    Three wizards station themselves at each of the three hourglass-shaped machines. The wizard holding the book places the book upon the arcane symbol-covered table, and stands beside the wizard who tightened my straps.


    The wizards each in turn confirm that they are ready, and the hourglass-shaped machines light up and begin to whir loudly. I feel as if my body is moving. The leather straps around me begin to glow. I feel a sense of awakeness, like I do just before I craft for the first time after a good night’s rest.


    Then, I feel a sense of foreboding. A fever washes over my body, a presence breaches my consciousness, and I begin to feel a strange longing, laced with impatient anger. The Book has returned.


    “Whoa, did you feel that?” one of the wizards in front of me says, a male in gold and gem armor who I saw at the door.


    “Feels like the void,” the other wizard in front of me says, a female whose blue armor is partially concealed by a cloak. She is equally amused.


    “Channel in on it,” she orders.


    Suddenly, I feel the fever and presence vanish.


    “It’s gone…” one of the wizards on the perimeter says with disappointment. “But… wait! I’m getting another signal. It’s weak, though. Some form of earth magic.”


    “Focus in on it.”


    “I can’t. The signal isn’t getting any stronger.”


    “Try the book.”


    “I’m getting an ender energy reading. No void reading.”


    “Fascinating…”


    “Shut up,” says the blue-cloaked wizard. She turns her gaze towards me. “Unhide your void energy from us, please, or we will resort to using force.”


    “You’re asking the wrong guy,” I state. “The void magic comes from the Book. If you want the void magic to come out, ask the Book.”


    “How do we communicate with this ‘book’?” the wizard in gem-studded armor asks incredulously.


    “I can’t say for certain, but you could try opening the Book and speaking into its pages,” I say.


    The gem-stud armored mage lifts the Book from the symbol-covered table and opens it. “Reveal your energies to us,” he orders, “or we will be forced to resort to force.”


    There is a pause, and then the fever rushes into me once more.


    “These slimes seek to use us... to win control over us,” the Book growls seethingly in my head. “I will not allow it! Your mind is my eminent domain, my goals incorruptible! You shall tell them no more than what the enderwoman already knows. Do not be swayed by their threats.” I feel a sense of calm and reassurance. “We shall rid ourselves of them in time.”


    I try to shake off the Book’s deceptive certainty. I need to look after my own wellbeing. I need to cooperate with the wizards fully, show them that the Book is the true source of power, that I am of no use to them. Only then can I rid myself of the Book, and then get out of this place as soon as possible.


    “Cooperate with ME,” the Book insists. “Dispel the rebellious thoughts which make you want to rid yourself of the being that can bring you strength and greatness. Your survival depends upon me, just like every other part of you. I am telling you what you must do. You must embody patience. You must embody resistance. You must make no concessions. I have ordered you to withhold information, therefore you will do so. You have already agreed to obey me, so you have no choice in the matter. I am merely asking for your mental cooperation.”


    “Void readings are climbing,” a wizard states with surprise.


    My heart thumps. Finally, there is a witness to a piece of my suffering! The more I resist against the Book, the harder it will have to fight against me, and the higher the void magic reading will be read by the wizards. If I fight hard enough, I can prove to the wizards that the Book’s power must be beyond what they know. I will have disobeyed the Book with thought-based willpower alone, and there’s nothing it can do about it!


    “Void readings are falling.”


    “Fine, then,” the Book states with disappointment. “I give up. Tell them all about my powers. Let them use that knowledge against me. See if I care.”


    I accept the Book’s challenge, and resolve to reveal the Book’s ability to use me to control other minds.


    “So.. what’s next?” are the words which instead escape from my mouth, and no more. I feel my neck stiffen from the leather strap holding my forehead in place. I am truly in a prison.


    Then, suddenly, all of my fear vanishes. I am calm. I smile faintly, waiting curiously for the wizard’s response.


    “You looked like you were in pain for a moment. Is everything alright?” the gem-stud armored wizard asks.


    I squint in confusion for a moment, suddenly having a memory relapse of the last few minutes. I’ve been having a lot of those lately. Maybe it’s a side-effect of the medicine that weird enderman hybrid gave me earlier.


    “Oh yea,” I state in realization. “I had some motion sickness. It’s unpleasant, but tolerable I think. I don’t think I’m going to throw up or anything like that.”


    “Ah yes, motion sickness is a typical side effect of these machines...” the wizard explains, “although… usually only at higher settings…”


    “Hey, don’t look at me like that!” I say, a bit embarrassed. “I’m a hog rider! I’m not quite that directionally incompetent!”


    “I like this guy,” a wizard out by a machine says in an approving tone.


    “Perhaps this man’s biology is different than what we normally expect from humans,” another perimeter wizard muses.


    “Fascinating…” the third perimeter wizard says, the same one that said that word before.


    “We haven’t seen the least of it yet,” the wizard in the blue cloak warns. Her eyes focus on me. “Why don’t you show us that spell where you transform into a skeleton?”


    “Sorry, I can’t do that spell right now. It only works late at night,” I say to them, leaving the details out. I sense an opportunity. “However, I know of another spell that’s almost exactly the same, but it also works during the day and transforms me into an enderman instead. Like the skeleton spell, it needs a crafting table, an enchantment table, and nearly an armor set’s worth of diamonds. The enderman version also requires ender pearls.”


    Normally, I would avoid revealing information like the enderman transformation, but I sensed this as an opportunity for the Book and I to both grow stronger. I wisely avoided mentioning that the skeleton armor requires leather instead of diamonds, and that both armor sets begin to work as soon as the sun goes down. These fibs would ensure I would have access to the superior armor.


    “That can be arranged,” the blue-cloaked wizard responds with professional composure.


    Excellent.


    Chapter 54: Punch the Barriers and Make a Scene (Kay)



    I’ll be honest, I was way too pleased to be sneaking around again. I used to be a thief; I missed those days dearly. There was something slightly less immoral about stealing than murder.


    Sadly, the fantasy of sneaking wasn’t all that tangible. I was wearing armour, after all. It scratched, scraped and clattered whenever I moved too quickly. I removed the boots and held them in hand, but there was only so much that would do.


    The hallway was darkening with the evening, light slipping away down the corridor behind me, as if being dragged away to one of the cells around me. They were barred, unlike our prisons. The prisoners could see out, see each other, see the guards. I don’t know if this was worse or not. I suddenly reflected on how many people I had put in prison camps and prisons, be they open-barred or not.


    “Get a hold of yourself. Not another bloody depressive episode. You’re a General, and a hero,” said one voice. Another retorted: “So they say.”


    The cells were generally empty, and the prisoners that were there were either asleep or cowering away from me. I crept up to one cell which contained a slightly more rational-looking creature than usual. They had a black gauntlet on that seemed to crackle, though the hands were bound together - and then to a metal ball. He was bloodied and beaten, but also surprisingly young, with an impressive stubble growing across his face.


    I casually leant against the bars, and rapped on them with my knuckles, whispering to him, “Hello.”


    He looked at me more directly now, dry and bloodshot eyes rolled up crustily to meet mine. I’d considered putting on a roguish grin, but erased any trace of that, taking on a look of utmost sobriety.


    “Hello,” He croaked. “What has he got in store for me now?”


    “What do you mean?” I asked, caught off guard. The Entity was a torturer, that much was clear.


    He laughed painfully, with both of us wincing: “Punishment? Retribution? Surely that fiasco we attempted earlier was worthy of it.”


    Suddenly an idea took me.


    “Say, you’re not from Nexus are you?”


    “Is that what they call the tower?”


    “Nope, the world. I’ll take that as a yes. I’m in the same situation, mate - broadly speaking. I come from an entirely different world.” I gestured proudly.


    “Wow, we have so much in common!” He drolly retorted. “We’re all from different worlds around here, you're not special.”


    “I was going to ask how you came to be here,” I laughed, granting him that. “I interrupted a mob-dealing. Now I’m negotiating a way home. What happened to you, that you were so poorly treated?”


    “I went through a gateway and was pretty immediately attacked,” he spat.


    “Really now, and you are?” I queried, before offering a hand and my name: “Kay Mandy, General in the 10th Her-- General in the 10th.”


    “David... Slayer of Martin - reincarnated form of Carter... leader of the Liberators.”


    “What?”


    “Long and probably only half-finished story.”


    We had a nice chat there about his background, trying to get him a little more comfortable with me. He wasn’t amazingly lucid, tiredness and blood-loss having a bit of an effect. I imagined he’d be less willing to talk in other circumstances.


    He explained how he’d been led here pretty much under the exact warning that it was a new evil to fight. He explained the attack by Glibby, how they’d been captured. The meeting with the Entity, their decision that he couldn’t be trusted. Mentioned how one of them had been allegedly tortured by the Entity.


    I looked up and down the hallway. No sign of anyone, but I heard footsteps.


    “This escape attempt, how did it happen?” I tried, attempting to keep my voice hushed. David crawled over and held his hand to his ear. I repeated.


    “Yeah, me, Destiny and three others, two maybe, do you count... I’m sorry, the blood loss isn’t doing my head any good. It was me, Destiny, Tyron, his little sword-friend and… I’m…”


    “Save your strength, David. You’re a good man.” I offered. “I’ll be back.” I intended to find a guard. The man needed a doctor. I couldn’t leave him in that state.


    I was about to call for a guard, and was stood out in the middle of the corridor. I clattered my boots together for good measure.


    “Astro, that’s the one.” David yawned, oblivious to what was happening. “Astro… wizard.”


    My armour was suddenly leaden.


    “What did you say?” I was breathless.


    I rushed down to him, and whispered: “Punch the barriers and make a scene!”


    Lucidity reentered his eyes and he dutifully started to yell obscenities and weakly slam his gauntlet into the barrier.


    Two guards came around the corner, both human mercifully. However, following shortly after was The Dog, monocle shining as ever.


    I made sure to fall back in an unnerved and outraged manner. I unfurled proudly, giving David the pure enmity I’d seen on many an aristocrat’s face. He winked wryly and I fought the urge to grin. Yet, I maintained my facade. I looked to The Dog.


    “These are some degenerates you have in here,” I grumbled. “Here I am, hoping he gets a doctor, and he tries to take a swing at me!”


    “Yes,” The Dog sauntered over and stood beside me laxly, staring pensively at David, who had retreated into the corner of his cell with an animalistic distrust, halfway growling, feet arched to pounce. His gauntlet weighed his right arm down, so it sat between his legs - he was like some sort of depraved ape - I had to wonder where the performance began and where David ended.


    “You shouldn’t be here,” The Dog scolded lightly.


    “Indeed. And I’m sure you shouldn’t be treating him like this,” I tried to make the warning as diplomatic as I could. “I mean, it's just impractical. If you want him dead, kill him. If you want him alive, this is the wrong way to go about it. Then again - apparently he tried to lead an insurrection with a few others. He might well deserve it.”


    “He does indeed. We showed them hospitality, despite initial misgivings. Gave them a special cell several floors up. That’s ruined now. They attempt to escape, vandalise our property and kill our employees,” I made sure to note the gently disgusted tone and the order of that list.


    If they didn’t like escapees, they had something worth hiding.


    “I take it from your tone you’re not going to arrest me,” I laughed. I glanced at the Dog for the first time. He was just staring at David with vague satisfaction, the purple light glinting off his monocle.


    “No. They confer upon you the liberty of the Tower. You only needed to ask to be permitted down here,” He dismissed. I got the distinct sense that he was making it up on the spot and trying to make the best of a bad situation. “Don’t worry about his well-being. This is a temporary arrangement. A doctor will be around to see them soon.”


    I sensed that this was likely much more true, and acquiesced.


    “How many rebels were there?” I inquired.


    “Four, five if you count a sentient sword.”


    “I suppose I’m just supposed to accept that?”


    “Yes,” The Dog smirked and I laughed in a good-natured manner. If I hadn’t been so deeply, totally distrustful of this group, I would have viewed him as an incentive to enlist.


    “It looks like there was quite a fight. How dangerous were they? What sort of fighters were we talking about?”


    “Large furball with aforementioned sentient sword, two wizards and the invalid who just tried to scare you. Nothing special about him, just has some sort of magical explosive strapped to his arm that we can’t take off him. We separated him due to the potential for damage to property. The furball too. The two wizards are together though.”


    “Interesting. Might I see these others?”


    And so he obliged me, very politely talking about the process of setting up the prison, and about interesting creatures they’d encountered. They were a motley lot - lots of creatures I could barely describe. But then, at last I came around the corner, and there it was - the big green furry thing.


    It was huge, seven foot tall at least. Claws were sharp, but its arms were strong enough to be intimidating just for the sheer muscle. Its eyes were a deep blue, and its back seemed to glow onto the wall with the same vigour. It was pacing around the room, with a sword in a sealed scabbard at his side. He was chained to the wall by the leg, with another chain linked to a large metal weight for good measure.


    I eyed him up and down, and then glanced across the hall; something large and distracting was there - thank goodness! I asked the dog to explain the large eight-legged creature on the other side, and he promptly began monologuing, not paying me any heed as he proudly did so. I turned to the green monster, muttering: “I know Astro.”


    His ears perked up immediately, and I heard a shrill voice piping into my head. Thank goodness, it was telepathic.


    “Astro, you know, how?” Poor grammatical structure - low intelligence. It took offense at this, so I decided to slip those sorts of thoughts deeper, as trained, and take a more positive outlook in the open channels. I thought back to Zine, and tried to picture Astro and I’s friendship as best I could - after a false start involving Astro picking me up and beating the **** out of me in a forest I think I conveyed our friendship pretty well. We were close - I would die for that man.


    “You seem not confused by the telepathy thing.”


    I told it that I was very used to this sort of thing by now. I thought I’d best repress memories of Herobrine for the time - he seemed to be controversial outside our world. I asked it if it could communicate with Astro.


    “Yes. Are you going around to him?”


    I told it that yes, I was coming. I also asked it to seek out a weird little hooded kid called Warnado if it could - he’d help. I instructed it to tell Warnado to get the keys and then to direct him to myself and Astro.


    All this time I was nodding politely to the Dog’s ramblings, and it seemed very pleased indeed. Then, it was at last done, I threw a wink, and it was time to meet an old friend.


    Chapter 55: He says he knows you (Astro)



    “He says he knows you.”


    As startled as I was by the fact that anyone in this wretched place would know of me, I felt a surge of pride to know that news of my exploits, apparently in a positive light, had travelled far. I asked Kir for a physical description of the man.


    Destiny snored slightly beside me.


    “Auburn hair, striking emerald green eyes-”


    My own thoughts cut Kir off and he fell silent, evidently sensing my feeling of dread. The man Kir was describing had been dead for a long time now.


    I would know. I lived through the funeral, and punished some of the bastards responsible. Confusion turned to anger as I questioned everything. Surely this was just a trick they were playing on me, and I’d break out of the spell soon. There was no way for this to have been possible.


    Struggling to imagine just how gaunt my face appeared at that moment, I turned to face the outside of my cell. Through the wrought steel bars, the very man Kir had described turned his head my way, his boots clattering together in one hand, and peered in.


    Kay Mandy, the very same man that I had once pummeled to near death by the river all those years ago. My fondly remembered partner in endless shenanigans, and almost undoubtedly dead and buried.


    So, what the hell was he doing here?


    Upon closer inspection of this...ghost of the past, I only became more confused by what I was seeing. He lacked the vague signs of age that the Kay I had known had garnered over the years, and still had that slight sparkle in his eyes - and the other eye for that matter. Wait…


    “Astro, are you listening?” chirped Kir. Of all the times for my monologue to have been interrupted, this was by far the worst.


    “He wants to talk to you.”


    The ghost previously mentioned leant down to the bars as was characteristic and looked through. He stared directly at me with a look of familiarity and worrying ambition. He was about to do something that was just ludicrously stupid; I knew it.


    “Ugly ******* isn’t he?” Kay immediately laughed. “What even is this thing? A man?”


    A dog-like creature next to him seemed not quite to know how to respond.


    “I’d think so,” it said with forced charisma. “It certainly looks like it to me.”


    “Only to an untrained eye,” He said in a knowing tone. “In my world, some creatures can disguise themselves as humans. Generally Farland escapees - demons and the like. You can usually tell by the lines around their eyes. There’s a purple quality to the outlines of their eyes. Come on, I’ll show you. It’s pretty dim, bring a lantern.”


    The dog’s interest seemed piqued by this, and grabbed a purple crystal from one of the lamp stands. He leant down. Kay handed his boots to a guard quite rudely, and leant down with him.


    “You can see it.” A hand drifted away from the bars and downwards. Another drifted up and towards the dog’s shoulder. The light lit up my face, casting a glare into my eyes. “See where the tear duct is. That faint glimmer. Right there.”


    That was when Kay slammed its head into the bars, causing it to go limp. The lamp shattered on the floor and a sword I hadn’t seen in years flashed out. Amicus was gone, and Apotyre had returned - or perhaps it hadn’t left yet.


    The two guards were deeply shocked and didn’t seem to know what to do. Kay kicked one, sending him sprawling into another lantern, toppling and shattering it. I felt myself growing stronger. I reached out to the other in my mind, and he froze. Then Kay’s sword severed his head from his body. He walked slowly up to the other one so as to finish the job there too.


    Destiny was awake and on her feet, seeming to be ready to cheer for the man’s death, but I rose and placed a hand across her mouth, shooting a warning look.


    “What’s happened?” Kir demanded enthusiastically.


    As Kay ended the crawling man, I projected the stream of events over to Kir as best I could. I felt that he was satisfied.


    He came to the door, and sat down beside us, making sure to rub blood all over his flank, making it look as if he had been wounded. He leant against the bars for good measure.


    Destiny conjured a shard of ice and scrambled over to press it to the side of his neck.


    “Thank you,” He chuckled. “A perfect image.”


    He pushed the Dog aside. It was bleeding badly from its forehead. Kay seemed to be vaguely regretful of this, but he didn’t say anything.


    “Hello Astro, been a few days. Admittedly, I expected you’d look a little better. Then again, customs feels like it lasts years,” he chuckled encouragingly. “I guess it’s only naturally that you look it.”


    “Yeah, well, you wouldn’t believe what kind of customs I’ve been through.” Not to mention that I’d seen you die.


    “Yeah, I suppose it’s very - How the living **** are you here?” The swerve in tone was massive - he was genuinely startled. Unfortunately for him, I felt that I deserved that right far more.


    “I could say the same about you. I’m far too tired to deliver you my heroic origin story, so we’ll have to settle for yours.”


    My sarcasm had clearly never left me despite the gloomy outlook.


    “I did a stupid thing and now I’m here. Is that a variation from the norm? No. And now we wait for Warnado with those keys.”


    He responded without missing a beat. Having even less understanding of what was going on than before, I settled for some idle conversation as we waited. Him startled, and I bemused.


    Chapter 56: The Black Armour (Fristad)



    This strange arcane room has become much more lively. Workers swarm about with shelves and stacks of books, while additional wizards expand the ring of machines with more hourglass-shaped structures. At the end of the commotion, I am unstrapped from the chair and standing within an enclosed space. To my right and to my left are well-stocked bookshelves, and wizards armed with swords and staves guard my front and back. Directly in front of me is a crafting table and an enchantment table, with the strange thickened telescope aimed at the tables. The glowing white letters that condense out of the bookshelves and into the floating book are not from any alphabet that I know. Who knows what countless writers from other worlds wrote them?


    The Book fills my body with the energy of the void, and its overflowing excitement makes me feel giddy. In a pile on the floor are the diamonds and ender pearls that we requested. I gather some into my arms, appreciate for a moment the vast wealth that these materials represent, and lay the diamonds and ender pearls upon the crafting table.


    I begin my work, rearranging the materials, adding and removing as I adjust the quantities. I expect a long struggle of crafting ahead, but then an idea clicks in my mind. I press the two ender pearls slightly closer together, and then the diamonds begin to stretch into each other, defying their physical hardness. The ender pearls fuse into the diamond shell as if it were a liquid, causing the shell to tint into a dark teal. Then, as the diamond shell begins to converge upon a final helmet shape, it quickly darkens into an obsidian black.


    I grasp the formed black diamond helmet, my hands nearly going limp from the numbing crafting energy, and turn the helmet around expectantly. At first, I am suddenly surprised by its light weight. Then, I see the helmet’s front, its glowing runes, its flattened, angular cheeks. It is just like the head of an enderman!


    ...an enderman from my own world, no less!


    The rest of the enderman armor set proceeds similarly, with ender pearls and diamonds left to spare. I feel the need to shake my arms out to get rid of the numbing crafting energy, but the commands to my arms are to no avail. Either the Book is very eager to see this armor finished, or this armor is truly in a league in its own. I faintly recollect the curse-like nature of the previous skeleton armor, and hope to Notch that this armor does not have similar side effects.


    The Book presses me harder, purging my fear, egging me to continue. I feel as if the first piece of armor is hovering over to the enchantment table with my hands attached to it. The fever of the void grows even stronger, and I begin to feel pain.


    Then, another idea clicks in my head. In my mind’s eye, I see my own body as if viewing it from above. My body, filled with energy, shines like a star, piercing through a dark and stormy sky. Just next to my star is a fainter star, the light of the enchantment table. Surrounding my body’s star are even brighter stars, the stars of the wizards, and beyond those, even brighter still, is a shining wall lined with hourglasses, and beyond that… pure darkness.


    It is a sight, which I cannot really classify as sight. The only word I can use to describe it… is magic.


    As more glowing letters fuse into the enchantment book beneath the armor, the pages of the enchantment book flip faster. I feel my eyes pulled to the words on the pages… every single word flashing in my mind like an old memory suddenly resurfacing. The words swarm restlessly inside of my head, begging for sentences to make them real. I open my mouth as the words begin to push against the tip of my tongue, and…


    … my voice booms with words of power, each shockwave brightening the faintly glowing corona of magic which surrounds the armor in my hands. Then, the train of words suddenly ends, as if I have suddenly forgotten something. I quantify the strength of the magic within the armor, and the Book is satisfied.


    I set the enchanted armor down and begin anew with another piece, and each time my voice is booming with energy. Then, with the new armor complete, I take off my diamond armor. My legs and back are relieved of the diamond armor’s strain, and I begin to feel the cool and damp underground air on my skin.


    Then, I begin to put on the enderman armor piece by piece. First, I slide on the leggings. The intense tingling numbness seeps into my legs and erases all feeling in them. My arms and neck become weak, and the world around me becomes distant, dark, and quiet. With difficulty I pull my paralyzed legs apart with my arms to maintain my balance. Then, I grip the black chestplate and slide it over my head. The darkness becomes pervasive, and my body feels detached from existence like a floating ghost. The numbness shoots up my arms, making them so heavy that their weight is almost unbearable. It is only with great difficulty that I reach for the helmet’s silhouette…


    ...but even the armor I wear now is too much to bear. Already, I feel my thoughts quieting. The only sensation keeping my consciousness from slipping away is an intensifying feeling of anger. I feel my hands grip the cool helmet shell as the inner surface slides against my cheeks. Just barely as the top of my head touches the helmet, my anger turns to panic as I realize my mistake, and I try in vain to pull the helmet off.


    Then, I feel the last of my strength drain from my arms, and my panic dissipates. The world tilts, colors circle and swarm about the edges of my vision, and then… there is nothing.


    In the brief moment between awareness and unconsciousness, I barely hear the Book impatiently utter, “do everything myself,” and the cold, hard ender material slides against my feet.


    Chapter 57: Warnado Gets Those Damned Keys (Warnado)



    Warnado had always been taught by his father to expect the unexpected. Seeing as his father was half-demon, Warnado never really found such a teaching to be difficult to follow.


    However, Warnado was genuinely surprised to find Bruce Banner locked in one of the Entity’s cells.


    The hulking beast was green, and covered in fur. Its eyes were glowing blue, and it was armed, carrying a sword hidden within a scabbard. This surprised Warnado; the beast’s arms were rippling with muscle. Deciding to use a sword seemed like a bit of a downgrade.


    The beast had its back turned, staring at the wall. Unsure whether it was capable of speech, Warnado decided to reach out with his mind. “Hello.”


    The beast shuffled around, turning to face the half-demon. “Are you Warnado… 125?”


    Warnado was immediately on his guard. How did this strange creature know his name?


    “Depends. Who wants to know?”


    “Tyron of Minecraftia. Kay told me to tell you to get the keys.”


    Warnado narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “What, is he planning a jailbreak or something?”


    The beast, or Tyron, as it had called itself, shrugged. It seemed to ponder its words carefully. “You are suspicious of me. But, there are others. Kay knows one of them, Astro. He said to get the keys and go to him.”


    “We’ll see about that.” Warnado snapped his fingers, and was suddenly holding a set of keys. “Which way did Kay go?”


    Tyron pointed a large finger towards the left, down the hallway. His directions turned out to be unnecessary, however, as a large bang was heard, followed by the sounds of a scuffle. Warnado rushed down the hallway towards the noise, turning a couple of times, and soon found the bodies of two guards and The Dog, along with Kay and two prisoners.


    “-now we wait for Warnado with those keys.”


    Warnado’s face took on a look of mischief beyond the mental capacity of many mortals, and he skulked off into the shadows. He was going to stealth these guys so hard, take those keys and free these weird people he knew nothing about, risking his own position and means of getting home- wait, what was he doing? This was very stupid.


    But wait, he didn’t want to get home - not yet. He was going to try and learn a few things from Kay’s world, hopefully sit out some of the worst and come back when he was strong enough to make a real difference. Amanda too… His feet stopped moving. He needed to find her soon.


    Hang on, if they didn’t find a way out during the breakout, Kay’s world might not be an option either. They could be imprisoned like all these guys. And, what about these people he was freeing? Apparently one of them was from Kay’s world. But what about the rest? Suppose they found themselves in a situation where they could only travel once or something? Did they go by a measure of whoever had the most need? Or did they go by the measure of the most people wanting to go to one world? Would they have time to discuss such matters?


    And what if these people were evil? Kay was associated with Him after all. What if they weren't as virtuous as they suggested… Then again, weird and smug as he was, Kay certainly was trying to be nice. And those Brine people had certainly been messed around by the Entity. He didn’t know what was up with that Fristad guy, but he felt very sorry for him. Notch knows what was with that Fire guy; he hadn’t done anything wrong, but there was something too cold and distant about him to truly trust. Admire perhaps, but he was like a statue, some kind of conception of a person.


    And who knows who these guys in cages are?” He thought.


    He felt himself beginning to panic, but then he sighed. He felt determination filling him. The Entity was holding these people against their will, and people who were in such weirdly poor conditions generally didn’t deserve it, in Warnado’s experience. Besides, this Entity was weird, creepy and clearly up to some shady stuff. It would also be hilarious to see or even conceive of the frustration that Bul guy would feel as a result of this. This would be a gift to the world. Even if he couldn’t see it, there would be some fellow connoisseur of uptight rage that might benefit from it. Truly, his was a noble cause.


    He rushed around as stealthily as he could. Conjuring a pair of his own keys was nice and all, but it would be better if he could have keys that not only looked like keys but also unlocked the locked locks he needed to unlock. After all, these were no ordinary mechanical locks Warnado was dealing with; how else could these cages trap a magicking wizard like Astro or a fur-covered beast with superhuman strength like Tyron? Finally, like twenty minutes later he found a promising-looking hallway with a group of human guards sitting around casually like they were on break or something. Warnado put his fingers to his forehead and began to think really hard.


    Clearly at least one of the guards had got to have some keys, but which one? Somehow he had to figure out what was in those pockets, but he couldn’t tell from so far away. And he didn’t want to alert the guards by getting too close; he could probably magick his way out of the problem, but that just seemed unsportsmanlike.


    So, he had to find a way to pull out whatever was in the guard’s pockets from a distance. He could just magick the objects out of their pockets and into his hands, but that would create dimensional vacuums in the guard’s pockets, and those sorts of holes in pockets were really frickin’ permanent and tended to be bad for one’s health. No, this would not do; Warnado would only employ the most subtle of tactics.


    Warnado grinned dramatically and conjured into existence the freshest jar of raspberry jam he could muster. He struggled for several minutes to get the darn thing open, finally resorting to heating the lid with flames to unscrew the cap. He then plunged his hand into the jam and scooped up a large blob of the viscous, sugary substance.


    Warnado focused his attention on the pocket of one of the guards. With a magical flourish, he caused some of the jam in his hand to be replaced by the crumpled paper that happened to be in the guards pocket. Warnado frowned; this was not what he was looking for, so he extracted the paper from the jam and tried again. A pen. A bunch of coins. Nail clippings? Eww…


    One by one Warnado replaced each of the mystery contents of the guards’ pockets with jam. To his disappointment, none of them contained the keys to the prison cells.


    Then, the guards started to notice what had been done to them. One of them probed a pocket with his hand, his face clenching in utter disgust.


    “Why are my pockets filled with jam? Clementine, did you do this?”


    “No, of course not! My pockets are soiled too. What is this nonsense?”


    “Who did this? Who pulled this stupid prank? Speak up now!”


    “WHOEVER COMMITTED THIS CULINARY ATROCITY IS GOING TO PAY!”


    One by one, the guards stormed out of the hall. Warnado sighed, cleaned the raspberry jam from his hand with flames, closed the jar, and magicked it out of existence. He surveyed the hall, and then his face lit up with an, “oh Notch, why didn’t I think of that?” look.


    Just on the wall, on a hook attached to a wooden board, was a ring of keys.


    Warnado walked up to the wall and lifted the keys from the hook.


    Chapter 58: Do You Want to Know How I Got Here? (Kay)



    “So, I suppose I’d better elaborate slightly further,” I added in, shaking my head a little. This was the most awkward conversation I’d had in several years, even accounting for the makeshift knife pressed to my jugular. Neither of us knew what was going on, why the other was there, and both of us were deeply suspicious. As such, it was a very uncomfortable conversation despite my best and most charming efforts.


    “Do you want to know how I got here?” I shrugged.


    I kept staring at the strange, dirty, bloodied girl perfecting my ruse. That was one crazy girl, and I knew my fair share of crazies at the time. You found them constantly in the prison camps. You saw them, they looked very frail and you felt sorry for them, but in truth they were looking for a knife to put in your eye. Still, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for this one. There was a protectiveness, a sense that Astro was perhaps breaking some sort of trust between them in speaking to me.


    “We’ve got time to kill and this is only the second strange thing to happen to me today,” Astro wearily acquiesced.


    “Only the second?” I smirked. “I’ve got to step up my game. There’s evidently more competition here in the aggressively quirky market than I anticipated.”


    “You’d be surprised, Kay. I’m all ears.”


    “Well,” I began in my most proud tone. “Aaron is the one who landed me in such a poor situation. As is expected. You know how he is. So reckless.” I turned my head in dismissal of the man as Astro gave an audible sigh. “But yes, he pointed out to me a group near our camp. I investigated. I see a strange portal, and from here, things get strange! Glibby the Ape is there - you know the one Brit’s always banging on about? The serial killer? Looks like a monkey?”


    I looked to him for certainty that this was my Astro. He nodded and gave an attentive stare; clearly nothing had changed. I continued.


    “Yeah, he was there. That’s not the strange part. He’s there with one of his mysterious employers, and then, out of the portal emerges this Entity creature. Big, bronze suit. Runs this tower apparently - Bul’s boss. What am I talking about? It sounds like you’ve met him. You’ve certainly killed a lot of his people according to this old Dog.” I made sure to add a playfully accusatory tone.


    “When they chase you in hordes with a murderous intent, there’s not much else you can do, Kay.”


    “I can’t argue with that. Besides, I’ve probably killed as many,” I laughed. “But yeah, they break out a flipping Eye.” I paused for effect. “The two parties turn on each other, the Entity kills the mob boss off, I steal the eye and escape through the portal. They destroy it after me. Now I’m here.”


    “So why is it that I’m behind bars, yet you’re being given the Full Monty?”


    “Professional secret.” I paused. “That I’m about to throw into the open. I met a couple of guys, one of whom’s a giant, immortal lizard man who murders people as a game. Understandably, I was able to worm my way into a better negotiating position. I didn’t kill anyone stealing the Eye - I killed a few later but I don’t think they know that yet. I just promised to give it back in return for a trip home. Then we were haggling. Now I’m here.”


    Astro flinched, giving a ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that’ sort of look.


    “Commendable, but what’s your plan from here?”


    “Well, I intend to escape, with you and your friends. And mine. We’ll find our way home on the way out. Most important part is safety though. Say, you haven’t seen a strange guy who seems to teleport everywhere? Calls himself Steve? Not to be confused with another guy called Steve. Now that I think of it we should probably try roping him into this too...” I scratched my chin.


    “Hmm… there was an apparition similar to that description that seemed to fall to his death in front of us. I couldn’t fathom why he was there.”


    “That was essentially my experience. By the way, while we’re talking about the colourful characters we’ve met, who’s she.” I pointed rudely to Destiny. “She hasn’t said a word and she’s creeping me out.”


    “That’s Destiny. She’s feisty and won’t go anywhere without David. Beyond that, we don’t know too much about her.”


    “Oh, David, I know him. Nice guy.”


    That got to her.


    “Is he okay?” She was terrified. By Notch I felt sorry for her.


    “Yes.” I nodded. A solid ten seconds of silence. “So, another colourful character. I found a kid called Warnado. Can we keep him?”


    “We have discussed pets in the past, Kay. If you can safeguard his life, I’m sure we can accommodate him. And if not, at least he’ll be more useful than Cossack.”


    I laughed, hard.


    “Oh come on, Astro, he can’t be worse than that sad sack of ****, Bokane.”


    Astro muttered something about “being careful who you trust” that I couldn’t fully make out.


    “Bokane certainly is a sack of ****,” Astro affirmed more audibly. I felt a chill down my spine.


    “Mods, your opinion changed quickly. Last time I saw you I thought there was a wedding to arrange!”


    “What can I say?” Astro smiled wistfully but knowingly. “People are fickle.”


    “Oh! Another thing; Warnado’s a wizard-type like you. You can train him to do magic things, can’t you?”


    Astro rolled his eyes.


    “One thing at a time Kay. His magic might be weakly derived.”


    “I wouldn’t say that to his face,” I heard some uneven, pattering footsteps coming down the hallway. “Here’s hoping this is him.”


    I fell against the bars, and began to groan in a low tone, only daring to squint up in the direction of the footsteps.


    “Hello gentlemen.” Warnado rattled the keys, a broad grin across his face. “Is it emancipation time already?”


    Chapter 59: Can't Act Alone Anymore (Fristad)



    As I open my eyes from a deep sleep, my spatial awareness is deceived yet again. No longer am I in the upstairs bedroom of my Veridale house, nor an underground hovel, nor Steve and Jennifer’s quickly-constructed wooden shack. Instead, I am in a room with surprisingly upscale wallpaper and trim. I lay in a narrow bed with white sheets, one of many arranged side by side in two horizontal rows. All of the other beds are empty, and there is the pervasive purple light as usual. To my right is a small table on wheels which holds many clinical-looking tools made of metal and wood. On this same table is a cup of tea and a wide bowl of soup, both plated. Under normal conditions, I would have considered this the hallmark of hospitality, but instead I find myself emitting a metallic growl of disgust.


    Hold on… what was that sound I just made?


    I hold up my hands and… sure enough, there are the clawed, bony, obsidian fingers of an enderman. I feel like I ought to be frightened or at the very least annoyed by this discovery, but instead I find myself mildly amused.


    Indeed, from what I can faintly recall of my problems over past few days, it seems like a huge ruse, not worth fussing over with so much wasteful rumination and emotions. I find myself perplexed why I would let myself give in to the demands of the book so easily, or why I should be so concerned of being displaced in another dimension which seems decent enough.


    I hear footsteps before a door is opened, and before I realize what is wrong, I find myself locking eyes with a man in a doctor’s suit… and I can’t look away.


    Suddenly, the man’s eyes bore into me, and all his thoughts and memories with it. At once, my mind is flooded with all the man’s darkest thoughts, and every emotion with it: regret, anger, guilt, hatred, fear… until it is all too much to bear and collapses into a mountain of pain. My lungs shriek. I am filled with flowing cold and negating doublethink. Voices begin to speak to me in a language I never thought I knew, begging for me to end the pain, to cut the man’s head clean off, insisting his death is necessary and inevitable.


    I oblige, lunging forward with the thrust of the void, and pull my arm across the man’s neck. In an instant, the light vanishes from his eyes, and my pain with it. Blood spurts from his sliding head. I warp backward, at once relieved and ashamed. I tear my eyes away from the man’s falling body, and vow to never kill another human being again so needlessly.


    In the corner of my eye, I see, quite disturbingly, that the dead man’s body and head refuse to give in to the white smoke of death.


    My past human memories strengthen and reassert themselves. I recall again the hopelessness I felt when forced to act under the book’s inexplicable influence. I recall again my worry as I was suddenly thrusted into a new dimension, and my sense of inferiority in the presence of such powerful diamond miners. I recall my uncertainty and suspicion of the mysterious interdimensional organization which seeks to extract our knowledge, skills, and resources. I curse at the knowledge I was already forced to give.


    ...but I reassure myself that everything will be okay. I’m an enderman now, far greater in strength and power and shielded from the book’s influence. I can finally do some good to help Steve and Jennifer. I just need to find something see-through to cover my eyes…


    The auras of nearby life forces make themselves known to me. I focus on the weaker ones with a human flavor to them, and plan to warp to them one by one, shoving my body into them to try and dislodge a pair of glasses.


    Then I realize how ridiculous this plan would be, as it would draw a ton of unnecessary attention to myself and give my eyes a rather unreliable cover. I’m an enderman now, right? Why don’t I just ask another enderman to lend me some goggles? Why didn’t I think of that earlier? Jeez, I can be so dense sometimes.


    I focus my mind on an energy that feels distinctly ender, and warp to it. The enderman now in front of me eyes me with confusion and disgust. Its obsidian armor is conveniently quite similar-looking to my own.


    “Pardon me,” I begin, “I need a pair of goggles to shield me from staring into the souls of humans and killing them by accident.”


    The enderman harrumphs at my request, seemingly amused. “I frankly can’t stand to look at them myself, but at least I have some level of self-control.”


    It points upward and back.


    “You should find the Entity’s collection of head coverings in that direction. Try not to lose it. You seem like the type.”


    The enderman utters that last statement with additional disdain.


    “Thank you,” I state simply, as I warp away from room to room.


    Sure enough, I find myself in a giant room of tables and shelves full of ‘head coverings’ as the enderman had stated. There are helmets, hats, glasses, goggles, and many other objects one would typically or perhaps atypically place upon one’s head. They exist in every permutation imaginable, from primitive assemblies of cloth and string hardly able to hold themselves together, to regal headpieces with elaborate designs and jewel insets. Like other similar rooms, this room is cramped and overstuffed.


    After some searching, I find a pair of goggles that seems sturdy, respectable, and just the right size. Its leather strap is thick, and held together with barely rusted iron buckles. The glass shielding is thick and colorless, and the rims are mostly black with an outline of gold along the edges.


    I strap the goggles over my eyes, and feel relieved… until I recall the limp and decapitated body of the doctor. I feel a pang of fear at the possibility of the doctor’s death being traced to me… but at the same time, if I go back, I risk being immediately pinned for his death. I can’t keep acting alone; I need to find Steve and Jennifer.


    Chapter 60: The Scaled Flamecaster from Another World (Fire)



    Fire was woken by the sounds of small teeth gnawing on something hard, the sounds were unnaturally loud to him. Fire’s hand shot out below the blanket and down to the floor next to the bed, a second later he was holding a very surprised rat in his hands that had been eating some stale bread a moment earlier.


    Normally Fire would just let the rodent be but this particular rat had the misfortune of being on his ingredient list. Holding the rat by its hackles, Fire took the enchanted diamond out of his backpack. He was going to kill the rat anyways so he decided not to let its life force go to waste, not that it was much but Fire needed every drop he could find. He held the gem to the rat’s head, a moment later it stopped its struggling and the gem was glowing a tiny bit brighter. Fire then just threw the dead rat into his potion cauldron. Of course, it wasn’t exactly rat that the recipe asked for, any fresh organic matter would do. Finding the rat saved Fire some of the trouble that would normally come with this ingredient.


    Now that Fire’s attention was away from his potion he could hear more sounds from his environment, people in the lower rooms moving about, insects crawling around in the wood of the building, birds flapping their wings outside. After listening for a few seconds Fire dulled his sense of hearing again. There was something about someone visiting his dreams like the Lady that would sometimes result in his senses running at peak sensitivity when he woke up, he had tried to find out what exactly caused it but he had come to no conclusion. When he hunted or fought he needed every bit of information he could get from his senses but under normal circumstances senses that sharp would be distracting, debilitating almost. That was why he was able to turn them down to an acceptable level, still well above human senses but nowhere near what was possible for him.


    Fire checked his potion yet again, the rat had been dissolved and the potion now had a thick consistency and a dark gray color, even though it wasn’t being heated it was constantly bubbling. He would only need a few more ingredients for it to be completed. That and more life force in his gem, a lot more. He could of course go hunting in the woods and harvest life force from animals but that was way too slow, animals didn’t have much. He could also steal from individual humans but that would attract very unwanted attention, the last thing he wanted was to be the target of a vampire hunt in the world that he would probably spend quite a lot of time in. There was a third possibility that came dangerously close to the second without actually crossing the line. He could make the gem passively absorb the life force of nearby beings, not enough to be noticeable but enough to make a big difference if he could gather from many people at once.


    Fire held the gem close to his face and produced a gentle hum, making the gem resonate with the enchantment he was activating. The pulsing of the gem became more rapid and Fire could feel it draining life force from everything around it, including himself. He made the gem disappear in one of his pockets and made his way down to the entrance room of the tavern.


    The owners of the tavern were sitting at a table with their child and the rest of the little group of children Fire had talked to yesterday. They greeted him and served him breakfast consisting of a piece of cheese, a jug of milk, some pork and what looked like the the stale bread loaf the slice the rat had been eating originated from. Honestly, Fire couldn’t complain.


    After exiting the tavern Fire made his way over to the marketplace, there were already a lot of people out on the streets, it seemed that this town was more populated than Fire had originally assumed, maybe because of its proximity to the tower. As he came closer to the marketplace where the crowd was the densest, he could already feel the gem pulling respectable amounts of energy. Fire had a thought, maybe he could use some of the energy to attract a crowd to gain even more in turn. It was most definitely worth a try.


    As he arrived at the marketplace he definitely noticed that people looked at him more than the day before, this time he wasn’t just an unusual creature travelling through, he was an unusual creature who was here a second time for an unknown reason. Fire had come up with a way to attract people, his little trick with the embers had worked well on the children the day before, he just had to scale it up a bit for the adults. He needed a good reason to start shooting flames without causing a mass panic though.


    Fire noticed a raised wooden platform in the middle of the place, performers would usually stand there to entertain people, either with their act or with their failure. He walked up to the platform and leaped onto it, making a noticeable banging sound as his feet hit the wooden planks. People turned around to see what the noise was about.


    Fire raised his voice theatrically: “Behold! The scaled flamecaster from another world!”


    As his call echoed between the buildings Fire knew that he definitely had the attention of the people now.


    One man yelled: “Then stop talking and cast flames!”


    Fire spun around on the spot and pointed his finger at the man, a small ring of flames appeared in front of his fingertip and slowly made its way over to him. The man only noticed the flames as they were only a short bit away from him, he recoiled in surprise. The ring disappeared shortly before hitting him.


    Fire smirked and asked: “Anyone else got anything sharp to say? No? So let us begin.”


    With a snap of his fingers Fire ignited some sparks in his palm, then made them grow into a fist sized fireball. The ball left his hand and started floating in the air, Fire made it move in different directions with his thoughts and made grandiose gestures with his hands to make it seem like they were guiding the fireball. The excitement in the audience mobilized more life force than his spell was using up and the influx was steadily increasing.


    Fire had truly missed magic, the feeling of being in absolute control that came with it, even though he knew that that feeling was only an illusion. He rarely was in the position to cast spells more powerful than creating embers because of his limited life force and even if he was carrying a gem he usually used the energy to power enchanted items. Now that he had source of energy, he could cast to his hearts content and collect more energy from the crowd.


    Fire added two more fireballs and started juggling them, resulting in amused laughter from the audience. Without warning the three orbs shot outwards and rapidly orbited Fire, close enough to the audience that they could feel the heat when one passed over them. The fireballs disappeared, instead Fire started shooting jets of flame from his palms. Just as the crowd was getting riled up, he stopped, resulting in a few disappointed moans.


    Fire called out: “Now for my next trick I require a very brave volunteer.”


    A dead silence followed by murmurs filled the marketplace and nobody really seemed to muster up the courage to step out. So Fire decided that he needed to step someone out for them. He pointed into the crowd at random and shot another ring of fire, this time a bigger one. It stopped above a young blonde woman who looked like she was a maid.


    “You, the lady with the flaming halo. Would you please come here?” Fire asked.


    She seemed hesitant but the people around her nudged her towards the platform so that she didn’t have a real choice on the matter. The ring of fire followed her all the way to the platform before disappearing. Nervously the woman stepped onto the platform and walked towards Fire, always glancing at the masses.


    Fire asked: “What’s your name?”


    She quietly answered: “Lucy.”


    Fire did an exaggerated eyebrow raise. “Lucy? Isn’t that perfect? My trick will involve a lot of light to be sure!”


    Fire was getting a bit tired of the cheery entertainer mask he was wearing but it was just something he had to keep up to fill the gem.


    He instructed: “Now, Lucy. Would you stand over there please?”


    After Lucy had moved to the designated location another ring of flames erupted at her feet, she tried her best to stay away from them.


    Fire continued: “It is very important that you stay perfectly still for this trick, one wrong move could have terrible consequences. Stand still and nothing will happen to you. Trust me.”


    The look on Lucy’s face was easy to read, it was the kind of look that you had when you suddenly realized that you were in for much more than you bargained for. Some people in the audience seemed to share that look.


    Fire made some gestures with his hands, the ring of fire widened but the flames also got taller. Without warning the ring erupted into a blinding tower of flames that climbed high above the marketplace. The only thing that was louder than the hissing of the fire was Lucy’s scream. Some people in the audience looked scared but none dared to approach because the fire was still burning bright.


    Ten very tense seconds later the flames vanished, as the eyes of the people had gotten used to the absence of the bright light again they saw the result of Fire’s trick: A completely unscathed but extremely terrified Lucy. Fire smiled. Cold flames, the oldest trick in the pyromancy tome.


    Fire held up Lucy’s shivering arm and called out: “Thank you all for joining me. But most of all, thank our very brave Lucy. An applause for Lucy please!”


    The crowd roared and applauded, it took almost ten minutes for the first to turn and go. A full on pyromancy show wasn’t something you saw every day. When most of the crowd had dispersed, Lucy also stepped off the platform, her legs still shaking, her fists clenched. She suddenly noticed something in her right hand, something that she had not had before. It was a small satchel with unknown content. She opened it and inside she found three things, a small flask, a note and something that could only be… no it couldn’t. It turned out that it still very well could. When looking at it for the third time Lucy fully realized that there was a diamond in the satchel. Then she took a look at the note, it said: “Drink the liquid in the flask and keep the diamond. Trust me.” Lucy turned around to look for the scaled creature that had stood on the platform a moment ago but he had vanished from sight. This was when Lucy took a decision that would weigh heavier than she could have ever imagined: She trusted.


    Chapter 61: A little confusing (Jennifer)


    Jennifer lay drowsily upon the stuffed velvet bedsheets. The perplexing and worrisome events of the day left her more tired than usual, and it was just past the point where Jennifer would have normally fallen asleep. Steve was already sound asleep in the adjacent bed, his face blank.


    Just as Jennifer’s thoughts drifted to dreams and cushioned floors, a dimensional rip jolted her awake. She opened her eyes and saw an enderman in dark armor wearing gold-rimmed goggles. This enderman was different from the others she’d seen recently; it was less reptile-like in appearance, and its form-fitting helmet and arms were covered in strange, glowing black symbols. Jennifer wasn’t sure how it was physically possible for something to “glow” black, but considering all the strange things she saw so far in this world, she decided she should just accept it.


    “Jennifer, are you awake?” the enderman asked.


    Jennifer shut her eyes tight for a moment and then opened them again. An enderman referring to her by name… she didn’t like the sound of that, especially not this late at night. It was probable that this enderman wanted to take her somewhere else, just as the other enderwoman had done with Fristad.


    “...yes?” Jennifer acknowledged reluctantly.


    “I hope I didn’t alarm you,” the enderman apologized. “This is going to sound hard to believe, but I’m actually Fristad. Remember when I mentioned that armor made of diamonds and ender pearls? This is what that armor does to me.”


    Jennifer stared at the enderman in disbelief, at once too tired to react immediately and at the same time carefully gauging the reliability of its words. Supposing this really was Fristad, how should she react?


    “We can talk more about this in the morning,” Jennifer concluded. “You should take the armor off so we know who you are, especially after we wake up from a deep sleep.”


    “Right. That’s a good idea,” the enderman replied. It grasped its helmet with its fingers and lifted up in a jerking movement, but then it suddenly paused.


    “Oh… hmm…” the enderman muttered. “It seems this helmet won’t come off. It’s almost as if it’s stuck to my skin…”


    Jennifer suppressed an annoyed sigh at this rather arbitrary reason for a delay in her sleep. On the other hand, she had the almost certain sense at this point that this enderman was Fristad. The enderman seemed fittingly naive in their understanding of magic, much like Fristad was when he explained his powers. The manner of speech seemed to match as well. That would also explain why this enderman didn’t look quite like the others Jennifer had seen so far.


    However, the fact that Fristad was an enderman at this point was itself worrying to Jennifer. This meant that there were many details about Fristad’s powers that she still didn’t know. Not to mention the fact that Fristad was under the control of some sort of book with a mind of its own. This made Fristad uncomfortably unpredictable.


    “I… I guess I should go sleep in another room,” Fristad the enderman uttered.


    The enderman turned around and walked steadily toward the bedroom door… and then paused.


    “Jennifer,” he uttered, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t like this place. The people I met asked me a lot of questions, much more than I felt comfortable answering. They also strapped me to a chair to perform experiments on me using strange machines that could manipulate magic. There could be more of those machines… for what purpose I don’t know. We need to be careful.”


    Jennifer agreed.


    The enderman struggled to convince himself to leave the room.


    “In the morning, I won’t be an enderman anymore, and the book’s influence will return. If…”


    “Why?” Jennifer interrupted. This was the turning point. Jennifer sat up in her bed, no longer interested in falling asleep just yet. She saw a crucial opportunity to understand the book’s power, and Fristad himself, and she would stave off sleep as long as she could to find the answers. “Is there a reason why the book isn’t influencing you right now? Did it lose energy and now needs to recover it?”


    “As far as I can tell, the book’s power has been steadily increasing,” the enderman said. “I think the only reason why it can’t control me right now is because I am an enderman. It doesn’t make sense. Why would it make me craft armor if it would turn me into something it couldn’t control?”


    “That does seem strange. Does the armor only turn you into an enderman at certain times? And why can’t the book control you?”


    “The armor only turns me into an enderman at night,” he responded. “The book uses void magic to control me, and endermen are immune to the void, which is why the book can’t control me now.”


    “And yet you can’t take the armor off?” Jennifer pointed out.


    “I know,” Fristad responded. “It’s strange. But my thoughts are clearer than before.”


    “Well, that’s interesting. I suppose that will be useful to know, even though it is a little confusing. Thank you.”


    “Farewell, Jennifer.”


    The enderman left the room.


    Chapter 62: Blood on the Snow (Fire)



    The potion was complete, the gem was charged, Fire’s backpack was full with rations and water, he was ready to venture off into other worlds. A bit of time had passed since his grandiose show on the marketplace, most of the people on the streets recognized him but otherwise didn’t pay him too much mind.


    As Fire walked further away from the town center, the noises got quieter and finally were silenced completely as he left the town behind. Fire sat down on a rock next to the path and took the bottle with the potion he had brewed out of his backpack. This potion would enhance his senses beyond what was normally possible, in particular it would sharpen his sense for energy. That way he could locate the connections between worlds, the Ender had referred to them as tunnels. When he found one he would release some energy from the gem to temporarily reverse the direction of the tunnel so he could go through to the outer world.


    That was the plan in theory, a lot could go wrong but Fire chose to ignore the risks since he had no other way of going home to retrieve some important items that would help him in Nexus.


    Fire took a sip from the bottle. Suddenly all of his senses expanded and he was overwhelmed by the sensations for a few moments but then adjusted himself to them. This wasn’t the first time he had used this type of potion. Fire could close his eyes and still navigate just fine, his other senses now provided him with more than enough information. But the one sense that was important now was his sense for energy, the closest comparable sensation a human could have would be standing in flowing water, only that the water was flowing through the body instead of around it.


    Fire felt a weak energy flow coming from a nearby forest, presumably from a tunnel that was located in it. He went off the path and started walking in the direction of the flow, he didn’t have to walk far. The forest in the immediate vicinity of the tunnel seemed… off. Trees grew in unnatural ways, the ground was distorted and it generally gave off a strange vibe.


    With the gem in hand Fire approached the tunnel, on his command a fraction of its energy was released, sending a tingling pulse through Fire’s body. He knew that he had to step through the tunnel quickly, so he didn’t waste any time.


    He woke up on what he assumed to be the other side of the tunnel, he was still in a forest and again, it looked strangely distorted. At that moment Fire knew what was going on, the tunnels were pulling matter from the outer worlds into Nexus, judging by the magnitude of distortion the pull had once been stronger than it was now, Fire wondered why it had slowed down and even more why there had been a pull in the first place. This would also explain the mangled topography of Nexus that he had seen in the Ender’s atlas. It was even more of a reason to look into what exactly was happening in Nexus.


    Fire stood still and tried to sense another tunnel, this time it was quite far away. He remembered this world from the atlas as well, the nearest tunnel was in a desert that was a few hours from his current location. He would have to do lots of walking before he would finally arrive in his own world.


    ***

    Several hours had passed, almost a day. Fire was only a short distance away from the next tunnel, he was currently in a mountainous biome. The biomes on each side of the tunnels weren’t bleeding into each other anymore like they did near Nexus so anything could be on the other side of this one. Fire was getting tired, the enhanced senses really took their toll and he was sure that the world hopping also had some part in it. This would be the last tunnel before he would set up camp and rest. Fire knew that he was closer to his own world than originally, the familiar energy of his home world resonated stronger with every tunnel he took.


    The gem flashed once again to reverse the tunnel’s direction, it took much less energy now that Fire was further away from Nexus and the pull was weaker, he theorized that he would need to use energy to return though since the tunnels didn’t have enough power to pull him through on their own anymore.


    As he woke up on the other side he heard voices, this was the first time he had come across another living being on his journey. The ground was made from hardened snow, Fire was in a tundra. He immediately felt the cold on his scales, not cold enough for him to require additional clothing but still noticeable.


    The voices he had heard were coming closer, undoubtedly wanting to inspect the sound of Fire’s impact. He quickly got up and gripped his halberd tighter. The owners of the voices broke through the bushes that were around Fire. It was a group of hunters, a couple of men and a couple of women. They all wore what seemed to be pelts of different animals, a lot of them had wolf hats. They wore all sorts of bones and teeth as jewelry, some of them didn’t look like they were from any animal he recognized. Most of them were holding spears, three of them held large crossbows.


    As soon as the hunting party saw Fire, they wasted no time in surrounding him and pointing their spears and crossbows at him, they didn’t attack.


    One of the women asked: “What kind of beast are you?”


    Fire didn’t react to the beast part and simply said: “A Mencur-Besh.”


    The woman said: “Where did you come from? We were just through here.”


    The others seemed to have no intention to lower their weapons.


    “Look, I just want to get through here. I won’t bother you.” Fire said.


    A man laughed. “That’s what all of the talking beasts say, then they come back and eat our children.”


    Fire sighed. “I suppose it would be pointless to say that I wouldn’t do that.”


    The man said to his neighbor: “Look, we got a smart one here.”


    The woman spoke again: “No matter what you say, we will kill you. Either you surrender and we give you a quick death or you fight and suffer. Those scales will make fine rings.”


    Fire was slowly getting annoyed by the hunters, he usually had his temper under control but he had just spent an entire day walking through different worlds, he was tired, now all he wanted was to rest without being bothered by a group of cocky hunters out for his scales, maybe the potion also had some part in his agitation.


    He growled: “If you fight me, all of you will die.”


    The woman spat. “We fought red dragons the size of trees, do you think we would back down from you?”


    Fire took a deep breath, he was getting angry and he didn’t like it. He on the other hand...


    Fire said: “Here is your last chance, back off now and nobody will be harmed.”


    The woman said: “I’ll mount your skull in a special place on my wall, never had such a talkative beast before.”


    While the woman was gloating, Fire had taken off his backpack and heated up his muscles, by now it was clear that he would have to fight, a red glow was radiating from between his scales and against his will another red glow emerged in his mind, rage. Just as the woman finished talking, Fire’s halberd swept in a wide arc, knocking away the spears pointed at him and giving him more room. The hunters broke out in battle cries and charged towards him, the ones holding crossbows took aim.


    A man’s life was claimed by the spear tip of Fire’s halberd, which was longer than his spear. Blood splattered on the snow as Fire withdrew from the man’s neck. He then lunged at the woman standing next to him and slit her throat with the claws of his left hand. Fire had his rage under control… until a crossbow bolt dug itself into his back, a lucky hit between his scales, the bolt painfully went through his muscles and then stopped at his ribs. That was the point where Fire didn’t care anymore, he just wanted these people dead, no matter if he killed them himself or someone else… The red glow in his mind overshadowed everything, drowning out every other thought, Fire felt himself losing control, his eyes faded from red to black...


    ***

    Eight heartbeats.


    Claw awoke to the sound of eight heartbeats.


    Eight too many.


    It had been too long. Too long since he last felt anything.


    Everything was white. Blood on the ground.


    Not enough.


    Claw threw away the thing he was holding. No need for weapons.


    Screaming. Claw loved the sound.


    Spears. Claw loved tricky prey.


    A lunge. Metal on scales. Weak spears.


    Claws between ribs. Teeth in a throat. Blood on snow.


    Seven heartbeats.


    An impact. Prey had range. Cowards.


    The prey formed a line. Claw did not care.


    Metal on Scales. Metal in flesh. Pain. Rage.


    Furious slashes. More screams.


    Five heartbeats.


    More impacts. More pain.


    A mistake. Claws in a stomach. More blood.


    Four heartbeats.


    Two cowards. A chase. A lunge. A bite.


    Three heartbeats.


    A stumble. Claws in a back.


    Two heartbeats.


    Another impact. Desperate coward. A slash.


    One heartbeat.


    Claws on wood. Claws in flesh. Rage. A torn arm. A torn leg. Teeth in a throat. Blood.


    No more heartbeats.


    A feast. Blood. BLOOD!


    Darkness...


    ***

    As the red returned to Fire’s eyes, he felt weak. His entire body was hurting. As he looked around he saw the extent of the carnage he had caused. The snow was drenched in blood, ten dead hunters scattered around. He could barely recognize the woman that had talked to him, she had been torn limb from limb. Then Fire noticed the blood in his own throat… her blood. He looked at himself. His clothes were bloodsoaked and ragged, several crossbow bolts were sticking out of his body.


    As he pulled out the bolts Fire cursed himself. Why did he have such a moment of weakness? Why did he let him… Claw get in control? With the last of his strength he searched for his last healing potion in his backpack. He wasn’t even sure that it would be enough to repair all of his wounds. The pain set in as soon as he drank it and it didn’t go away. He dragged himself away from the carnage into the nearby bushes to finally rest.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 2

    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE Book 1: Shattered Dimensions [COMPLETED] [65 Chapters + Prologues]

    Part 1: Arrival


    Chapter 1: An Unfamiliar Plane (Steve and Jennifer)


    This ground was unfamiliar terrain; Steve knew every square metre of ground for kilometres around the mansion, and this wasn’t any of it. It was a plains with a large amount of tall grass splattered around it. Steve was falling very quickly toward the ground, so he did what he always did in these situations: he whipped an ender pearl down toward the ground, and Jennifer followed suit. The other man didn’t, and when Steve teleported onto the ground, he looked up.


    The man was nowhere in sight, nor was the pitch black area that Steve was falling through. It was evening, and everything around him was still brighter than whatever Steve was falling through. Suddenly, Steve saw the man appear out of midair, falling toward the ground. He quickly decelerated and lightly touched the ground, but in tall grass about twenty metres away. Steve ran toward the tall grass, Jennifer following behind him.


    The man was in the tall grass, holding his injured knees. He saw Steve and Jennifer and immediately stared straight at them. His eyes were flooded with a horrifying blackness, an empty void. He reached an arm out at Steve and Jennifer and they again encountered a loss of vision, but this time much shorter, about three times as long as if they were travelling by means of ender pearl, which was no more than an instant or two. When they landed, they didn’t receive any harm, though, and yet again they were in unfamiliar terrain, however this time they were deep in a roofed forest.


    Steve, living in a large clearing surrounded by a roofed forest, immediately took out his supply of dirt and began towering up to above the leaves. Jennifer did the same. However, the dirt simply fell apart in their hands and piled up messily.


    “What?!” Steve exclaimed.


    “I’m not sure what’s happening.” Jennifer replied.


    “Well, let’s just cut down the tree a bit.” Steve suggested.


    “Okay.” Jennifer agreed, still very much perplexed.


    Steve took out his diamond axe and began to cut down one of the large trees. It was quite easy with the enchantments, however when Steve was about to finish cutting out a large gap of the tree, it began to tip over toward him. Jennifer had been working on a tree behind him and wasn’t aware of this; Steve began to leap toward her and push her out of the way, but the tree was quite a lot faster than him, so he only made it to a metre in front of Jennifer when the tree came falling down toward them both, picking up speed rapidly, and---


    Steve looked up. The tree had stopped. It had fallen right onto the trunk of the one that Jennifer had started cutting.


    “Well, then.” Steve said, puzzled.


    “I guess we go up this one’s trunk to get on top?” Jennifer suggested.


    Steve shrugged. “I guess so.”


    The couple ventured up the trunk and attempted to stand on the leaves, but fell through.


    “Well.” Steve stated simply.


    “I suppose we walk, then?”


    “I’d hate to go through the forest in the evening when monsters are going to kill us even in the

    daytime, but I guess it’s the only way.” Steve reasoned.


    “I suppose,” Jennifer agreed uncertainly, “So we’ll have to hurry.”


    “Definitely,” Steve said, lifting Excalibur, “So get your sword out.”


    Jennifer unsheathed her own diamond sword. “Which way do we go?”


    “Well,” Steve began, and went up the trunk of the tree, “West is that way,” Steve pointed to his left, “And there’s a mountain to the northeast. We can build a hidey-hole in there, and if we’ll be here for a while we’ll need minerals.”


    “That’s a good idea.”


    And they advanced northeast.


    Steve and Jennifer had progressed approximately twenty paces before a clink of bone sounded off to the side of the path and an arrow flew into Steve’s shoulder. His armour snapped the arrow, but then another arrow hit him. This one found its way into the back of Jennifer’s hand, causing her to drop her sword.


    Ow!” Jennifer shouted. Another two arrows hit Steve’s hip and grazed his cheek. There were at least four skeletons. Steve spun to the right and in one smooth move sheathed his sword, equipped his bow, readied an arrow in it, pulled it back and released it, the bow’s enchantments wisping out onto the arrow and lighting it ablaze in midair. The skeleton flew back, its bones scorched, and fell apart at the same time.


    Steve shot another arrow, but this one missed slightly to the right of the skeleton. However, another arrow put the skeleton out of commision; this one was shot by Jennifer. The two skeletons that were left shot at Steve and Jennifer, both arrows hitting, one in Steve’s chest and the other in Jennifer’s stomach. This caused both humans to miss their shots, however Steve’s missed enough that it hit the skeleton that Jennifer was aiming for. Jennifer quickly fired another arrow that hit the one skeleton still standing, but not before the skeleton shot an arrow that flew right toward Jennifer’s face. She quickly ducked, and Steve, who was looking at the arrow’s path, saw a large green beast advancing toward Jennifer. Steve, knowing he didn’t have much time before the beast exploded, and definitely not enough to re-quiver his arrow and switch his sword out for a bow, shot the creeper in the side of the head. It began to hiss and flash.


    When Jennifer ducked, the arrow hit the creeper in the mouth and caused it to fall to the ground. Its body didn’t disappear, nor did those of the skeletons, but it did leak a small pool of dark red blood around its head. Gunpowder spilled onto the ground and a black disc made an appearance by slicing through the dead creature’s stomach.


    “Well, that’s disturbing.” Steve commented.


    “What’s wrong with this place?” Jennifer asked. “Trees are weird, creepers are weird, everything else is weird.”


    “I’m not sure.”


    In their trek through the dark forest, roofed with thick leaves, the pair encountered several foes, the lifeless bodies of all of them remaining where they had fallen. They finally reached the mountain by midnight and Steve took out his diamond pickaxe and swiped it down at a rock wall near the base of the mountain. He quickly cleared out a small area, lit it with torches and closed up the entrance. He put down his ender chest and took two beds, altogether four cubic metres, out of the chest that measured less than one. Unexcited about this action, as it was, after all, completely normal, he put the two beds down on opposite sides of the small room. He then swiped at the ender chest with his diamond pickaxe and dropped it into the depths of his pocket. Steve then plopped down, exhausted, into one bed, and Jennifer the other.


    Chapter 2: The Void (Fristad)



    The man had waited several hours, suspended in this dark place he did not understand. At first, he didn’t know how to react to his impending death. After a moment, he decided he ought to pay respect to the memories of his family and friends. Once that was over, however, he didn’t know what else to think about.


    He shook his head. “Here I am,” he thought, “just floating in the middle of nowhere, a place so pitch-black that I can’t even see my hands in front of me, with nothing to look forward to and nowhere to go. I’m just stuck here, completely idle and useless. All I can do is think. Why is it, then, that I can’t make the most of these last few moments of my life? How much time do I have left, anyway?”


    “I do not know, Fristad,” the female voice inside of his head replied, “this current is very long. You could always try not thinking.”


    Fristad became frustrated. “I didn’t ask for your advice! The last thing I want to do right now is wait complacently for the end. Of course, you would never be able to understand because you’re just an inanimate object with no common sense...” his fists clenched, “...or empathy... or sense of purpose.”


    “So, in short, I have no human weaknesses. On the other hand, here you are, a victim to your own emotions, complaining of a fate you cannot change. Must you be so obnoxious? You are pathetic."


    "I hate yo-"


    With an eardrum-shattering bang, Fristad found himself jerked backwards and plunged into a kaleidoscope of changing colors, which passed by like the flashing light of landscapes inside the car of a passing train. Fristad turned his head and squinted. Images seemed to hover still in front of his eyes one by one before flying away. He saw, blurred, but still visible, a man wearing goggles and a labcoat; what seemed to be an enderman but was covered in scales, tunneling through rock with a pickaxe; a village burning under a floating, shiny-faced man; an army of dragons; a young boy with dirty blonde hair sitting in front of some rectangular object that had a glowing side on it, tapping different places on some plastic thing lying on the desk he was in front of; a group of teenagers playing Dungeons and Enderdragons, and then Fristad sped up enough that he could only see splotches of colour and light.


    “Oh Notch. Oh J- Jeb. Th- this is it! This is it! I’m gonna die!” Fristad blurted out impulsively. His lips were trembling.


    “Fear not, Fristad! There is hope for us just yet. I see an end to the current...”


    “What do you mean? Where are we going?”


    A moment passed in silence before the voice could answer.


    “Very, very far from home.”


    The torrent of colors stabilized into a blueish grey. Fristad felt his feet gently press against slightly spongy ground. He stood upright slowly, his back suddenly burdened by the return of gravity. He looked around and saw himself surrounded by trees, bathed in the faint light of the approaching dawn.


    Fristad took a big breath and let out a long, angry scream.


    Chapter 3: Evaluating the situation (Fire)



    Fire snapped back from being unconscious to being wide awake, an intense pain flared up inside his entire body but then subsided quickly, probably an effect of the dimensional pull. Fire opened his eyes and noticed in shock that he had appeared a good ten meters in the air. His perception slowed down, giving him time to get his bearings. He opened his arms and legs, trying to get into an upright position. He hit the ground with his feet first but instead of cushioning the fall like expected, they gave in below Fire and he fell over. Fire tried moving his limbs but it seemed like he couldn’t build up any muscle tension.


    He muttered into the red, rocky ground: “I hope that this is just a side effect of the potion...”


    After lying on the ground for a few minutes, Fire felt his strength return, he rose up onto his feet, his heavy backpack not hindering him in the slightest. He adjusted his short white hair, which had been messed up by the fall. Now he had time to take a closer look at his surroundings as he wasn’t falling anymore. He seemed to be at the bottom of a deep canyon made from a reddish, sandy rock. The sky above him was blue and the sun was at its zenith, burning down into the canyon, making Fire’s scales shimmer. At the very top of the canyon Fire could see something that looked like vines growing down, it seemed like a jungle was growing on top of the canyon. Very strange as jungles never seemed to be in dry, hot areas, which this definitely was.


    Fire thought: “Let’s see if everything is still there... you never know with... was that dimensional travel? Fairly certain it was. Best explanation. That or the server’s glitched and I’ve entered a secondary world. Actually, that’s a fairly logical explanation.”


    Fire took off his backpack and checked it’s contents and also those of the bags that were hooked onto his main backpack. After a few minutes he was content to see that everything was at it’s place: Most importantly his Wither Dagger, the Ghast Bone Bow and the Blaze Core but also his potions, food and extra clothes.


    “Well, I’m not going to need the winter jacket here.” he commented.


    Fire tried to access the pause menu but then noticed that he couldn’t, his inventory didn’t work either...


    After trying one more time he thought: “This is strange... I can’t go into the pause menu... the admins wouldn’t do that. Wait... as improbable as this sounds. I am not on the server anymore! Oh no... this is not good.”


    Fire felt a surge of panic run through his head but had himself under control again after a few moments. If he really wasn’t on the server anymore and the admins weren’t pulling a trick on him he would be in serious trouble. The only way he could explain this would be magic... he generally didn’t believe in magic outside the server but it could still be possible. If connecting a brain to a computer was possible, why wouldn’t real dimensional travel be possible? Right?


    But no. That couldn’t be possible. The admins had created a secondary world in a test. He drank the potion and he’d accidentally been sucked towards their new creation; probably a “hardcore survival” world of some kind. He would just have to find the admins and ask them to return him. Although he still had absolutely no clue what this world held, or if it were stable yet.


    Fire sighed, if he would stand here thinking about magic he wouldn’t get anywhere, right now he just had to deal with being trapped in a world unknown to him. He accepted it but he didn’t like it one bit... and there was still this new fear inside him of never returning home. Fear... an emotion Fire liked to keep away where possible at all costs. He was waiting for a weakness...


    He picked a direction and started walking, in this case in the direction where the canyon was getting wider, maybe he would find a way up as climbing wasn’t an option, even with his claws. His shoeless, scaled feet made almost no sound on the hard ground, only sometimes a small pebble flew away and hit the ground with a quiet “tic tic tic...” sound. Fire kept his eyes open and scanned the walls for any man made structures or naturally occurring stairs. Suddenly his sharp ears picked up a very quiet noise in the distance, it sounded like a waterfall. Fire would have sprinted towards the water sounds but he knew all too well that water attracted living beings and travelers, both could be dangerous as Fire didn’t know anything about this world’s wildlife or inhabitants. If there were any.


    Even more careful not to make any noise at all Fire walked in the direction of the water, he was glad that the hooks of his backpack were constructed in such a way that they wouldn’t clink. The sound got louder the closer he came to it’s source, which seemed to be behind a turn in the canyon. Fire walked close to the wall and took a peek around the corner and there was indeed a waterfall. And there also was a person standing near the water and a well equipped one at that, their back turned to Fire.


    Fire took mental notes: “Averagely tall... probably male... diamond armor... strange black chestplate, maybe obsidian... black sword, most likely obsidian too... brown hair...”


    This sight proved multiple things to Fire: This world was still somehow connected to Minecraft, indicated by the diamond armor, and had normal humans as inhabitants. Fire decided to wait and see what would happen. The person sat down and stared into the water, reaching down with cupped hands and taking a sip. He shifted uncomfortably in his armour, as if it were burning him.


    Fire came out from his cover and approached the person, his right hand inside his coat, reaching for the Wither Dagger in case he needed to defend himself but he hoped it wouldn’t have to come to that. He chose his tone carefully, not aggressive but also not overly friendly, with a slight hint of inquiry in it.


    “Hello.”


    Chapter 4: In Chains (Astro)



    Astro's Perspective

    I awake from the darkness that masks my miserable existence. Something is off from the moment I begin to perceive my immediate environment. The reinforced obsidian walls, the hard, cold floor that I was slumped against, and the manacles that bound my hands to the wall first caught my attention, before the true, harsh reality of the situation set in.


    I was... attacked? I can barely remember beyond the lightning fast offensive they had launched upon me. The guild had turned back, deserting me just when I had needed them most. Not that I could ever blame them, really. I don't remember completely what had happened before, but then an image breaches my memory. The mysterious man in the distance. He had to be behind this. If I had even one lead about my situation, it would be him. But currently I had far worse problems on my hands.


    Or perhaps 'on my wrists' would have been more appropriate.


    One thing was certain about the situation. I was now held captive, at the mercy of whatever had overcome me on the Plains of Acrisius. This feeling wasn't new - thrice before I had been held captive, once in the Arena, once by Dominus and then once by the Family. Despite this, there was something common to all times that I had never forgotten; just how desperate and twisted I had become when knowing I was not in control.


    All three times, I had been able to escape, and then wreak vengeance in some way or another upon my captor. This time was different. I could feel it in the atmosphere around me, crushing me and rendering me defeated. To add to this, I was exhausted from my efforts on the plains. I had been out for days, subsisting from my magic, and the fight had finished me.


    I turned my attention to the manacles around my wrists, and concentrated, willing for the raw potential energy I had to shatter pure metal. Minutes passed, yet...


    Nothing?


    What had seemed like a harsh reality before was a daydream blessed with hope and happiness as I got to grips with the true state of affairs. It meant one of three things. It was likely that I was truly exhausted, and use of my magic was unavailable to me, meaning I would simply have to wait until my energy built up again. It was not out of the realm of possibility that the fight on the Plains had brought me to the end, and my magical strength was leaving me, just as I would soon to be forced to leave my existence behind.


    The thing that frightened me the most was neither of the above. The third possibility was that my magic was either being limited or had disappeared completely in this realm, leaving me pathetic and almost completely powerless. I could wield a sword to the level of a soldier, but nothing compared to the days where I had been trained. I could attack with my mind, although that still relied on magic to a degree. And I could snuff out my own lights too. Even with my magic limited, the 'failsafe' remained, burning at the back of my mind. It would only take one slip, and...


    I was snapped out of my decision-making by faint noises, coming from outside the obsidian bars of the cell. The language was indiscernible; like nothing I had ever come across before in all my travels. The failsafe could wait for another day – the only reason I was still alive was because they wanted something from me. The only sensible course of action was to find out what, and maybe use it to my advantage. Certainly, Dominus, once he knew what I was capable of, had tried very hard to get me on his side. Whatever held me here was probably no different.


    The noises grew more prominent, and before I knew it two Endlings stood outside, eyeing me with complete disgust.


    These Endlings I had only seen once before, but I couldn't place... of course, they were the ones who had attacked me and brought me here. I'd fought them before; maybe I could do something again? I began to run situations in my mind, trying to make a decision before they got too close. Could I outrun them? Certainly not – I was exhausted. Fighting them was out of the question without magic. And soon I reached the same conclusion as before.

    Go with them, and see what they want.


    The manacles were unlocked, my will instead subjugated to that of the Endlings as they hauled me out of the cell, bag over my head, towards unknown territory.


    The bag was removed, the bolts on the door sealed from the outside, and I was severely disappointed by the turn of events.


    The Endlings had merely moved me to another cell. This puzzled me... it would've been easier for them just to leave me there. And this was no fun, besides. I concentrated and was rewarded by the lambent flame that sat in my palm, sporadically illuminating the near darkness of my confinement.


    And that's when I noticed I wasn't alone.


    Chapter 5: A Cry (Steve and Jennifer)



    Steve and Jennifer woke up before dawn, when only slivers of sunlight were visible, as usual, and packed the beds into the ender chest and walked outside the hidey-hole. They climbed part of the way up the mountain and walked around cautiously, observing their surroundings and looking for familiar terrain. As dawn broke across the horizon (although the horizon was a bit lower from on the mountain than on the ground), they didn't see anything particularly interesting; there was an ocean nearby, a desert beyond the enormous dark oak forest they had found themselves in, and...


    There was a scream. A long one. It came from the forest Steve and Jennifer were just in, close to them, but not too close. A chicken near the source of the sound clucked in reply. Jennifer looked at Steve. Steve looked at Jennifer. They nodded. Steve looked back at the forest and found the general area of the scream again. Steve pulled out his bow. Jennifer pulled out a rope. Steve took out an arrow. Jennifer tied the rope to the arrow. Steve nocked the arrow.


    Jennifer held the other end of the rope. Steve fired the arrow towards the area the scream had come from. It landed in the dark, leafy branches of the tree he was aiming at. Jennifer tied the other end of the rope very loosely to a rock jutting out from the mountain. Steve put back his bow, shoving it into the strange, mysterious depths of his pocket. Steve and Jennifer both took ender pearls and threw one each toward the arrow. The pearls landed short, as neither of them could throw as far as they could fire an arrow. Steve and Jennifer vanished. They briefly lost their vision. They were being torn apart, pulled from themselves. Then, they landed.


    Steve and Jennifer hit the soft ground of the dark, roofed forest. They looked around and saw thoroughly shaded tree trunks, rabbits hopping by trees, illuminated by the light that had beaten the sun to the dawn, and a skeleton that had just turned its attention to them. They got behind a tree so as to avoid arrows, but other than that ignored the skeleton. They looked up at the leaves in the trees. It was hard to see through the thick branches and at the dark sky, but Jennifer spotted the rope above them. She moved around, still looking at the rope, and then pointed in one of the directions the rope had come from.


    "You know," said Steve, "I could have told you which way to go. The sun is over there," Steve pointed, "so we-"

    "Don't waste time. We know which way to go now. Let's get moving."


    Steve and Jennifer sprinted under the rope that they saw through the occasional patch of light that made its way through holes in leaves. They kept sprinting until they looked up through a hole in the branches and saw no rope. Jennifer then climbed up the nearest tree and disappeared from view, coming down soon after with the rope in her hand. The two then began to search the forest.


    Chapter 6: "Hello" (Kay)



    I came out of the portal just as quickly as, if not faster than, I came in. I flew forwards, feet flying around, groping desperately for some solid ground. All this time my vision was completely blurred.


    "Bugger, all of these bright lights and explosions are going to leave me blind some day." Thought I, not so keen about sharing the appearance of my former master later in life.


    Then my foot caught in a hole and I fell face first into a pile of sand. I rubbed my eyes cleaned and straightened up. I was in the middle of a great canyon, surrounded by miles of rock and red sand. To my right was some small pool of water stemming from a tiny trickle of a waterfall coming down from the mountains. Behind me the portal was burned out and cracked. It was as if my being here had shattered its composition. Far off in the distance one could see the faintest wisps of smoke. And up on top of the cliffs I could see a small jungle formed. It was bizarrely out of place.


    In the afternoon sun my armour burned my skin, and I would have removed it had I not felt the ever-present feeling of eyes burrowing into my skin from everywhere.


    I then determined that I had best go over to the pool and drink to collect my thoughts. As I knelt, I almost intentionally drowned myself. I could be anywhere. The only places I knew of within The Sane Realm with such climates were the Tainted Land (dominated by Vechs, The Obsidian Families and the Court of Whispers) and The Southern Veil (which was largely unexplored and rumoured to have colonies made by rogue Divines and Endlings). Neither of these options were particularly pleasant. However, there was a third possibility; that I was somewhere else entirely. I mean, after all, I knew of no other portals that were blue in tint. Nor did I know of any Endlings which vaguely resembled what I saw back there.


    Suddenly it hit me that in all likelihood I would never see my friends again no matter where I was. If I were in the Tainted Land it was probable that one of three things would happen. First, the Obsidian Families would find me and I would be either executed or handed over to the Court of Whispers and used as a bargaining chip in hostage exchanges. Second possibility was that Administrator Vechs, or worst yet, his Moderator, Vareide, would find me. This would result in either a painful execution or being flung back into the Games. I had barely made it out last time, and I wasn't certain that I would be able to escape with anything short of a full slave revolt. The third possibility would be that I would be enslaved by one of the less friendly Pigmen tribes and sent down to the mines.


    If I were in the Southern Veil... I was doomed. There was no guarantee there was any civilization. No humans. No Endlings. Out there any number of hidden evils could lurk. At best I might die lost and alone. At worst I might awaken some ancient deity, as happened when the Divines awoke the Withers on the Isle of Norwich.


    I pulled my head out of the water, panting slowly, realisation clouding my eyes. Then I lowered my head and started taking a long, calm gulp.


    "Hello."


    I jumped, reached for my sword and turned, ready to face whatever foe there was. Then I doubled over, coughing up water, my throat sealing itself unhelpfully. I was coughing for the next minute, eyes watering. Then I realised, I was completely unharmed. They meant no harm to me. I sighed, straightened up in a dignified and or pompous manner and responded.


    "Hello. Sorry about that coughing fit but you did catch me off guard."


    The figure was tall and lean. He was older than I, about 60 by my best guess. His hair was still brown, but was grey in places and the texture of his rather wild mane was like that of wilted grain. His eyes were bloodshot and saddened, but they still held energy. The clothing he wore was simple and dirty, consisting of only a faded turquoise shirt poking out from beneath a brown poncho and blue trousers. On his back a thick and evidently quite heavy stone sword was slung, the leather straps stretched taut over his shoulders.


    "Sorry I did so." He stared at me with a vague satisfaction that I found far more unsettling than I should have.


    "Well, I am-"


    "Kay Mandy. Commandant of Herobrine's Tenth. Nicknamed Lap Dog by your peers. Infamous for your ability to poke your nose into every possible conspiracy you can find. You started out life in a Thaumic tribe before you were cast out at a very young age under very bizarre circumstances, and came under the protection of the archaeologist-"


    "Okay, stop that!" I shouted, taken about, turning my face to him. "You know who I am I take it. How?"


    "Oh, you've still got the other one. That's good." I paused after he said that, pointing towards my face in a manner just general enough for my entire face to prickle nervously. "Nevermind. I am Steve, although that's liable to change. Depends on who else is about. That's all you need to know right at this moment, so I cannot right now answer your question." He glared at me when I tried to protest. "Right now I need you to go against your nature and not stir up nonsense. You can do that later. Just wait here for the next few days. Two others will join you from what I can tell, and together you can travel off to the nearby village. Try not to do something stupid like kidnap the mayor while you're there."


    Before I could protest he was gone. I have no idea what happened to this day. I closed my eyes and bowed my head amusedly, and began to respond condescendingly. However, I heard a rushing of wind, and he was completely gone by the time I opened my eyes.


    "How rude. I didn't even get a chance to be a total **** to him yet."


    I searched for a few minutes, but I found no trace of him, beyond the footprints where he stood. Actually, there were no marks of him approaching the oasis beyond about three metres worth. It's important to note that this was not a windy day. It was as if he had sprung into existence just a few metres away from me, and then sprung out of existence with just as much promptness.


    I then sat down, looking into the still rippling water. I determined that perhaps he had been a trick of the heat. Some sort of bizarre apparition after the portal. Obviously this was an idiotic idea, but the entire situation had been ridiculous and the portal had disoriented me a little. I reached out with cupped hands and reached into the water, lifting it to my mouth.


    Then for the second time that day I heard that word. "Hello."


    Chapter 7: Definitely in the Top 10 (David and Destiny)



    As David soared through a passage of eternally baffling outcomes and realities, he couldn’t help but reflect on his situation. Sure, seeing a potentially reality wherein Martin had in fact been a beaver and his plan had been to flood the earth would have been greatly intriguing and perplexing, but there had been so many things going on he couldn’t help but question how he’d gotten there.


    “I mean, I’ve had literally the worst few weeks ever. First I’m reborn in an unfamiliar world with no memory of who I am or was. Next I’m saving my future girlfriend from zombies. Then I’m getting into a longstanding feud with Herobrine’s apprentice, he kills a helpful villager-man and kidnaps my newfound girlfriend, almost murders her and forces me to fight my way through his entire fortress in order to save a planet I’m barely even aware of. On top of all that, apparently I’m the reincarnated version of some ancient hero, as is Destiny.” David thought, handily filling an internal audience in on his life’s story. “Now! Without even a second to breath or recollect myself, we are being sent to another dimension by the ghosts of our past selves for incredibly vague reasons! I officially have the least luck of any being in existence.”


    A glance to the right proved him wrong; as he saw a small, yet fabulous-looking young man chained to a peg in the centre of a large battle with corpses littering the ground around him. However, David was still convinced he was at least in the top 10.


    That was when he suddenly became alert, where was Destiny? He hadn’t quite been aware of when he’d let go of her hand, but he reckoned it had been a few minutes ago. Surely they’d end up on the other side together, wouldn’t they?


    “Destiny!” He called out, lungs tightening as panic arose.


    There was nothing about him except glimpses of the occident and the alien, and no sound except their faint echoes of what could have been and what might yet be. He looked forward, an overpowering blue glow was growing to consume his field of vision, wider and wider, more and more blinding.

    “DESTINY-Y-Y-Y!!!” He shrieked, watering eyes clenched shut.


    “Yes?” A familiar voice responded, smothering laughter. “I’m here.”


    David wrenched open his streaming eyes. Destiny standing next to him, eyes similarly red and watery, but a great grin spread across her face.


    David laughed, reciprocating her smile. “Not a word out of you on this one.”


    “Who would I tell?” She jabbed, not quite realising - oh no - everyone she could have told was recently murdered. Gee, doesn't that kill the mood!


    It was at this point that the narrator’s boss thanked the powers that be that David couldn’t hear his narrator, because said narrator was awful at parties and no one ever liked him. He then reminded the narrator to get back to bloody work and to prevent any further acts of violence against the fourth wall.


    David then reached out and held her close to his chest, shutting his eyes again.


    “I hate to interrupt but, this really isn’t the best time.” A voice from the sidelines could be heard.


    They could now see that the room was a large, loosely hewn chamber within a cave system, with a few similar portals dotted around it. It was lit in a very spartan manner, with scarcely enough light reaching them to confirm that they were in fact standing on grass and not some bizarre moss. On that, the floor was indeed very grassy, and it seemed that only the roof of the cave was made of rock. David determined that they must be fairly close to the surface.


    The figure speaking was a large, balding man with a trench coat and trilby on, glowering at them from under a large, neanderthalic brow. On each of his gargantuan fists was a thick, metallic gauntlet. He stomped forward, and David instinctively clenched his hand, leading to a large blade protruding from the back of his hand.


    “See anyone else?” Destiny mumbled.


    “None, I’m not sure whether or not to be worried.” David retorted. “Set his mittens alight and we’ll be out of here.”


    “Consider it done.” Destiny smiled, raising her hand and pointing it at the right fist.


    However, just as the hulking figure started to notice a sensation of burning, he smiled.


    “Aren’t you an interesting one?” He laughed, raising the gauntlet, which was now starting to steam. “Take her. The Entity will be interested in examining those powers.”


    That was when the others appeared. Three tall figures with reptilian skin, which may once have been black but now was greyed, materialised around them.


    “Endermen.” Destiny spat.


    One of them immediately swiped his claws at David, who ducked under the talons, countering their onslaught with a jab to the gut from his bladed fist. However, just as the point began to touch skin, the figure vanished, and David felt a large foot kick him in the back.


    A glance to the side showed Destiny backpedalling while dodging identical swipes from two of them.


    He rolled with the impact and stood up facing his assailant. He raised his fist and a bolt of green energy burst forth from it, half blinding David. The arching and writhing ball flew towards his assailant, who vanished, leaving the ethereal projectile to slam into the wall just a few feet before him and explode, throwing all of them aside.


    David was knocked totally out of his wits by this, leaving Destiny horrified as she tried to deal with her two attackers.


    Growing tired of the melea, she raised her hand to the face of the tallest of her attackers whilst running towards David, calling out to him as she did so. The creature fell in anguish as its scales began to melt like wax from a candle. He fell to the floor, cursing the witch who did this to him in a tongue she couldn’t comprehend. Then, before its fellow could react her she began to open the Wings and felt herself lifting from the ground. However, quickly a taloned hand had hold of her foot, keeping her from ascending. Then from above, David’s assailant fell on top of her, bringing her to ground.


    David, now sitting up, saw Destiny being dragged to the ground by the two thugs, head spinning. Then, without warning, as they touched the ground, they vanished into thin air. Where there had once been a mass of three people, there was no nothing.


    David rose, uttering garbled insults and swaying feebly on his legs, hearing dulled. He turned to look for some creature other than the writhing soul on the floor to kill, when the gauntleted fist of the giant brought itself to his stomach. David sputtered and buckled as the blow negated his cuirass of leather, before rolling over and just lying.


    “Take this one to an isolated cell. Don’t want him damaging the other prisoners. If you can, get that bloody thing off. He might blow himself up trying to escape.” The giant called out in a theatrical manner. “Welcome to Nexus.” He grinned.


    From the shadows dozens of other creatures emerged, encircling David. Then he felt a lurch, and he passed out.


    Chapter 8: Not Alone (Tyron)


    The room was large and spacious, although the dark-haired man didn't seem to have realised it in the darkness. In fact, there were several beds around the room, all four-posted and with some fairly expensive-looking drapes around them. Said beds were raised up by a few steps, with a curving path through the room, on which one could normally see a heavy dining table.


    The curtains were drawn, that was intentional, and the large green creature had placed shrouds over the lamps as best he could, dulling their strange, unchanging glow slightly. And the creature sat in the shadows, cross-legged fur bristling, blue eyes peering across his flattened nose at the new arrival.


    "We knew they'd send someone in! Thank Notch! Perhaps it's someone interesting! Someone I could actually sustain a conversation with! A conversation that doesn't descend into threats of violence against whomsoever you've determined to be responsible for our present situation!" A genderless, somewhat inhuman, and definitely teasing voice echoed in the large creature's mind.


    He glared down at the large, blue sword laid across his knees and whispered absentmindedly, "Shut up Kir, now's not the time".


    The intruder had been sitting there in the room, squinting into the darkness a while, seeming to pick out the lamps in a vague manner. He then heard Tyron's murmuring, looked into his corner, presumably saw his luminous blue eyes and began tugging at the door only to find it tightly sealed. He cursed, pulled back and started glaring intently at the door.


    He starting whispering some inaudible words as he, sadly for him only figuratively, dug holes into the heavy wood with his eyes. Finding this to be failing, he became increasing frustrated, thrusting his hands in the direction of the lock and saying these words at increasing volume. There was about a minute of this before he kicked the door, cursed walked away from the creature that bested him and sat down against it.


    "Well, come on out." He called, gesturing tensely with his right hand. "I'm warning you though, I'm really rather cross right now, and cross people taste rubbish."




    Chapter 9: Friendly strangers (Fristad)



    Fristad heard a sound coming from behind a tree somewhere behind him. He looked around and found that there were voices coming from behind a tree some dozen metres away. He could tell that there were two people, a male and a female. They were growing closer, but they hadn’t dropped their voices enough to convince him that they knew he was there. They had probably heard him scream and followed him.


    The voices drew closer. Fristad made out enough words to figure out that they were talking about someone named Ozen. Fristad ran as quickly as he dared while trying to be quiet behind a tree. As soon as he got behind it, he poked his head out from behind it, and saw two people coming out from behind some tall grass. One, the man, wielded an enchanted diamond sword and wore an entire set of diamond armour. All enchanted. Fristad pulled back his head a bit. The man had tanned skin and brown hair barely visible under his helmet. The other one, the woman, also wore diamond armour and wielded a similar sword. Her skin was lighter and her red hair much longer; it reached about halfway down her back over her chestplate. Fristad quickly decided that he didn’t want to mess with these people.


    “We’ve looked all over the place. Do you think they left?” The man asked the woman.


    “Maybe. But we’ll keep looking a while longer. What if they’re hurt? You heard that scream.” The woman replied.


    Fristad furrowed his brow. They’re clearly worried, he thought, but what if they don’t think I was the one in danger? What if they think I was the cause of the scream?


    “True.” The man didn’t say anything else, however he may have if he hadn’t been interrupted by the woman, who suddenly stopped. The man looked around, readying his sword. Fristad took a step back. Unfortunately, he stepped on a small branch and snapped it. Both the strangers turned and looked at the tree he was behind. They circled around it on opposite sides and saw him. Fristad now saw their faces. The man had purple eyes, while the woman had blue ones. Both of them smiled.


    “Oh, you’re not hurt.” The woman said, relieved.


    “Is there anyone else here?” The man asked. “How long have you been here?”


    “I... I just got here.” Fristad replied. He sighed with relief. Thank Notch, he thought. I’ve had enough threats on my life in the course of a single day.


    “Do you have any supplies?” The man asked, noting his lack of weaponry and armour as good as theirs. Fristad only had iron armour and an axe made from the same material.


    Fristad shrugged. “Nothing more than I have on me. Just this torch here in my sheath,” he pointed to his sheath, “this axe, and the armor that I’m wearing.”


    “Why didn’t you pack more supplies?” The man asked. “If you don’t have anything, you’ll die. Didn’t you know that?”


    “Anyway,” The woman said, “I’m Jennifer. This is Steve.”


    “I’m Fristad.” He turned to face Steve. “Listen, this is all rather sudden for me. I didn’t exactly ask to be sent to this faraway place. If I did, I would have come more prepared. As it now stands, I don’t even know where I am.”


    “Don’t worry,” The man, Steve, replied. “We’ve survived worse. Now, I’ll get you some materials.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew a black chest about one cubic metre in volume.


    Fristad blinked his eyes. Did I really just see that happen? The man just pulled a meter-high chest out of a pocket in his pants...


    Steve dropped the chest onto the ground, opened it up and withdrew several times the size of the chest in logs. Steve dropped about sixty metres in length of logs about a metre thick in front of Fristad.


    “Woah, woah! Take it easy!" Fristad jumped back as the logs landed with a thud. "That's... uh... really kind of you, but I have no idea how I'm going to carry all that stuff."


    "Um..." Steve replied, confused, "Don't you have an unexplainable, enormous void in your pocket from which you can easily get materials you've dropped into it?"


    "So.. you’re telling me this pile of wood came from an enormous void in your pocket? Am I getting that right?"


    "Well, of course it did! And don’t the materials stack strangely so that you can carry 2,304 cubic metres of 35 different materials, but you can't carry a cubic metre each of 36 different materials? Man, you're weird."


    Fristad's brows furrowed in confusion. "2,304... 35... what? And what do you mean by 'stacking'?"


    "Where are you from? Do they make pockets differently there?" Steve asked, figuratively wading in puzzlement. He may have chosen to literally wade in puzzlement, but puzzlement took hours to wash out of his clothes.


    "I'm from Veridale of the Farlands. And, yes, apparently we do make pockets differently there. We also wear our hats upside down from the way you do, because our hats do this weird thing where they spontaneously combust for a few seconds, but only on one side!"


    "You have hats that spontaneously combust there? Your people must be really strange..."


    Fristad rolled his eyes. "Never mind; nobody wears hats anymore anyway."


    "Um... so, do you still want the materials?"


    "Look, I really appreciate you trying to give me this stuff, but I'm not sure how you expect me to carry it all. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do with so many logs..."


    "Craft with them, of course! Or place them! What else do you do with them? They're logs!"


    "Look, I already told you I don’t have an enormous void in my pocket like you do, and even if I did, I have no use for flimsy wooden tools.”


    "Then you can still place them, of course!"


    "Now, why would I want to do that?"


    "To have logs in front of you! Or under you! Or beside you! Or above you! It's not like a floating log above you is going to fall on you!"


    “Anyway,” Jennifer interrupted, “We should be figuring things out now. We need to know why we’re here, who got us here, how we’re here, when we can get back and how.”


    “We were sent here by some guy who I assume wanted to kill us.” Steve said. “He appeared out of nowhere after I took these out of a chest.” Steve held up the crystals. “I got these when Herobrine was trying to kill us. Deodate, a Paragon, made them, I think. I’ve never really gotten a chance to ask him about them, as he is dead.”


    “Wait, slow down... so, you’re telling me that Herobrine was trying to kill you? The same Herobrine with white, glowing eyes, who commands an army of undead?” Fristad asked, his eyes squinting with incredulity. “And you’re telling me your name is Steve? Stephen Persson? The same Steve that stole fire from the Aether and gave it to humanity? The same Steve that fought Herobrine on top of the Cardinal Mountain?”


    “Um... yes, Herobrine tried to kill me; yes, glowing-eyed Herobrine; yes, undead army, as well as a bunch of non-undead monsters, but no, I didn’t fight Herobrine on Cardinal Mountain. And no, I’m Steve Brine. I don’t even know what the Aether is, and I’ve never stolen fire before. Actually, Herobrine was my father.”


    “Now, if we want to survive,” Jennifer interrupted before Steve could explain further or Fristad could ask any questions, though not before he managed to somehow get twice as puzzled as before, which may very well have been a new record between him and Steve, “We’ll want food, water, shelter and fire. We have no idea how long we’ll be here and we’ll prepare for the worst.”


    “Good idea.” Steve answered, and put all the wood back in his chest, pulled a full-sized, purplish, shiny, diamond pickaxe from his pocket and slashed at the blackened chest, ripping it from the ground, and then dropped it in his pocket. He then dropped the pickaxe back and didn’t even look as he did so. He then looked at Jennifer and Fristad and said, “So, we sleep in the cave again?” Jennifer nodded. Steve didn’t wait for a response from Fristad before he quickly climbed up a tree and a second later came back down and began to walk away from Jennifer and Fristad. Jennifer followed Steve.


    Everything is happening so fast... Fristad thought. I can’t make up my mind whether this man is telling a white lie, or if he is completely crazy. Either way, he can’t be the same Steve that I know from legend, and I find it hard to believe that he is the son of Herobrine. He is a miner, at the very least. Perhaps that explains how he was able to store all those logs in a chest in his pocket. Still, why would this Steve claim to be the son of Herobrine, and then claim that Herobrine was trying to kill him? And what do the crystals mean to this Steve?


    Fristad, after a few seconds of confusion, quickly followed the strangers, as he saw no better way of staying alive out here. If there was a shelter, he was going to get to it.


    Chapter 10: Tell him I hate him (Astro)



    "I'm warning you though, I'm really rather cross right now, and cross people taste rubbish."


    The...thing in front of me came out of the shadows, and it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Emerald green fur, and it towered above me; I had no doubts that it would actually eat me given the opportunity.


    "I'm sure they do." He glared at me crossly. "As such, I'll wait until you're in better spirits. Welcome to our prison until then."


    The creature finished, falling silent as I observed my surroundings. Several four poster beds, although only one looked used, as well as a purple tinted light emanating from the bedside of each one.


    He stiffly shuffled over to the curtains and yanked on a rope, illuminating the room blindly. I raised both hands to protect my eyes, which had become quite accustomed to darkness. I noticed the large sword at his side, which glimmered intently. There was something about it that almost felt as if it were looking at you, but I quickly put that thought out of my head.


    "What do you see?" He posed it more as a statement than a question, but still expected an answer.


    "My imminent death," I shot back, not willing to play along with his games. I felt like the contempt in my statement would not be lost on him.


    "Very funny." He growled, smiling dryly. "But the correct answer is a very steep drop down to some rather sharp rocks. Also, extra points for a large fortress which doesn't seem at all right. The design is off, especially on the landscape. Too smooth, not enough edges. It could just be a trick of the light, but this isn't possible. None of this is possible, should all be metric cubes down there."


    "Not everything is cube shaped. Or at least not where I hail from. I would speak of that, but I'm in shock from the rude awakening I experienced at the hands of those Endlings back there. Unless you haven't heard of those, either, in which case you should know that they're rather fickle, " I finished, wondering if he'd pick out my litote.


    "Endling? Pretty name for an Enderman. So, they took you too. There's a start. Perhaps they didn't kill as many as they said." He seemed to drop into ponderousness at this.


    "It's not just them. Just before they took me, there was one other. He's known as the Silhouette."


    "Never heard of him." He bluntly stated, with an air of contempt. "You didn't see a translucent little git, calls himself Freak?"


    "I don't believe I've had the pleasure."


    "Yes, he hasn't been about this last week or so. You will see him though. When you do, tell him I hate him." He elaborated with equal bluntness.


    "How long have you been here?" I asked him, changing the topic slightly in the hope of learning a bit more about the situation.


    "About a month at this point. I went into a cave with Kir, just wanted to help some kid. Brother went missing. Then we were attacked by the aforementioned creature. He knocked me out and we ended up here. He's been… playing games with me ever since, except the last week strangely enough."


    "I see. So they're all in cahoots with each other. A few things don't add up though. Who is Kir? And more importantly, who are you? You bear no resemblance to any creature I have ever observed, and one could say I'm well travelled."


    This seemed to anger him, and he turned to me, advancing proudly and furiously. "One would be quite incorrect in that assumption. I am Tyron Dragoknight, guardian of the Dragons, slayer of Herobrine and saviour of this damned world! You'd do well to know those to whom you owe your life."


    "Well, Herobrine still lives. Your name has never been uttered in any corner of the world in which I have set foot. And unless I'm much mistaken, there are no dragons either. But nor do I think you are lying to me. Calm down, and think this through, because this situation makes sense to neither of us."


    Defeat fell across his face, and he didn't seem to hear most of my rebuttal. "He's still alive. Freak was right. All my work meant nothing! All of it! Pointless!" He flipped the nearest table. "Lupi dead! Seth crippled! All irrelevant!" He fell to his knees, slamming the sword into the ground.


    "The Herobrine I know and the Herobrine you say you've killed...describe your Herobrine to me," I inquired of him, as I played a hunch.


    "Tall, thin, blue shirt. White eyes. Controls the creatures of the night." Tyron responded through gritted teeth, seeming to catch on slightly.


    "That is the creature we are all warned against, but in reality, he is much different. For too long, we fought a war that was not worth fighting, and at the end of it Herobrine emerged victorious. It was not worth the lives we lost, but the true criminal was not Herobrine."


    "Tell me what your's looks like, he is evidently alien to me."


    "A huge presence, with a beard as brown as chestnut, who wears his omnipotent obsidian shell. One would not be wise to attempt to confront him in battle, but he does not cause the trouble everyone previously attributed him to."


    "Perhaps I was too quick to judge. It is possible that there is more than one of them. I'm sorry." His eyes were still rooted to the floor, but he was on his feet again.


    "I forgive you, Tyron Dragoknight. It is easy to become rattled by the fate that has befallen us both. Maybe we would do well to assemble what we know of this situation and attempt to understand it?"


    "You and Kir are right. I've wallowed in misery too long. Let's figure this out." Tyron put on a look of optimistic pride.

    I opened my mouth to begin explaining the circumstances around my capture to Tyron, but before I could respond, I heard clattering outside the door of the room.


    "Looks like we'll have to wait on that, Tyron. It seems we are in for yet another surprise," finished I, as gesturing to the door.


    Light flooded the room, again, and I reeled back as the Endlings came forward.


    Chapter 11: Endlings (Kay)



    The diamond-shelled stranger turned to Fire, smiling and with loose body language. This was weird; most people were somewhat scared by his appearance, thinking him to be an Enderman on steroids.


    "Hail Endling." Evidently this man didn't mind Endermen.


    At least, Fire assumed this was what "Endling" meant. Although the use of the word "hail" and the fact that he sounded slightly Irish suggested that he was likely an NPC. This was definitely one of the Admin's creations. Trying to build some sort of fantasy world and this was a prototype NPC. He was probably fairly simple at this point. Not like the people of Rockhaven and beyond. Perhaps a few stock phrases and actions. Beyond that he would be completely thick.


    "Hello... person." Fire grinned, relieved that this was all so simple, loosening his grip on the dagger.


    The figure approached Fire, still grinning. He stopped just a few steps before him in his placid manner. Then, just as Fire was about to test the limits of his AI, he struck.


    From his scabbard flew his sword, swatting aside the dagger. It landed in the dust beside Fire and before he could react the blade was at his throat, he was on the ground and there was a boot planted on his left wrist. Fire could probably have killed him then and there, but he was honestly too startled.


    "As commandant of the 10th Legion of the Herobrinian Army, I, Kay Mandy, am placing you under arrest Endling." His tone was now harsh and aggressive.


    "Under what charges?" Fire exclaimed despite himself.


    "None really." He responded, actually somewhat confused. "I'm contractually obligated to arrest you. Your people have on multiple occasions declared their intent to wipe out our own after all. Believe it or not we'd like to stop you from killing us off."


    "What are you talking about! I'm not an 'Endling' as you call it!"


    "That's just what an Endling would say."


    "That is incredibly flawed reasoning."


    He deliberated for a mere moment before grinning and saying, "I am now convinced." He removed the boot from Fire's arm and removed his blade from Fire's throat before offering him a hand.


    "What was all that about?" Fire shouted incredulously.


    "I am convinced you're not an Endling of any kind."


    "Well..." Fire had never been more confused. "That's wonderful but how do you come to that conclusion?"


    "Several things. Firstly, you're travelling alone. Endlings don't do that usually but you could be a straggler, scout or a rogue. Secondly, you are talking to me. Endlings bloody loath humans and would sooner slit their own throats than speak to them. Believe me, they're near impossible to interrogate." He smirked a little. "Thirdly, you had ample opportunity to try and kill me. Like I said, Endlings generally kill humans on sight. Fourthly you look different. Usually the jaws are bigger and they don't have scales so much as burnt and hardened plates of skin. You also didn't react to the name of Herobrine. Lastly," He brushed Fire's face with his exposed finger. "I don't burn upon touching you. That's a big one."


    Suddenly it dawned on Fire that this man was no NPC. No NPC could be this insufferable. Was he in another world after all? Then again, how could he know he was the only player in this world? Nonetheless, there was something about this man that told Fire that he wasn't just a really obnoxious roleplayer.


    "My name is Kay," He said calmly but somewhat dryly, evidently still having some vested interest in Fire. "Same as I shouted earlier. And you are?"


    Fire was hesitant for a moment and then said, "Fire. Say, how long have you been here?"


    The figure thought for a moment. "An hour or two at best." He then turned and pointed to a cracked and uncharacteristically frail Nether Portal that had not yet been lit. "I arrived through that. And no it doesn't mean I'm from the Nether. It was blue when I got into it."


    It then collapsed in on itself, as fate's a comedian.


    "Well bugger," Kay said. "I suppose we'd best get to work on a camp shouldn't we?"


    "What's telling you I've not got a place near here that I could return to?"


    "A friend; I have quite a lot of them it seems," He turned back to Fire. "I don't imagine you do, not here anyway?"

    Fire was unsure whether to be offended or impressed, he turned and saw the smoke.


    "Why don't we go over there? Obviously some sort of town across the desert."


    Kay shook his head knowingly and said. "We're waiting on one other person. We should expect them in the next few days."


    "Who are they?" Fire questioned half-scathingly, half genuinely curious.


    "No clue. My friends didn't say!" He ran off laughing.


    Fire shook his head. He prayed that their other companion wasn't this irksome, and that they were actually coming. There was something off about this Kay, and his irritation factor was only part of it. There was an impression that he had had a few screws loosened where they shouldn't, as if he could break at any moment. Fire hated uncertainty, and this man wasn't just uncertain himself, and he didn't just spread uncertainty to those around him; he was proud of it!


    Chapter 12: Not a Nether Portal (Warnado)



    Warnado examined his surroundings; he appeared to be in some sort of desert. That was obviously no Nether portal. Scattered across the sandy terrain were dead bushes and cacti. There was no water in sight.


    Warnado shook his head. He had no idea where he was, and he didn't have any of his belongings with him. He sighed. "What a drag."


    Warnado walked through the desert, looking for any sign of life, civilization, anything. The heat bared down upon him, and he was afraid of getting dehydrated. After a while, he came across a desert temple. Warnado shrugged. "Might as well."


    He poked his head into the dark pyramid of sandstone. The sunlight filtered into the structure through a hole in the top, and cast ghastly shadows across the walls. Warnado cautiously stepped inside, wary of any monsters that might appear hiding in the shadows. He walked over to where the stained clay blocks lined the floor. "Pickaxe..." he muttered. He walked back outside, and continued on his way.


    Eventually, Warnado came across a jungle. Warnado looked up at the lofty trees. He wasn't very fond of them, because they were so big. Either way, he needed wood, and this was the only source he could find so far. Warnado snapped his fingers.


    Nothing.


    Irritated, Warnado snapped again. Still nothing. "Stupid energy axe..." Warnado muttered to himself. Rolling his eyes, Warnado resorted to punching the tree. Instead of a breaking block, all Warnado got was a painful crack.


    "Son of a-" Warnado shouted, gripping his fist. "The heck was that?!" He glared up at the tree. He disliked them even more.


    A glint caught Warnado's eye. Turning his head, he set his gaze upon a small oasis, with a lake and a waterfall. Shrugging, Warnado headed towards it. He drank from the pool, and once his thirst was quenched, his senses were sharper. Warnado looked around, and noticed a group of footprints.


    Someone had been here before...


    Chapter 13: Not a Good First Impression (Fristad)



    Fristad watched in fascination as Steve and Jennifer dug away at the walls of the cave, seemingly in perfect unison.


    Fristad couldn't help but feel rather useless to assist, given the unnatural speed at which the two adventurers worked.


    Their diamond pickaxes tore away at the stone in huge chunks as if burrowing into sand. The expanding walls of the once-modest hole became smooth and rectangular.


    Steve swiftly scooped a pile of fallen stone into his arms. He shoved them into his pocket with little regard for their massive size, and they seemingly disappeared as they fell into it.


    Then, the two adventurers began to hack away at the floor around Fristad with the same haste with which they had flattened the walls. Steve pulled out the Ender chest from his pocket and planted it near the mouth of the cave. He opened it and lifted out a pile of meter-high stone bricks with one hand. He tossed them easily and Jennifer caught them several meters away. The two of them began laying down the stacks of stone bricks in opposite directions.


    Fristad quickly had to step out of the way as the two of them converged to the center of the newly-constructed room.


    "Hey Fristad, catch!" Steve called out.


    Fristad was startled to notice the diamond pickaxe hurtling towards him from Steve's outstretched hand. He caught the handle ungracefully by its edge, nearly dropping his new enchanted diamond sword as he struggled to hold both tools in his hands at once.


    "Could you help me dig out a mineshaft?" Steve asked. "I was thinking we could mine some coal, iron and maybe some diamonds if we're lucky, so you have better armor to wear. Meanwhile, Jennifer could scout the area and look for food. Sound good, Jen?"


    "I was thinking the same thing," responded Jennifer as she finished placing furnaces along the newly torchlit walls.

    Fristad replaced the axe in his sheath with his new diamond sword, and placed the axe on top of a nearby furnace. He held the pickaxe in both hands and turned it over, inspecting it. "I've never used a pickaxe before, but I can try my best."


    "You've never used a pickaxe before?" Steve asked, surprised. "How'd you get the iron to craft your armour and axe?"


    "Well, usually I buy iron for my tools from the miners in Veridale. Not everyone is a miner where I come from. I also usually wear leather armor made from the cows I raise on the ranch back at home, not iron armor like this. I got this armor from... another miner." Fristad nervously paused for a moment before uttering those last two words. He chose his words carefully, so he wouldn't accidentally reveal that he stole the armor from the site of the miner Brittany's death. That would not make a good first impression on these people, Fristad thought.


    "Well, I suppose you're right," Steve said, smiling, "some people have to be majors rather than minors."


    "I suppose, Fristad," replied Jennifer, rolling her eyes at Steve, "that is how it works in most towns, but we're used to living outside of those. We live in a mansion in a clearing in a forest. We haven't been to a town in quite a while... not since-"


    "You should get going," Steve interrupted abruptly. "We'll start working on the mineshaft soon. Be back before dark."

    And with those words, Jennifer nodded and left with enchanted bow in hand. Her stride was swift and steady despite her being encased in diamond armor from head to toe, which Fristad imagined was quite heavy.


    How odd, Fristad thought. When I first encountered these two people, it seemed like Jennifer was the serious one who would impatiently cut off Steve, but now it seems as if their roles have reversed. What is also odd is that these people cut each other off at the most inconvenient moments, just when the conversation is about to get interesting. First, Jennifer cut Steve off after Steve insisted logs could float in the air, and then she cut him off again when Steve mentioned that Herobrine was his father. Now, Steve just cut Jennifer off after she tried to explain why the two of them live alone in the wilderness.


    Fristad walked over to the indentation Steve was digging into the wall and lifted his pickaxe above his shoulder, in preparation for his first swing.


    I'm not the only one hiding something, am I? he thought. All these unanswered questions were beginning to make him nervous.


    The honed diamond edge of Fristad's pick plunged into the wall, bursting out fragments of stone and dust at a speed that Fristad thought impossible. The power of this miner's tool filled him with awe, and for a while he forgot about the other, third being in that room, a being which wanted so badly to control him.


    Chapter 14: Lesser Being (Warnado)



    Warnado skipped another rock across the pond, watching its path until its inevitable sinking. Shaking his head, Warnado looked around the oasis again. He needed to be home. His world was already crumbling, and he wasn’t going to be around to see it.


    Warnado glanced up at the jungle trees that towered overhead, which were letting in the faintest bit of sunlight through their leaves. From what Warnado could tell, it would be night soon. If this world played by the same rules, then the monsters would come out soon...


    Warnado could use the gauntlet. The mages had saved his mother’s power for a reason, even if it was unstable. Even if he couldn’t use his own magic here, Warnado’s gauntlet could easily chop down one of these trees. But he had sworn he would never use it. If items had personalities, this one would be insane.


    Just like him.


    Warnado shook his head, letting the haunting memory fade back to the dark recesses of his mind. Finally he stood up; maybe he’d find a set of ruins with old materials that he could use to make a shelter. He could also try to follow the footprints, and see if their makers were friendly. There were only two sets, and they were fresh, which most likely meant that the area had just been discovered. Warnado had no idea how he’d fight the two off if they turned out to be hostile, but he decided to follow the tracks anyway.


    After walking through the dense foliage of the jungle for a while without anything interesting happening, Warnado heard noises through the dense fog. The world had made the shift from day to night. Stopping suddenly, he frowned. He didn’t have a weapon.


    Whoosh.


    Although he didn’t have a weapon, Warnado could still use hand-to-hand if any problems arose. He remembered that one time when he had uppercutted a chicken. Stupid chicken.


    “Look, I don’t know where I am. I don’t have a weapon, and I don’t want any trouble. So, how about we just pretend that you didn’t just teleport right behind me, and we can part ways without any problems arising. Agreed?”


    Hmm...it seems you don’t know. You being here is already starting to cause problems.


    The voice was feminine, and filled Warnado’s head, making it sound as if someone was talking to him telepathically. Warnado frowned, then turned around. He only focused on the Enderman’s body, knowing fully well not to look at its face as to agitate it, and noticed it was different from the other Enderpeople he knew. The creature seemed to be wearing obsidian armor, with a purple gem in the middle, right below where the creature’s neck was. Spikes jutted out from the creature’s shoulders, and it was carrying a black sword that had veins of purple energy running through it.


    Who are you? The voice continued. Why are you here?


    “I was wondering the same thing. Do you know why I’m here?”


    The Enderwoman sighed. Possibly, but you’re not supposed to be here. Are there others?


    “You’re the only other living creature I’ve met since I got here. Did you get sucked through a wormhole too? We could be pals! What’s your name?”


    Lesser beings such as yourself normally refer to me as the Ender.


    “Come on, that name’s so clichéd. Your nickname game is-wait, ‘lesser beings’?”


    Yes, “lesser being”. As in I hold more power over you. After all, you were dragged to this land not of your own accord, correct? What’s your name?


    Warnado hesitated. He knew better than to trust this Enderwoman with his real name. “Jeb?”


    Liar.


    “Helix.”


    Perfect.


    “But if you want this thing to work out, you will refer to me as ‘Lord Helix’. Any lesser being would do the same.”


    The Ender growled. You’re a cocky one, aren’t you? Daring to use my words against me?


    “Yes. After all, you haven’t shown any remarkable powers so far. If you had, I would surely join you in your obvious quest of world domination. It’s not like I have anything better to do.”


    The Ender was obviously deep in thought, because she didn’t answer for a while. Eventually, she shifted her arm to hold her sword in a ready position. I’ll show you true power, “Lord Helix”...


    She swung her sword towards Warnado, who ducked underneath the blade, narrowly avoiding its razor-sharp edges. Warnado couldn’t run, since the Ender could obviously teleport, so he saw no other options other than to pull out his gauntlet. He clenched his hands into fists. The Ender stared, transfixed by the gauntlet, obviously drawn to its power.


    Warnado looked at his hand. “You’re drawn to its power? It was my mom’s. She was a powerful mage, though not the most mentally stable. Now, I’d walk away before I find out what this thing does.”


    The Ender shook her head, breaking the hold the Gauntlet had over her. I’ll be back for you, Helix…


    “Okay, nice meeting you. We should do it again sometime. I know a fantastic place where we can get tacos.”

    The Ender ignored his statement and teleported away, grumbling about something. Warnado shrugged and continued on, carefully following the footprints embedded in the mud. Eventually he came upon a hastily-built shack. Seeing lights inside and hearing faint voices, he walked up to the door and knocked.


    Chapter 15: Hunting (Jennifer)



    Jennifer looked up at the sun as she crouched from her temporary perch on a tree branch. Judging from the sun's position, which was well above the horizon but still low in the sky, she estimated that the time was 8:30 AM.


    Jennifer scanned the treetops. Lush, dark green trees clung to the hills like a coat of fur. In the distance, the last of the fog could be seen hiding in the shadows between cliffsides. As she turned her head, she noticed a shining glint flash from some trees just above the shadows. The leaves of these trees appeared grey. Ice, perhaps?


    Jennifer climbed down from the branch. Knowledge of the terrain would be helpful, but she knew now was not the time for sightseeing. Steve and Jennifer's food supply wasn't going to replenish itself, after all.


    She pulled out an enchanted bow and arrow from her pocket, drew the arrow loosely against the string, and resumed walking. After a few hundred meters, she suddenly stopped.


    Jennifer's eyelids perked up. A faint rustle had just echoed through the trees ahead, barely within her hearing range. She crouched down and reached into her pocket, augmenting her hand with another arrow, and slid the two arrows against the bow. She tiptoed forward, her legs sprawling outward to accommodate the growing downward slope of the ground. Her eyes stared ahead at her targets.


    Two deer were traveling slowly along a path at the bottom of the hill. Their forms were erect, but their gait was steady and relaxed, as if they were enjoying the morning weather, blissfully unaware that they were being hunted.


    Jennifer couldn't help but smile with amusement. They looked like no animal that she had seen before. She marveled at how their long, thin legs could hold up their stocky brown bodies. Even stranger still were the horns sprouting like tree branches from either side of their heads. That, along with their stubby tails and spoon-shaped ears, made them undoubtedly the silliest-looking mammal that Jennifer had ever seen.


    Then, Jennifer's attention turned back to the arrows in her hand. She cocked one of them against the string of the bow and let it go. The arrow sliced through the air and pierced one deer's neck. It fell onto its knees. The second one sprang into a run, leaving the second flying arrow to lodge harmlessly in the ground. Jennifer wasn't going to let it get away. She let loose a third arrow, which struck the running deer between the shoulders. It shrieked but kept running.


    A fourth arrow pierced its neck, and it crashed headfirst into the ground.


    Jennifer sighed and put her bow away. Whatever these animals were, they sure could run fast, she thought to herself. She jogged down the hill until she reached the first one that she shot. She waited a moment. Sure enough, the body remained.


    How am I supposed to collect the meat from it? Jennifer wondered. She recalled when she and Steve were fighting the skeletons and the creeper. After the creeper died, rather than disappear in a puff of smoke leaving gunpowder behind, the gunpowder instead burst forth from the Creeper's stomach. I've never seen an animal like this before.


    Maybe it doesn't drop anything, or maybe I have to...


    Jennifer grimaced. She could already tell this was about to get messy. She pulled out her diamond sword and thrust the blade into the abdomen of the deer. Blood spattered.


    Chapter 16: Always Make an Entrance (The Ender)



    The Ender had little patience for contradictions, and the presence of this human-ish creature was the largest contradiction she'd encountered throughout this entire affair. The Entity had promised that they wouldn't let anything in until they explicitly wanted it - evidently this wasn't the case. He was losing control and things were slipping in under his radar, otherwise he wanted this bizarre kid for some reason.


    She found herself bursting into his office after materialising just outside, dramatically casting the doors aside. The room was dimly lit and the candles which usually kept it alight were slowly ceasing to breathe.


    "Hello?" She called.


    The door slammed shut and the curtains seemingly drew themselves. She raised her claws, ready to disembowel anything that assailed her.


    She slowly turned around in a circle, ready to vanish at a moment's notice. Then she saw him, Freak, sitting at the foot of the bed. He gave a lax two-fingered salute from the temple and grinned.


    "Hello m'lady." He stood up, swaying slightly, as if a little drunk or at least unfamiliar on his legs.


    "Always make an entrance Freak." Ender rolled her eyes.


    "Well, you know me." Freak smirked. Ender poured out two shots of whiskey and handed him one. "You know me very well indeed."


    The two raised a mutual toast.


    "To our glorious leader." Freak oozed.


    "To the hope that he doesn't make any more cockups." Ender scolded, before downing her drink.


    Freak was about to follow suit but hesitated at this. "What do you mean?"


    "He's let someone through. Some little funny-looking tosspot who wouldn't cooperate. He's on the loose currently. We had a fight and then I came back here."


    Freak groaned. "Oh lord, you didn't kill it did you?"


    "No." Ender laughed. "The Entity would end me for that. You know how he likes his specimens. I came back here to check whether he was interested. Where is he by the way?"


    She poured herself another shot, ignoring the fact that Freak still hadn't touched his. In all honesty it wouldn't matter much that she was drinking faster, her species barely registered alcohol, she just enjoyed the taste.


    Freak suddenly became interested in examining his fingernails, then realised he didn't have any, wondered why the hell he thought he had any, and then proceeded to answer the question.


    "He's out in the danger zone, 'The Shift' as it's calling it. Some religious establishment came through from an outer world thanks to a random energy surge in one of the nodes. He wants to check it out for his 'research.'"


    "So, in other words he wants more pretty pictures to add to his art collection, and a few living beings to examine and interrogate."


    "You're forgetting the oddities he's always on the lookout for."


    Ender snorted. "How could I? Anyway, I'd best head out and find him."


    Both stood up.


    Freak looked contemplative for a moment, before resolving, "Nah, you don't need to. You take a break, you've been out on patrols all morning. I'll go out and tell him, and I'll keep an eye on this creature."


    "You don't even know what he looks like." Ender cocked an eyebrow.


    "Honestly, if he's as weird-looking as you suggested, I shouldn't have a hard time finding him. Southern Jungles right?"


    "You are indeed correct. Anyway, good day to you sir." Ender said formally, bowing in an exaggerated fashion.


    "And to you m'lady." He grinned back, before the two of them jointly vanished.


    Chapter 17: Purple Light (David)



    David jerked back into consciousness suddenly, gasping and looking around. The walls of the corridor were lined with large grey slabs, many of which were bathed in a subtle purple light from various pedestals. David tried to crane his head to see into one of the pedestals, and figure out what was within them, but then realised he was being dragged along underarm.


    Two of the hulking Endermen held him, with talons ready to tear into his arteries at the slightest twitch. He looked about. His arms were chained together, but his gauntlet was still on. They evidently couldn't remove it. That was good. Destiny was nowhere to be seen. That wasn't at all good. He felt panic began to fill him.


    Then the grim procession stopped suddenly, David felt one of his captors let his arm drop and heard him walk over to the door. He saw an opportunity and whipped his gauntletted arm around, aiming straight at the creature's heart.


    "Let me go." David growled.


    The creature just smiled in its condescending, reptilian manner.


    David willed the gauntlet to shoot it, and it did. However, the blast was thin and sputtering, and seemed to splash onto the shell of the creature feebly before evaporating.


    Before he could figure out what was going on, the Enderman punched him in the jaw, rattling his teeth, and threw him into a dark, cramped cell "lit" only by one of those purple lamps.


    The door slammed loudly and David was on his feet seconds later, willing the gauntlet to blow the door aside. But it was the same, again and again. The same feeble burst emerged each time and dissipated without leaving so much as a scorch-mark on the door. Then, eventually, his confusion became too great to continue, and he fell back against the lamp. He wiped the blood from his mouth, and he began to panic. Where was Destiny? What were they doing to her? What would they to him? Where were they? And a million other questions rattled through his mind in no particular order, the only point of solidarity being the little purple glow above him.


    Chapter 18: A Terrible Liar (Kay)



    This is ridiculous, Fristad thought to himself. Steve digs so much faster than me that he has to dig in front of me to keep this tunnel straight.


    In the time that Fristad would dig a cubic meter of stone, Steve would dig four, and the disparity in the two men's progress continued to grow as their carved stairwell extended deeper into the ground. Long gone were the sounds of birds and the morning wind. The only sounds left were the echoes of footsteps and the clanging of blades as they clawed through the solid rock. In the few moments when both men were still, all that remained was silent heartbeat of the body of the earth.


    For Steve, digging a mine like this was routine, even peaceful. While there was not same rhythmic crumble and crack of stone chunks that Steve was used to, there was still an inescapable rhythm in each swing of his pick, each layer of stone carved out, each vein of coal and iron harvested. It was a welcome break from fighting hordes of monsters, that's for sure.


    Not so for Fristad. To him, smashing through all these rocks was at once grueling and boring. Every swing felt awkward; not only did his heavy, oversized iron armor rattle with each sudden movement, but he repeatedly had to readjust his grip on his diamond pick in a futile attempt to rid himself of the unequal strain on his arms. Both his torchlight-strained eyes and restless mind yearned for sunlight and open space. At the very least, Fristad thought, it would be nice to have some other sound in this pit other than shattering rock. I hope Steve's up for conversation.


    "So Steve, you're a miner, right?"


    "What do you mean?" Steve replied, continuing to mine as he did so.


    "Well, for starters, you are wearing a full set of diamond armor. Getting enough diamonds to craft that armor would cost a small fortune if you didn't mine most of the diamonds yourself."


    "That can be true. Where I'm from people generally aren't willing to part with our diamonds so easily. Villagers are the worst, though, by far. I've seen 'em charge an arm and a leg for a diamond. Quite literally, an arm and a leg. Some people might give an arm or a leg for a diamond, but both is just outrageous. Anyway, I did mine most of the diamonds for this armor myself, although Jennifer mined quite a few, as well."


    "You make it sound so easy. We've been underground for just an hour and my arms are already sore."


    "That makes sense, considering you've never gone mining before," Steve remarked.


    "Then again…" Fristad continued, "this pickaxe shaft feels a bit wide for my hands. If it's alright for you, I would like to try to craft a pickaxe for myself. Maybe it will fit my hands better."


    "What do you mean?" asked Steve. "All diamond pickaxes look more or less the same to me. Which kind of wood you use can make a difference, but for the most part they're identical."


    "Not even the pickaxes crafted by other people?"


    "No. Does crafting work differently where you come from?"


    "I guess so. Where I come from, crafted tools and armor tailor themselves to the person who crafted them. So, if I craft my own sword, the handle fits just right in my hands, and if I craft my own armor, it will fit my height and build."

    "That's interesting. In that case, you definitely should craft your own tools and armor."


    "Thanks."


    Steve paused as he spotted another vein of iron to his left. He dug into it with his pickaxe until a patch of darkness was revealed in the wall. As if on queue, the sound of rattling bones echoed from inside.


    "Nether's fire..." Fristad swore, "I just realized where we're going."


    "We have been underground all this time. Did it ever cross your mind that we would find a cave at some point?"

    "I guess it just didn't sink in."


    Steve widened the hole by chipping away the edges with his pick. He leaned his head into the hole, pulled out his diamond sword from the depths of his pocket, and jumped inside.


    The sound of crushed bones was heard before a thump echoed in the darkness. A flickering yellow light appeared in the hole.


    "All clear!" Steve's voice echoed.


    After a moment's hesitation, Fristad gathered his courage and climbed into the hole. His iron armor rattled when his feet landed on the floor.


    Steve placed torches at regular intervals as he walked deeper into the cave. As each torch magically burst into flame, the darkness ahead of him retreated a little more from the stone walls. He stopped at the edge of a cliff. A lake of lava glowed at the bottom. Many passageways littered the far walls. Flowing water echoed.


    "This cave looks fantastic!" Steve said. "We'll find diamonds down here no problem."


    "That would be swell, wouldn't it? Let's hope the monsters are polite and don't - Aaaaah!"


    Steve heard the sound of falling gravel. He turned and saw Fristad's arm slipping from the edge of the cliff. Steve grabbed a bucket of water from his pocket and jumped off the cliff the moment he placed the water at the cliff's edge.


    The lava became covered in steam. He fell with the waterfall towards the growing patch of obsidian below. Just as his feet landed upon the water-soaked obsidian, he heard the sound of a teleporting enderman.


    Steve looked around frantically for Fristad and the enderman. "Fristad, are you alright?" he called.


    "I'm fine," replied a voice behind him.


    Steve turned around and saw Fristad in his iron armor, standing upon solid stone.


    Steve sighed in relief. "That was a close one. You should be more careful. Steve looked around the cave room, making sure there were no monsters in sight. "Also, there might be an enderman nearby. Keep your guard up."


    Fristad also sighed with relief, not just because he survived a close encounter with lava, but because Steve didn't suspect that Fristad had just teleported...


    Steve looked inquisitively at Fristad for a moment. "Also, how did you get away from the lava so quickly?"

    ...or so he thought.


    "I don't know…" Fristad replied, flustered, "I guess it just… happened."


    Steve thought about the enderman teleporting sound that occurred around the time that he landed on the obsidian.


    His mouth slowly turned into a small grin. "You can teleport, can't you?"


    "Umm… no?"


    "You have magical wizarding powers, don't you?" Steve's eyes were now almost alarmingly large.


    "Okay, fine! You got me: I can teleport. But only in life-threatening sit-"


    "What else?" Steve asked insistently.


    "That's it! That is the full extent of my powers, I swear to Notch."


    "If you say so…" Steve replied slowly, figuring that "Notch" was some ruler or otherwise important person where Fristad had come from. He walked onward into the cave, placing torches as he went.


    Why do I have to be such a terrible liar? Fristad thought to himself.


    Inside of him, another mind simmered in anger at the sudden turn of events.


    "How could you have been so careless?" the voice echoed. "You have sparked the suspicion of yet another miner... and forced me to expend yet more of my precious energy on your stupidity! Consider yourself lucky he does not want to kill you yet. It helps little that the monsters in this cave already do."


    Chapter 19: A Man of Two Worlds (Kay)



    “So Fire, tell me about yourself. What is your strange world of “NPCs” and “players” and whatnot. It sounds like quite a lark.” I questioned as calmly as possible, although I couldn’t deny there was a slight condescension.


    Across the fire from me stood the strange being. About three metres tall, larger than even Herobrine or Glibby, he stood. His skin was black like an Endling, but instead of hard and charred it was smooth, scaled and metallic. His white jacket too broke the image of the average man of the End. They were too proud to wear mortal garbs, only wearing any armour in battle and even then it was reserved for their generals.


    He unsettled me, and this was the reason for my condescension. However I also couldn’t help but be fascinated by him. Fire was unlike any other creature I’d spoken to. He acted like he was normal, but many of his emotions felt forced, as if he were manufacturing them as a tool. There was also the fact that he was vastly stronger than I. He could tear out massive chunks of the earth and place them back down, and create things from little.


    At that very moment we sat in a little hovel of his making. We’d taken a cave near the oasis, and he’d created for us a door which should keep out the creatures of the night.


    Fire then began to speak. “Forgive me if I use some over-modern terms. My world may be somewhat further developed than your own.” I grimaced, feeling myself quite a knowledgeable person about modern technology. “I am a man of two worlds.” I cocked an eyebrow, interests now piqued. “The first world, I believe to be far beyond that of your own. In it I am just a random citizen, with above average wealth admittedly but very insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We have many creations that you’ll find wonderous. Horseless carriages; firearms; flight; communication through small devices and of course, the computer and internet.”


    I cut him off in this pause, wanting to correct a few things. “Actually, we do have a highly elaborate train system, our airships sail through the sky like the finest of ships and while mobile communication is still in its infancy it should be workable within twenty years. Also, Firearms?” I scoffed. “Bloody irrelevant. They can’t pierce enchanted armour and it’s going to be a long time before they can. Although I cannot account for the last two, please continue.”


    Fire looked at me suspiciously. “Seems I’ve underestimated your world a bit, sorry. The computer and internet are simple to explain. The computer is a small device that can contain information and make it into a usable interface-”


    “Like a library on a small scale.” I broke in, genuinely fascinated.


    “Yes, you catch on quickly.” Fire seemed surprised. “The internet links them all together.”


    “Like an ender chest.” Said I, never having actually seen one but understanding the concept very well.


    “I suppose that’s also correct. Basically... it’s hard to explain. Within this world, what I believe, just taking a guess here, is the equivalent of your world, is a game. A virtual sandbox.” I was straining to understand, but nodded to him to continue. “Within the game, a number of people have gotten together to create... a book which you can slip inside and interact with? Is that a decent analogy?”

    “Fascinating.”


    “And time in-game passes much slower. I’ve spent over five thousand years in there, but barely a grain of that time has passed in the real world.”


    I was bloody speechless. I yearned to understand more. To learn of this strange man and his fictional world made material. He told me of how he had stolen the Books of Knowledge and of his sister the sorceress. Of how he was gifted by his gods to test both his and their own strength, making him damn near perfect. But while he talked about the world he came from or what he was he didn’t say a single word about who he was.


    From my point of view, he was like some sort of demi-mod. A being of inhuman power and some unfathomable knowledge... And as much as this enthralled me, I was equally terrified by it. This man, this being... He was still human. He was imperfect, and something told me that there was something inside him, still chained and well guarded but only waiting for the right moment to break out. I prayed to Herobrine that I didn’t have to be there to see it.


    Chapter 20: New Arrival (Astro)



    As I staggered back, my mind filled with various obscenities to yell at our captors. More important than the various crass insults were all of our unanswered questions.


    However, fate had dictated that they would remain unanswered. Before either Tyron or myself could get a word in, the door had shut, and at our feet lay another captive.


    Collapsed on the floor, she wore brown trousers with a small, empty holster, a grey tank top, and had deep brown hair tied up in a ponytail. I turned to Tyron, who shared my mutual disappointment and appeared potentially even more irked, looking as if he were about to rip open the door. We had gained nothing, unless this girl knew more about our prison than we did.


    "Didn't you say you wanted a meal earlier Tyron? The Divines seem to have rewarded you," I quipped.


    "Yes...if she doesn't have any useful information, it might be about time."


    That was when there was a low groan, and she began to twitch. She rolled onto her back and began to slowly blink open, muttering someone's name. I thought I heard "David", and was probably correct. She fumbled about on the floor for something or someone to hold onto, but found only bitingly cold stone on the ground. The young woman's eyes then shot open as Tyron came into view, and she rolled up, looking around for some object to defend herself with. I reached forwards, but she leapt back, finding a glass vase on a table behind her. She promptly shattered this on the table and waved the shattered remains before us, slowly backing up.


    "Answers, now!" She spat. "Where's David, where am I, who are you? In that order."


    "Shut up Kir," Tyron spat to this unseen figure. I was growing increasingly concerned by this.


    The girl turned her head to me, "You, Kir or whatever your name is. Those three questions. Now!"


    "Just calm yourself," I replied, more defeated than frustrated at this point.


    "I don't think that answered any of my questions. Now, answer or I slam this in your face!" She jerked her arm threateningly, looking me up and down for a weapon.


    Much to her surprise, rather than the weapon she had expected to find, I ignited a small flame in the palm of my hand. Sadly, it didn't quite have the impact I intended, being pitiful and flickering in stature.


    "Sorry, it's usually more impressive than that. However, I don't have the answers to either of your first two questions, and I'm only partly sure of the answer to the third, at this stage. Please put the shard down, and I'll try to explain to you as best I can. Otherwise, I may have to give you some first-degree burns."


    My joke seemed to calm her down a bit, and she lowers the shard.


    "So," She swallowed. "We're in the same boat then?"


    "I'm afraid so. All three of us are unfortunate prisoners. Of what, we do not fully understand, but we have several theories. As for who we are: He's Tyron, and I'm Astro. We've not been acquainted for more than about a half hour, though, so there's no backstory for you."


    "Astro," Tyron rumbled distractedly. "Should have asked that. Rude of me."


    "Destiny," She said grimly, brushing her fringe aside slightly and placing the shattered remains of the glass on the table. "They caught me around some portals. Me and my… friend. That's uh… David. I don't know whether they caught him, or, killed him… Yeah."


    "Well, if you're looking for answers, I'm afraid it's slim pickings. The creatures that keep us here are called Endlings, and as you saw earlier, I'm not capable of using my magic properly. Meanwhile, Tyron's had several confrontations with a being called Freak. And no, we don't know very much about it either."


    Tyron then began to grumble inanely. "Translucent ****. Going to kill him the second I see him."


    "So, you're Astro," She asked quizzically, seemingly starting to calm down a little. "Who's Kir?"


    "Yes," Tyron said unnecessarily, seeming to wake up from his grumbling. "Oh, yes. Kir is…" He gestured to the sword at his side, "That."


    "Kir is a sword?" She dryly responded.


    From slightly behind Tyron, I gave Destiny a look that said to just go with it.


    Tyron then pulled the scabbard from his side, looked squarely at it and smiled sadly at the sword.


    "You can talk to them now, go ahead," Tyron coaxed.


    "My gosh, I thought I'd never speak to anyone but Tyron!"


    "The sword is talking. In my head." Destiny ruminated. "Wasn't expecting that this morning, but hey I was pretty dead then so, this is one of the more normal things to happen today."


    I mentally lamented the breach of my final private space. At least there was somebody to help me through my avid existential crises.


    "Well," Destiny said, clapping her hands together and blinking furiously. "What do we know about the situation? Is there a window?"


    She then looked over and saw the barred windows along the wall, and then realised this was a rather stupid question. Scratching her neck in embarrassment she went over to the window and looked out.


    "Pretty high up." She said absentmindedly. "So, looks like we're stuck up here. Best get to know each other."

    She grimaced and sat down on the nearest four-poster.


    "Anyone care to start?"


    I got the feeling that Tyron was not going to volunteer before me, so I spoke up.


    "I hail from Arcadia, on the Horizon. It's a place; people just aren't very good at naming things where I come from. I'll keep it short, but I have the innate ability to use magic where most of my friends do not. I've seen many things over the course of my life, and, honestly, I don't particularly want to talk about it. All you need to know is that I want to get out of here as much as you do, and that I have more patience than I appear to."


    Destiny nodded, as if understanding, yet I knew that she couldn't so easily. Nevertheless, I was finished.

    "And you Tyron?"


    Tyron looked at her and glared. "You fir-"


    That was when Kir eagerly bounced back into our heads. Once again, I cringed at the loss of my inner sanctity.


    "Well, if you must ask - we're from Minecraftia! Don't really have a home. We just sort of wander. Tyron's an anomaly who's friends with dragons. I'm a bluestone vein. We killed Herobrine together." It was plainly gushing over past glories, and Tyron just looked at the floor, growing increasingly discontent.


    "That's enough Kir," He growled as the sword mentioned the name "Lupi".


    "And you, Destiny?" The inside of my head had never felt so peaceful.


    "Obligatory alcoholic joke." She dryly quipped. "I'm Destiny. I just kind of woke up a few weeks, maybe months, ago.


    Born from nothing and all that. Anyone else in that situation? Just kind of born fully grown? Potential amnesia?" Tyron raised a hand sadly. "Glad I'm not alone. So, I met this guy called David - we clicked. Stayed with a villager for a while, then he died. We were harassed by this guy called Martin - Herobrine's obnoxious apprentice. Then, eventually, he kidnapped me, held me hostage. Tried to kill me, extract the 'golden diamond' from my essence. Needed it to invade somewhere or something. David almost died trying to save me. I almost died. And then the Notch-damn second we had an opportunity to get out of that life - to have a damned easy stretch - we were pulled right back in! Our 'past-selves' decided they wanted us to investigate this weird portal they found. 'Hey! Want to enter a perilous situation we know nothing about?! Hop on in!'" She glared off into the corner of the ceiling. "They attacked us. Three Endermen and some weird gorilla-looking man attacked us. They took me and I don't know what happened to David. He could be captured - or being tortured - or dead!"


    She dropped forwards, rubbing her temples furiously.


    "Damn it!" She shouted, but instantly regretted it. "Sorry, that was rude."


    I looked across at Tyron, who scowled impassively but nodded as if understanding. Kir seemed to "Hrm" in a concerned manner.


    Then, because things always work best in threes, the door opened in a slightly less dramatic manner than the two previous times. However, this time it looked like something would advance the plot in a meaningful way. Between the two Endlings from before was a well-dressed middle-aged man with a large bald patch. He smiled coldly.


    "The Entity would like to speak with you."


    Chapter 21: Resurfacing (Steve)



    The next few hours of spelunking were somewhat less eventful. Steve and Fristad mined and lit the cave as they went, every once in a while killing a pack of monsters which would attempt to ambush them from the darkness.


    None of the monsters were a match for Steve with his fully-enchanted diamond gear. Fristad, on the other hand, appeared to be holding his own, much to Steve's relief. It seemed that, aside from their rather gruesome way of dying, the underground monsters of this world behaved the same as the monsters in Steve's world.


    A while later, as Steve was in the middle of mining an iron vein, he heard a muffled voice emanate from his pocket. Steve put his pickaxe away and pulled out his radio.


    "Steve, can you hear me?" the static-riddled voice spoke from the radio, this time louder now that it had been removed from Steve's pocket. "This is Jennifer."


    Steve put the radio up to his face. "Okay, so nobody's stolen the radio," Steve replied sarcastically. "This of course is Steve."


    "Glad to hear you're alive, Steve," replied Jennifer, her partial attempt at sarcasm cut short by the impatience in her voice. "Listen: I found a small group of soldiers a few kilometers away from our hole in the mountain. They were talking about the crystals, and they are waiting to meet up with someone. I am almost certain that 'someone' is the same muscled man that tried to steal the crystals from us earlier. But it gets worse: the person they are waiting for has a compass-like device which they claim can detect crystals. They also mentioned some mysterious substance called 'booze,' although I am not sure if that is relevant."


    "Oh yea, 'booze,' I know what that is…" Fristad remarked jokingly.


    "Well, regardless of whatever this 'booze' thing is," Steve said, "that is bad news. Did the soldiers say anything about when the man would come back?"


    "No, they didn't. They only said that he was late."


    "I'm not surprised." Steve grinned. "We put up quite a fight. Anything else new?"


    "Unless you want to hear about the gruesome way in which I had to collect meat from the animals in this world, I'm pretty sure that sums it up."


    "As long as there's food in the furnace." Steve replied.


    "Alright, then. Take care."


    "Same."


    Steve slid the radio back into his pocket, took out his pickaxe, and resumed mining out the iron vein.


    The existence of the soldiers worried Steve. The man that attacked them earlier was hardly a threat on his own, but if the man really were capable of tracking down crystals, he could easily track down Steve, and lead an army straight towards him. And if that army were anything like that man, they were bound to have evil intentions.


    Chapter 22: Demon (Fire)



    Fire was the first to stop talking. They’d been engrossed in an almost disturbingly engaging conversation about how indoor plumbing worked in Fire’s “real” world, when they heard a knock on the door.


    “Unusual for someone to knock at this time...” Fire said, eyes darting towards the door, wishing he’d installed windows.


    “Not too unusual. I’m certainly used to people calling at such hours.” Kay chuckled to himself.


    “Very interesting.” Fire remarked.


    “Yes, from my experience they’re usually either trying to kill you, or to convince you to kill someone else.” Kay laughed in an attempt at being roguish. At the same time he reached for his weapon, Fire did the same.


    Kay was the one to walk up to the door. He reached for the knob of the door, halting before turning it, taking this moment to nod to Fire. He drew his sword and then threw open the door, ready to stab anything in his path.


    Standing outside the door was a hooded figure with their face shrouded in shadow. On their hand was a gauntlet humming with otherworldly whispers.


    “AH!” Kay shouted. “Demon!”


    “Correction.” The cloaked figure shouted. “Quarter-demon on my father’s side. By the way, I am Warnado, and I LOVE TACOS!”


    He threw his arms wide and seemed to grin expectantly. What he didn’t expect was to be struck in the face and thrown to the ground by some pale bugger with a sword. Nor did he expect to have the claws from Fire’s left hand and the Wither dagger in his right hovering mere centimetres in front of his face.


    “What the heck are you doing?”


    “As commandant of the 10th Legion of the Herobrinian Army, I, Kay Mandy, am placing you under arrest Endling... I mean, quarter-demon, kind of human being thing!”


    The hooded figure (who claimed his name to be Warnado) turned to Fire and asked, “Does he do this a lot?”


    “At least from what I’ve seen, yes.” Fire answered, “Now, tell us who you are!”


    “Well, if you’re so keen...” Warnado began sarcastically.


    “Lose the tone!” Fire snapped.


    “Nah, keep it. It will make this much more interesting.” Kay excused.


    “My name is Warnado. As said before, I have an interest in Tacos. My father was a half-demon. Had a rather unhappy childhood. I also spend my time looking after a bunch of idiotic villagers who couldn’t defend themselves from a cow... Rather literally actually... That was a weird day. Anyway, whilst defending said scrubs I was accidentally sucked through a portal and now I’m here. I was also attacked by a random Enderwoman with a really uncreative name.”


    “Is that all?” Kay prodded.


    “I guess that is as plausible as anything, looking at our own stories...” Fire remarked.


    “Oh trust me mate, I haven’t even told you the implausible stuff yet.” Kay laughed dryly.


    “So, care to tell me where we are?” Warnado asked, becoming increasingly aware that neither Fire, nor Kay were natives of this region.


    “No clue.” Kay said, straightening up and lifting his blade away from Warnado’s throat. He looked sideways at Fire. “You can move the claws.”


    “Oh,” Fire hadn’t even realised he was still holding them in the face of Warnado, before retracting them, somewhat embarrassed.

    “For the record,” Warnado started, suddenly starting to lose breath. “That’s rather cool; the whole claw thing. But honestly,” He turned to Kay, starting to pant rather heavily. “You seriously have no idea where we are?”


    “Not a clue.” Kay responded with a sarcastic cheeriness, the novelty of which had already worn off on Fire, “We’re all lost here. Welcome to the club fellow confused wanderer!”


    Warnado backed up, arms tensing up, as he bent over slightly. He raised his hands to his temples. “So, I could be anywhere right now?”


    “Of course,” Kay responded, pretending to feign innocence as to the annoyance he was causing Warnado. “You could be in another flipping dimension right now. That’s certainly what happened to me and Fire. Isn’t that right Fire?”


    Fire only hummed “Mhm.”


    Warnado leant back a moment, as if about to fall over, before leaning back again and grabbing Kay’s shoulders. He then proceeded to let out a whispered scream of “Agh!” for the next ten seconds.


    “Indeed.” Kay responded. “I believe you now understand our predicament?”


    “Yes.” Warnado responded.


    Fire said: “I guess we shouldn’t be standing around outside for too much longer, you are already enough unwanted attention for a night...”


    Even Kay didn’t have any remarks about that statement, he turned around on the spot and went back into the hovel through the wide open door. Once everybody was inside Fire lifted his backpack, which he had deposited inside previously, onto his lap.


    “We should eat something, luckily I carry plenty of dried meat with me.” He announced.


    He unhooked one of the smaller bags from his backpack and opened it up by pulling on a string. He then fished out three pieces of dark red meat, he handed Warnado and Kay a piece and kept one for himself.


    “It’s not the best food you can have but it doesn’t spoil and still tastes good.” He said and then added with a smirk: “If you like salt.”


    Fire took a big bite of his own piece, the meat was tough but nothing Fire’s sharp teeth couldn’t handle. The taste was predominantly salty but the salt didn’t cover the taste of the meat completely.


    Kay looked at the piece of meat as if it were something otherworldly but then decided that it should not be poisoned and took a bite. It took quite some chewing as he lacked Fire’s exceptionally sharp teeth.


    Warnado had similar problems with his piece but still gave a thumbs up, unable to speak because of the food in his mouth and the abnormal amount of salt in it.


    Kay chewed the meat contemplatively. “I honestly can’t complain about it. Better than my mate Astro’s cooking... or to a lesser extent the food in Vechs’ prison camps.”


    After that they just sat there and silently chewed the food, after they were done Fire handed them a bottle that seemed to contain substantially more water than its size would tell.


    After the somewhat cheerful meal the atmosphere slowly changed to aggressively trying to stay awake, as nobody trusted anyone to stand guard this night. After some time it was clear that Fire was the definite winner in the staying awake contest, he was still wide awake while Kay and Warnado were wrestling with their tiredness.


    Kay remarked: “Well, Fire. If you want to kill us, now is the moment, I can’t even lift this blade anymore.” He demonstratively failed to get his sword off the ground.


    Fire just sighed and replied: “I give you my word that I won’t kill you tonight… whatever that’s worth to you.”


    Kay was about to say something as Warnado interrupted, audibly struggling to form a straight sentence: “If you are… have no int...ention to murderize us… don’t do it.”


    Fire suppressed a smirk and said: “Well, you’ll need to sleep now. If I don’t murderize you this night because you stay up, everything else in this world will tomorrow. A tired warrior might as well not be a warrior at all.”


    Kay said: “He’s... got point.” Now too struggling with his words.


    Then Kay proceeded by letting himself fall over sideways, Warnado seemed to like the idea and did the same. Within a matter of seconds they both were asleep. Fire stood up and took his ghast bone bow from his back, fished a handful of arrows from his inventory and took his guard post outside the hovel.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 1

    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE Book 1: Shattered Dimensions [COMPLETED] [65 Chapters + Prologues]

    Part 3: The Tower


    Chapter 37: Horses (Kay)



    As I pulled the three horses from the stable I couldn’t help but moan internally about my situation - all of that guff about my friends and not seeing them again. However, after expending all of my emotions by the door, I heard the sound of rushing wind behind me.


    “About bloody time!” I called, turning impatiently.


    Expecting to see one of the metallic shells of the Endlings, I found the same man from before stood in front of me.


    “Oh, it’s you. About bloody time you showed up as well! What time do you call this?”


    However, my feigned irritation was silenced by the genuine cold fury of the man who called himself Steve. His thick brows were knitted together and his head stooped forward as he stormed up to me. I rolled my eyes, anticipating the oncoming outburst.


    “I told you to come here! Not to cause a massive fiasco!” He roared, arms flailed disbelievingly. “I turn my back for a moment and you have killed one of his servants and there’s some poor, terrified arms dealer running up and down the road literally screaming out your presence!”


    I assumed a blank slate of a face and coldly looked up and down him.


    “I did no such thing. The people you have bound me to are responsible for both the dead Endling and the terrified arms dealer. I have merely ensured that the situation is being used to our advantage.”


    “How is this supposed to help our plan?!”


    “If there is a plan, I wasn’t clued in on it. Besides, the ‘our’ doesn’t include you,” I then, in a noiseless mouthing added “Narcissistic cock.”


    “How does this benefit you, then? Tell me that!”


    “Quite simply,” I began, drawing up to him with pupils narrowed to knife-points. “It will get me home. This warlord has needs and wants and should be able to see the benefit in our arrangement. He’s no reason to hate nor love me if I’m willing to give him the eye.”


    “You think the Entity works like that?” He scoffed. “And what tells you that I can’t get you home?”


    “Will your plans involve me getting caught up in another long-winded adventure with lots of wacky hijinks and subplots?” I probed enthusiastically.


    “Well…” He struggled, unable to tell if I were being serious or not. “Yes?”


    Sadly I wasn’t being serious.


    “Then you can burn your plans. I just want to get to the Vanilla Craft and protect my friends. I’m done with all this! I don’t know if you realised this, but I’m in a pretty poor position at the moment. I’m on the run, I’m suddenly irrelevant and powerless and I’m having to deal with the fact that a man I’ve idolised just burned my homelands. I don’t need your ******** on top of it!”


    I wasn’t sure if I entirely meant all of this, but it felt right to say it, especially to this ***** in front of me. Another cause to draw me along. I wasn’t falling for this one. I had a cause to stand for and that was getting my friends to Vanillacraft safely.


    “And what about the others? Are you just assuming that they want what you want?”


    “I’m sure they’d be much happier not involved in this,” I decided I was going to change the topic from this, he was steering the conversation too well.


    “Besides, you could have told me I was going to be saddled with some psychotic demon-child who keeps magicking food out of thin air, and a three-metre tall demigod who can’t get drunk! That last part would have been particularly useful!” I rubbed the back of my head sorely.


    But he had stopped looking at me. Instead his glare was now firmly planted on something behind me. I whirled around and saw nought but a vague glimmer of shadow.


    I turned back to him, to find him staring at the ground with great discomfort.


    “This one of your ‘Entity’s’ servants?”


    He shook his head in an absent-minded manner.


    “One of yours?”


    This brought him back, and his glare met mine once more.


    “That’s none of your concern!” he snapped.


    “That’s something to bear in mind,” I smirked.


    So, this translucent figure from before was his doing.


    He raised a finger in an accusatory manner and shook it before my eyes, and I fought the urge to brush his hand aside.


    “I will see you at his tower! A night there ought to change your mind!” He huffed.


    Steve then struck one of the horses on the rear and they jolted forwards. I was dragged along, falling into a large puddle of mud as the reins slipped from my grip. Cursing, I rolled over, looking back to the stable. He was gone once more, vanished back into nothing.

    As I pulled the three horses from the stable I couldn’t help but moan internally about my situation - all of that guff about my friends and not seeing them again. However, after expending all of my emotions by the door, I heard the sound of rushing wind behind me.


    “About bloody time!” I called, turning impatiently.


    Expecting to see one of the metallic shells of the Endlings, I found the same man from before stood in front of me.


    “Oh, it’s you. About bloody time you showed up as well! What time do you call this?”


    However, my feigned irritation was silenced by the genuine cold fury of the man who called himself Steve. His thick brows were knitted together and his head stooped forward as he stormed up to me. I rolled my eyes, anticipating the oncoming outburst.


    “I told you to come here! Not to cause a massive fiasco!” He roared, arms flailed disbelievingly. “I turn my back for a moment and you have killed one of his servants and there’s some poor, terrified arms dealer running up and down the road literally screaming out your presence!”


    I assumed a blank slate of a face and coldly looked up and down him.


    “I did no such thing. The people you have bound me to are responsible for both the dead Endling and the terrified arms dealer. I have merely ensured that the situation is being used to our advantage.”


    “How is this supposed to help our plan?!”


    “If there is a plan, I wasn’t clued in on it. Besides, the ‘our’ doesn’t include you,” I then, in a noiseless mouthing added “Narcissistic cock.”


    “How does this benefit you, then? Tell me that!”


    “Quite simply,” I began, drawing up to him with pupils narrowed to knife-points. “It will get me home. This warlord has needs and wants and should be able to see the benefit in our arrangement. He’s no reason to hate nor love me if I’m willing to give him the eye.”


    “You think the Entity works like that?” He scoffed. “And what tells you that I can’t get you home?”


    “Will your plans involve me getting caught up in another long-winded adventure with lots of wacky hijinks and subplots?” I probed enthusiastically.


    “Well…” He struggled, unable to tell if I were being serious or not. “Yes?”


    Sadly I wasn’t being serious.


    “Then you can burn your plans. I just want to get to the Vanilla Craft and protect my friends. I’m done with all this! I don’t know if you realised this, but I’m in a pretty poor position at the moment. I’m on the run, I’m suddenly irrelevant and powerless and I’m having to deal with the fact that a man I’ve idolised just burned my homelands. I don’t need your ******** on top of it!”


    I wasn’t sure if I entirely meant all of this, but it felt right to say it, especially to this ***** in front of me. Another cause to draw me along. I wasn’t falling for this one. I had a cause to stand for and that was getting my friends to Vanillacraft safely.


    “And what about the others? Are you just assuming that they want what you want?”


    “I’m sure they’d be much happier not involved in this,” I decided I was going to change the topic from this, he was steering the conversation too well.


    “Besides, you could have told me I was going to be saddled with some psychotic demon-child who keeps magicking food out of thin air, and a three-metre tall demigod who can’t get drunk! That last part would have been particularly useful!” I rubbed the back of my head sorely.


    But he had stopped looking at me. Instead his glare was now firmly planted on something behind me. I whirled around and saw nought but a vague glimmer of shadow.


    I turned back to him, to find him staring at the ground with great discomfort.


    “This one of your ‘Entity’s’ servants?”


    He shook his head in an absent-minded manner.


    “One of yours?”


    This brought him back, and his glare met mine once more.


    “That’s none of your concern!” he snapped.


    “That’s something to bear in mind,” I smirked.


    So, this translucent figure from before was his doing.


    He raised a finger in an accusatory manner and shook it before my eyes, and I fought the urge to brush his hand aside.


    “I will see you at his tower! A night there ought to change your mind!” He huffed.


    Steve then struck one of the horses on the rear and they jolted forwards. I was dragged along, falling into a large puddle of mud as the reins slipped from my grip. Cursing, I rolled over, looking back to the stable. He was gone once more, vanished back into nothing.


    Chapter 38: You Again (Steve)



    Steve and Jennifer woke up early the next morning, as usual.


    Steve sat up in his bed and stretched his broad arms in a circular motion. As he breathed a deep yawn, he caught the scent of wood shavings from the freshly crafted wood plank wall beside him. Jennifer's measured footsteps echoed faintly in his ears.


    "Fristad, wake up," Jennifer called.


    Observing no response from the sleeping Fristad, Jennifer firmly kicked the bed frame twice.

    Fristad groaned tiredly.


    "It's a quarter to six," Jennifer declared. "We're leaving in half an hour."


    "Sorry," Fristad croaked. He turned over in his bed, but otherwise did not move.


    Jennifer pulled a chunk of cooked meat out of the depths of her pocket. "I'm serious," she warned. "I am going to start cutting down the walls as soon as I finish eating this meat."


    "You know what they say." Steve smiled while chewing. "Cooked pork and base demolition is all part of a balanced breakfast."


    Jennifer rolled her eyes.


    Once Jennifer had ingested the last chunk of meat, she reached into her pocket for her axe.


    But at that moment, a banging sounded from the door.


    "Oh great," Steve remarked jokingly, "another zombie. This is what I get for being too lazy to build a piston door."


    The banging grew louder until the door split from its hinges and crashed into the floor.


    The smile on Steve's face was replaced with a frown as he recognized the enchanted-diamond-clad, bearded giant who strode through the newly renovated doorway.


    "Oh. It's you again," Steve remarked, unamused.


    The diamond-clad giant emitted a mucus-gargled growl for about two seconds before actually saying something intelligible. "They're here, alright."


    "Excellent," a refined, civilized voice from outside responded. "Make way, if you'd please."


    The bearded giant stepped further inside as another man; equally equipped and equally gigantic, with a clean-shaven chin and a hooked nose; walked into the small house.


    "We didn't invite you in here," Steve warned as he held his diamond sword in hand. "Your bearded friend was no match for us. We could easily fight you both at once."


    "What about the six of us?" A metallic-sounding voice just outside the doorway challenged.


    Steve frowned nervously. He didn't like the sound of that, especially not in this enclosed space. There was no time to get a look at his attackers; he had to act fast.


    Steve briefly glanced at Jennifer and pointed toward the ceiling. Jennifer nodded in acknowledgement.


    Steve and Jennifer pulled cobblestone from their pockets and pillared to the ceiling, broke through the wood, and climbed on top of the roof. They simultaneously grabbed ender pearls from their pockets only to watch them shatter in their hands.


    A metallic laugh echoed.


    Steve swore. I bet that enderman destroyed these. Wonderful. It's not like I needed another mysterious teleporting wizard trying to dispose of all my ender pearls.


    Steve scanned the grass below. Five hulking figures in formidable armor stood near the walls. Two had their knees bent in preparation to jump.


    Jennifer's pupils darted to the side. An instinct pushed her to grasp her sword tightly, spin around, and slash at the air in front of her. Her instinct was correct. An obsidian-plated enderman materialized and rushed toward her, parrying Jennifer's blade with an engraved, metal staff, which rang loudly upon contact. The enderman continued to fly forward uninhibited, its momentum pushing Jennifer off of her feet and toward the ground below. It teleported away a second before the landing.


    Steve jumped off the roof and stood guard beside Jennifer as she stood back up.


    "Are you alright, Jen?" Steve asked worriedly.


    "I'm fine," responded Jennifer calmly. "The enderman only pushed me off the roof."


    Jennifer pulled out her bow and aimed a shot at one of the five approaching giants. It lodged into his eye, causing the giant to groan, but the giant continued forward, until a second arrow pierced his other eye, and he began to stumble away from the group. A third arrow met a giant's pre-emptively raised arm, and bounced off the diamond plating.


    The enderman re-materialized behind Steve and Jennifer, the tip of its staff glowing bright blue. Jennifer turned around and shot an arrow. The enderman teleported away, forfeiting its chance to attack, and the arrow lodged into the dirt.


    Meanwhile, the four remaining giants began to spread apart, attempting to flank Steve and Jennifer. The two adventurers, however, exceeded the giants in speed.


    Steve darted backward and slashed at two of the giants from behind as he ran. His blade banged into their plated leggings, not the most damaging blow but distracting nonetheless.


    Meanwhile, Jennifer stepped back and fired arrows. Several hit true; one pierced a shoulder and another clipped a jaw, and yet another pierced the neck of a giant, who began to gag.


    Suddenly Steve felt a hard bang against his chest and was swept sideways. The enderman had rammed into Steve with its glowing staff. Arcs of enchantment energy rose from the surface of Steve's chestplate at the point of the staff's impact. The staff's glowing blue tip began to shine brightly and emit a deep hum. As Steve crashed into the ground, he raised his sword and brought it down with all his might upon the staff, snapping the staff in two.


    The enderman froze. Its eyes widened in disbelief as it stuttered at the two rather ornate metal stair banister posts now lying on the ground, "You… you broke my staff! You can't do that! That's not fair!"


    Steve stood up. He raised a brow. "You did just try to kill me with your staff. I'm not sure what you expected."


    "Do you have any idea how valuable that staff was, stupid human?!" the enderman yelled.


    "No," Steve said bluntly. He casually glanced beyond the enderman and noticed that the three giants left standing were fleeing in panic from Jennifer's volley of arrows. No surprise there.


    The enderman breathed a deep breath. "That staff was a gift passed down from my ancestors! The metal was forged with condensed stardust, infused with the blood of the dying eldest dragon of the -"


    "Are you still trying to kill me?" Steve interrupted, annoyed by the enderman's rant.


    The enderman, infuriated by Steve's interruption, tried to swipe at Steve's face with its claws, but Steve ducked the blow and reciprocated with a slash of the sword to the enderman's face. The sword cut deeply before the enderman teleported away.


    I'm guessing that enderman is too butthurt about his broken ancestral staff to bother attacking us again, Steve thought to himself.


    Chapter 39: How Many Battles? (Fire)



    After this rather frustrating experience Kay decided to walk back to the tavern to wait for the others. He considered drinking something for a brief moment but his memories of last night and the amused looks of the other patrons made him swiftly drop this course of action.


    Kay sat down at a small table in a corner, the table was additionally flanked by small walls which made it even more separated from the rest of the tavern. After sitting down on the wooden bench Kay took a brief look at his armor, still dirty from being dragged along.


    He just sat there and thought about the conversation with the man from before. What exactly made him think that he could not use the Eye to bargain a way home? His thoughts were interrupted by the door swinging open and a hunched over Fire entering the tavern. It seemed that opposed to himself, Fire had become quite popular with the tavern folk. Kay also noticed that Fire had an absurd number of different weapons tied to his backpack, he could see a long sword, a mace, an axe, a couple of daggers and a cleaver. Fire was carrying a halberd in his right hand which was absolutely huge for Kay’s size.


    He also wasn’t wearing his white, bloodstained clothes anymore, he now wore a dark gray outfit that was hard to categorize but looked as if it was made for traveling. As soon as Fire noticed Kay, he walked over to him. He pushed the table away so that he could fit into the sitting spot that was not made for people his size.


    He directly asked: “So, Kay. How did you get that dirt on your clothes?”


    Kay replied: “Long story. Needless to say, couldn’t get the horses; also if you see a man called Steve, punch him for me… a lot.” He then asked: “Anyway, What’s that stuff you are wearing now?”


    “Warnado would probably call it ‘Bless you’, netherwool clothes. In this case they are enchanted to take on the colors and texture of their environment on command. They are also a lot easier to clean if blood gets on them.”


    A second later, the grey fabric changed color into brown, closely mimicking the bench and brick wall Fire was sitting in front. A careless observer would not have noticed that there was a second person sitting at the table, especially in the dark.


    Kay was impressed but tried to play it down: “That’s nice, I suppose. Where do you get something like that?”


    Fire replied: “It is what my kind usually wears when we are out traveling.”


    Kay interrupted him: “What do you mean, ‘My kind’? Are there more of you?” It seemed like he was less than pleased to hear about this.


    “Yes, there are a couple thousand Mencur-Besh in my world.”


    “I’d take a guess and assume your kind rules over the other species of your world.” Kay assumed.


    Fire seemed amused by this, he asked: “What makes you think that?”


    Kay said: “Well, for example that you are three meter tall, scaled war machines with claws?”


    Fire shook his head: “No, if we were to try to have an all out war with the humans we would be crushed within a few months. Our reproduction is quite slow so we can’t recover quickly from losses. It takes half a century for a newborn to grow into an adult. Newly born Mencur-Besh are sealed in a crystal chamber of sorts inside a cave where they then absorb minerals to grow. It is vital that they are cared for because they will die quickly if left alone. If we were to start a war, scouts could easily spot the incubation caves and kill everyone inside. So no, we do not directly rule the humans.”


    Kay noted: “Something about that last part tells me that you still do more than just exist.”


    “Indeed, we try to gain the favor of humans or otherwise get into powerful positions. Of course there is some distrust but most humans view us as equal, some even think of themselves as inferior. It is kind of ironic that a species of seemingly perfect warriors relies on diplomacy and manipulation to have influence, isn’t it?”


    Kay said: “It is kind of disturbing to me. But I am also intrigued. It does seem kind of logical the way you described it but tell me more, what exactly do you do?”


    Fire explained: “Well, as said, we try to get into positions of power to prevent aggression towards us. We generally don’t directly interfere with humanity’s matters in any way beyond the positions we have. I for example have participated in countless of wars of humans against humans, in some as a soldier, in some as a commander. Tell me, Kay. How many battles have you fought?”


    Kay was taken aback by this sudden change of tone, he replied in slight confusion: “Oh, um.... Let’s see. Three years of the Onslaught… Arcadia was a year long affair, four battles if you count the attacks to drive us out. I was commander for the duration of the Siege. Before that there was Farrogat, where I was a field officer. And before that a couple dozen smaller skirmishes and raids. After Arcadia there was Zine Craft. I was in command of the Tenth’s activities there. If you were to break it all up into actual instances of conflict in a war, probably close to forty. In terms of actual “battles” in the sense of a struggle for a location, about ten. Also, a lot of miscellaneous skirmishes before and after service.”


    “For me it were exactly five hundred and eleven, those are the actual battles for a location. About evenly split between fighting and commanding.”


    Fire leaned in a little bit closer and lowered his voice: “Now, how many of those battles have you lost?”


    Kay shifted left and right on his seat, this was starting to get uncomfortable: “Farrogat, and only that.”


    Fire said: “Good, that’s not a bad record. I wish I could say the same about mine. War never clearly favors one side and if you fight on many sides you will get some that are a little less favored. I even died in a couple of those battles.”


    “You’re quite lucky to be here then. How does it work in your world?... Worlds?


    Fire took a breath, the he said: “In my world, there are some beings that never truly die, some humans are that way, some magical creatures too but of the Mencur-Besh I am the only one since I was the first. Over my five thousand and sixty years I died a total of twenty seven times, fifteen of those deaths were in battle.” Fire paused and took another breath. “You know, if you have died many different deaths, you stop being afraid of death, it just turns into somewhat of a respect. I know that if I die in this world it will be over for good. It doesn’t change my view, death is nothing to be afraid of, it is a natural part of everybody’s life.”


    Kay seemed visibly unsettled, and perhaps even offended by this last statement.


    “That it may be, but it’s one I’d like to postpone as long as possible.”


    Fire replied: “That is clear, a meaningless death is still a bad one. But still, after living all this time I somehow feel like that it has to end somewhere. But if it does end I will do anything in my power to make it end in some meaningful way.”


    “And after living twenty-six years I’d rather not die at all, thank you very much.” Kay retorted bitterly, glaring at the table. “Can we talk about something else?”


    A hint of satisfaction flashed across Fire’s face: “Yes. These weapons I got seem to be of fairly high quality.”


    Kay nodded his head grimly. “I pray we don’t need to use them. This ‘Entity’ should be a reasonable creature…” He forced himself to perk up. “With any luck we’ll all be home within the week and we can forget that this ever happened. I’ll be on my way to the Vanilla Craft, you’ll be back to playing your games and Warnado will be… Warnado.”


    “I can only hope so, it would be the best option… but I fear that it is not the only one, it never is. Something else can always happen. Also, this Eye you have been carrying around, it seems to be quite powerful, if it was destined for the warlord in the first place; we don’t know what else he might have. That Eye is emitting energy strong enough for anything remotely sensitive to magic to feel it from miles away.” after a short pause he added: “We will see, Jorge’s shouting should have attracted some attention by now.”


    “He probably attracted attention about twenty minutes ago. They’re probably just waiting to see what we do at this point…” Kay suggested.


    He let the silence hang a few moments. Then he suddenly called out.


    “YOU CAN COME OUT NOW!” He shouted boisterously, turning several heads inside and out.


    After a few seconds, there was no one to speak of.


    “Or I’m just an idiot. One or the other.”


    A long silence seemed to confirm his concerns. The bartender continued to eye them uneasily.


    “Seems I am,” Kay sighed in mock defeat. “Anyway, do you know where Warnado is?”


    He seemed slightly concerned as he said this, his left cheek folding indecisively.


    “I’m honestly worried about him,” Kay mumbled sincerely, not waiting for a response and waving his hands demonstratively.


    “You probably should be. He’s dangerous,” Fire bluntly stated.


    “He’s just a kid.” Kay said sharply.


    There was a silence.


    “Let’s go find him,” Kay coldly finished.


    And with that, they stood, and walked out the door.


    Chapter 40: Can't Stay Here (Astro)



    My eyes jolted open. Only half awake, I surveyed the room around me. The rest were asleep; Tyron’s soft growl confirming the fact without the need to investigate. Left alone with my thoughts, I played back our confrontation with The Entity. Though less unreasonable than I had expected, our imprisonment and his demands unsettled me, not to mention his association with the silhouette. Certainly with the extent of this unknown, he was not to be trusted.


    My thoughts soon came to the obvious conclusion: We couldn’t stay here. This was only one small piece of the puzzle. If it was the case that those ‘heroes’ of their worlds were entering this..whatever it was, then was there any chance of returning home? Worse yet, I pondered the chance that it may not only be space that was affected, but time too. There were several people in my past that I never wanted to face again.


    I rose silently from the heavily embellished four poster bed. With the rest out of action, I decided that sleep wouldn’t come again to me that night, and that I should turn to something useful.


    I hadn’t yet observed what night guard we had been assigned by The Entity, and this struck me as an excellent opportunity to do so. Creeping over to the door of the cell, I noticed that the omnipresent characteristic purple glow under the door was being blocked, presumably by whatever creature lay in wait of any trouble on the other side. Unfortunately, it didn’t realise exactly what trouble it was about to come in contact with.


    Mustering every ounce of patience I possessed, I embraced my childish side and knocked on the door, just heavily enough for it to vibrate and produce a small sound. I then watched as the glow returned, and allowed myself a quick grin as it disappeared again. With enough time, this would give me exactly the opportunity I needed. Slowly and periodically, I knocked several more times, hoping that I’d grate on the patience of the sentry.


    With one final thump, it seemed that our ‘guardian’ had reached the end of its tether, and the door swung open in front of me. Without hesitation, I grabbed the throat of the poor Endling sentry and gave it the most angry expression I could put on.


    “Hello,” I rasped, tired and determined to give the worst impression of myself possible. Its typical stone faced expression soon turned to one of dread, identifiable only through its eyes.


    “If you don’t want me to crush what’s left of your windpipe, I suggest you answer my questions,” I continued. “Now, why can’t I use my magic?”


    It feigned ignorance, but really I was only looking for confirmation rather than some new idea. At the stage we were at, we needed to be right about the lanterns. I constricted my grasp further, and it was clear that the creature was beginning to crack. Not even these cruel sods could resist much further, and I wasn’t taking any chances.


    Without being able to speak, it simply motioned to the lamp with a weak gesture. I feel placated by this validation of our existing knowledge, but before I could ask it anything further, a well-timed kick from the beast sent me reeling back, wind taken out and my grip lost on its throat.


    The door slammed in front of me.


    I really felt old.


    I struggled back to the bed and fell onto it with a great sigh. I had at least learnt something, but I knew my transgression wouldn’t be forgiven for very long. I blacked out without a further thought.


    Chapter 41: The Things We Do (Kay)



    We came out into the afternoon sun with an air of tension - or, at least, I did. I was still reeling from the conversation we'd just had.


    "It's easy for Fire to talk about mortality when he's literally playing games. What battles has he justifiably won? No risk to his life. I don't even know if he feels pain. 'Not a bad record' - who does he think he is? Patronising ****… Let's just meet with this Warlord, sell the ancient artefact, and get home! No distractions! No interruptions! Don't antagonise, instead you must ingratiate! Swallow your damn pride for once and it'll do you a world of good!"


    We came out into the middle of the marketplace, where the Endling's body still lay. I wasn't even sure I intended to come up to it. However, I suddenly found myself morbidly curious as to whether it was still alive and nudged it with my foot. It didn't move, so I knelt down and looked at the wounds. It was a good kill, right through the neck. Messily done, but effective. I began to suddenly doubt my prideful soliloquy. Game though this was to him, Fire was good at it. I looked up at the impassive, weapon-laden creature standing over me, with a sudden sense of dread.

    "It was a good kill," I redundantly affirmed aloud, before rising again.


    I looked around for our hooded friend, with eyes squinting inexplicably. It was one of those days where you couldn't quite look at the sky, and your brows seemed to increasingly cover your eyes the more you tried to look up, acting as a buffer between your view and the light.


    Then, I caught a glimpse of Warnado coming around the corner. I smiled as winningly as I could, waving in as reassuring a manner as I could muster. Then, I saw the pale-faced girl following him around the corner. I tried to suppress my confusion and unease.


    "I see you've found someone!" I called calmly, throwing in a light-hearted chuckle to further dispel unease. "Fire and I had best be upping our game!"


    I wrapped the giant on his chest harder than I intended, and clenched my hand, which I hid behind my back, throwing my carriage upright. I was the picture of some waiter in a fancy restaurant, bar the armour and unruly hair.


    "I suppose it might be a bit hard for you." I said with uncharacteristic bitchiness, wishing to repay him for the "good record" comment earlier. "I'm not sure how things are in your world, but gigantic, scaled lizard men aren't exactly in high demand in the Sane Realm."


    Fire let out an amused chuckle: "Well, I may not have much luck with humans but I tell you, the ladies of the End can't resist those scales."


    I chuckled involuntarily at this, shaking my head dismissively as I turned to Warnado and his companion, bowing deeply.


    "And who might your young friend be?"


    "This is uh… Amanda," Warnado said, somewhat uneasily, as if uncertain as to how much he should reveal.


    "I work in the market. Warnado and I… met before," explained the aforementioned Amanda.


    I cocked my eyebrows and smirked as I walked round to Warnado.


    "An old flame then, is it?" I prodded.


    Warnado thumped me laxly. "Shut up, Kay."


    "But yes, I take it she's willing to come with us to meet with this Entity? To get home?"


    "That sounds like an ideal prospect," She said in vague mockery of my overly proper manner.


    "Well then, you're in luck," Fire explained, walking slowly forward. "They're here."


    Standing across the marketplace were six figures. Five were Endlings; one was a bizarre-looking dog-headed creature with a purple-tinted monocle. They purposefully marched over in a straight line, with the Dog, which appeared to be related to a springer spaniel, squinting at each individual member of our party.


    Then, just six paces away, the Dog motioned for the others to stop. I noted that one or two of the Endlings had grey paint smeared on their chests.


    "That one has it," Said the Dog, pointing at me with its black colored finger as it readjusted its monocle.


    I stepped forward, pulling the Eye from my pocket.


    "You could have just asked. Besides, pointing is rude and you should feel rude," I looked at the creature cooly. "I trust you've organised a means of transport?"


    "There's a carriage waiting for you at the moment. Gather any belongings you have and come with us."


    I looked around to the others, turning slowly with my arms extended. No objections were to be found.


    "I believe we are all holding exactly what we want and need."


    "Excellent," The Dog said, considerably more politely. "Follow us, General."


    I looked to the others in an uneasy manner, and we began to obey, following the party.


    As we moved, the Endlings fanned out, creating a semi-circular ring around us which was capped by the Dog.


    "Why don't you just teleport us instantaneously?" Warnado scoffed, looking to the nearest Endling, one of those smeared with grey paint. "Seems like a much cleverer way forward."


    "We're not your pack-mules," Snarled the creature.


    "Sorry about my colleague," called the Dog. "Endermen are prideful creatures; to be honest a leap of that distance wouldn't be good for their health either."


    Warnado scowled up and down the creature with indignance, and it responded by glaring forward at the back of the Dog.


    Then, the carriage came into view. It was a fairly lavish vehicle, trimmed with gold, and reined to two fine, cream-coated horses.


    I scrunched my face contentedly and we piled in. The Endlings hopped onto the roof and railings on the sides of the carriage, with the Dog taking the reigns. And with that, we set off.


    Chapter 42: We'll Surely Perish (Astro)



    Who knew that violence could be such an effective sedative?


    Having awoken, I noticed that the room was as devoid of activity as it could be. David and Destiny were whispering to each other quietly, whilst Tyron was sitting silently, contemplating something that appeared to be best left unknown judging by his expression. Kir, for once, had shut up. It was clear that our small makeshift group needed to get out of our confinement as quickly as possible, before our spirits were crushed and we gave in to the Entity.


    Pushing myself up, still sore from my encounter the night before, I motioned to the three of them to come over. It was time to rally our company and finally escape this Jeb-forsaken place.


    Only having half thought out how I wanted the plan to go, I began my explanation.


    “Tyron, Destiny, David. I’m probably the last to notice that our collective mood is sombre. If we don’t get out of here soon, we’ll be as good as dead. So I suggest we make good on what little information we have, and devise a plan for our escape. The way I see it, we have two options.”


    “And those are? You could have just told us?” Tyron groused. David’s lip curled in a manner which suggested that he was conflicted as to whether or not to insult him or agree. Tyron then grimaced in a manner that suggested that Kir was telling him off.


    “That is exactly what I’m talking about. Even though we’re all struggling, we’re just letting it wear us down so we agree with its nefarious scheme. Calm down, Tyron. My suggestions are as follows:


    Firstly, we can attempt to sneak through the castle undetected. It would require no use of magic, which certainly works in our favour given the...lamp situation.”


    At this, Tyron grumbled, but didn’t interject further.


    “What you have to realise is that this could be far less dangerous if we can pull it off. Normally, the only security Entity has seemed to have stationed are Endlings, and as we saw yesterday, it’s not too difficult to bring them round to our way of thinking.”


    David nodded, but Destiny seemed unconvinced.


    “Even if we can make our way through, what makes you think we can just take on a horde of Endlings without magic? That sounds like suicide to me,” she complained.


    I shrugged, tired myself but trying to maintain a positive demeanour for the sake of keeping everyone together.


    “Our other option is to take it, shall we say, loud. We break out, smash several of the lamps surrounding our cell, as well as the window behind us.”


    I paused for a minute to gesture to the window. Their gazes followed my hand, though it seemed half-hearted.


    “That will almost certainly get their attention. But by then, it’ll be too late, because we’ll have jumped.”


    “Jump? Are you crazy, Astro?! We’ll surely perish,” interrupted Tyron angrily. He took the thunder so carefully stolen from me and marched to the window, dragging me with him.


    “We’ll surely perish,” he repeated, “on that deadly precipice of sharp rocks below!”


    He motioned to said rocks. I, however, was not fazed by his criticism. Slightly incredulous, I turned to him.


    “So given the fact that we can all use magic, your problem is? The lamps won’t work at that distance, especially if we guarantee their destruction.”


    He appears dumbfounded, but I can see a hint of a smile on his face. Kir chirped something in agreement.


    “David? Destiny? Any qualms with this plan?”


    “Can we wait a bit if that Ape shows up again? I really want to hurt him,” David suggested.


    “You want to take on Glibby? Without magic? Send me a postcard from Hell, won’t you?”


    David appeared deflated.


    “He’ll get what’s coming to him eventually. For now, don’t worry about it. The important thing is that we all make it out of here in one piece. So, which one is it? Stealth, or destruction?”


    Nobody seemed brave enough to risk further capture, and so the consensus was quickly established in favour of smashing the lamps and breaking out.


    “Well, that was easy. We should start making our preparations immediately.”


    Interrupting me, an unfamiliar voice offered: “Now that you’ve established the plot for the next chapter of your lives, might I interject?”


    Clinging uncomfortably to the bars was a man wrapped in a brown travelling cloak, with a faded turquoise shirt beneath a leather cuirass. Strapped across his back was a sword, and this seemed to be weighing him backwards as he balanced his feet on the small ledge offered by the end of the bars.


    No one responded to him.


    “I just wanted to warn you that I’m about. You might want to stay put, you in particular,” He lifted his hand to snap his fingers and almost fell off. “Astro?”


    “Cooperate with that *******? Why would I do that? That’s what staying put means. You’re lucky I don’t push you off the edge.”


    “You’d find that rather lacking in lasting result. Anyway, I’m just saying that there’s someone you might know coming along. Anyway, if you do escape, which I personally have some doubts about, feel free to hit me up. You can usually find me with the Prophet on the Hill. You won’t know where that is, but follow these directions and you’ll be right there.” He tossed a crumpled sheet of paper through the window. “I’ll be off!”


    He promptly jumped off the building. Thinking I must be crazy, I turned back to the others.


    “Well...anyway, before that dull filler arc interrupted me so rudely, I was going to explain what we need to do to prepare for our escape.”


    Chapter 43: Earning Our Route (Kay)



    Several hours after setting off, the tower was coming closer and closer into view. I was sat beside Fire, who was staring out of the carriage window, looking towards the small town ahead of us in the road; little more than a collection of houses.


    Amanda was leant back, staring at the ceiling with great impatience and boredom. There was something about her pale skin that seemed almost corpse-like; it unsettled me a little. Her clear blue eyes also had something a little too clear about them.


    Warnado wasn’t faring much better than her in terms of energy; if anything, he was doing worse. The visible portion of his chin was twitching uneasily. It was as if he were struggling to find words.


    I’ll be honest, I was in a similar situation. I wouldn’t willfully talk to Fire, I had no clue what to say to Amanda, and I wasn’t sure how to say what I wanted to Warnado.


    He was a kid; he was vulnerable, but at the same time he was also excessively powerful. Knowing someone who could actually find someone to guide him in his magical training, and also having taken in someone barely older than him before, I felt I had something of a duty to take him under my wing.


    Besides, his world sounded like a right fiasco of a place; things seemed to finally be calming down in the Sane Realm. He’d fare much better with us.


    However, at the same time, I felt concerned that if I phrased it the wrong way, I’d cause all kinds of offence. Normally, I wouldn’t give a **** about who I pissed off, but this was different.


    “So,” I decided to set about matters of business. “We need to get our message straight. We have no idea where we are, we just want to go home. We have the Eye, The Entity can have it as long as they return us home safely - and don’t kill us and all. Anything else we can use to perhaps negotiate?”


    Warnado looked to Amanda uncertainly, but she shook her head. I garnered from this that she was almost certainly withholding something, but I got the impression she was going to be less than cooperative here, and determined that I should let it drop for the moment. Note: for the moment.


    “We should try and gain context. We don’t want to get involved in something that could bite us in the ass in the end,” Amanda stated, now looking at me gravely.


    “The question is, do we really want to get involved in The Entity’s affairs?” Fire broke in, in all his eternal wisdom. “He seems to be a powerful man - creature - thing, but they often have powerful enemies. We don’t want to affiliate ourselves too closely with him.”


    He didn’t even stop squinting out the damn window. That infuriated me.


    “That’s a very nice way of thinking, Fire, but we also need to bear in mind that as far as we know, he’s the only one to really have control over travel between worlds.”


    “Perhaps, but we should still clarify that.”


    I couldn’t disagree with that. However, what did bother me was that he suddenly opened the carriage door and stuck his torso out so that he could squint down the road.


    “What on earth are you doing?” I practically gasped it.


    “There’s a fight up the road,” He muttered.


    Suddenly, the carriage came to a halt, and the Endlings on the back began to run forward. I looked to Warnado, and something seemed to have lit up about him. Something to do I suppose - to focus on. He mustn’t have intended to find Amanda here, and there was certainly more to the story there. I’d have to ask him about it.


    Fire and I both hopped out, with Warnado and Amanda following soon after. Suddenly, I felt ambitious; here was an opportunity to ingratiate us with the Entity, and to get us out faster.


    The Endlings were forming a ring around the edge of the forest, assessing the situation coolly.

    I caught a glimpse of a small wooden house off the side of the road - clearly a ramshackle and cobbled together wee thing - with two large stone pillars breaking through the roof. You could hear the sound of swords on the wind, and shouting. I ran up to the dog-faced creature eagerly, ready to earn our route home.


    Chapter 44: Steve and Jennifer (Fire)



    Fire stood by the creature whom he had just decided to call “The Dog” for the sake of convenience, stooping to try and get a clear view of the dispute.


    “What’s happening in there?” He asked.


    “I wish I could tell you,” The Dog rumbled with dignity.


    Through the woods, three figures, plated in diamond charged away from the ramshackle house. They were giants of men, but something had quite severely startled them. One could see in the background an obsidian-armoured Enderman with a staff was readying to strike their attacker, a man in spotless diamond armour, sword in hand. There was another person, seemingly a woman, firing arrows after the giants. There was another giant lain on the ground in the background, an arrow proudly protruding from his neck.


    “Those are our men,” The Dog suddenly called out to the giants. “Hey! What’s happening?!”


    Kay appeared at their side immediately, Warnado and Amanda following in tow.


    “What is it? Bandits?” Kay inquired, with a tinge of eagerness that annoyed Fire.


    “Looks like, but we can’t be sure yet” The Dog muttered. “I know this guy.”


    He ran up to and dragged the nearest giant back to the Endling’s lines.


    “What’s happening out there?”


    “Couple of idiots have something that belongs to The Entity.”


    “Thieves?” Kay called out indignantly.


    “You could say that,” The giant grumbled distractedly.


    “That settles it then,” Kay affirmed. “We should act quickly, the Endling won’t hold out forever. Bugger, his staff is broken...”


    “Hang on, what do you mean?” Fire inquired, stooping in.


    Kay was already sneaking off through the woods, trying to get a good angle from which to assail the swordsman.


    “Kay!” Fire wanted to call, but he was forced to abandon it as an arrow was flying towards him.


    Time slowed and he was able to take cover behind a tree. Amanda crouched beside him, crossbow in hand. She seemed to be trying to angle for a good shot.


    Warnado was running after the obsidian-plated madman, calling “I’ll make sure he comes back in one piece” over his shoulder before laughing. Fire wondered why was he stuck with such rash individuals.


    The diamond-shelled man wiped his brow of sweat, staring out at Fire and seeming to groan wearily. For better, or worse, he was too busy lamenting a coming battle to hear or see Kay coming.


    Kay struck him right in the jaw, and Fire felt the impact from a distance. The diamond-shelled bandit winced as the seams of his mouth were stretched to breaking point and blood spat from between them. He dropped the his knees, and Kay proceeded without any reservations, throwing a savage kick to the side of the bandit’s chest which flipped him over. His pale hunter jumped forward and unleashed a flurry of stabs at him, forcing him to roll in the dirt like a dog. Meanwhile, Kay casually noted how neither the bandit’s skin nor his armour was getting any dirtier.


    Then Kay was struck in the armpit by an arrow and fell back, staggering. The woman was clasping her bow tightly, her jaw locked, her eyes filled with rage as she pressed another arrow against the bowstring... but Warnado’s glowing shot struck her breastplate head on and broke her guard. She retreated behind the wooden shack, the arrows embedding in the wood and then dissipating.


    Meanwhile, Kay had lost his element of surprise. His victim had risen, and Kay had only just succeeded in pulling the arrow, now holding his wounded arm tightly against his side to limit the flow of blood.


    Kay raised his sword and the blades of the two men clashed. Kay seemed to wince at the unexpected weight of the man’s blow. Kay retreated slightly and reshuffled his fingers, he attempted to snatch at the bandit’s wrist, following up by swinging the sword at his knee. The bandit merely stepped back, wrenching his arm free from Kay’s grip.


    Then, seeming to have fully regained his senses, Kay’s opponent struck in earnest. He repeated the same few decisive, merciless movements over and over again, one after another. For every swing Kay managed to block with his sword, another would strike Kay on the flank painfully. Kay would occasionally attempt to strike back and break his guard, sometimes even try to punch him again. Once Kay glanced him slightly, but the status quo was quickly restored.


    It was clear to see that he was outclassed from that first engagement. Soon, Kay had to abandon holding his arm down outright just to stand a chance, allowing him to grip his sword with both hands and deal a powerful blow that broke his opponent’s guard, and drove him back… but not far enough. Kay’s opponent quickly closed the distance and swung thrice more before Kay stumbled and fell.


    This prompted Warnado to abandon his shootout with the woman, conjuring an ethereal axe from thin air. The woman burst out from behind the wooden wall of the house, dropped to one knee and trained her fire on Warnado. Yet, her arrow embedded itself in the dirt. Amanda took up and continued the bombardment, and sent a crossbow bolt between her target’s plated armour, staining her hip red, causing her to retreat behind the shack, assumedly slumping against it.


    Warnado swung the axe at the back of the male bandit’s leg, and while he missed the sinews of the leg, the resultant ring as the axe struck the diamond plating did manage to gain his attention.


    The male bandit turned to Warnado, only for Kay to scramble back up and plunge his black sword into his knee.


    He fell to his knees, but nonetheless batted Kay’s sword aside, throwing him off balance and to the ground, before rising again and lunging at Warnado, who was clearly the weaker of the two in reflexes and strength.


    Then, Fire realised he’d been entirely inactive during this fight, and ran forward to end it.


    “Wait!” He called, waving his arms above his head. “Truce!”


    The moment the words left his mouth he realized how silly and in fact pointless they were.


    The bandit continued to struggle with Warnado and Kay was struggling to get up, so Fire entered directly.


    Upon seeing the three-metre tall demi-god rush towards him, the bandit rose and swung his sword. Fire extended his arm and parried, the blade making this awful scraping noise as it peeled across the scales. Fire then immediately grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the wall of the house.


    “Listen, you’ll only hurt yourself!” Fire warned, glancing to make sure his female comrade wasn’t about to put an arrow in his eye.


    She was too, and Fire jerked his head aside, allowing the arrow to sail harmlessly past. Amanda’s shot missed too.


    “Shoot again and he’ll slit his damned throat!” called Kay.


    Both Fire and the woman seemed to have half a mind to bash Kay’s skull in with the nearest rock, but it seemed to cause her to back down.


    “There’s no need for any deaths,” Fire tried to explain. “Why were you fighting those men?”


    The bandit lowered his head and muttered. “They attacked without provocation. We were just trying to defend ourselves. I don’t understand what they wanted from us. We’re not even from here.”


    Fire looked at Kay, who seemed rightly put out, and then back to the bandit. He lowered him and put a hand on his shoulder.

    “We’re lost here too. Same situation as you. We’re going with these men to negotiate with the local warlord, The Entity. Perhaps there’s a way for us all to depart on good terms?”


    The bandit sheathed his sword as Fire stepped back, clearly still suspicious.


    “I hope there is,” He grumbled. “My name is Steve, this is Jennifer. There’s another guy inside, Fristad.”


    He stepped forward and then collapsed. Fire caught him.


    “I think it’s best you all drink some of this. It will stop the bleeding, I don’t have enough to fully heal all of you.”


    He pulled out a bottle of pink liquid, and it was passed around the group. The bleeding did stop, and their wounds were dressed. Kay was silent the entire time for a change. The other one they mentioned, Fristad, was in a bad way. They had to lay him in the carriage horizontally, forcing Fire to sit on the carriage’s roof with Amanda and Warnado, those least wounded after the fighting.


    Fire wasn’t at all envious of them. He heard their pained moans, as the healing potion did its work, and to be honest, conversation would have just made the situation more awkward. Not the least with Kay, stuck in there with two people he had been ready to kill, and a person who seemed half-dead, if not dying.


    Warnado and Amanda were not talkative either. Honestly, this suited Fire. He simply stared off into the distance, at the tower, anticipating the coming negotiations.


    Chapter 45: The Ape and the Freak (Astro)



    I rapped on the door tensely. Each strike sounded hollow, and I winced slightly.


    “We’ve come to a decision. We’d like to speak to the Entity,” I tried to contain myself - excitement, fear and anger were emotions I could not allow to slip through.


    There were a few moments of silence, and then I heard a distinctly Endling-like voice, which called for a few minutes wait.


    I could barely hear my own thoughts over the din of Kir’s jubilance. Beyond that, I didn’t pay too much mind to the bluestone. That was enough.


    Just as my concept of “a few minutes” began to be tested, the door swung open, and in swept an Endling. I looked past him. It was just the two of them.


    “Wait, not Bul?” Kir wondered.


    This didn’t stop Tyron in the slightest as he hurled himself at the creature. His powerful arms curled around the Enderman as he flew, lifting it from the floor and slamming it into the opposite wall in the hall. He raised his arm and readied to ram an ecstatic Kir into its dazed skull, but found the appendage gripped by one of its fellows. Tyron turned furiously as his quarry vanished, issuing a guttural roar at the rather bewildered remaining Endling, who immediately vanished.


    Destiny ran forward and rammed a steak knife into the Endling’s leg as it rematerialised. He yelped and collapsed. Destiny set about stabbing it repeatedly until it vanished, reappearing a few feet away. It was clasping its flank, and looking back in a queasy and drunken manner as it staggered up the corridor. However, it vanished again after Destiny began to pursue it. Suffice to say I was rather startled at her tenacity.


    David, meanwhile, was setting about hurling one of the lamps to the floor, and Tyron was swinging furiously at his original target. I initially thought of joining him, but Tyron caught it on the temple just as I took the first step. There wasn’t much more to do to the creature after that, so I went over and dragged a lantern to the floor, shattering the crystals within as it crumbled. I felt myself grow noticeably stronger.


    Destiny clicked her fingers and an icicle roughly the size of a butter knife appeared, not particularly large, but sharp.


    We then set about shattering additional lamps, Tyron by far proving the most efficient.


    “We’re almost free! Come on! We’re nearly free!” Kir yelped.


    At the end of the corridor, a group of men in chainmail appeared, but they were quickly scattered by several icicles hurled over Destiny’s shoulder. Two more Endings appeared, claws bared.


    Feeling some strength return to me, I dislocated one’s ankle. It collapsed. Its colleague ran to attack me, but vanished as I threw a stone at it. The creature attempted to rally, but quickly found itself pursued by David, who was swinging his obsidian fist and blade wildly.


    The mercenaries remained in their besieged position, Destiny striking down many who emerged. Then, at the other end of the hallway, Glibby stepped into the frame, flanked by three of the grey-painted Endlings. Behind him was a vaguely translucent individual that I didn’t quite recognise.


    “We’d best leave,” I said, but the others didn’t seem to respond.


    The Ape began to rush, and just as I began to try to target his neck in my mind’s eye, David stepped forward, gauntlet crackling with lime green streaks. He swung his arm in a wide arc over his head, a green orb of energy flying forward. It would have struck Glibby right between the eyes, if David’s original target hadn’t materialised before him, and taken the full brunt of the blast.


    All were caught in the blast, lifted from their feat and distributed throughout the hall.


    My vision cleared - he was on his knees. I tried to lift myself, but was struck in the back of the head by an endling. It readied to gut me, but some reflex in me triggered, and it collapsed after a sickening crunch from its ribcage.


    I realised how dark it was growing and threw an orb of light into the air, which made everything much clearer.


    David was faring the worst, badly burned across his right arm and his hair singed. Here was still swinging at the two Endlings assailing him, but notably slower and more sluggishly. He was practically wailing with each swing. He had leveled a number of lamps, and those Endlings still standing were notably scorched, but he was clearly the weak link. Glibby had also not emerged from the smoke.


    Destiny was alternating between continuing her barrage of the mercenaries, who were inching towards her position, and driving off David’s assailants.


    Then there was Tyron, who was fighting the other two grey Endlings. I noticed very quickly that he was swinging in a manner that suggested there was at least one other in the fight. However, for the life of me, I couldn’t see this third assailant. Then, as Tyron launched a very targeted assault on the invisible attacker, he became visible. However, Tyron suddenly cursed him, calling him “Freak”, and looked around for him in a lost manner.


    Before I could figure out what was happening, Freak ran over and scratched my face. I fell back, cursing. I conjured fire in my hand and hurled it at him. He dodged to side and slashed again. I was ready for him this time, stepping inside his guard and slugging him in the jaw.


    Then Freak vanished, only for David to collapsed a few seconds later, blood dripping from a wound no one had inflicted.


    Destiny recoiled in shock, only for a gash to appear across her stomach. Freak became visible to me again, only for his forearm to shatter immediately after. He yelped and ran off through a wall, showing no desire to return.


    David finally finished off the Endlings surrounding him, slumping against the wall with slipping eyes.


    Then, Glibby emerged, gauntlets large, smoke rising from them and the knuckles glowing orange. He was wincing, his skin plainly burnt - the sleeves of his jacket eaten back to his elbows. His eyes were furious, but didn’t lose their more calculating quality as he sized up David and leapt at him.


    Soaring through the air, Glibby raised a fist, ready to reduce David’s skull to a fine paste, when a sizeable block of ice struck him in the chest. He lost balance and fell to the floor, further enraged. Destiny, icicles in hand, rushed at him, ready to plunge them into the Ape’s eyes. However, she was quickly batted aside, slamming into the wall opposite David, groaning gutturally.


    I saw that the remaining mercenaries were beginning to emerge from the hallway, now halfway torn to shreds by Destiny’s onslaught. Simultaneously, Glibby was ready to bear down on David, who had risen and was feebly holding his gauntlet up in a fighting stance. I was torn between the two. Was I to kill Glibby and let the mercenaries (who were now numerous, and assumedly reinforced by ranged forces) swarm them, or kill the mercenaries and let Glibby kill half of the group.


    Suddenly, Tyron resolved that dilemma by sending a stone wall into Glibby’s flank. He fell to the side, raising his metal fist to block Kir. Tyron raised a stone wall to his side, and with an arc of his arm sent it around Glibby’s guard and into his flank again. I grinned, and turned my thoughts to warmer things, and began to fell mental heat become physical. I sent a modest pillar of flame flying up the hallway, where it once again dispersed the mercenaries, roasting several. I would have felt much guiltier for this than I did, but there was a satisfaction in having my magic back that softened this significantly. However, I felt weary. I needed the remainder of my strength to fly away.


    “We’d best run!” I mentally shouted to Kir, whose master was still hammering away at Glibby’s unbreakable guard. “Get Tyron to grab David, I’ll take Destiny.”


    “Can’t, he’s limited. any leighway and he’s free.”


    “What?” I verbally responded, already grabbing Destiny.


    “Get Destiny. Go.”


    “No.”


    “Go!”


    “I’ll get them to the window, follow us in.”


    Kir reluctantly acquiesced, and I beckoned to David, who staggered after me. He tried to offer some help in supporting Destiny, but found this fruitless and merely walked along with a hand on her fragile shoulder, offering words of encouragement. I looked at him and he was crying tears of rage.


    David went into the room first and blasted open the window, mercifully saving me the energy. I got over to the edge, ready to jump with Destiny, and signalled to Kir in my mind. Then, a most unfortunate sight occurred before me.


    With a horrible roar, Tyron went flying into the wall opposite the door, splintering the four posts surrounding his bed and fragmenting the wall behind it. He then fell forward, landing on the mattress. Tearing the bedding with his claws, the green creature struggled to his feet. He raised Kir and ran to the door, swinging in an overhead and wild arc, murder in his eyes. The gauntleted hand grabbed his arm, and then was a sickening pop as the other slammed into Tyron’s chest.


    His arm now limp, Kir fell to the floor. Glibby batted Tyron aside and picked the sword up. As Tyron ran back at him, Glibby slashed once. The blade raked across his stomach, and Tyron fell, grasping his wound and swearing wildly at his attacker. When Tyron demanded that his sword be returned to him, Glibby casually tossed it aside. Tyron grabbed his sword and slid it across the floor towards me, David and the still groaning Destiny. David picked it up and handed it to me.


    He kissed Destiny on the forehead and ran forward with a great cry, but was plainly doomed. I turned away, electing to leap out of the ruined window and save a barely lucid Destiny and Kir; while there was still something to save. I readied to assert force on the ground, and slow our fall, and rushed forwards to make a jump. Destiny and Kir were both calling to me to run back, and I wanted to heed them. Then I stopped suddenly, a clawed hand gripping my neck.


    “You, are not leaving.”


    “Freak,” I snarled, fighting back tears.


    “I want you alive, but I don’t need you. So go ahead, break my neck. You won’t live to be satisfied.”


    Destiny swung where the arm was, plainly blind as to Freak’s true location, and it phased through. However, I felt the claws laxen slightly but immediately reassert their grip. I hesitated too long, and I felt the weight of Destiny be pulled from my back. I reluctantly let whoever was behind me take Kir. Freak released my neck and I fell to my knees, looking out into the late-morning sunlight, as it made the plains and the forest beyond it a vivid green. I saw a carriage running up an elaborate bridge to the Tower. I saw the rough slope out to this tableau, and I wanted to fall forward, for it to be over.


    They were all screaming - at their captors, at their killers - for me to fight on - for me to do something. They asked why I wasn’t doing something to save them? Why I hesitated so long as to only be a retriever of corpses?


    Then the bag covered my head, and I probably passed out some time after.


    Chapter 46: At the Negotiating Table (The Ender)



    The Ender stood in the Entity’s office, toes rapping the floor incessantly. The Entity was sat to her left, its bronze shell gleaming in the evening light, which was drawn in the window and landed upon it in searing blotches. It didn’t move, merely staring forward.


    A few minutes passed, and then the Ender began pacing.


    “Any word from Freak?” She at last inquired.


    The Entity sat in silence for a moment, before its head began to methodically, mechanically, swing round to its servant.


    There was a dread moment of anticipation, before it spoke. It always made her jump slightly when it did speak, as it had no lips or facial expressions to signal it. It didn’t even breathe.


    “Freak has subdued the prisoners, he will be with us shortly,” The Entity confirmed in its usual low monotone. “Do not bother me further… I am recalling our guests.”


    “I don’t know why you bother,” The Ender offered, suddenly regretting having said it. However, in light of having started, she decided to finish. “Bul will just state it all in the meeting.”


    The Entity’s head darted back around. “Bul is mortal, and mortals make mistakes,” The Entity seemed almost to have emotion in this statement: indignant bitterness. “Immortals are... too, imperfect, but we are at least more perceptive. He is a mouthpiece, little more.” It cocked its head. “I told you not to interrupt.”


    The Ender straightened her back and stepped away from the Entity, eyes above its head.


    The doors swung open, Bul leading his motley ensemble, talking away over his shoulder. However, the one he was addressing - the General who had instigated this meeting - was in turn staring over his shoulder, at the hulking form of Glibby as he ploughed by in the hall. The Ender was somewhat confused by his appearance - she’d always heard that he had just one eye, though that might not have happened yet. Either way, he didn’t have much to look forward to.


    There were seven of them (not including their escort). There were the gem-owners, whom one of the Entity’s giants had failed to rob in World 390. Brine was the man’s name. They knew that much. He was what Bul called a “Herobrine-slayer” - on account of the recurrence of this individual across Worlds. The second gem-owner, Jennifer, was known to be equally formidable.


    There was also the other one in their party. He wasn’t in the records. The only thing of note about him was the fact that he’d been found totally incapacitated and was now back on his feet - and seemed to be struggling to comprehend the world around him, as if awakening from a bad dream.


    There was the hooded child she’d seen in the woods, who seemed to wink upon seeing her. She scoffed slightly as she saw him, but nonetheless pretended not to notice. There was also a young girl of a similar age standing beside him, glaring suspiciously around the room. It was obvious that she didn’t trust anyone, including the people accompanying her. The Ender liked her - something of a world-weary confrontational nature about her.


    But then there was the other one.


    A gigantic figure quite similar to herself. It was a large, muscular, scaled creature with glowing red eyes. Its coal-black scale was covered by grey wool - she recognised it. They’d apprehended some trespassers a few months prior who wore it - it took ages to get them all, they kept fading into the background. There was something different about this one though - something more dignified, well-travelled - most importantly they were some sort of creature of the End, unlike the others.


    He seemed to stand aloof from the others - naturally in the literal sense, but also in a more metaphorical sense. He seemed to suspiciously eye both the General and Bul, scanning the room for ways to escape in the event of a downturn.


    And then they all sat down. Bul seemed to expect the General to sit beside him, but looked back to realise that he’d planted himself beside the child - this worried the Ender.


    Bul corrected himself and sat beside him in his new position.


    “Hello darling, did I miss something,” Freak whispered from beside.


    The Ender opened her mouth to speak, a smile curling across her lips, before being interrupted.


    “Don’t, only you can see me. Don’t want to look insane in front of the investors - I’ll come in in a minute. Have a nice time!”


    The Ender snorted and shook her head. The weird one - no, the other one - the one not on their records, was looking right at her with a vague curiousness that unnerved her.


    “Well,” Bul began, opening his palms in a welcoming manner. “This,” He gestured to the Entity. “Is my employer, the Entity. Next to him is the Ender, our head of security-”


    “Everyone’s a the around here, aren’t they?” The child mused, to the General’s laughter. “Sorry, please continue.”


    “Well, yes, other key figures in our enterprise are Glibby the Ape - a representative of the Silhouette.” The General sighed sharply.


    “Two more the… s? These?”


    “Can you stop?” Bul asked, the General plainly struggling not to laugh.


    “I make no promises.”


    Freak phased through the door, straightening himself as he did so.


    “Halloa! What am I missing?” He asked. “Goodness, you’re looking angry, aren’t you Marinus. Lighten up, won’t you?”


    The lawyer glared from the spectre to the child and around the table again.


    “This is Freak,”


    “Don’t you mean, the Freak?” The General tested.


    Just as Bul looked as if he were about to start yelling, and the Herobrine-killer and End creature were about to interject, he backpedalled.


    “I’m sorry, we’re only messing with you,” He consoled. “Thank you for being a good sport. It is a pleasure to meet all of you. I’m sure that all of us would agree. So, you were saying, Mr Bul.”


    Seeming somewhat reassured, Bul continued.


    “It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Kay, and the rest of you. The Entity is honoured to welcome such distinguished figures. We have among us a Herobrine-killer, a servant of Herobrine,” The General smirked slightly uneasily as he looked at Brine. “A…” He checked his notebook. “Child of the prophecy. Maybe two? No, probably not. A distinguished wizard and brewer from what I can gather, Mr…?


    “Fire,” The named creature explained coolly.


    “And I’m sure our other guests are no less charming and noteworthy. I’m sorry you’ve all found yourselves in this position. I assure you, Mr. Brine in particular, that we didn’t wish to cause you any trouble. We instructed our people to use peaceful means, but, sadly they didn’t heed such instructions. Bloody giants, thick as rocks!”


    “Your words are hollow!” The other one accused. “If you don’t intend to kill, how can you explain the miner you killed in my world? Sending your grunts to another world, to kill that miner, and only that miner, while she was alone, that was no mistake!”


    His words echoed heavily.


    “We have yet to investigate this situation. We did lose track of one of our agents due to a malfunctioning portal a short time ago - it is possible that they were acting in self-defence. We can’t comment as-is. You are?”


    “Fristad,” he said bluntly. “I just got caught up in this nonsense and want to go home. Preferably alive.”


    The General was frowning sympathetically at him.


    Bul swallowed uncomfortably: “I’ll see what I can do. We are very willing to help you - we’ll ask a favour of you naturally-”


    “Then please, Mr. Bul, do explain,” Brine interjected. “What service can we render for you, in return for the basic service of having you undo the damage to our persons and our lifestyles-”


    “Now!” Kay warned. “I think we’re all getting a little too heated.”


    The End creature seemed ready to challenge him preemptively, but then restrained themself. Brine, however, didn’t take such a stance. Fristad also attempted to offer an objection but quieted himself after a few words of interference.


    “Really?” Brine challenged, laughing. “Do you now? Do you know what we’ve been through-”


    “I don’t, Mr Brine, but I would hazard a guess that I could match it. And while I am not certain on either of these, I am certain that it is in our best interest to negotiate here, instead of tantrum incessantly.”


    Brine stood, but his female companion placed a hand on his wrist.


    “He’s right,” She insisted sincerely. “What they’ve done to us was wrong, but we can’t change that. We can just get home.”


    “Thank you, madame. It’s good to find someone with common sense,” Kay added this last part with a great deal of grumbling. However, upon seeing her features slump from passiveness into anger, he sighed impatiently. “We - or at least, myself, Warnado and Fire here are interested in making a deal to return home. I will offer the Eye, and will not expose your activities if you wish them to be kept secret. Alternatively, I do have contacts in the True Court, and could provide some introduction to the Blind Watcher. All I ask is that we be allowed to return to our worlds of choice in peace and safety. If it appeals to them, I also extend this pact to Mr. Fristad, Amanda and the Brine family.”


    The Ender suddenly noticed that his accent wasn’t quite matching the syntax. It would slip off slightly here and there from civilised into savage - he was overcompensating for an impoverished background. She had to resist laughing at this, suddenly taken by the notion that this man was a total charlatan. Freak was looking across at her knowingly, and she believed they had both come to a similar conclusion.


    Bul was about to start talking, but the Entity suddenly raised itself in an eerily smooth movement.

    “You will…” It turned to look behind itself. “...all do us favours, in addition to offering the Eye, and the crystals possessed by Mr Brine. You will-use your influence in your respective worlds to broker improved…” Suddenly it looked down before snapping back up. “Relations between dimensions. “In return we will offer-safe-passage… to all of you.” It stared around the table in an eerily smooth movement, the light striking its forehead and struggling to keep up as it turned. “I would ask-less but you-have done damage to my property. This is agreeable?”


    The Ender followed the gaze. Kay seemed to be nodding along, frowning sincerely - like a confused child. The actual child was laid back, staring at the ceiling as the girl whispered to him. The Brines were looking uneasily around the table, with Steve seeming totally ambivalent. Fire was still impressively impassive.


    After some time, the General spoke: “I think we need time to discuss this business. We’re all tired, and frustrated, and not thinking clearly. Some of us actually need time to ascertain who the others are and whether we’re on the same side. I trust you understand?”


    “Understood,” The Entity acquiesced, but there was a sense of warning about it. “I expect an answer-by the end of the week. We will prepare rooms. Until then... I confer upon-you the liberty of the-Tower. You… may leave.”


    They rose, and the group filed out of the door. There was something shaken about the General, who attempted to speak to Brine, but found himself quite easily and efficiently brushed off. After that, she lost track of him, watching the End creature who called himself Fire tower above the rest. He attempted to speak to Brine, and was plainly more successful, but not by much. They actually exchanged words, but not many, and soon Brine departed, seeming to make tiredness an excuse.


    After that, there was much to be discussed. Freak stood up and started walking around the table, footsteps making no sounds.


    “He’s a charlatan,” The Ender offered. “A common crook, nothing better, little worse. A lot of mask and little face” Then, to Bul: “You’re certain this is the famous General Glibby was talking about?”


    “Yes,” Bul burst out defensively. “Glibby’s verified it for me. They’ve met, apparently. I’m not sure of the circumstances, but he insists that this is the case. Besides, accounts suggest that he is exactly like that - an idiot at worst and a jester at best. Who calls a serious political entity ‘The Court of Righteous Protest’? This is the man we’re dealing with.”


    “I like him,” Freak laughed.


    “Of course you do,” Bul huffed. “You just like anything that makes our work difficult.”


    Freak sneered at him: “I like anything that makes your work difficult, certainly.”


    “The topic - we have one to address, do we not?” The Entity warned emotionlessly. “What of the others?”


    “The End creature, Fire, struck me as a level-headed being,” The Ender suggested helpfully. “He’s a scientist of some sort, perhaps he’ll be able to help with our technical difficulties?”


    “I approve,” The Entity entered. “You may approach…” Away again. “Him with our difficulties.”


    “Brine’s problematic,” Freak suggested. “I’d keep an eye on him. The kid’s no issue, he has great power from the look of it but he doesn’t know how to use it. His friend’s an unknown quantity but she seems to be no one of great quality or note. I wouldn’t worry too much about the rest; they’re too physically weak to pose a threat.”


    “Fristad concerns me,” the Ender warned. “There’s not a single record on him: no status, no abilities, no history of any sort. And he was looking at me really weirdly...”


    “Perhaps it was your captivating beauty,” Bul snapped rudely. He was about to continue, but the Ender cut him off.


    “Really? I’ll have you know the endermen find me quite a prize!” She jested. Freak laughed, cringed and leant back.


    “I hate them all, but it looks like we have to put up with them,” Bul finished. “I’d suggest surveillance on the Brines, and Fristad. Possibly on Fire too.”


    “I’ll keep an eye on Fire,” Freak stated. “He interests me. Very controlled, there’s something wrong with him.”


    “It is settled, be about your business.”


    And with that, they all dispersed very quickly.


    Chapter 47: Strictly classified (Fire)



    After their preliminary negotiations with the Entity Fire was allowed to roam free in the wing he was currently in, much to his surprise.


    Fire was walking down a corridor that was lined with long shelves with all kinds of tableware on them, besides the incredible amount of it Fire also was surprised by the variety. As far as he could see there were no duplicates anywhere, there was exactly one item of every material and production method. Some of the materials seemed odd, even to him. One set seemed to be made from carved ender pearls, which was difficult and impractical in more than one way.


    Fire passed multiple arches leading to different rooms and corridors with more collections of things. Fire assumed that the Entity really had a thing for hoarding different items, which made it clear why it was so interested in the Eye.


    At this point Fire was just aimlessly wandering the extensive corridors, occasionally coming across a wide hall. In general Fire had the impression that the building was much bigger on the inside than it would seem, another reason that led him to believe that the Entity was a lot more powerful than he originally thought.


    After more wandering for a while, Fire finally found something that could be of use, in a side room there was a small obsidian table with a closed book on top, which Fire recognized as an enchanting table. The walls were lined with shelves containing different books, Fire took one out and flipped through the pages. Instead of words the pages were full of runes of different sizes, most of which he recognized, some were new to him. Fire then carefully put the book back in its place and faced the enchanting table.


    Fire reached into his pocket and fished out a diamond, this one was much bigger than the one he had given to the barkeeper, it was about as big as a human eye. He laid down the gem on the table and started humming. This hum caused the book to flip open and the diamond to float above it. With more hums of different pitches and volumes Fire made runes float forth from the books surrounding the table, a hand full of large ones and many small ones. Some runes tried to escape from their place and return to their books but Fire’s voice held them there. All of a sudden his voice gained a deep, otherworldly sound and the runes shivered, then arranged themselves in a grid around the diamond. Fire had to vary his voice more the more ordered the runes became, having to keep each and every one of them where they belonged. After some time the grid shrunk and the runes disappeared inside the gem one after the other.


    The runes were in place, the only thing needed now was a bit of energy to activate the enchantment. Fire concentrated and let some energy seep through his skin, making his entire body glow, then the energy flowed more towards his right hand, where it formed a ball in his palm. With a powerful shout Fire sent the ball into the diamond, which started glowing and then emitted a strong shockwave of energy. The book closed and the diamond slowly floated downwards into Fire’s hand that he had put there to catch it.


    Fire took a deep breath to recover from the enchantment process but then he felt a sudden surge of energy behind him, a teleportation. He slowly turned around to see none other than the Ender, still wearing her spiked obsidian armor with the purple gem at her chest.


    “Explain this.” she demanded.


    Fire knew better than to argue with someone as powerful as her and replied: “I just enchanted this diamond to be able to absorb life force. I normally carry such a gem with me all the time but the... circumstances of my arrival in Nexus didn’t allow me to bring one.”


    For now the Ender seemed satisfied with that explanation. As she didn’t say anything, Fire asked: “Earlier, when we talked to the Entity, you seemed surprised by me.”


    “It’s just that you clearly are another creature of the End but what put me off was that I have never seen something like you before.” She said and then continued: “I noticed that shockwave so I came to investigate… there is also something else here. The resonance of an ender pearl.”


    Fire nodded and then tapped his throat: “Yes, when I enchanted the diamond I made use of mine to better control the enchantment. Also, regarding my origin. I am not enderborn, my kind, the Mencur-Besh were made by… gods. The gods of my world, we are part human, part endfolk and then also something else entirely.”


    The Ender ignored the second part of Fire’s statement and instead asked with more curiosity in her voice than she would have liked: “Your ender pearl is in your throat?”


    “At the base of my skull.” Fire explained.


    “How do you teleport quickly then?”


    Fire couldn’t help but be amused by this sudden curiosity, he assumed that it was like meeting someone who claimed that their liver was in their right leg.


    He said: “We don’t. Our pearls are much smaller than those of endermen. Individual teleportation is hard and often unreliable but in a bigger group we are able to cover greater distances than any individual enderman since we have the ability to link our minds together.”


    The Ender simply said: “Oh.” Then turned to go but signaled Fire to come along with her.


    The two tall creatures slowly walked down the corridor next to each other.


    The Ender then asked: “Now, how did you come to Nexus? Just based on the fact that I have never heard of the ‘Mencur-Besh’ I assume that you are from one of the outer worlds, the worlds which have no direct connection to Nexus or its neighboring worlds.”


    Fire replied: “Well, I was experimenting with a new potion recipe, that potion seemed to have brought me here.”


    The fact that worlds had distances and connections to one another was a very useful thing to know. Everything made a little bit more sense now… Fire only needed to find some more pieces to the grand puzzle that was the Entity’s doing. The Ender could prove useful for this.


    “So, in your world, you make potions and enchant?” The Ender asked.


    Fire realized that this conversation was just as profitable for the Ender as it was for him, it was simply an exchange of information, both knew that. He had to be as interesting to her as the Entity was to him.


    “That and much more. I am an alchemist, and enchanter, if I had more life force at my disposal I would even make a good mage. You might have seen the assortment of weapons I brought here; I am a warrior too. That and a strategist. I have even been a pirate once.”


    The Ender laughed at that last part, which surprised Fire.


    She said: “Now, that’s a lot to do in one lifetime, even for one with End blood in their veins.”


    “Not if that lifetime has been five millennia.” Fire casually said.


    The Ender stopped and turned her head towards Fire, she said with disbelief in her voice: “Five millennia? You might even be older than the… never mind.”


    Fire noticed that they were in a different part of the tower now and asked: “So, where are we going exactly?”


    The Ender replied: “To my office. Seeing that you have lived this long you may know some things that I don’t.”


    Fire raised a scaled eyebrow: “Like what? And why would you trust me with anything, I just arrived here after all.”


    “Well, to be honest I hit a wall trying to figure out something regarding how some worlds are linked. The Entity is fine with me getting any help I can find at this point.”


    After a few minutes of silent walking they reached a tall door. Behind the door was a room with a large desk and a chair, the rest of the room only had a few bookshelves. The room was in stark contrast to what Fire had seen in the rest of the tower, no collection of things lined the walls, the room only had what was needed.


    The Ender took a huge book from one of the shelves and slammed it down onto the table. As she opened it, Fire could see that there was something akin to a map inside with the difference that no landscape was depicted, only a large amount of circles connected by lines, labelled by letters far too small for human eyes to read, but still very much readable for Fire and the Ender.


    The Ender explained: “This is the interdimensional map created from the data our scouts have given us, further back in the book are maps of the worlds themselves. With varying detail of course. The most accurate one by far is the one of Nexus.”


    Fire said: “So, what is the problem exactly?”


    “We know how to travel from outer worlds to Nexus, which is by simply finding a tunnel of sorts and going through, those tunnels are especially prominent in the closer worlds. From Nexus to the other worlds it is also easy since the Entity has set up permanent portals in that direction. The problem now is getting farther than that. We were able to locate the nodes of energy flow that form alongside the tunnels I mentioned. We can’t use them in the outwards direction without setting up another permanent portal there, which would be risky and time consuming. What we are now looking for is a way of exploring further.”


    This alone told Fire a lot, mainly that they were really seeking to expand their influence outwards. Another thing was that those tunnels seemed to be directly caused by the worlds being near Nexus, which would also explain why he ended up in Nexus and not somewhere else. He definitely needed to look into this.


    He asked: “Now, you have been further than your neighboring worlds, right?”


    The Ender replied: “Yes but that was only because the tunnels opened from the other side randomly and allowed our scouts to go through, returning was easier since they only had to take the tunnel back.”


    “How do they locate those tunnels?”


    “I suppose I have to tell you if I want you to help with this. We have developed a special device which can detect the nodes, a compass of sorts. All it does really is search for an energy flow and point there. Now, any idea how it would be possible to reliably get those tunnels to open?”


    Fire thought for a moment, then asked: “Was there anything special your scouts reported after one of the tunnels ‘randomly’ opened?”


    “In fact, now that you mention it, there was something. A single report of the flow detector going crazy.”


    Fire had a theory but he didn’t want to tell the Ender yet. He pointed at the book asked: “Can I look at this for a few minutes?”


    The Ender nodded. Fire leaned over the book and turned the pages, carefully looking at each little detail, at every label. Next to the typical terrain features there were also notes about the tunnels and where they were leading. The other worlds were nothing special and as the Ender said, sometimes poorly cartographed but what caught Fire’s eye was the map of Nexus. It seemed to be stitched together from seemingly random pieces of landscape, mountains suddenly cut off by swamps, ice plains in the middle of a desert and generally terrain features that had absolutely no business being where they were. Fire was used to this from normal Minecraft terrain generation but he had the feeling that this was not a world where he could blame it on that. After looking through the entire book and having memorized all of the maps inside of it he turned to the Ender, who had been standing next to him patiently.


    She asked: “And?”


    Fire answered: “I have an idea, I am not sure if it might work though. I never had to deal with interdimensional travel myself but I can imagine that some of what I know can be applied to this. It seems to me that Nexus exerts a pull on other worlds, making it easier to pass from them to Nexus. Am I right so far?”


    “Yes, that is the case. I hope you don’t mind that I don’t tell you the specifics about it, that is strictly classified.”


    Fire nodded. That statement had already told him enough. He continued: “In theory it should be possible to reverse the flow of energy temporarily by infusing fairly large amounts of energy into the node on the side which is closer to Nexus. By doing that you should be able to pass through without many problems.”


    The Ender scratched her chin and replied: “Yes, that does make sense. I have never really concerned myself with the theory of magic and we also have a very low amount of mages here at the tower and they are busy with… other matters.”


    More secrecy, of course.


    The Ender continued: “Now, how would you go about this energy infusion?”


    Fire said: “If you can’t use mages or creatures with sufficient control over their magic I suggest that destroying magical artefacts at the nodes can provide a way. I suppose that shattering about a dozen of ender pearls would also work if you can’t spare the artefacts. So would a squadron of teleporting endermen, with the right timing.”


    The Ender sighed: “It’s not ideal but at least it is something... Thank you, Fire.”


    Fire could hear something akin to warmth in her voice but he shrugged it off. Even to someone like him, the voices of pure End creatures were hard to judge.


    The Ender continued: “You were a great help to our cause, you will be rewarded accordingly.”


    “What kind of reward?”


    “Money, goods, anything really.”


    Fire said: “I have an idea or two about what goods I want.”


    The Ender lead Fire out of the room and towards what he assumed to be the main store rooms of the tower. Overall he was satisfied with the amount of information he had gained weighted with what he gave up. Fire already had a plan of what he would do next, all he needed were a few very specific items, which he was sure to find where they were headed.


    Chapter 48: A tantalising offer (Warnado)



    Warnado gawked at the massive interior of what he could only assume was the Entity’s library. Rows upon rows of giant wooden bookshelves stood, each of which was filled to the brim with hundreds of books. A mahogany staircase adorned the back wall of the library, leading up to another level of bookshelves. The sheer amount of information that could be gleaned from this place enticed Warnado.


    Warnado strode over to one of the bookshelves on the right side of the room and scanned it. Various books lined its shelves, including strange titles such as “Incendium” and “103 Ways to Cook Steak Without a Furnace.” He picked up a book, entitled “A History of Necromancy,” and got to work. Sitting at one of the many tables that dotted the room, Warnado flipped to a random page in the book. A passage on the left described the powers of a Lich, while an illustration on the right detailed a gruesome picture of a human being turning inside out. It would usually be an interesting read for Warnado, yet once again he found his mind wandering elsewhere.


    Absentmindedly, Warnado fiddled with the crystal in his pocket. He could sense the power radiating from it, yet he had no idea what it did. He still hadn’t shown it to Fire or Kay, and he was unsure whether doing so would be a good idea. Amanda obviously knew about it, but talking to her about it could end up disastrous. After all, even though they had known each other for a long time, she had some form of amnesia. She didn’t remember him at all.


    “Let me guess, worrying over Amanda?”


    Warnado turned to find Kay leaning casually against one of the bookshelves. “What’s the history between you two? I’m pretty certain that even if you met before that moment, twenty-four hours of acquaintance is a little short to bring someone along.”


    Warnado blinked. “It’s...complicated, to say the least. She’s a friend from long ago, obviously drawn here on accident like I was. That’s all.”


    Kay narrowed his eyes. “You’re not telling the full truth, but I don’t blame you at all. I wouldn’t trust me in your position.” He laughed ruefully. “There’s something strange going on in your world, Warnado, that much I know. What’s the deal there? What happened to your world to make it such a hellhole?”


    “Lots of things, but it all goes back to your friend Herobrine. Because of the strange occurrences recently, which are probably somewhat due in part to the Entity’s experimenting, I’ve taken the liberty of studying dimensional energies and how they overlap one another. Things such as dimensional transport and balance. How change in one world could affect another tenfold.”


    “Sounds complicated.”


    Warnado laughed. “You don’t know the half of it.”


    After a moment of silence, Kay spoke up again. “You know, it seems that my world is finally starting to calm down. If you’re growing sick of the chaos in your world, you’re welcome to accompany me home; Amanda too. I know a few people who could help your training in magic. What do you say?”


    Warnado pondered the ups and downs of Kay’s offer. From what he could tell, there was really nothing he could do for his world at this point in time. If he trained with Kay’s wizarding friends for a while, he could eventually return to his own world to rid it of the chaos plaguing it. Eventually, Warnado stood up.


    “You know, I might just have to take you up on that. Better than waiting for my world to destroy itself.”


    Kay grinned. “If you say so.” He then gestured over his shoulder and started walking towards the door. “Let’s see what the Entity has at his disposal.”


    And so, they began to walk throughout the base, generally following a downward path, Kay reminiscing on his friends and exploits. He certainly enjoyed his own voice, thought Warnado, but any voice was better than silence. It felt almost like Kay was catching him up to speed on his little group’s situation, like a rather informal briefing.


    “We picked Mini and Bokane up in the Survival Games. Bokane was one of the guards; none too happy with his situation, so Astro cut a deal to get him and his little half-breed friend out in return for their help. I took a shine for Mini afterwards so we ended up taking them along. Actually, I’ll tell you what he did when we first met!” He chuckled. “I’m running across this desert with Cossack and Small - I have told you about Small, right? Ah, I’ll explain later! So, I’m running over this dune, when all of a sudden, just as I crest it-”


    “Wait,” Warnado interrupted, suddenly hearing a disturbance. “Something’s happening up ahead.”


    “Ooh,” Kay laughed. “Do tell.”


    The sparsely torchlit hallway would normally offer little in terms of vision to a normal human, but due to his status as a quarter-demon, Warnado could just make out an iron doorway up ahead. He turned around, realizing that he had been too engrossed in Kay’s story to notice where they had traveled. Looking back at the door, he spoke.


    “I’m pretty sure we’ve found the dungeon.” A smile crept onto Warnado’s face. “Are you up for a bit of snooping around?”


    “Well,” Kay smiled. “How could I refuse such a tantalising offer?”


    Warnado cleared the hallways in several strides, Kay following closely behind. Trying the rusty doorknob, Warnado found it (unsurprisingly) locked.


    “Oh, well. Looks like we’re going to have to turn back,” Warnado admitted sadly.


    Kay frowned.


    “I meant that sarcastically.”


    Conjuring a key out of thin air, Warnado pressed it into the lock. It stuck fast, but after some fiddling with the key’s dimensions, the door clicked open and swung inwards. The duo were met with a branching hallway, with two paths going left and right. After a brief discussion, the two split up.


    Chapter 49: Might as Well Show Myself (Fristad)



    Steve stands in his diamond armor as always, leaning against a meters-high medley stack of chairs, his legs crossed. Every part of his body is void of emotion, except for his eyes, which are livid. Jennifer sits on an upright chair at the top of a pile, while I sit on the lip of a chair sticking out from the same pile. Sofas, armchairs, stools… you name a chair, and it’s probably somewhere in that pile.


    The room we are in is tightly packed with assorted chairs such as these, like an overstocked antique furniture shop. Green tinted light filters down upon us from a stained glass ceiling dome, while purple light flickers from lanterns on the indented walls.


    “So…” Jennifer begins, “we’ve encountered some form of civilization, but it’s not exactly what we expected.”


    “You could say that.” Steve remarks sardonically.


    “An unfriendly one?” I suggest. “Friendly civilizations don’t go around taking people from other worlds and trying to steal their magical artifacts.”


    “Let’s get one thing straight!” Steve snaps. “We have no magical artifacts. No crystals. Nothing that these people - or creatures, or humanoid animal things - might want. Got it?”


    Steve stares me down with urgency, an implied message that we are not to speak of the crystals.


    “Loud and clear,” I reply.


    As much as I wish we could just give up the crystals and go home, Steve is wise to keep the crystals a secret. There’s no telling what these people will use the crystals for, and no guarantee that these people will honor their promise to send us home. He might have his own personal reasons as well; perhaps the crystals are more valuable to him than he is letting out.


    It’s also in my best interest to cooperate with Steve. His protection is preferable to the influence of that fiendish parasite, the book…


    I still can’t believe its influence suddenly vanished when we entered the castle. What caused it? Did the fight with those lapis traffickers take too heavy a toll? Or does it have something to do with this castle’s infrastructure?


    Either way, it’s in my best interest to get rid of it while I still can, for the sake of my own sense of agency. Could it perhaps be used as a bargaining chip?


    Perhaps I should finally tell Steve and Jennifer about the book. I trust them enough at this point to know that we’re on the same side.


    “There’s something I should probably tell you about at this point...” I begin.


    I reach beneath my diamond leggings and grasp the squarish mass within my right back pocket. The brows of Steve and Jennifer lift in intrigue for a moment, then lower in disappointment as they realize that the object I bring before them is simply a book.


    “Let me guess:” Steve muses, grinning. “You’re showing us your spellbook, and you’re about to explain your magicking wizard powers to us.”


    “No and yes,” I respond. “This is no spellbook, but it is the source of my powers… if you could even call them my powers.”


    Steve’s eyes light up with curiosity.


    “The first time I saw it, I was in a nightmare. As far as I can tell, it snuck its way into an almanac, and then I read the almanac, and that’s when it took control of my dreams.”


    “What do you mean by ‘it’?” Jennifer asks, concerned yet critical.


    “The being which inhabits this book,” I explain. “The book is sentient.”


    “So, it used to be an almanac, but then it entered your dreams?” Jennifer asks.


    “No,” I clarify. “It always was the same almanac, but it can change its appearance.”


    Jennifer and Steve look at each other for a moment, mirroring confusion and incredulity.


    “So, what other sort of magicking powers does it have?” asks Steve.


    “I’m glad you asked,” I respond with a hint of sarcasm. “It takes control of my mind, teleports back to me if I try to get rid of it, and channels its void magic powers through my body. One time, it turned me into a skeleton. But right now, it’s pretty much inactive, and I have no idea why.”


    Steve and Jennifer look at each other again.


    “That explains a lot of things…” says Steve.


    I nod. “As you can probably imagine, it has not had the most positive influence on me, which is why I would like to get rid of it in the most useful way possible. I would like to offer it as a bargaining chip with the Entity.”


    Steve leans forward. “Are you really sure that’s - ”


    “Shh!” Jennifer hisses. Her eyes dart back and forth. “Someone’s listening in on our conversation.”


    Steve and I turn silent and shift our heads about, searching for the source of the noise that Jennifer heard.


    A mysterious voice speaks. “Since it seems my presence is already known, I might as well show myself.”


    An enderwoman, who I recognize from earlier, walks out from behind the pile of chairs next to Jennifer, and glares at her.


    “It seems your hearing is sharp, human, but not as sharp as mine.” The enderwoman’s head slowly turns to face me.


    I wince slightly, in part anticipating the enderwoman to lash out at me from eye contact, in part realizing the enderwoman may have overheard much of my discussion of the book.


    “Are you afraid of me?” the enderwoman speaks with a relish, a smile creeping into her voice.


    “I keep thinking you’ll attack me if I look into your eyes,” I admit.


    “I see,” the enderwoman responds. “You’re from one of those worlds with a more… barbaric strain of our kind. Deplorable indeed, but I’m sure there are other aspects of your world which may be useful to us. But first… I will take your book.”


    The enderwoman outstretches her darkened, bony arm and holds the clawed fingers open. Up close, I can see that her skin is more reptilian than that of the endermen I’ve come to know.


    I hesitate for a moment.


    “I can also take your neck if you want,” the enderwoman barks. “Your choice.”


    I glance toward Steve, who stands still, evidently not in the state of mind to fight when the risk of group retaliation is high.


    I place the book in the enderwoman’s hand, which grasps the cover by its claw-tipped fingers.


    “Come with me, human. You other two humans, Steve and Jennifer, do not try to follow us.”


    Feeling my neck burn with fear, all too aware of my weakness, I walk alongside the enderwoman.


    “Where are you going?” I hear Steve protest behind me.


    Chapter 50: Exeunt Fire (Fire)



    Fire stepped through the entrance to yet another expansive room in the tower, this room's unique feature seemed to be the countless chairs that were stacked on top of another for unknown reasons. The clash of green and purple light in the room made it seem even more surreal and nonsensical than it already was. Fire looked through the room and saw two humans standing in it, he had seen them earlier at the negotiation. If he recalled correctly those were Steve and Jennifer. During the negotiation they both had remained mostly silent, which hadn't been difficult since Kay and Warnado had the talking front more than covered. Bul had referred to them as "gem-owners", whatever that meant. Fire walked towards them and said nothing, waiting for them to notice him and start a conversation if they so chose.


    The man stood up and stared at him: "Where are you going?" The tone was accusatory, but there was tremor in it. He was unnerved. Fire looked past them and saw the strange one, Fristad, being tentatively led away by the Ender.


    "I had wondered where she had teleported off to…" Fire said to himself and then replied: "I'm leaving the tower."


    Steve suddenly looked to Jennifer and back. They both seemed to shift uneasily.


    Steve was plainly about to inquire quite angrily.


    "Why? Where to?" Jennifer asked, trying to sound more diplomatic than Steve was plainly willing to be.


    Fire spoke quietly, knowing full well about the senses of the endfolk: "I just came across some very intriguing information about how this world and its place among other worlds and now I need to do some research and find a few specific items."


    Steve blinked quickly.


    "Really?" Jennifer broke out, before hastily adding: "What did you say your name was again? Flame? Fire?"


    "Fire." He simply said.


    "Good to know. Listen, I know this'll sound very opportunistic - but if you can perhaps share some of this with us - once and if you've figured this out," She lowered her voice. "We don't trust these guys at all, to be honest. We don't feel comfortable making a deal. As such…" She waved her hand in a circular motion instead of finishing the sentence, but Fire caught on.


    Steve nodded along, literally swallowing as his pride receded.


    Fire explained: "I will set up camp in a town near here. My theory about travel takes some time to be validated, so if you leave soon you can find me there." He took a quick glance over his shoulder. "Just so you know, we can assume that everything we are saying right now is heard by someone, when you come to the town I can maybe say more."


    Jennifer nodded knowingly at Fire. She looked to Steve and nodded at him. He nodded in agreement. They then both looked back at Fire and thanked him in a manner that he felt was sincere and respectful.


    He then left the room in the same direction as the Ender and Fristad, soon reaching the entrance gates of the tower. It seemed like the endling guards had already gotten word from the Ender that Fire was free to go.


    Fire was quickly running along the road away from the tower. He had abandoned most of the weapons he had picked up in the village, only keeping a battle axe, the halberd and of course his wither dagger. Normally he wouldn't do this since he was in a mostly unknown world and could need every resource possible, while this was true he now also had a plan.


    The first step of this plan was to get to a town as quickly as possible.


    Fire's steps were long and fast, he didn't have to hold back like when he travelled with Warnado and Kay. Within one hour he covered the distance to the closest town that had taken them half a day when they were using the overloaded carriage. The town was nothing special, not fortified, just an agglomeration of houses built without a plan. It reminded him very much of the town Redwater in his world only that Redwater was bigger and located next to a river. Where Redwater had fishing huts, this town had farms scattered around it, supplying it with wheat, meat and milk.


    Just as the road changed from dirt to cobblestone Fire saw the first inhabitant of the town, a man walking in the opposite direction. Much like with the people in the village, Fire's appearance didn't seem to cause more than a few seconds of staring and then moving along. As Fire ventured deeper into the town, he saw more and more people on the street.


    When he reached the marketplace he noticed that he was drawing more attention than he had expected. It wasn't entirely unwarranted since he did look a lot like the Entity's minions which the people here were familiar with but was different enough to be interesting. Everyone was giving him a berth, if out of respect or fear he didn't know.


    A group of five children was brave, curious or naive enough to directly approach him. The boy leading the group seemed to also serve as its spokesperson.


    He quietly and slowly asked: "What are you?"


    Fire knelt down and still towered above the group, he answered: "I was made by the gods of another world and recently arrived in this one."


    He had no reason to lie and while the "created by gods" story wasn't entirely accurate it was the closest to reality without opening up more questions.


    The boy looked at him skeptically. "So, you are a demon? Cause you don't look like an angel."


    Fire chuckled. "Maybe I am. I am many things."


    Mystery never failed to fascinate children.


    A girl from the group asked: "How do we know you aren't like the mean purple lady?"


    Fire chuckled again and gathered up a few straws from the ground and put them into his hand.


    He asked: "Can the purple lady do this?"


    Fire's thoughts focused on his palm. The spell he was about to cast was a simple one that used almost none of his precious life force, it was the same he had used to light his drink on fire during his drinking contest with Kay. A single drop of life force formed in his palm and immediately turned into embers, lighting the straws on fire. As the small flames climbed out of his hand and into the air above the children stared in awe.


    Fire extinguished the flames by closing his hand, he asked: "I don't suppose you know where I can find a tavern around here."


    Chapter 51: Clark Belmont, Dimensional Cartographer (Fristad)



    The Enderwoman and I walk for a time through a series of halls and ascend several flights of stairs. Through the occasional window, I see the leafy lumps of the forest grow progressively smaller, and better understand just how tall this castle truly is.


    The enderwoman finally exits the spiral of stairs, and I follow after her. The halls here are more heavily guarded, an armored person for every doorway, wearing strange darkly-colored armor and carrying glowing swords. Their stillness, straight posture, and bulkiness communicate great military discipline and formidable strength. Most are human, some are endermen, others are halfbloods perhaps. Yet others are definitely alien. One has slimy appendages dangling from its dark grey cheeks and sharp spines along the centerline of its hairless head. Another has a face made of fire, and its entire form seems to fade in and out of existence.


    And, everywhere I look, there are purple lamps. Why is the man-made lighting of this world such a strange color? Perhaps it has something to do with the large number of endermen here.


    The enderwoman finally stops at a door guarded by a human, and opens it. I see inside a library-like room, well-furnished but not crowded, with some tables covered in maps, labeled sketches, and open books. At the back of the room, a man and a woman in regal outfits lean over a table, bickering.


    "This dimension belongs over here," orders the man.


    "You're wrong. I double-checked the triangulation."


    "Then check the other two!"


    "I already did that," insists the woman.


    "Neighboring worlds of that distance can't possibly communicate with each other," insists the man.


    "Maybe they can."


    The enderwoman interrupts. "Clark, if you could be so kind, I have a matter which requires your attention."


    The man and woman become silent. The woman stands up halfway, and stares at the enderwoman sheepishly, while the man stands up and turns to face her directly.


    The enderwoman continues. "This human, which calls itself Fristad, entered Nexus several days ago. As he is not in our records, and he is too weak to be a threat, I judged it best to bring him directly to you."


    The man's eyes light up. "It's wonderful to meet you, Mister Fristad. My name is Clark Belmont; I'm the dimensional demographer. I'd love to learn more about you and your world."


    Belmont's enthusiasm and warmth make me feel comfortable and welcome in his presence, despite me knowing better than to divulge important information to a member of a potentially evil organization with unknown motives.


    "What do you wish to know?" I ask cautiously.


    "Does the world you live in have a name?" Clark asks.


    "Minecraftia," I state.


    "I see," Clark nods. "Are you a member of any kingdom, country, or city-state?"


    "The Farlands," I say.


    "Very interesting…" Clark muses. "I know of many worlds which have places called the Farlands, but only a handful of them are inhabited by humans, and none of them consider the Farlands to be a country." Clark looks at the enderwoman. "We may have a new world on our hands. It must be a fascinating one!"


    "I hope it isn't," the enderwoman growls.


    Clark looks confused at the enderwoman for a moment, then stares at me inquisitively. Whatever information he gets out of me now, he will surely associate with my world. I hope, too, that my world is not fascinating, as that is my most likely route to escaping this place unscathed. If only I never had the book…


    As if the enderwoman was reading my mind, she lifts the book she had confiscated from me, to draw Clark's attention to it.


    "This human had this book with him," says the enderwoman. "He claims it is sentient, and capable of possession, teleportation, shapeshifting, and possibly other magical abilities."


    "Fascinating. You don't see magic like that every day," Clark says. "Do you know where it came from?"


    "He mentioned some implausible story of it possessing an almanac he was reading. I suspect he is withholding information."


    "Full disclosure," I state, trying to steer myself out of their attention, "the book told me that story. I don't know if it's actually true. And the book has a tendency to say pathological lies and complete nonsense. With the level of corrupting influence it's had on me, I doubt anything I say will be of use to you."


    "Are you kidding?" remarks Clark. "Cohesive or not, I'm sure our wizards would love to hear more about the corrupting influence that book has had on you."


    Dang it! My attempt to downplay my knowledge backfired!


    Clark continues, "they may even be able to help you recover from the magical trauma you experienced. It's not like we're all evil villains here or anything!"


    Clark's response is so saccharine that it feels mechanical. I don't trust him, let alone the enderwoman, or anyone else from this castle.


    "Sounds like a typical attempt to evade questioning, nothing more," the enderwoman remarks with contempt as it turns its head down towards me. "Do not try to play games with us, Fristad. We will get the information we want from you whether you comply or not. Then the Entity will compensate you as it sees fit, depending on your degree of compliance."


    The enderwoman turns to face Clark again. "You shall not imply to the wizards that they are obligated to relieve Fristad of any injuries, psychic or otherwise. That is for the Entity to decide. I will not tolerate any more insubordination from you."


    "I understand. My apologies," says Clark.


    "Shall we discuss your world in more detail, Fristad? Or shall you choose not to comply, and face the consequences?"

    "I will comply," I state soberly.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 1

    posted a message on (Currently Improving) Order of the Stone

    Glad to offer my services as that guy who overthinks and overanalyses everything. :P Would be interested to see how you've improved over time.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 1

    posted a message on Minecraft Origins Part Four: Enderborn (Chapter Eight, might be making longer chapters!)

    And I don't regret it for a second. I look forward to seeing more Turtle. :D

    Posted in: Literature
  • 1

    posted a message on (Not a Story) Just a quick question

    As long as you don't claim to be creating "a brand new way of story-telling", and then turn on your story the moment it's criticised you'll be fine.


    This sort of thing has been done before, and it should be fine to post here.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 1

    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE Book 1: Shattered Dimensions [COMPLETED] [65 Chapters + Prologues]

    OP updated!


    We now welcome to the project, the distinguished SuperFire131, author Slaves of the Desert Mine, a personal favourite of mine. With him he brings Fire, protagonist of his series. This comes from long before Slaves so spoilers are no issue for this character!


    Next Prologue: Random popular Minefic author who you should totally start speculating about the identity of.


    UPDATE: Sorry this has taken so long to get up. Especially as this is actually Fire's prologue from RIFT. However that project was discontinued so we're allowed to. :P The reason this took so long to get up is because MCForums was incredibly unhelpful and I've been revising for exams. We actually do have most of the first couple of chapters ready. However, we ran into some trouble with a number of our authors going inactive and having to replace them.

    Posted in: Literature
  • 1

    posted a message on THE CONVERGENCE Book 1: Shattered Dimensions [COMPLETED] [65 Chapters + Prologues]

    Chapter 16: Always Make an Entrance and Chapter 17: Purple Light are now up.


    In Chapter 16, after her encounter with Warnado, the Ender goes to her master for answers.



    The Ender had little patience for contradictions, and the presence of this human-ish creature was the largest contradiction she'd encountered throughout this entire affair. The Entity had promised that they wouldn't let anything in until they explicitly wanted it - evidently this wasn't the case.


    Then in Chapter 17... David exists. That's really its purpose. To remind you of that.


    Next part coming tomorrow, as we meet up with Fristad and Steve again, as Steve starts to realise that there's more to Fristad than meets the eye.

    Posted in: Literature
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