Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Shaper's Touch

Entry 16 Day 10

"We do not call it smithing, other-kin. It is not our understanding and it is so much more than metal-working." I was growing a touch impatient. For the last few hours I was rolling a ball of stone on the floor with the palm of one hand.

"I don't understand how this is supposed to help." I urged.

"Understanding, comprehension, knowing - BAH! All of these things are nothing if you do not have the paths. Paths take you through the woods, guide you to the wide-waters ..." He went on and on in that half-comprehensible way this entire time. I still was no closer to discovering the secret to creating such tools as I had received from them and he thought I was supposed to understand his philosophical soliloquies. What passed for a smithy - or not - looked more like a bar. Just across from the long house, this building had somewhat more furnishing than the meetinghouse of the elders. The most interesting thing in the building was a stone counter only a meter high. It was fashioned of four smooth stone slabs that were stacked atop one another. Set into the floor around it were a series of stone slabs like the others. Behind me Kalandrin sat at a table with a bench that wrapped around two sides. I sat on the wooden floor rolling a small stone ball about the size of a baseball around on the floor.
"Your problem is that you are not a shaper. You are just some other-kin rolling a stone sphere around on a dusty wooden floor." I stopped as frustration and annoyance collided with these words in my mind to make a burning anger. I didn't want to lash out but let the anger boil inside me, coursing through my veins.

"I doubt I could ever train one who is as separate from everything." his pointless words just kept stoking the fire growing in my heart and I slammed the ball on the floor.

"This is fucking stupid!" my mind raged,"What is the point of all these pointless words and philosophical musings? All that you have told me of use is that what I am doing is frustratingly futile!"

"Very well, you may go." the elder looked on the floor where I was sitting and stood. "But you may want to know that you are ready to train."

"What is that supposed to mean?" my voice was still harsh.
"See for yourself." I followed his gaze to the floor where I left the stone orb. At first I thought I had put it through the floor, but as I looked I noticed it was no longer round; it was flat. I walked over and picked up the disc, turning it over in my hands. The side I pressed into the floor was hot to the touch and the top-side was cold. My eyes returned to the elder, the question in my eyes leaping from my mind.

"How?"

"Your anger. Emotion. What are you, other-kin?"

"I... I am human."

"And what am I?"

"You are... folkin."

"But in our language I am only us-kin. Who is 'us'?" I hesitated a moment.

"All of you. The Patron, the Healer, yourself, my friend and the rest."

"Why is there no word for each of our bodies?" it was obvious to me.

"You all look the same." Kalandrin ruffled his feathers and shrugged his shoulders. I heard chuckling in my mind.

"No, other-kin. To us we look different. We only look the same to you because of the vast dissimilarities between our bodies. Believe me, there are noticeable differences between each of us." I thought about what the Patron told me in his longhouse and reconstructed my response.

"Because your light-self is what is truly individual?"

"That is also incorrect. Our light-selves are each made from shades of the same light. The sun glows yellow, the moon glows white, the sky glows blue, the stars are blue and red and yellow and white." He stopped deliberately.

"But they are all shades of the same light."

"As our bodies are all shaped of the same sort of things as the earth." another deliberate stop.

"Which again is just another shade of the same light."

"What then, other-kin, is more important? The shade or the light?" my mind was swimming and I could barely follow him. Part of me thought it was just another frustrating drill but I held my calm .

"I am not sure." my eyes fell to the floor and I was embarrassed.

"Calm down, other-kin. Bear these words in mind always as they are the first words of the Shaper's Path. The shade is the essence of individual self, the light is the essence of the universe. Shape is the element that links the two and identifies one to the other." Outside the sky fermented into the colors of sunset.

"Now is not the time to go, other-kin, but I have nowhere for you to sleep. Go to the Healer, she can find you a bed."I placed the disc on the table and went out into the twilight, making for the Healer's temple, the first words of the Shaper's path rolling over and over in my mind.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Metal, Diamond, Dust

Entry 15 Day 10

Sunlight washed my face and I sat up in bed. Aside the bed the elders convened in their usual spot with the healer standing just outside the circle. She was the first to notice my awakening. A feeling that I was the topic of discussion washed over me as the elders all turned to me and surrounded the bed.

"You were busy last night," a familiar thought-voice stated. The elder seemed to be bristling with anticipation. "Why did you return to us?"

"Let me show you." was my response. The elder's beak opened and closed again and they stepped back from my bed as I rose. "Where is my pack?" the elders all looked toward a window where all my gear sat, leaned casually against a wall. I set to work pulling out all I had found.

"First, I discovered enough iron to make a large quantity of armor and mining picks." I set aside a stack of thirty iron ingots. Next I set to work withdrawing the gold, of which I set twenty ingots aside.

"Next, I found a large quantity of gold. I also found an enormous quantity of this strange dust." I proffered several leather bags of the red dust from the deep red ore and showed them to the elders, who observed without a thought or sound.

"Finally, I found these." At this I procured the three diamonds from the backpack and set them before me where I sat on the floor. If they were discussing discreetly amongst themselves what they were seeing all discussion ceased and their eyes were locked upon the diamonds. The elder stepped forward and spoke.

"You have been very prosperous indeed." the other elders around nodded sagely or worked their jaws thoughtfully. "We have intentionally failed disclose numerous things to you before but we are now ready to present to you our full knowledge as you have proven fully capable of putting it to use. What is it you wish to know, other-kin?"

"Well," I hesitated a moment, my eyes hovering on the healer and remembered her form. How human she looked and yet how super-human she appeared. A glint in the elder's eye flickered as he knew to what I was referring.

"Ah, that. Well, I suppose it was impossible for Elara to work her craft without showing you her true self. You have seen the vision of the one we call Elara, the light-self of our town healer." my face grew confused and I recalled my discussion with the villagers about their lack of using names.

"We lied." was the simple response. "But not entirely. We as our physical forms do not have names. Each of us is made of the same combination of elements in our physical-selves, therefore we have no reason to distinguish ourselves from one another, physically, beyond male and female. This was not your question, however, and when you asked you pointed, therefore interpreted as your reference to our physical-selves. Our light-selves, however, are wholly individual to ourselves. You do not show your true self to anyone unless you trust them or are close to them, which bespeaks a certain profundity of faith in Elara. She is a healer because of her compassion and faith in the wholesomeness of the spirit and light-self of others. My light-name is Galendar. I am the Patron of this village." This unbalanced me a little and took a moment to process fully. When I had a firm grasp a flood of questions pored into my mind and the elders winced a little as I was still having trouble telling when I was thought-speaking.

"Then why did she look human?" was the the thought that won the strongest voice.

"Because you are human." he knew I did not understand. "No one's light-self has a form. It is unto itself the truest of forms above corporeal distinction. There is no true image or shape that falls to it other than what image of itself it projects into your consciousness. Much the way the mind can take a word that has the same letters for the start and end, but even with the middle scrambled the text is still entirely legible. You see her that way because it is the easiest way for your mind to interpret what it is seeing."

"So what exactly was I seeing?"

"Something beyond spatial comprehension." I nodded to this, finding it a little easier to wrap my mind around.

"So you do have texts?"

"Yes. They are written in a language you will not be able to read. Should you wish to obtain their knowledge, however, Elara will be able to interpret them for you." her eyes flicked to Galendar then back to me and she seemed to blanch and looked at the floor, smiling inwardly. I was brought back to the discussion by what I took to be an elder clearing his throat and ruffling his feathers. The next questions were easy.

"What can you tell me about these things? The iron and the gold I am familiar with, what can you tell me about the red dust. And these?" I pulled several lumps of the blue stone from my bag.

"Ah, the dust is power," the elder eyed the stones, "and this is a dye."

"Power?"

"Yes, other-kin. You remember the life-force energy we taught you to sense in common materials and use to shape those materials?"

"Yes."

"Well, this dust contains an extra-concentrated amount of that life-force energy. It can be honed and used to transmit that energy through the dust." I was obviously confused. "The old-texts provide more detail, but my understanding is that it can be used to create powerful devices."

"Why did you want me to bring these diamonds back here?"

"So we could show you how we refined your tools and help you to do the same with these." Galendar nodded to the diamonds.

"A pick of diamonds?"

"Yes, other-kin. Such a pick will be indispensable to travelling into the land of fire and darkness."

"What else can you help me make?"

"O, I shall not be teaching you to make anything, other-kin. Our master in that craft will aide you in such tasks. Allow me to introduce you to Elder Kalandrin." one of the other elders stepped forward and nodded. An excited and reedy voice trilled in my mind.

"As the metal-worker of the village, I am very eager to begin as soon as is possible, other-kin."

"As am I, Kalandrin." I looked at the elder. He seemed no more strong than the others, but I sincerely doubted that he ever actually touched the pieces he crafted.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Elder's Abode

Entry 14 Night 9

Night surrounded me as I made my way along the river bank toward the village. I was very tired and I had much work to do. As I entered, the elder saw me and summoned me to his longhouse. Without a thought I entered and was greeted. The elder shut the door for me and helped me with my pack.

"I sense that you have a great burden, a wound and much to discuss. First you must sleep, other-kin. Not a thought, nor a word." He set my things by the wall in the corner and led me to the back. Here several beds had been built and set. Never had I seen beds, or any furnishings for that matter, in the elder's longhouse. I would wllow myself to worry about such mysteries the next day. For that moment, I was tired and wounded. The healer came by later as I saw her again in my dreams, her supple form bathed only in light. Unabashed I marveled at the beauty of her body and reached out to touch her. A strange expression, like surprise came to her face and she smiled.

"No, other-kin", she said a shy smile spreading over her lips. "That is not for you to do now." She finished her work and was gone again from the room, though I let the image of her remain all night.

Once More Into the Deep

Entry 13 Day 9

I looked down into the whirlpool cave, at the light that gleamed up at me from the lava flows and torches below. Today I had to find the stone the elder spoke of and I had to take whatever other materials I could locate as there was no knowing what the elder would say once I revealed different things to him. Grabbing hold of the vines I lowered my self down, this time as far as I could go. I had a fresh bundle of torches and a new flint and steel since my last was well worn.

I began wedging the torches in cracks and niches every three meters or so and mined whatever I could find. At first it was only iron and coal, until I found a large drop with lava at its bottom. Along the side of the drop I mined out a staircase that I used to descend below. I came to a ledge about halfway down and looked around for my next move and saw a strange ore. I leaned over and held a torch up to it and saw that it was a dark blue color. I decided to mine this ore and take it with me. I moved around to where I mined out and found a cavern leading away from the drop. Climbing around to it, I placed a torch in the wall only to hear "SSssssssss". I looked up and saw one of the exploding creatures. Acting on instinct I grabbed the creature and threw it behind me, into the pool of lava. I never heard an explosion. Continuing onward the cave opened up into a much larger room that split off in a thousand tunnels and ways. I marveled a moment at this work of nature and noticed that even my soft footfalls resounded rather loudly in the room. I looked up and saw only darkness above and a small hole where a waterfall cascaded down to the cavern floor.


Realizing I couldn't have enough torches on me to explore every tunnel, I set off down one and set my torches along the way. As I continued onward I found a little more of the blue ore. Dismay crept upon me as frost settles on hastily sprouted grass in early spring. Ahead I saw a light that I thought to be lave but found to be a line of my own torches in a hole that dropped down on top of where I was earlier. Here the cave ended and I lowered myself down.

Adjusting my pack, I went on undeterred. Another path enticed me as the waterfall came down out of the ceiling of the cavern and descended into the darkness at its end. Placing torches, I made toward the back of the cavern. For at least twenty minutes, the cavern descended until I could see the soft orange glow of lava ahead. Where the cave opened up into was an immense underground ravine. The waterfall poured into the darkness of some distant pol below along side another water fall. Ahead as far as my eye could see, the ravine floor was flooded by a massive lava pool. Narrow ledges crept along the walls toward the far end. Steam billowed thickly from a spot where water flushed into the lava pool and evaporated in its immense heat. From where I was I saw that the pool was too vast to be overtaken by the lava, and the water was evaporating too fast to harden all the lava. The edge of the water flickered as the lava constantly threatened to melt away the volcanic rock that was forming.


I looked to my right and saw another tunnel that wove its way down and as I placed a torch at its mouth, my eye was caught by the gleam of the wall. Running a hand along the stone and ore, I analyzed it hard and concluded that it had to be gold. This would undoubtedly come in handy. I mined about four pounds of ore with an iron pick from that vein alone and found six other veins that added up to a total of twenty-three pounds of ore.

My bag had grown heavier, but I was far from finished. I followed the tunnel downward and came out almost on top of the lava pool when my eyes noticed something remarkable : an ore that glowed faintly a deep, dark red. I took out my iron pick, as the ore looked equally tough as the gold ore, and set to work on it. It was plentiful where I could find it and altogether I collect seventy five pounds of the dust from that ore.

I was halfway finished my expedition when I heard a series of deep, unnatural groans. A horde of undead had found me, but I was prepared for a fight. With my back to the lava pool I unsheathed my sword and stuck it into the dirt and gravel at my feet. I set down my pack and readied my bow, sticking six arrows in the ground before me. I notched my first arrow and waited. Alongside the cave I came out of, another cave wove back into the darkness away from the lava pool. My enemies came from this direction and I could only hear them until they found the light of my torches only ten meters away. Luckily, the undead were relatively slow-moving. Three zombies emerged from the darkness at once, the middle one taking my shaft to its forehead. I readied another shot and sent it into my next enemy, its corpse falling to dust as the last one. I dispatched the other as more of the creatures crept forth. One after another, I slew the creatures, dust piling up in the space between myself and the cavern. Soon my arrows were gone, my last few remaining in my backpack. I took up my sword and waited for the undead.

An arrow whizzed by my face and sliced open my left cheek before burning up in the lava behind me. I ran forward and took up a torch. Using the torch to parry with my off-hand, I sliced my enemies to ribbons of dust, which flew from me into the dark. The skeletons continued to fire as several zombies dropped in their volleys. I pressed into the back of the cave where I could see the skeletons' bleached bones grinning as they fired. I was gaining ground but losing cover and only one zombie remained between myself and the skeletons. Ramming my shoulder into the creature, I charged onward. Several more arrows flew toward me with cunning accuracy. The zombie on my shoulder evaporated just as I came upon my foes. Enough adrenaline was coursing in my veins that I did not feel as the last arrow buried itself deep in my shoulder at first but as my blade snapped the bones of the skeletons, the pain drew on me more and more. The last of the skeletons fell clattering to a pile of bones and dust when I set eyes on the leader of the assault : an ender-man stood glaring hatefully at me from his place at the back of the cavern.

Without faltering I charged at the beast and raised my sword to strike. In my first rush the Ender disappeared and I heard the eerie puff as he reappeared behind me, returning my charge with his own. Thinking quickly I took my sword under my arm and leaned over forward. Before he noticed what I had done, the ender charged up behind me and screeched as my sword slid up inside its body. I rounded as the ender blew into smoke and I collected the pearl that fell. Breaking off the arrow, I gathered some of the bones as I knew they might be useful for making more bows.

I set my torch down and cleared away the last of the bones when my eyes beheld in the stone the gleam of a diamond in the rock. I immediately set to mining and found two more diamonds in the same area. Alongside the diamonds there was more of the red ore, which I mined hastily. There was no knowing how soon another ender-man and his posse might catch my trail, but I decided I had found enough for the day. I climbed back up through the ravine to the cavern then back to the whirlpool. I climbed up the vines and remerged in the river.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Arming

Entry 12 Day 8

On my way to the tower, I was passing by a pond in the jungle and noticed a plant I hadn't seen before. They seemed to be reeds and I realized this plant would be useful for making paper. While I was harvesting them, however, a small pile of white powder poured out of the hollow shaft of the plant. I licked it and realized that I had found a source of sugar. I took several sprouts and carried them with the adult plant back to my tower.



When I got back to my tower I set to work immediately on finishing the roof and sealing it off from the outside. I also had enough stone to start working on the floors. I took several lengths of web, from spiders I had either found dead or killed myself, and tied them together, then weighted them with a pick. I climbed up to the top of my ladder and lowered the pickax down to the floor. When the pick hit the bottom I sliced the excess web and pulled my line back up. I stowed the remaining length of web and start to coil the web. I judged my forearm to be about a foot long, which is roughly one-third of a meter. Altogether I wrapped the web from the palm of my hand to my elbow twenty one and a half times. From this I judged my walls to be 22 meters from the bottom of my ladder to the top.

I decided to divide the tower into five floors, each four meters from the floor to the ceiling with the top floor being about 7 meters high. For now I would have a safe abode. When finished there was still a few hours of sunlight, so I went outside with my reeds and planted a number of them next to the river. I was concerned that the soil might be too sandy there, so I placed some of the sprouts in a firm soil just a little further down and returned to my tower.

In what was my hole, now surrounded by stone walls on the outside, I set to work. I crafted several pickaxes from left over stone and made another workbench. After this I took the shorter length of web and some wood and altogether was able to craft a bow. Shaping the bow was a task, but once I had it assembled the bow string was fairly easy. Using some bones that I found in the jungle, I strengthened the wood of the bow by fusing it to the wood much the same way the villagers taught me to shaped stone, dirt and other materials into block shapes. My work was a bit sloppy, but when I strung the bow and drew the string it took considerable strength. Upon releasing the twang of the webstring brought a profound satisfaction. Upon my journey into the dark, I would be ready for anything that would come, and I would not be satisfied until I found the shining hard-stones of which the elder spoke.

I rummaged through my backpack, sorting out what I had, when something struck me. At the bottom of the bag there was something metal and strong. I pulled it out and looked in awe at the pickax the villagers gave me. It was beautiful. Crafted of what I took to be iron, its polished surface reflected my very face. Light giggled as it gleamed along the head of the tool. The ends of the pick were honed to a fine point that drew blood when I thumbed it gently. Something in me knew that I would need this pick in my next journey into the whirlpool cave. I set finished sorting my things and slept for the night. Tomorrow the treasures of the deep would be revealed to me!

Found

Entry 11 Night 7

I worked diligently through the day and failed to notice as the sun crept down to the horizon. After a day of mining I had plenty of stone and my bag, which looked equally improved as my other tools, felt lighter than ever, even with all the stone in it. I kept promising myself to stop, but couldn't help seeking more. As I mined well below the lip of the quarry I fell out of view of the sun and stayed in shadow most of the day. Just before the sun dipped below the horizon, I looked up at the sky and realized my horrifying mistake. In the distance I heard the groans of the undead.

I collected my things quickly and ran up the staircase I mined into the wall. I hadn't the time to return to my tower. I heard the groans of the undead draw closer and sprinted the rest of the way to the longhouse. Just as I reached the door, a sound halted me and I unsheathed my sword. It was the sound of wailing undead as they beat their numb hands against a cracking door. As the last of the sun's rays retreated from the night, I made for the origin of the sounds.

It was a small house built right up against the east side of the longhouse. Terror's shredding claws to at my heart as I approached. A small face peered out from the window. It was my friend from the night before. The villager who aided me was now facing his doom. I would have none of it.

I threw my bag down and, roaring loudly, charged toward the crowd of zombies, my blade singing vengeance as I closed on my prey. A few of the undead on the outside of the group turned to me and staggered in my direction while two remained to finish their deadly work. I dispatched the first with a single slice, and its corpse was dust before the other two lunged forward. The first missed me by inches but the icy hands of the second scratched at my side. Realizing that I was far from invincible in my new garb, I hopped back and brought my sword down on the zombie's arm. The forearm came off with a crunch and hung by only a few centimeters of skin from the stump. I grabbed the zombie's shoulder and lunged forward, thrusting my sword up through its jaw. It turned to dust and I rolled forward as my third assailant swept its arm at me. He caught my clothing and tore something in the back of my shirt, taking some skin with it. I howled at the sudden pain and staggered a little before rounding swiftly and whipping my sword out in front of me. I watched the top of the creature's head flop up before its body turned to dust. There was no time to rejoice and I moved to the other two at the door, which was leaning inward dangerously, prepared for the final blows.

With all my strength and fury, I grabbed each of the zombies by the shoulder and pulled them away from the door. I raised my sword and brought it down on the first, its body evaporating. The second rolled onto its stomach and was up before I was ready. It charged into me, gnashing its teeth and glaring with unholy fire. I was pinned against the wall and was only saved by my sword, which I managed to slide sideways between us before I was grabbed. A profoundly grotesque odor came from the zombie's mouth as it groaned and clanked its teeth on my blade, which was between the creature's teeth. I kicked fecklessly at the zombie but it didn't feel a single blow I could deliver. The only salvation I had was pressing deeper into the joint of the creature's jaw as it pressed forward, the blade slicing into its greenish pale cheeks.

From nowhere the door of the house opened, catching the back of the zombie's head. It stared into my eyes through the white patina of scratches on its dead orbs for a moment before the top of its head slid off and it turned to dust. I heaved a sigh of relief and stumbled to the front of the door. I looked up at my friend and smiled. His face was expressionless but I knew he was glad to see me.

"Thank you for your friendship." was all I heard before the sound of a fuse lighting froze my stomach solid. I threw my friend into the house and shut the door but was thrown far away before I could hear the shut of the door.

After that, I saw a dark outline in and out, broken up by stars. My head was jerking with pain every time I inhaled. The dark outline was the side of the long house and above were the stars. I coughed and sputtered, the coppery taste of my own blood filling my mouth. I tried to move my head and find my sword but even the smallest twitch brought immense pain. Everything in me told me that I was on the last sliver of my life, and with much effort I rolled my head to at least find my bearings. Groans of the undead grew seemed to surround me.

Soon I felt my shoulders being grabbed and lifted and I could see a small crowd at the end of the road. My feet dragged in the dirt, my clothes torn away and my legs mangled badly. I kicked to try and help but realized quickly that it would be easier if I stayed limp. I blacked out again as light hit my eyes.

I awoke in the bed again, light in my eyes. I sat up and looked around. The room was empty of others. Tossing the blanket off I recognized my clothes, the red and blue garb gifted by the villagers. My legs accepted me gladly as I stood and walked around, rubbing sleep from my eyes. I went to the window and look out at village and was shocked back to reality. From where I was in the recovery house, I could see the shattered hulk of the house at the rear of the longhouse. Haste in my legs, I threw the door open and ran out into the street. I came to the house and looked on, my eyes hollow.



The front of the house was wracked by the explosion and little of it was left. The door was flung wide open. Its emptiness reflected the hole that grew in my soul. I fell forward and grabbed at the gravel in the road, stones slipping through my fingers as had my friend's life. Hot tears welled in my eyes and I screamed at the ground.

"There is no reason for sadness now. That time has passed. At least the healer was able to pull you away and save you. The Enders might have taken you with them if they were aware you had come. They were preoccupied with their own errands, though." I hadn't heard the elder come up from behind me.

"I knew this one. He saved me the other night."

"I see, other-kin. But tell me, what did you gain by charging in as you did last night?" I didn't respond but my mind rebelled at the statement. He felt my anger and sorrow. "As much as burying your face in the gravel. Are you ready to hear what I was prepared to tell you last night?"

"I am a danger here. I angered the Enders and in return they have come for recompense. Which they found."

"No, other-kin, but I cannot stop you from completing that thought-tree. Each branch sings within you." the elder read me well and I stood, wiping the gravel and tears from my face.

"I don't see coincidence having guided the creatures to that folkin's home last night."

"Nor do I, but I do not see that it was the Ender's design, either." I puzzled as I wiped my eyes. "The universe is not entirely random and it is not entirely contrived. You place too much weight on each little detail." I tried to just let that float past me.

"How can I mind-speak so well now?"

"The healer has her way of giving light. Also, each time you open your mind to us, you take more and more with you, just as we do."

"I don't understand."

"We are not supposed to interfere so much. Last night your friend killed another to save you. He did not want your life-threads to be woven together by your emotion." I hesitated as this mulled over in my mind. "I know, it is sad. And you are right, perhaps you should return to your tower for now. It is unfinished and your home unsafe."

"Yes. I will return to you. There is much that I do not know..."

"But more importantly, much you must hear. We are only truly useful when we realize just how vast our lack of knowledge is. Presence grants benefit, absence grants utility."

"What?" the elder turned to the house and I looked with him.

"See the house?"

"Yes."

"Its four walls grant the benefits of a house, protection, warmth and others. But you cannot live in a house without windows or doors, can you?" I shook my head numbly. "Therefore, it is the matter of the walls that grants benefit, the holes you cut for the windows and doors that grant utility. All things are this way. Just as you, other-kin." My eyes turned to the elder when these words came into my mind. "It is your body, your form, your mind and your light-self that grant you benefit. Your presence that allows you to be and do as you are. It is only with the emptiness of ignorance, of sadness, of wanting that you truly gain utility." I nodded and looked back into the elder's eyes.

"I shall go and finish my tower. When that is through I shall return and I will call upon your knowledge. And it is then that I shall make this village safe." the elder's mouth opened and closed again. "You said that I am to make a journey, did you not?"

"To the dark place? If you wish to seek the answers of this world, yes, you shall."

"I shall not leave this village naked to the retribution of the Enders." the elder hesitated before responding.

"You truly have taken much from us, other-kin. We shall accept your gifts with our thanks." With that the Elder brought me to my gear and I shouldered my pack once more. It felt as massive as last night but strangely easier to bear with purpose solidifying inside of me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gathering Supplies

Entry 10 Day 7

When I awoke, light was streaming into the room through a window beside my bed. When I realized I was in a bed, I sat bolt upright, startling the villager watching over me.

"What is it, other-kin?" Another female. Her voice was similar to the one I heard the night before, but a lower pitch.

"Not used to bed. I don't have this." the strange bird-woman seemed to shrug her shoulders busily. The feathers on her back rose and subsided. A sound like laughter came to my mind.

"Easy enough to make. The elder wanted to know when you awoke. He is on his way and will show you to the quarry." I looked down under the covers and saw that I was wearing a strange and new set of clothes. They were red and blue and adorned in places with a golden thread. I went to scratch my head and felt that I was wearing a cap. I looked at it a moment. It was red with the same golden thread along the hem and fit snugly to my head. I put the hat back on and let my eyes wander to my gear. Beside the bed a suit of iron armor sat, sculpted to a divine perfection. The helmet was adorned with gentle scrolls that looked like wisps of cloud. Upon examination I realized that the scrolls were not engraved at all. Instead it looked like they were there all along, before the helmet itself was even made. None of the other armor looked beaten or shaped; not a single sign of shaping by force existed on the armor. Puzzled I searched my memory and did not recall seeing a blacksmith nor a loom in any of the houses. They stood either empty or with scant furnishings. In this room I saw more furniture than I ever had. Around me there were shelves of books and two tables with chairs beside them. I looked up and saw a head pass the window.

"The elder has arrived." she stood and went to the door. I saw it open but her arms did not seem to unfold. The elder walked in and my host nodded deeply to him. He came to my bed and looked down at me.

"Do not stir unless you are ready." he said.

I felt more than ready. A feeling of lightness filled me, bringing a feeling of floating upward. I almost sprang from the bed and stretch up and down. I looked down at my hands again as if for the first time. They looked younger, clean and unworn by toil. My nails were even neat and cleaned. My feet looked the same. My eyes snapped to the elder's. A glint like pleasure and mischief flickered in his eye.

"Many more questions, other-kin?"

"Many more."

"Work first. You must mine the stone for your tower and then return to me. I will tell you all you want to know."

"Wait, the healer. She was beautiful... I mean. She looked as I, other-kin, human." I heard my words and noticed they flowed easier. The elder's shoulders shrugged busily and I heard him laugh.

"You mind-speak better. She spoke of the stories, yes?"

"Yes."

"Work first, other-kin. Answers will come. Some at once, others in their time." With that the elder rounded and walked to the door, which seemed to open just as he came to it. I shouldered my pack and left my armor. I followed the elder along the gravel paths of the village. Behind one of the houses he showed me a place in the sand where it was sifted away, revealing a naked shoulder of stone. This again seemed very neat. The edge of the sand looked as if it was... rolled back... by a wind or water. A clear outlined was defined by the sand. The area almost had an exact geometric shape to it.
"I cannot dig here. This looks like so much effort was made to..."

"No, other-kin. As little effort was made here as a thought." I puzzled a moment and looked into the elder's eyes. "Work, other-kin. Return to my longhouse tonight or after you have finished the roof on your tower. I will wait patiently." I lowered my pack to the ground and opened the flap. I procured a stone pickax that looked as if it were pulled from the ground in one piece. The wooden handle was no longer sealed in place with a crude pin mechanism as I had used before. Instead it was flush with the stone head, which wrapped snugly about the wood. I looked down the handle and saw that there was no space that a grain of sand could slide between the stone and wood. They were as one. Much like the helmet and armor, it showed no signs of working or shaping and in its river-rock smooth surface there was the etching of a bird with the ends of the pick as twin beaks.

"Peculiar tools you choose to use, other-kin. I do not understand, but one uses the devices common to them, I suppose. Enjoy your work." the elder rounded and walked away toward his long house.

I set to work mining as much stone as I could. The work itself was easy and light. I barely broke a sweat after a half an hour. I set the pick down and looked at it. Was there some magic at work here? I opened my bag and found another of my picks. It, too, was a symbol of perfection with the relief of a similar but different bird. I used the device for another half hour and the work was similarly easy. I threw the pick on the ground next to the other. At the bottom of my bag, among other sundries, was a wooden pick. This was an older piece that I had made after my first broke. I wasn't sure if I would need it, but I thought it would help here. I looked it over briefly and noticed even it had a relief. The wood itself was smooth, as if it were planed and shaped with sand paper for hours. The relief was of another bird, similar to, but different than the others. The grooves of the relief were smooth and felt as if the wood had grown this way. I looked down this pick's shaft and looked for the seam of the head and the handle. There was nothing. It looked as if it were procured from a tree in one solid shape. I swung the pick and set to mining again. Last time I used a wooden pickax it took a good bit of time to break off enough stone to create a block. This time the work went smoothly and easily, though still slower than with the stone picks. I set this pick alongside the other two. I looked at the three of them for a bit then realized day was still waning. I grabbed one of the stone picks and went back to working. Before long I had enough stone to make good progress with my tower. I hefted the bag and felt its weight. I lugged it back toward the elder's longhouse. Night was still some time from now and I was confident that the villagers would not turn me away tonight to the darkness. Tonight the elder would tell me much about this world.

The Healer's Table

Entry 9 Night 6

I was brought to what appeared to be some kind of temple for worship by one of the villagers.

"Sit here and the healer will join you soon." I sat quietly. When the healer came out I heard a more feminine voice.

"Leave your pack, gear and clothes on the floor by your table." I did as I was bidden. The healer looked over my body and scanned me from head to toe. She looked into my eyes for a brief period and seemed to sort of... scan my mind.

"The problem is mostly in the mind. Visiting such a place seems to have harmed you in some ways. Perhaps not by the place itself. Problem is with Ender magic. Darkness of Ender has crept into your mind, perhaps into your soul." I looked into the healer's eyes and focused.

"Can you fix?"

"If I have the darkness early enough, yes, you will be fine. This is not the first time this has occurred." I quirked and eyebrow at this and spoke again.

"Not the first?" my questioning tone flustered the healer a bit.

"No. You should rest."

"Is something wrong?"

"No, I just... should not mind-speak more of it. Elder tells you what you should know. I am healer, I fix body, mend mind, not fill mind and work body. That is elders' work."

"Tell me, please." the healer was working on my limbs and hesitated a moment.

"There is much you not know about this-world. Many tales of us-kin, and other-kin, your-kin, that have been here before." I listened eagerly to the healer's mind. Why was she telling me this if she was uncertain I was allowed to know?

"It is part of healer's job to soothe the mind with stories for the young. They are us-kin. Do not know if elders..." she hesitated again.

"What is it?"

"Never mind, other-kin. You are not ready to know. Ask elder to know our stories, not I." her mind shut from there, focusing all her attention on her work. I lay back and let the healer work. I passed quickly into a deep sleep, despite I was laying on a stone table in a stone building, I was remarkably warm. I did not remember seeing a fire or any other means of heating.

It was a dream, I knew it at the time. It was daytime and there was a wide, grassy field. Off to my right I saw a lush forest and to the left, mountains tore the horizon into a jagged line. Ahead I strode and soon noticed an large dip in the ground. At the bottom of the opening there was a stone structure, old and decrepit with age. I heard a sort of giggling and I started slowly forward. Overhead the sun was drawn over by a cloud. As I closed in on the ruin, inch by inch, the light dimmed further and further. I did not have to continue. I knew that. Everything in me was saying to turn back. Go to my home. Live safe in the jungle with the villagers, but I could not. Each time I tried to turn back I felt myself taking quicker and quicker steps toward an entrance in the ruins. A stygian darkness seemed to ebb from the entrance. I was only a few feet from the door when I heard the giggling rise into the unmistakable voice of an Ender-man. Enveloped in darkness, I could see nothing now but the path ahead. The frame of the entrance only barely visible. Within the darkness ahead, two points of purple light flickered. Two eyes, staring into my soul.

"Come. The End awaits."

The eyes opened wide and I heard a loud scream. Just then a light came to me through the darkness and I heard the healer's voice singing. Rather than the strange bird-creature that looked over my body there was a white figure bathed in pure, white-golden light that scintillated softly. Her arms weren't folded in her robes but were out-stretched at her sides. Drifting behind her like the sleeves of a cape were two undulating sheets of feathers that folded under her arms as she landed and drew up a little like wings. She was unmistakably human in form but with feathers thinly adorning the soft curves of her body. Aside from the few feathers, only the glowing light covered her form. She raised a hand and the feathers seemed to drift from her hand in a cloud and turn into light. The light shone forth with a brilliance so great, my eyes burned and I had to look away.

"You need not look away if you accept the light itself." was all I heard and when I opened my eyes, I was lying on my back in the temple. My eyes were still hazy, but as I looked up I held my hands before my face and saw that they were darkened. As a thousand flies rise from a corpse, the darkness scattered from my hands and drifted into the air. When I looked ahead, to where the darkness drifted, I saw the angel of my dream standing over me, her out-stretched hands emanating pillars of light that drew all the darkness to them and scattered it away. I felt myself grow weak again as the angel turned her face to mine. She smiled and said something in a language I could not understand but that reminded me of the wind and the sky. I felt myself relax and drift away into a dream, this time there was nothing but light.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Ender's Pearl

Entry 8 Day 6

Day was still hours away as I staggered across the open stretch of arid ground toward the village. My strength was sapped by the Ender-man when he sent me to that hellscape and the climb out of the cave didn't help my situation. My body was aching and everything in me wanted to just lay down and rest, but the distant groans of the undead drew closer every moment. I had to get to the village. My weary legs buckled under me almost with every step and I had to use my iron sword for support. I looked back for only an instant and all I could make out against the silhouette of the jungle were the purple eyes of an Ender-man as he glared across the distance between us. I prayed that I hadn't looked directly at him, but I couldn't afford to find out if I had.

I was almost to the town when I heard a sound like an autumn wind shaking the bare branches of a tree. My right knee buckled and I faltered. Just then, something sliced therough the air past my head and stuck in the ground just ahead of me. It was an arrow and when I looked back and to my right, I saw a thin man notching another arrow onto the string of a bow. Getting my leg under me, I pushed onward to the nearest house. Just a head I saw a door open and a frantic head swivel left and right then stare right at me. I made for the door, requiring no further invitation. Just before I ducked inside I glanced back and another arrow struck the door. The man with the bow stepped into the moonlight as he made for me. His body glowed eerily in the light of the moon and his dark eyes glared horribly. A moment was all I needed to realize this was no man, it was a skeleton. My stomach turned as I shut the door behind me. Was there no end to the horrors of the night?

My new host moved to a corner and huddled there in the shadows. If they are a people that pray, he was calling on every saint and god in their pantheon. I leaned against the wall and rested, fear the only thing keeping me from sleep. Outside there was a sound like a child's voice talking fast and unintelligibly. I turned to the window and, with the help of my sword and the window sill, rose enough to look through the glass. I was careful to look just left of the moon, lest another Ender-man discover my position. My caution was well-observed as another Ender-man meandered through the desert just outside the village. Just then a skull peered in through the window and I let myself slip down out of view. I lay on the ground praying he hadn't seen me until the sun's rays crept over the horizon to relieve the village of the terror of night.

My host nudged me with his toe in the morning and motioned with his head that perhaps my destination lie elsewhere. Leaning on my sword, I got to my feet and thanked him. Outside the day had drawn through the earlier part of morning and eagerly loomed toward noon. The elders in the longhouse held my answers, and I looked forward to their aide. Something about them put me at my ease. By this time I had grown comfortable with walking unguided into the elders' longhouse. Previously when I asked the elders' names, they were confused. Their people had no concept of names and when I tried to explain it, the idea baffled them further. When I asked what they were called, a series of strange noises came into my mind - likely some term in their language - followed by "In your tongue, us-kin." I had come to call them 'folkin' and they hadn't argued the point since it was a term made of the words 'folk' and 'kin'.

"What brings you to the Elder house, other-kin?" came to my mind. They had no issue speaking in their 'mind-voice' at will. I was proud that after only a few days I was able to speak in words and short phrases, but I still had to make eye contact to retain focus. I leveled my eyes on the elder walking toward me and spoke in thought.

"The Ender-men."

"Yes, we know of your arrival this morning. Are you well?" by this time I was standing in front of the elder and had to sit down or I would fall down. He understood and obliged me. On the floor in a building without furnishings I focused on the elder's eyes, let him fall out of focus and prepared to explain calmly how I'd spent my night. I went carefully from one thought to the next, starting with why I had gone down to the whirlpool cave again to why I slept on the floor of one of the villagers' huts with a pack of the Enders' servants seeking my blood.

"You should not trifle with the night creatures. They are many, though you are strong. You shall see our healer, but I sense that many questions still linger in your mind. We have a quarry next to town where you may gather stone. Is there not more that troubles you?"

"Yes."

"Then speak, other-kin." I stopped a moment and pulled the pearl from my pocket. I didn't tell the elder about it just yet and when I showed it to him, his mouth opened and closed again. Perhaps disbelief?

"The Ender's Pearl. So you did kill the Ender-kin."

"Yes. What is this?"

"An Ender Pearl is.. a key. The ender-kin teleport between worlds, this is how. It can be used by us for the same purpose, but they are missing the spark."

"What spark?" the elder hesitated, picking his words carefully.

"You have light-self, I have light-self. Ender is darkness. Ender Pearl is Ender's dark-self. Without ender, the pearl is quiet."

"How to use it?" I felt a great weight of anxiety from the elder.

"Much danger and fire. You are not ready for that place." At those words I focused my mind into the island and the sea of lava. I showed him what harrowed my soul in the cave last night. The response was a voice that quavered with fear. "You have seen the sea of fire and the dead-kin. And... and the burning ones."

"What is that place?"

"A place of fire, evil and death. That is where you must go to reopen the Eye of Ender. And not once, twelve for the ring. Another thirty for the finding." He had grown agitated.

"I am sorry."

"No. You are not ready for such a voyage. We can help make you ready, though, should you so hope to travel."

"What must I do?"

"When you have mined the hard-stones that shine in the deep, return with them to us and we will show you the way."

"Thank you."

"No, other-kin. When you stand above the sea of fire and enter the palace of death, you will recall my face with hate and anger. Come, let us show you to the healer."

Seeking Stone

Entry 7 Night 5

With an unfinished roof on what is essentially a giant stone box in the middle of a jungle, comes the worry that during the night the servants of the Enders will find a way into my home. With what little stone I had left I crafted several stone picks and set out for the only other place I knew I could easily mine for large quantities of stone : the whirlpool cave.

This time I grabbed some nearby vines and lowered them into the eddy. They held resolutely against the whirlpool's pull. Holding tightly to the vines, I lowered myself into the eddy and the cave. I found the ledge that I climbed the rockwall to safety last time. Luckily the exploding creatures did not destroy the ledge, but a part of the cave further down the waterfall. I swung onto the ledge and followed my torches again. I found a place in the cave and began mining.

I had a barely started mining when I heard a strange noise. It was almost like a coo or a child's voice but in fast forward. I looked up and, to my dismay, locked eyes with an Ender-man. He immediately opened his mouth and released a strange, strangled cry, charging directly toward me. I pulled out my iron sword and braced myself.

It swung its long arms at me, trying to knock me off-balance, but I was able to back up a few steps to avoid him. It was then I realized he wasn't trying to kill me by hand but seemed determined to push me into a crevice at my rear. With a flash of torchlight, I brought my sword down on an arm, severing it straight away. Clearly surprised, the creature faltered for a moment and disappeared. From behind me, I was thrown to the left against a rockwall. I rounded and saw the Ender-man charging me again. I thrust forward, but the Ender-man dodged low losing his footing in the process. Following right behind him with another thrust, the point of my blade found the creature's neck. Looking into my eyes a moment, the Ender-man saw his doom.

Everything was gone, and suddenly I was on a island in the midst of a sea of fire. Above my head, glowing spires of crystal spiraled downward and massive cascading lava flows poured from the ceiling. Around me I heard snarls and growls. Groups of undead staggered listlessly, their dead eyes drifting from on thing to the next. When their eyes passed over you, they saw only air, and moved on. The heat of lava scorched my skin and the smell of sulphur filled my nose. In the side of a cliff, a red fortress of bricks crouched over the lava sea like a dragon over a horde of gold.

Suddenly a noise came to my ears over the bubbling of lava and the heaving of dead lungs; it was like the voice of the Enders but higher pitched and sobbing. Through a lava flow a bubble seemed to be forming until the curtain of molten rock divided and I saw what was coming. A creature like a ghostly jellyfish emerged from the lavaflow, it body still wreathed in flames. It's eyes came to me and it's face went from sadness to rage, and it puffed up its cheeks and belched out a ball of fire. As the orb drew closer all went to darkness again and I was back in the cave, the Ender-man glaring into my eyes. With a final push, his eyes went dark and his body evaporated in a puff of purple-black smoke. I collapsed and looked around the cave floor. My body lurched and the chicken and pork I ate earlier spattered onto the cave floor. My armor plates were hot to the touch, my clothes stank of sulphur and smoke and a strange reddish dust clung to my boots.

What was that place? Why had the Ender-man sent me there just as he died? I looked up and gripped my sword. The village elders had to know something. As my eyes rose, the glint of something small and round caught them. A small pearl lay where the Ender-man perished, just next to the point of my sword. I collected the pearl and remastered myself, shouldering my pack. I had to talk to the villagers. Only they could tell me what happened, and help me finish my tower.

Tower Construction

Entry 6 Day 5

I visited the village briefly to thank the village elders for their guidance. While I was there, the village elders showed me how to use my mind to speed construction. This is how they are able to get an entire house built without having to spend more than a day on construction. With the mind, you have to first sense the materials, all things in this world have some kind of... energy. Using that energy you are able to make the materials cohere into block-shaped masses and place them easily. Once they are in a position, the tendency is for the material to retain that shape until you forcibly remove it.


I have been working on my tower for almost two days straight now using this technique. The tower walls, judging from my hole's entrance, are now 25 meters high and I have started on a ceiling. I have run into a block, though. The trees on the inner side of the tower hang over the wall and I do not wish to cut out any part of the Elders. My plan is to cantilever the upper floors of the house a small distance, perhaps only two or three meters, out over the jungle on the front side. This will allow me to finish building my tower up alongside the Elders. Yesterday while building the walls, I pulled some of the Elders' vines down so they would cover over my hole's entrance. Although I only brought them around in the one place, they seem to be growing wild in a few places. I also decided not to cut down the tree on the west side of the tower. It has a thick layer of vines on it that also make it easy to climb up, so I think I will save this as a means of getting from one floor to the next. This way if the night-creatures break into my home, I will be able to escape them, regroup and retaliate from the next floor.

Night before last, I leveled most of the depression out and filled my new courtyard with torches to ward off the night. The Ender-mens' servants no longer come in through the floor of my tower, especially since I covered the floor in cobblestone. I hear them outside, though, testing my walls. Trying to find a way in to extinguish the light. For now, it seems, I am safe.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Starting the Tower

Entry 5 Day 3

I awoke at about noon, and realized I had much to do with little time to accomplish it. I started by clearing the brush away from the edges of the depression outside and leveling off the ground in a couple spots. Once I finished with that, I began building the walls. I had enough stone to build a large ring around the lip of the depression and to shore up the rim of my hole's entrance making it impossible for enemies to fall onto the ledge and attack me in my sleep.

The smelter was also finished with the iron ore of the previous night, so I sat down for a bit and shaped the metal into armor plates, which I then attached to my clothing with some plant fibers.

With the walls about 7 meters high, I began clambering down from them to place a ladder on the inside up to the top to make building easier. Once the ladder was placed I realized how dark it had already gotten. I started up the vines on the wall to my hole when I heard a hiss below me. Everything was a strange blur before I could get my bearings and realize that it was an ambush. I rose to my feet and drew my stone sword, ready to fight. When everything came into focus, I realized that the entire bottom of the wall, and the vines along with it, was blown open. Some small debris still crumbled from the top of the hole. I noticed it wasn't high enough to damage my entrance, but I was imperiled. I saw a small rise that I built the wall a round and began climbing it toward my entrance. Behind me I heard a low groan as one of the undead sought my flesh. Above me I saw a dark shadow creeping down my wall toward me. I mounted the rise just in time to see the eight red eyes of the giant spider as it leapt toward me.

It's fangs gnashed at me and scuffed my armor plates. Once its first rush attack subsided I lunged at the beast with my sword, scoring a deep strike in its side. But as the creature lurched in pain, my sword snapped in two. Only the jagged end of the sword in hand, the spider mustered it strength and lunged again at me, this time high to catch me off balance and cast us both into the depression to be the dinner of the undead. I would not have it and knelt down just in time to let the creature pass just over my head. I thrust upward with the jagged hilt and buried the short end of the sword in its underside. It squealed and curled up as it flew high and landed on the floor of my hole.


Below, the undead were beginning to make their way up the rise and were nearly to me. Atop the rise I saw that it did not connect to my hole's entrance. Earlier, I knocked it away to prevent enemies as these from reaching me at night. Now I had to get past my own security measures to safety. I strode to the edge of the rise to gain some distance, rounded and sprinted toward my hole. Around me the decaying hands of the undead gripped the top of the rise as they climbed toward me. Just as I was leaping from the edge, the head of a zombie popped up to grab at me. I planted my last foot firmly on its skull, the brittle bone buckling under my weight, and threw myself toward the entrance to my hole. The threshold crashed into my ribs and I grabbed at the cobblestone floor for a grip. My fingers caught hold and I hefted myself up. I lay on the floor of my hole for a moment, catching my breath while the undead groaned at me outside.

Once I regained myself, I grabbed the corpse of the spider and dragged it toward the entrance. I noticed it was very hard to drag and realized that a length of web was dangling from its bulbous abdomen. Dropping its legs, I went to the web and began pulling it. I procured a good length of web, which was about a quarter-inch thick and might serve as a good rope. It wasn't quite enough to do anything with yet, but perhaps if I hunted down more of these creatures, I would be able to create something with it. Perhaps a bow?

The Watery Cave

Entry 4 Night 2

I spent many long hours exploring the caves encountering little in the way of trouble. On my person I had numerous torches which I placed all throughout the caves. It wasn't until I began mining that I had any issues. I found a number of iron deposits and coal deposits that would come in handy. All told I came out with a little over 35 pounds of iron ore and almost twice that in coal. As I made my way out of the cavern, I saw a figure up ahead. His skin was slightly green and he was stumbling blindly through the tunnel.

Suddenly he turned to me with outstretched arms and let out a deep moan. I pulled out my sword and stood my ground. The undead creature loped toward me and once he was in swinging-range, I took a mighty heave and sliced its head from its neck. Before it hit the ground, its body turned to dust. As the head hit the tone floor, it too was gone in a wisp of dust. I stood over the remains a moment and sifted through the dust with my sword. A clang sounded and I realized I hit something metal. Pulling it from the dust, I realized I had found an iron sword. I sheathed both weapons and started back toward the waterfall. Behind me, deep in the tunnels, I could hear a distant hiss. I was not interested in discovering what manner of snake-creature would produce such a sustained hiss. It was almost like the burning of a fuse...

When I came back to the waterfall where I had entered, I looked behind me. The hissing had gone away, but was replaced by the patter of footsteps. It was as if a small army of rats, or some four-legged creatures, was following close behind me. I grabbed a hold of the rock-face beside the waterfall and began to climb out into the falls. As long as I held fast to the rock face and moved slowly, I would be able to scale the waterfall and pull myself out into the eddy.

I made slow progress but soon I was nearing the top of the waterfall. Looking back I could make out the shape of two strange creatures. They crept along on four stunted legs and glared at me from their perch. One began to hiss at me again and leapt into the waterfall. Some distance down, I heard a powerful explosion that jolted me and nearly pried my grip from the rock-face. I could see daylight through the water above and knew this was my best chance of getting out of the cavern. Securing my grip, I continued my climb upward. Below me the creatures hissed angrily and leaned out toward the waterfall. Another one must have leaped into the fall just as I pulled myself up into the spouting water, as another explosion rocked me. I clawed my way up into the eddy and emerged, sputtering in the river. I let it carry me a short way before I grabbed a hold of the bank.

The sun felt like salvation on my face and as soon as I had regained my strength, I went back to my hole. On the way back I killed a few wild pigs and cooked them in a small oven I built out of stone. I ate while my iron smelted. I rested with the intention of starting my tower when I awoke.

In the Village

Entry 3 Day 2

Dawn came, at long last, and I emerged from my hiding place. I decided I would go down into the village but first I would have to make a way to find my hole. I had a good amount of stone, so I also decided to build a tower in this depression, at the foot of the two Elder Trees, as I have been calling them. But before I did that day, I had to visit the village. I climbed back to the treetops where I surveyed the land before and use some stones to make a large cairn in the treetops. With several torches adorning it, I knew it would be hard to miss.

With this completed, I descended once more, this time toward the marshlands. It took only a few minutes to get to the lake and follow a river out toward the village. As I was swimming toward the shore, however, I was sucked into an eddy. Looking down into the water I saw lava and fire, so I grabbed the bank of the river and hefted myself out onto shore. Below me there was a deep cavern that lead into the earth. I would come back later.

I started off toward the village again and the jungle disappeared into an arid stretch of land. Upon it nothing grows and small, desiccated saplings dot the ground. I went to the village, expecting someone to greet me, but no one came out. Indeed, I thought the place abandoned as the first few houses I went to were empty. Some recently lived there, though, because the doors were shattered and splinters of it littered the ground. I was examining the door when I felt a nudge against my shoulder.

I spun around and came face to face with a strange bird-man, staring me down with a thoughtfull expression. He jerked his head a little to one side and walked away. I took that to mean I should follow and went after him. He lead me through the town to what looked like a longhouse of some kind. More of the village's denizens either came out to see or looked on from behind the thick glass of their windows. My guide stopped at the front door and nodded toward the door. Understanding what I could, I knocked on the door. A sound like that of an annoyed chicken came from my host, so I opened the door and entered. I paused at the door to look back but my guide was gone. I shut the door and looked in on the house. No furnishings could be seen and a small group of the bird-people stood huddled at the back of the building. One came forward and nodded to me sagely. Unable to hold myself from attempting to communicate, I spoke.

"Where am I?" I asked the bird-man. His eyes widened a moment and his hooked beak opened a moment and closed again. The bird-man turned to the other two and looked at them a moment before turning back to me. His eyes seemed to drift to a far away place but still searched deep in my own. After a while of looking into the creatures eyes I felt my face relax and my vision blurred. Deep in the back of my mind I heard a voice.

"You are not us-kin, you are other-kin." the voice said in a stern tone. "How are you come to us?"

"I... I..." as I grasped for words my vision started to clear slightly.

"No. Not with sound-voice, with mind-voice, you speak!" announced the voice loudly. Confusion welled up in me alongside a growing sense of fear.

"I don't know how!" I heard myself say.

"You just did, other-kin." a strange satisfaction came into my mind from the voice."You spoke now with mind-voice, not with sound-voice."

"I... Where am I?" I said.

"This place is not your place, you know not how you come to us?" An image of when I awoke came into my mind and I looked out from the jungle. I climbed up to the canopy and saw the village again and tried to think back to how I came here, but nothing came.

"I see. You suffer from the mind-fog, other-kin." I sudden rush of excitement filled my heart and I began to think of everything I had seen since I arrived, all I had done so far. My hole, the jungle, the whirlpool in the eddy...

"Stop! Stop! Too much, too hasty! You must focus on each mind-picture, other-kin. I am only seeing a short-side." My mind calmed and I thought about the eddy again. "Ah, you have been to the water-entrance of the under-tunnels? Our people avoid the under tunnels, too dangerous. But you might go there. You could explore the caves, find the treasures of the the earth. Others will know of your exploration." I calmed again and let my mind wander to the empty houses with the shattered doors.

"You have seen the work of the Ender-men. The servants of the Ender-men come out at night and cover the world, other-kin." I remembered my first night and the distant groan in the dark.

"Yes, other-kin, that is the sound-voice of the servants to the Ender-men. They are dead-kin. The dead kin come in the night, sometimes, and take away us-kin. They do not like our lights, other-kin, so they do not come often to our village. But they can. When they do, they take us-kin away and they are never seen again. No one knows why the Ender-men take us-kin, but they do." I wondered what and Ender-man was and I saw an image come into my mind. I saw darkness. I was looking out a window. I was young and was using my hand-claws to pull myself up to the window. I saw only the darkness and shadows, but off to the left one shadow was moving. It was tall and slender and held a large piece of a tree in its hand. It turned toward me and searched with glowing, purple eyes in the window. I remembered, though, what my mother said. Do not look at the Ender-man, and he will not find you. I closed my eyes and climbed down.

"That was... you?"

"Yes, other-kin. We all know of the Ender-men and pray they will not take us to the dark-place. Go to the cave, and see the servants of the Ender-men yourself, other-kin. I will give you a sword to take with you that you may slay them. You can always kill their forms, other-kin, yes. This is easy. But they do not stay gone. They come back unless you light their tunnels. They hate the light. Always they avoid it, but they are drawn toward it from the darkness. You are not safe in the tunnels until you light all the shadows. And build up your tower, other-kin. You will only be safe when you have a place for your home." My vision cleared and the bird-man glared down at me. Between us there was a stone sword sticking into the wooden floor. It was not terribly well-made, but it would do the trick. I bowed to the bird-man and went out into the desert.

Day was waning, when I emerged from the Longhouse, so I slid my sword between my back and the backpack and started off toward the eddy. The rest of the villagers were shutting themselves up in their homes, some of them staring wide-eyed at me as I strode off into the impending night. When I arrived at the whirlpool, darkness was almost upon me. Taking a deep breath, I threw myself into the eddy and as soon as I was able, I opened my eyes. Below me I saw a pool of lava and I reached out with my arms for a ledge. I grabbed a hold of a stone shelf, and struggled against the falling water to work myself onto the ledge. Luckily, my speed shot me into the cavern at a high enough velocity to where I didn't have the full force of the waterfall bearing down on me. I pulled myself up onto the ledge and sat a moment, catching my breath.


Groaning in the Night ...

Entry 2 Night 1

I was awakened in the night by strange noises far off in the darkness. I placed a torch in the window of my hiding place before going to sleep. I could hear what sounded like a distant low groan. All the reasons for my fear of the night returned to me in that moment and I was terrified. Here, night is not a safe time. When darkness covers the world, evil things crawl out from their hiding places to roam the land. I knew that the light of my torches was the only thing that would keep the creatures at bay, that and the hastily erect wall at the mouth of my hole. I had a momentary thought about the people in the village below. Were they, too, safe from the horrors of the night? I prayed they would be. Tomorrow I will go down into the village to find out. It will be nice to talk to someone else in this strange place.

I expanded my hole a bit, first carving out the last of the coal, then moving on to stockpile stone. I had a few nice piles of stone and will be able to build a better shelter that doesn't reek of mud and where all manner of insects can wriggle into my hair and clothing. I will want to set up a bath of some kind as soon as possible.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I woke up in a strange world...

Entry 1 Day 1

I woke up in a strange world, sunlight piercing into my eyes. When the haze faded and my surroundings came into focus, I realized I was in a jungle. It was early in the day, just after dawn, but the sun was creeping up the dome of the sky and a strange sort of foreboding was in my heart. I was still wearing my clothes from the day before, but how did I get here? I strained my mind to search for a reason, but not even the wisp of a dream lay within the fog clouding my mind. I knew there was a world with cars and buildings and people, but where was all that? Here the sky is blue, a few clouds drift along, but aside from that there is only the sound of distant wildlife, the wind whispering through the leaves of the trees. Where was I?

Beside me the trunk of a great tree rose from the undergrowth and stretched into the sky. A thick lattice of vines wove up to the canopy, so I decided to climb it and take a look.

Atop the canopy of the jungle I could make out only two directions : East, where the sun rose, and west, where it drew closer every moment. By the time I got to the top of the trees it was already noon. Days do not favor sloth in this place. To the west two massive trees towered over the rest of the jungle, which huddled closely to the two elders. To the east a lake connected the jungle to a marshy low land. Alongside the swamp, the land dries up into an arid desert. I strained my eyes a bit against the sand and realized that what I took for a small outcropping of rocks was actually a village. I didn't have time to go to the village today, however. I had to fashion a shelter. Night comes quickly.










I scrambled down out of the canopy, slipping a few times and damaging myself only a little. Some bruises and cuts, but nothing major. On my way down I found an apple and a few mushrooms. 'I will need food to survive', I figured, so I pocketed them and continued downward. Only just in time I realized that I was on a high hill in the midst of the jungle and I caught myself before tumbling to my death serveral times in my descent to the ground. I found a small depression where I could lay low for the night and embedded in what raw stone was bared to me, I could see lumps of coal. I decided to begin gathering the materials I would need to establish a shelter. I would have to hurry, though. The sun was busily tumbling toward the horizon.

I started gathering wood from the nearby trees and undergrowth to fashion some basic tools : a wooden pickax and a workbench. Once I had enough wood, I went to the narrow place at the bottom of the hill, where the rock face was, and set up my workbench beside the coal deposit. The coal vein was rich and I bore a good distance into the rock face. Before I finished, however, I realized that dusk was upon me, and I scrambled to gather up my workbench and retreat for the night into the hole I carved in the hill. I used some dirt to shore up a low wall 6 meters across the entrance and built a 1 meter high wall atop that. I left a space tall enough for me too look out of, but walled off the rock-face above the hole to ensure nothing could climb in during the night.

I then fashioned a few torches from sticks I found earlier and the coal I already mined by wrapping layers of leaves and moss about the the coal to fasten it down. This method worked remarkably well and the torches burned brightly, warding off the night. I set my work bench down at the back of my little hole and lay down to rest. I would continue mining the coal vein in the morning.