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.
"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?"
"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."
"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."