Welcome to "The Diary of a Miner"; a blog detailing the adventures and mysteries that I, Syeonyx, embark upon in my quest to further my mining and survival skills! It'll be tough, there will be good times and bad times, but I'll always be alive to post my adventures... probably...

Split path

     COLUS seemed a little surprised to see us back so soon, although Amie seemed glad to see that I had returned quicker than expected. Everyone else at the base camp stopped what they were doing and looked at us as we closed the gate behind us. We were still breathless from running the entire length of the tunnel, and past the platform back to the camp. We recovered after a few seconds and THEROS stormed straight into a nonsensical rant.

"Woah, woah, slow down, you're losing me... Have you found anything linked to HoN Co. close to the rigging or not...?"

"We found more than expected... From where our platform was left, there is a stone road leading away and underneath a large rocky outcrop, forming a tunnel that leads to... Well, a dead end. Well, not quite a dead end; the tunnel just literally ends with a massive drop into a pool of lava below."

"A road? How can you tell it was constructed by HoN Co. ...?"

"Well, we noticed quite a few things that indicated that. Firstly, if the indigenous creatures here could build that type of thing, why aren't there more examples? Not only that, but we didn't encounter a single pig-man or floating ghost at all! No Creepers or undead either! It's like the Nether has been abandoned."

Whilst THEROS caught his breath from speaking so quickly, I filled in with our possible theories as to why that might be the case. COLUS and the others seemed to initially accept the initial idea that something had driven them away, likely HoN Co., but they soon changed expressions when I introduced the idea that something might instead be luring them elsewhere.

"That's not all... We only followed one of the paths which led through the tunnel and as I said, it led to a dead end. But it's what we could see off in the distance. I can only assume it's HoN Co. created as there is no sign of any other type of material it seems to be constructed from..."

"How do you mean? Non-Nether materials do you mean?"

"Yes, like cobblestone or some smooth stone. It seems to be a massive circular construct sitting the centre of a massive lava lake, probably ten times bigger than the one at the obsidian plant..."

"Was there any sign of activity? Were there guards or scientists moving through it or nearby?"

"Not that we could see... I didn't want to think this, but it looks to me like another obsidian plant..."

"What?!?! How can you tell? Is there obsidian production?"

"Not from what I could see, but there are multiple lava falls being channelled directly into the construction itself, a central one and one on each corner..."

"We have to see this! Take a few supplies with you and we'll head off. I need to see this for myself!

We all rushed to grab what meagre supplies we thought were sufficient; I took the blowpipe, diamond pick and a few bits of food. I didn't know how long we were going to take, and I didn't want to risk going under-prepared. OROTHO opted to remain with Joe at the base camp, to ensure there was someone to receive UOPETA if there was word back from SERVERE. The rest of us headed out towards the platform again, following the placed torch path back up to the hill.

     Reaching the hill, we allowed COLUS and the others to look around and assess the situation. COLUS went to the bottom of the hill and looked underneath where the other path led to, before coming back out and looking in the direction of the path we followed.

"Right then... THEROS, you, me and THEXIS will head in the direction you initially went. You can show me what you found, and anything else that may have been missed. Meanwhile, Syeonyx, AMPHIS and Amie will go in the other direction. I wouldn't usually suggest this idea of splitting up, but we've not exactly got time on our side. If you find anything, document it and come find us."

Nodding to COLUS, me, Amie and AMPHIS headed in the opposite direction, going underneath the hill, following the stone roadway and torches. It didn't go very far in before veering off to the left, and we soon found it twisted and turned it's way down, heading in the same direction as the other tunnel, only at a different elevation.

Heading down first, with Amie and AMPHIS close behind, we quickly found that the twisting passage ended abruptly, before another tunnel started. Much like the one we had gone through before, it was incredibly long, but an end to it was visible from where we were, and there was no sign of any guards or any other HoN Co. employees along the way. Much like the first tunnel, this too seemed to end in a steep drop, as there was no sign of the road continuing. It just ended...

"So what did you and THEROS see exactly? How do you know it belongs to HoN Co., and not someone or something else...?"

I explained that we had seen a massive construction in the centre of a large lava lake, with five main lava channels falling through the main base and out of either edge... It was as though there was a use for that lava, otherwise it seemed pointless to utilise it in the construct at all... I had admit though that it was a brilliant marvel of technology and architecture; whoever had made that had to be proud of their work! Working with lava is incredibly dangerous, but to use it both practically and aesthetically within the design of a construction was genius! We came to the end of the tunnel, but realised that unlike the other tunnel, it didn't just end with a drop. Instead the path continued down towards the Nether stone below, before leading off to the right in the direction of the construct. I began looking around elsewhere trying to find where the other tunnel ended; it must be close by as this path was visible from above.

Continuing down the first few steps, I took a moment or two to determine of there were any guards or worse nearby, but being unable to see anything, I continued down to the first flat platform before the steps verged off to the right. Amie and AMPHIS followed me cautiously, possibly due to the unknown dangers that could be all around, and possibly due to the lack of a handrail or guard to hang onto. It was a little precarious, but provided you didn't look down, you were fine. I continued down to the bottom, whereupon I could now see the full construction before me, in the direction the roadway continued. I thought it would be a little dangerous to just stick to the road and be incredibly obvious to anyone who may be watching over the path, so I suggested that we head off to the right and see what we could make out from the darkness. Heading off the road, we took shelter in the shadows, away from the lights of the path, hoping to look for any signs of activity.

"What in the world could HoN Co. need that for? It's massive! Surely it can't be another obsidian plant...?"

"It would certainly make a lot more sense... Where better to find mass reservoirs of lava being left unused and freely available...?"

"But what about the water needed for the conversion process...? Surely they don't bring in the water from Minecraftia into the Nether through a portal? If they did we'd see the pipes!"

"That's true... Unless they've found a source of water here in the Nether...?"

Me and Amie both looked at AMPHIS sceptically; a place full of lava, heat and strange creatures would be unlikely to possess much in the way of water, if any at all...
"How could this dimension sustain any life then? Life needs water to survive!"

"No, life in Minecraftia needs water to survive... This is entirely a new dimension where water might not even exist!"

"That's a possibility I suppose... Maybe we can get close and take a look at the other side...?"

"It looks like the only entrance is through the front there, where the path leads to... I can't see how else you could get in, because that rocky outcrop behind it is pretty far away..."

"Come on, let's try and find COLUS and the others. Maybe we can spot there dead-end from here."

I led the way back onto the path, almost certain the tunnel COLUS and the others had taken was a little further along and way above us. It was likely that they had reached the end by now.

Syeonyx signing off

The many signs of HoN Co.

     Leaving the rigging and platform behind, we set off straight ahead, just to the left of where we had mined the glowing stone. We hadn't ventured in this direction the last time we were here, so maybe there would be signs of HoN Co.'s presence close by. Numerous roaring fires nearby, some small and seemingly well contained, as well as large ones that seemed to be spreading along the walls, provided more than enough light for us to see by. That and the large, concentrated crystalline structures of glowing stone suspended above on the ceiling allowed us to see way off into the distance. As we climbed down to the bottom of the hill, I had begun to wonder why there were no indigenous creatures anywhere to be seen. Despite the fact that Creepers, giant spiders and the undead were all meant to originate in the Nether, there was no sign of activity at all. Last time we had been here, we had encountered a strange species which seemed to be part man and part pig. They had seemed incredibly curious about us, and had investigated us on more than one occasion. Now there were none at all... I was almost hoping to see one of those strange floating ghost-squid things, just so I knew everything was normal.

"Maybe it's not something that's scared them... Maybe it's the complete opposite. Maybe something has attracted their own attention away from us to a different location..."

That was another possible theory, but it did little to ease my nerves. Whether something had driven them off or attracted them to somewhere else, it still wasn't a good sign... HoN Co. were definitely up to something here, and judging from the look on THEROS's face, he was determined to find out what! As we reached the bottom of the hill however, we stopped and just stood agape at what lay before us.

We looked at each other, slightly in shock at what we had found; it seemed to be a strange roadway that led both away from us and towards us, only the latter seemed to head beneath us into the bottom of the hill. The roadway was also lined with wooden posts with large chunks of glowing stop atop them, making a very useful and resourceful light source.

"Where do you think that leads...?"

I shrugged, jokingly asking him which direction...

"Good point... This has to be the work of HoN Co.! I know I don't know much about the Nether, but if the creatures that originate here can build this, there would be signs of it all over the place. Let's see where the path goes off ahead of us... It disappears at one point..."

Cautiously making our way down the last few steps to the bottom of the hill, we headed straight forward along the roadway, almost marvelling at the apparent speed with which it had been constructed. This was definitely not here before the last time we were here, so it had obviously been put up in the meantime...

"If this road is here, that means so too are HoN Co. ... We're going to have to be careful about how far we go. We could run into a patrol of guards or scientists..."

Or worse...

"True... On the upside at least we can't get lost. It's going to be pretty hard to lose the trail back to the camp."

Reaching the end of the pathway, we turned to the right to follow it, and found that it had dug its way through an entire wall of the strange Nether rock. HoN Co. had been very busy in our absence, especially when you consider that they too may be exploiting the time lapse that occurs between the two dimensions. It must have occurred to them at some point that something was a little off with the timing, and it didn't take much for us to realise the potential of this effect. The tunnel that had effectively been created before us was long and surprisingly consistent the entire way along, as though it had been carved out with machinery rather than by hand.

We followed it the entire way down, stopping midway to inspect a rather odd break in the uniformity of the tunnel walls. Off to the left and right were paths that split off the main road and disappeared into darkness. Deciding that it would be best to stick to the straight and narrow, we continued along the same path. Even though we couldn't see any HoN Co. guards along the route, THEROS was still edgy, and tried to involve and element of secrecy in his movements. We reached the end of the tunnel, and found it veered off to the right once more.

"Where do you reckon this leads to? It's got to be pretty far away from the camp, which makes me wonder how they even found the platform and rigging..."

I reminded him that there was also the other path that led in the opposite direction to where we had gone. Who knows where either direction led. Off in the distance we could see a change in light level and assumed we were nearing the end of the tunnel. Once there, we realised that the tunnel had ended rather abruptly, with a fall about one hundred feet to the stone below. But that wasn't what had captured our attention. Off in the distance, off to the left was a large cobblestone structure, seemingly suspended over a massive lake of lava. A small path led from beneath us, across the lava lake and into the centre of the structure, we seemed to have no real purpose from the outside.

"What in the... Is that a...? We've got to go back! COLUS needs to see this, with his own eyes!"

THEROS grabbed me before I was able to take a photo of it, and before I knew it, we were racing back along the roadway, along the tunnel, back to base camp.

Syeonyx signing off

Back into Hell!

     The amount of stuff we were all carrying between us made out that we were going to be staying in the Nether for some time. Who knows, we actually might be there longer than before. The purpose of heading into the Nether is to determine how much HoN Co. knows about our previous operation into the Nether, and whether they found our base camp. It's already been established that they know of and have probably ceased the wooden rigging we had used to reach the glowing stone, so we're going to have to be careful about what we do once there. We can't draw any more attention to ourselves than we already have. After everyone was ready, we all headed off to the lab, and through the secret passage to the right which led directly to our private portal. The long passage was brightly lit, probably more so than the rest of the base, and it took a bit of adjusting to. Soon we'd have to readjust again to compensate for the lack of light in the Nether.

"Once we're there, we need to establish how much of our presence has been compromised. If it's less than we think, it would be a good idea to try and find traces of HoN Co.'s presence as well. UOPETA said that they have put up signs so they can't be that hard to spot."

Reaching the midway checkpoint, COLUS flicked the switch, opening the door and allowing us to pass through. After reaching the end, we were presented with a large, mossy cobblestone wall, with a lever on the wall to one side. Flicking that one as well, we all waited for the harsh grating sound to stop before heading in to the portal chamber. It was still active, the original entranceway was still blocked and there wasn't a sign of life anywhere. We had the option to lock the cobblestone door behind us from the outside with a dual lever lock, but we would need UOPETA to make his way up to us if SERVERE finds anything else. He will have to lock everything behind him as it's unlikely that any of us would be returning after that. Putting all the bags and cases down, we each sized up the portal as though it were some sort of beast we had been forced to fight.

"Right, THEROS and Syeonyx will head in first. Check the base camp and see if anything has been moved or taken. Check a small area surrounding the camp and see if you can spot any HoN Co. activity. Come back after a minute or so and inform us of the situation."

Leaving the bags behind, I followed THEROS to the frame of the portal, ready to step through, but Amie stopped me. Spinning me around, she hugged me tightly, as though she was never going to see me again. I reassured her that I wouldn't take too long, and that I'd be back before she knew it! That would literally be the case though for her anyway, as the timeshift between the two dimensions would work to her favour.

"That's true. The time experienced in Minecraftia is more or less tripled when in the Nether. One minute in the Nether is twenty seconds here... They will literally be back before you know it."

Amie seemed a little more comforted by OROTHO's reassuring words, and I followed THEROS through the portal. As I passed through the rift into the Nether, I felt nauseous and had to close my eyes until I had fully passed through. THEROS was standing there waiting for me with an odd look on his face.

"You took your time... Come on, we can only be a minute or so. I thought I heard strange sounds from up ahead, so we're definitely going to have to make this quick."

I followed THEROS up the strange stairs that broke off to the right, until we reached the top. Despite the lack of any torches at all, there were numerous fires around that seemed to burn indefinitely, which provided plenty of light to see by. The walls and floor were made up of a strange fleshy rock, that appeared putrid and squishy, but was solid to walk upon. This place had creeped me out from the first time I ever came here, and now was no different. Heading off to the left, I continued following THEROS who seemed to be taking over the role of UOPETA, in his absence. He was doing a good job of it as well; he didn't continue around corners until he was sure it was clear ahead, and he continued like this until we reached the base camp. It seemed odd to see it again, and looking around it seemed as though it hadn't changed at all. That was good news because it meant HoN Co. hadn't found it yet.

Once we were sure that there wasn't anyone close by that could pose a risk to our safety, we headed back down the stairs and back through the portal.

"That was quick!"

"No it wasn't... We were in there for about five minutes..."

"It doesn't matter, has HoN Co. found the base camp? Is it safe to head on through?"

"There's no sign of anything being disturbed at the camp, and there are no posts or other signs of HoN Co. being anywhere near our camp either."

"Excellent! Let's head through then!"

I picked up my bag before helping THEROS with the chest that we had left behind, before following everyone through the portal. Amie went before me this time, with THEROS being the last to go through this time. After shaking the nausea from my head, I followed Amie back up the stairs for the second time, back up to the camp. Once there, we set everything down and were immediately given a new task by COLUS.

"We need to know how close HoN Co. have come to finding this base camp. Go out and look for the platform we constructed and see if there's anything there which suggests they've found it."

Leading the way once more, I followed THEROS out from the main gates of the base camp and down to the right. Unlike before, we couldn't see any strange creatures; pig-men, floating ghost creatures or Creepers... At least we wouldn't be presented with immediate dangers or distractions. Heading down the crude steps, we followed the trail of torches that we had left behind us which presumably still led away to the site where we had found the glowing stone. Up ahead a series of fires continued to burn, casting odd shadows everywhere, but there was still a distinct lack of any local fauna.

"Maybe something's spooked them..."

That didn't bode well at all. If something had spooked the surprisingly curious creatures we had encountered before, it meant that we were likely to experience trouble soon enough. Reaching the top of the hill we had been steadily climbing, we looked down into the small valley below and immediately spotted the rigging and platform that we had left behind after excavating the glowing stone.

"Yeah, a little suspicious, I'll admit that... Maybe we should have done something about it before we left... The thing that confuses me is how they found this, but not the camp. I mean there is a trail of torches leading straight from one to the other..."

It didn't matter, but we just had to ensure they never did find us. We'd have to remove them on the way back to the camp, but I got the feeling that THEROS wanted to explore a little further.

Syeonyx signing off

Day 143: The good, the bad and the ugly news

     Waking up this morning was definitely an odd experience; not a bad one, just very odd... Me and Amie had worked on the strange symbols, continuing along with the theory that the first word was 'fountain', but it hadn't been long until we had grown too tired and went to bed. I woke up this morning with Amie in my arms, but even more strangely, Chiron was lying across the top of both of us... I wanted to get up and start the day fresh and ready, but I couldn't really do that without disturbing Amie or Chiron. In the end, I managed to wriggle from Amie's arms, and somehow managed to pick up Chiron and place him beside her without waking either of them, but it was the papers on the bed that was my downfall. Sitting up on my shoulders to be able to stand, I winced as the papers made a surprisingly loud crumbling noise as I leant on them. Chiron was instantly up and alert, bounding back and forth across the bed, which ultimately woke Amie up.

"Morning Syeonyx... Sleep well?"

I must have done to ignore the fact that Chiron had been lying on me. I offered if she wanted to go out and get some breakfast before finding the others, but she said she needed a few minutes to wake up. As I went over to the door, I smiled as she made a huge fuss of Chiron, which he loved. It seemed that THEROS and AMPHIS were already awake, and they both had strange grins on their faces. I immediately knew what they were thinking, but I played it dumb and asked them why the strange looks.

"I see Amie slept in your room last night... Did... Erm... Did anything happen...?"

THEROS tried his hardest not to laugh as I addressed AMPHIS's question, and to be honest I was surprised at his bluntness. I told them exactly what happened, to the best of my abilities and they just sat there, still smiling. I was beginning to become annoyed by everyone's reaction to me and Amie's relationship; they seemed to make out that it was such a big issue, when millions of people are in serious relationships themselves.

"No, you're right, we're sorry. We don't mean anything by it. It's good to see that you two are getting somewhere together. To be honest, we were beginning to think that Amie was starting to feel lonely here... Before the incident with the Enderman, she had seemed distant all the time, and even COLUS was beginning to get worried. Since that time though she's been bubbly and alive, so if anything we have you to thank for bringing her out of her shell... So to speak..."

Taking that as an apology for them acting stupidly towards us, I settled down for breakfast. But I didn't get very far; COLUS came into the kitchen area and spoke three very urgent words.

"Discussion room! Now!"

He went back out the way he had come, leaving us to look oddly at each other. Amie had just come out of my room at that point and seemed equally confused.

"What was that about...?"

"Maybe SERVERE has come through for us on those Ender Eye locations!"

We got up and headed off to the discussion room hoping that UOPETA had returned with the information from SERVERE about the Eyes hidden throughout the Nether. It would be the breakthrough we needed to get going again.

     It was indeed UOPETA, and he did come bearing news from SERVERE, although it wasn't all good. He had found a series of letters and numbers, which he had assumed were coordinates, but now came the first piece of bad news. He had searched as much of the system as he was allowed, which wasn't a lot, and was unable to find a map to suit the coordinates. In fact he was unable to find a map at all! Then came the next piece of bad news.

"It seems that HoN Co. are after these Eyes as well... There are numerous reports and files showing signs that they have sent teams into the Nether to try and find these Eyes based on the map and coordinates they have. SERVERE thinks that they will likely store the map and the coordinates in separate places to prevent them both from falling into the wrong hands."

"So we have the coordinates but no map...? Surely that's something to go on? THEROS, can you do something with those coordinates as they are?"

"I'm afraid not. Without a map to refer to, the coordinates are pretty much useless. It's a vital aspect of the next stage..."

"Well SERVERE did go on with some more news... It's bad I'm afraid, maybe the worst... They've found evidence to suggest someone else has already been in the Nether. They believe that we have been going to and from the Nether for some reason, and have found traces of us being there at some point or another..."

"How do you mean? We didn't leave anything behind apart from the camp... Did they find the camp?"

"Not as far as SERVERE can work out. It seems though that they have found the platform we left behind when we went in to find glowing stone to destroy portals... We left it there fully erected without any attempt to dispose of it... They know it's not or Nether origins... They've been putting up their own indicators and posts to allow them to easily navigate the place, but this platform they've found they know doesn't belong to them."

"But that's quite close to the camp... Surely if they've found one, they've found the other...? Right, we need to get a copy of that map! Have you told SERVERE to search for it again?"

"I have, yes. I've told him to look in an obscure locations on the system, under strange file names. Anything that might help us. He's going to get back to us."

"Well at least we've got a start. I think we should head back into the Nether and begin searching for these posts of theirs. If they're as close as our camp it shouldn't take long to find something of theirs, and maybe we can make use of theirs to guide us around."

We settled on the idea of heading to the Nether, and have begun getting ready to head in. Once again, UOPETA will head back down to the wooden shack and remain there until SERVERE returns. As for the rest of us, we're all heading into the Nether to look for signs of HoN Co.! Not quite what we had in mind, but with the coordinates available to us, we're one step closer to finding these Eyes, even if we're now in competition with HoN Co. ...

Syeonyx signing off

Cosy code-breakers

     Thanks in part to our floor layouts we had already drawn, but mostly due to the lack of other stairways or entrances, we made our way back onto the same floor THEROS had been laying out. After a few minutes of wandering on this floor, we eventually found him close to the staircase we had found before that led up and towards the portal. He seemed a little surprised to see us at first, assuming we had probably finished and therefore done a rushed job of it, but then he saw we were slightly out of breath and a look of concern crossed his face.

"What? What is it? Have you found something? Is HoN Co. here?!?!"

I was still out of breath showing how unfit I really was, and Amie explained to THEROS what we had found. He seemed confused at first, as though he thought we were making it up until he heard the part about the fountain we found was scrawled on with strange symbols.

"Take me to it. I must see this! It could help us with the Eyes of Ender!"

Catching a glimpse at THEROS's map before turning to head back down, I was relieved he hadn't asked to see ours. His was detailed in ways we couldn't even have thought of, but then again he was the trained cartographer. Maybe he had noticed and didn't care... It didn't matter, there were more important matters to attend to. We followed the exact path we had come back along to get back to where we had found the first chamber, and he too seemed surprised by the central column with a waterfall. He took a moment or two to examine the place before allowing us to continue through to the next room via the stairs, which was almost identical, albeit for the four chests. When we entered however, we noticed something odd about them; they were all closed now, and the entrance leading through to the chamber with the fountain in it had no closed... That wasn't immediately the issue at hand at the moment, as THEROS seemed intrigued by the presence of the incredibly old chests.

"Is there anything in them? Books, writings, objects, anything?"

"No unfortunately, nothing like that. But it's not the contents of the chests that attracted our attention. Syeonyx noticed that there's a filament wire running the length of each from the lid to the floor."

"A filament wire...? Like it's attached to a trap?"

"Well that's what we thought initially as well, but it seems it was actually a hidden passage. Each of these chests has the same wire mechanism, and it's activated when the lid is opened. Open all four and a secret entrance appears leading to the fountain. Although they were all open when we left here... Weren't they...?"

I nodded, and went over to one of the chests and opened it. Despite knowing and understanding the mechanism enclosed within, I still flinched as I saw the wire extend, pulling on an unknown weight beneath the chest. I then repeated this action for the remaining three, whilst Amie and THEROS watched. Like before nothing happened at first, and then the horrid, spine-tingling grating sound of stone on stone was heard behind me. Turning in that direction, I watched as a large vertical chunk of stones shifted backwards, paused and then shrank into a small niche in the wall, exposing the entrance to the fountain beyond.

"My god... This is incredible!"

"It gets better. Through there is the fountain with the symbols on it. Nothing we've ever seen before, but that just makes it more exciting!"

With THEROS in the lead, we followed him through to the next chamber and directed him to the side of the fountain where the symbols were visible. He went up close to them and ran his finger along the symbols, tracing them individually before pulling back, with a look of shock on his face. On the back of the map he had been drawing, he copied the symbols down exactly how they appeared on the fountain.

"We're going to have to leave the mapping of this place to another day. We need to tell UOPETA and the others about this! This could be one of the greatest finds of our time! And not only that, but there could be lots more secret areas and chambers hidden throughout this place! Who knows how much is hiding from us!"

THEROS turned and ran from the chamber, with Amie and me following quickly behind. He didn't stop running, even when he got back to the entrance to the building, and continued all the way through the obsidian tunnel. We followed all the way along the tunnel I had excavated, back up to the wooden shack. It looked like we had found something that was definitely of interest to someone. I wonder if AMPHIS could make anything of the symbols...

     Everyone now knows about the strange symbols marked onto the fountain in the Ender building; after telling UOPETA, he suggested that we go up to the base and inform the others. He would remain at the shack and continue waiting for SERVERE to ensure we don't miss him, whilst the rest of us carried on to the base. COLUS was intrigued to understand more, and as well as taking the photo I took of the symbols, he's sent AMPHIS down to investigate further with THEROS. Meanwhile I'm looking over the symbols in the lab with Amie and OROTHO. THEROS left his map with us where he had scrawled them onto the back of, allowing us to work on them ourselves. From the few symbols we had found, it was possible we could figure out what they mean, or what the rest could mean. I had already said they seem to similar to the way our alphabet operates, especially as there were a few duplicate symbols.

"But how do we know if it's based on a similar system, or something more complex... A single symbol could signify a single letter, word or an entire phrase!"

Well that was definitely possible as well, but it was better to work from a basic stance and work up rather than the other way around. There was less chance of error working that way. There were likely to be various complex methods if the easier ones didn't come to anything. For now we took each symbol as an individual letter. Even if that was actually the case, I doubted they would translate symbol for symbol exactly as our alphabet... That would suggest there are twenty six symbols... We could only see ten unique symbols, which could suggest there were another sixteen to find, or maybe even more! For simplicities sake, we assumed that there was a symbol for each respective letter of our alphabet. Remembering the basics, repeated letters were likely to letters used most commonly, such as E, A, T and S. But none of these letters seemed to work when putting them into the repeated symbol places. We worked on it for a few hours, not getting anywhere. We even went to the extent of trying every letter combination possible, but after not getting anything that made sense after the letter F, we took a step back and considered the other options.

"The problem with the current system is that we're searching for letter combinations that make up words that we recognise... I can guarantee that this wouldn't be the case... Maybe we need to consider the length of words or something else..."

A thought had occurred to me some time ago, but I had dismissed it as highly unlikely. But thinking back over it, it was better than what we had got so far. The number of symbols on the top line - therefore making up a single word, we had deduced - was the same as the English equivalent of the object we had found them on. F O U N T A I N... That would certainly fit as the fourth and last symbol were identical.

"That's a point... And look, it's used again in the last bit... The symbol for T is repeated as well as the O... Maybe you're on to something..."

COLUS, who had been watching us for some time now, seemed to think it was necessary for us rest, as we had been awake and working for some time. We argued that we felt fine, but he felt happier if we went for an early night... Seeing that he wasn't likely to take no for an answer, I made a mental note of the symbols and letters, and went off to my room. Amie followed me, but instead of heading off to hers, she joined me in mine.

"If we continue working on this now we can have it decrypted by morning! Easily!"

I was happy with that. More than happy actually. Sitting on my bed beside Chiron, I took out a few sheets of paper that were lying around and quickly noted the symbols down before I forgot them. I could see Amie was very enthusiastic about the symbols and their possible weight they could carry in helping us, but I was under the assumption there was an ulterior motive to her being here in my room...

Syeonyx signing off

Cryptic fountain

     Standing up, I offered a helping hand to Amie, and picked her up from the floor. After checking she was okay, I went back over to the box still confused... The filament wire was definitely connected to something beneath the chest, but it was too heavy to move. Was it a trap? I was initially thinking that it would activate some horrid trap whereby the person opening the chest died horribly. Maybe it was a trap, but the mechanism had jammed or decayed over time... Lifting the lid back and firth slightly, I noticed that the filament wire was still taut when the lid was fully open and when partially closed, so it was still attached to something beneath the chest. Looking around at the others I could guarantee there would be similar mechanisms in each of them, however the likelihood of those still working was incredibly remote... Going over to the next one along to my left, I cautiously opened the lid; once more I was presented only with the bottom of the chest, and after some careful examination, I found a similar filament wire, also running the length of the chest into the bottom.

"Maybe it's not a trap... Maybe it's a release mechanism to activate something... Maybe it's a way to open a secret door...?"

It was a good theory, and would certainly provide evidence as to why the possible trap mechanism no longer worked, but the filament wire remained intact. As for how such a system would work was beyond me. I could think of a series of different methods such as only one of the chests being opened unlocked the secret place, or only a certain combination... Luckily there were only four chests so the likely number of combinations was minimal. It seemed Amie had had the same idea; she closed the lid of the first chest, waited a few seconds and then came over to me and closed the chest that I was stood next to. Going around to the next one, she opened it and waited a few seconds, before closing it and heading around to the last. She repeated the same actions, but there was still no more movement anywhere.

"Well, we've tried each individually, now let's try the other extreme..."

I looked at her quizzically, not entirely sure what she meant, and she just started laughing at me. I felt a little foolish, and I sometimes had to remind myself that she was likely to be much more intelligent than me, so I was the one that had to keep up.

"When you test extremes, you look at a scenario and look at the extreme inputs that can be achieved. The first extreme input we tried was each chest at a time individually. The polar opposite extreme would be to open them all at the same time. After we've defined those extremes, if there's still no result, we test the intermediate values..."

Suddenly realising what she meant, I went around to each of the other two chests and opened them, whilst she opened the last one. We waited a few seconds, and Amie just shrugged.

"Those are the extreme inputs... Just the intermedi..."

A sharp, grating sound became audible, and we both turned around to stare in the direction it was coming from. The wall on the far side across from the entrance had begun to change; large segments of stone shifted backwards slowly, before stopping. There was a moment of stillness, before the stones then moved off into a hidden niche in the wall. Once all the movement and the grinding noises had stopped, me and Amie were left staring at a new hole in the wall which led to some unknown room.

I moved towards Amie, ensuring that I ventured into the unknown first. Holding the pieces of paper and the pencil in one hand, I grabbed Amie's free hand in mine, and I slowly edged closely to get a better look. Expecting to see another long tunnel leading away into the distance, I was surprised to find that a large open chamber lay within, containing what appeared to be a running fountain... I jokingly said 'ladies first' and she gave me a dry smile...

"Age before beauty..."

Touché... Stepping through the new hole, we cautiously went through to the next chamber, not sure what to expect. Once entering the room, we circled the strange fountain in the centre once to check for traps and other entrances, before heading back around to the entrance. I wonder what the significance of this place was...?

"I wonder what this was used for...? It's just a fountain... Or a pool... Or both... It doesn't seem to hold any significa... Wait! Look!"

Amie pointed towards the side of the fountain between two streams of water, where there were visible signs on the wall of the central part. Looking closer, the signs seemed to be strange letters or characters in an odd language... It wasn't something we could decode with the pig-pen cipher, nor was it any kind of alphabet I had seen before. I doubted it was HoN Co. as this place seemed totally untouched by anyone for ages. Amie went up to it and traced her fingers across the symbols.

"I wonder what they mean...? Do you reckon they were written by the Endermen...?"

That had been my first thought as well. Looking back at the letters, I noticed that there were a few duplications of the letters which may indicate a very similar alphabetic system to our own.

"I think we need to go and tell THEROS about this. We can map it out later, but for now he needs to see this!"

We headed out from the new chamber back into the previous one with the four chests, and back the way we had come, down the stairs, following the route we had taken to get to the fountain. Let's just hope we didn't get lost on the way back.

Syeonyx signing off

Cartographer's apprentices

     We reached the shack in good time, so we would have some time before SERVERE was likely to turn up. Although we didn't know how fast he was able to travel; obviously he wasn't restricted by guard patrols or being seen by any other HoN Co. employee, but he never specified how far exactly he would have to travel. For all we knew, he could be here already, just waiting for us, or he could take days. I preferred the latter as it allowed me to spend more time with Amie, and after a short discussion, I volunteered to go with THEROS and Amie to help map out the area. Initially I was under the assumption that that reason she had given to COLUS to go with us was a lie, but it turns out to be a rather useful way to spend time waiting for SERVERE. On the upside, we might even find something else that might peak our interest. UOPETA would remain in the wooden shack to wait for SERVERE, as he was likely to head through there first before getting to us. Putting all of our bags and equipment down, we rested a short while. We had quite a task ahead of us, THEROS especially. It did begin to make me wonder how exactly we could be of use to him. He was a trained and very efficient cartographer with years of experience and a condition that allowed him to remember vivid detail after leaving an area. I knew some basic map-drawing skills, but nowhere near as good as THEROS.

"It's quite simple; I take one floor and map it out, whilst you and Amie take any floor above or below mine. It might be good to mark certain staircases with something to indicate that floor having been mapped out. A bit of chalk or a pencilled outline of something..."

"Yeah, I think we've got some white chalk. If we just leave a circle with a cross through it, it'll show that that floor has been marked. Best to put one at the base and top of each flight of stairs."

"Well I better let you guys get going then. If SERVERE comes down I'll call you back up and we can sort things out from there."

THEROS, Amie and myself got up and went through the bags placed around our feet on the floor. Taking out a few sheets of course paper and a few pencils, THEROS handed over a few of each to me and Amie, before following him out of the passage into the tunnel. We took the long journey back to the Enderman building through the tunnel filled with lava up to the repaired obsidian bridge. I took the rear when we had to pass single file through the obsidian tunnel, playing the gentleman and protecting Amie from behind. We continued like this up until we entered the building, whereupon she took my hand again. THEROS was already beginning to map out the area of the tunnel, although that seemed relatively simplistic as there was only one direction to go in.

"Right... I'll take this floor whilst you two take the one below. There should be a set of steps leading down to your left after this initial room. I'll give you a few tips: map out the boundary walls first as it will give you an enclosed area to work within. Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. Once the frame's done, the rest is just filling in the blanks. Good luck!"

Still holding hands, we headed forwards and off to the left, and true to his word, a set of steps led down into the unknown. I don't think we had taken this route to get to the portal, so it's likely we'll get lost at some point. Good job we were making the maps then! Amie scrawled a circle onto the wall at the top of steps.

"We'll put the cross in when we're done."

Seemed logical to me...

     I had initially thought that mapping the tunnels, rooms and chambers of this place would be incredibly boring, but I was actually having a lot of fun! It may have something to do with spending a lot of alone time with Amie, and she certainly seemed to be having a whale of a time too! In all seriousness though we were making decent headway as well, so we couldn't really be scolded for having fun at the same time. We were both documenting the same layout at the same time on separate pieces of paper to ensure we captured as much detail as possible. It's likely that THEROS would redraw these at a later date, so if he has two copies to work from, it might be easier to work to a scale with added details. It seemed though that Amie was better at this than me; I was being simplistic by using single lines as the boundary walls, but she had used double lines, and even included a legend! So far she had utilised a series of different symbols within it to display certain elements. Mine just had walls... When she looked at mine, she tried to mask her amusement, but failed miserably, resulting in a drawn out snigger. I pretended to go in a huff and began to walk off slightly ahead, hoping maybe I could get ahead of her in mapping the place out.

"Syeonyx, I'm sorry... It's really very nice..."

I turned around and she was still trying to conceal her sniggering, but doing a better job of it. I stopped and waited for her to catch up before continuing on. This place was larger than it looked; after descending the steps, the large bulky rooms made out that the floor plan was quite small, broken up into smaller units. But the boundary walls were often hard to find, meaning we had to explore further into certain rooms before we could determine whether they were or not. After exiting one room, we went across to the other side of the passage into another, only to find it was actually another staircase leading up. We looked at each other, and then back at the steps wondering where it would lead.

"Well it's going back up, so it should lead back up to the same floor as THEROS... Shouldn't it...?"

I shrugged... I didn't have a clue, but there was only one way to find out.

Cautiously heading up the steps, I was carefully not to make any noise in case it was a level we hadn't been on before, but instead of it opening out into a large chamber, or a series of enclosed rooms, we were instead presented with a long tunnel, lit with torches. There was nothing of interest along the entire stretch of it besides a few cracked bricks and the occasional piece of lichen growing over the surface. Reaching the end, we expected to either see a series of rooms like before, or a continuation of the tunnel itself. Instead we were met with something completely unexpected. Before us was a large open chamber with a strange central pillar in the centre. It was hollowed out, with the supporting sections on each corner, and had a waterfall streaming down through the centre. Amie approached it, looking first up into the pool where the water was likely to be coming from and then down to where it was flowing. She shrugged and came back to me.

"A little odd, but still nothing of interest. The water doesn't lead to any place I can see further into, and it doesn't seemed to be flowing from anywhere above we can get to... But it's definitely not on the same floor as THEROS. I think we would have recognised that if it was..."

We circled the central section, looking for anything that indicate a purpose to it, but could find nothing. There was only one other exit as well which led off to the right from the tunnel. Heading over to it, we noticed it was another set of stairs that led up and then around to the left. We were blatantly on pure exploration mode now; neither of us had been drawing anything for the past few minutes, so we would have to backtrack at some point and catch up with ourselves. Heading around to the left, we found the stairs continue back around on itself still heading up, and a small tunnel led straight from it to another chamber ahead of us. The chamber was exactly the same in construction to the one below us; a central column, hollowed out with a flow of water passing down through the ceiling. Only this time there were a series of chests placed around the column. The room didn't seem to possess any other entrance of exits so at least this was the end of our exploration. We moved into the room, eyes drawn to the chests that surrounded the centre, wondering what could possibly be contained within them... They seemed old, really old; the wood looked like it was beginning to petrify, and the hinges attached to the lid had seen better days too. Amie went up to one, and with a single deep breath, she swiftly opened it and stepped back!

Rushing forwards, I was under the assumption that she had seen something or triggered something that had made her leap back, but instead she had done it for safety reasons.

"Everyone knows you don't just stand there whilst slowly opening an obscure container. That's just asking for trouble!"

That was true, and it reminded me of the time I found those two chests close to my house; I had reacted in the exact same way, and I was even fully geared up with iron armour to protect myself! Better to be safe than sorry. We both stepped forward and peered into the chest expecting to find something of value; books, an Eye or Ender, anything that might help us, but there was nothing. The bottom of the chest was the only thing that met us. Feeling slightly defeated, I began to feel around the bottom of the chest hoping to find something hidden or maybe a secret layer to the chest, but there was nothing at all. That was really odd... Pulling my head out, I looked at the rest of the chest, wondering whether there were any other clues. Trying to lift it, I admitted defeat pretty quickly as it soon became apparent they weren't going anywhere... Then I noticed something... It was so small and almost imperceptible that I wasn't surprised I hadn't seen it initially, and even when I had it took a few moments to realise what it was. A think piece of filament wire ran the length of the side of the chest lid, down the inside past the hinge and down into the main floor of the chest. What could that be linked to...? It was almost as though it was designed to trigger something when opened... A trap! I grabbed Amie and threw her to one side before jumping on top of her, protecting her from the expected explosion. But there was nothing... Even more odd...

Syeonyx signing off

Waiting for SERVERE's return

     Since heading the idea that the outpost may have been abandoned because of the loss of the obsidian plant, I had suddenly become obsessed with the idea that we would emerge from the Northern entrance only to be surrounded by hundreds of HoN Co. guards... Don't ask why, but that's all I could think about as we made our way back through the outpost. I had made a precautionary check over the side of the walls of the first platform before heading any further, but I still wasn't comfortable despite the total lack of any approaching threat from any direction. The most worrying part was yet to come; treading along the narrow corridor carefully, I expected an guard to jump from the shadows of one the cells and ambush us, although my next worry was the entrance itself... How were we to know that there wasn't a dozen or so HoN Co. guards lying in wait, ready to jump us the moment we emerged? If that did happen, it would suggest they had been watching us for some time; with nowhere to hide, they'd easily take us down as they would know before hand how many of us there are. As we ascended the steps up to the top, my heart-rate quickened, and I began to feel slightly light-headed. Natural light from outside burst through the open door, blinding me temporarily. I tried everything I could to avoid going into a full blown panic, and I almost physically flinched when we finally emerged from the entrance. Looking around, there wasn't a single soul around besides UOPETA and THEROS, and I let out a long, audible sigh of relief. I gave UOPETA an awkward smile as he turned back to look at me, a bemused look on his face. Thank goodness for that! Let's get back to base as quickly as possible!

----

     As we stepped into the lab, everyone working inside stopped what they were doing and looked in our direction. Immediately, I sought out Amie, and when our eyes met, her face lit up with elation. She began to run towards, and I opened my arms to receive her, embracing her in a welcoming hug that I had wanted to give her since leaving for the outpost. For a few moments, nothing around me mattered; I had no cares, no worries, no responsibilities... Nothing had any worth to me for those few short seconds I spent staring into her eyes. After a moment or two, I noticed her eyes take on a glistening shine, and it looked like she was beginning to well up with tears. But she smiled again and kissed me, likely because she sensed that I had noticed that. But I was brought abruptly back down to Earth with a thud by the sound of COLUS clearing his throat loudly, blatantly trying to get our attention, and not to void his throat of an obstruction...

"If you two love birds are done we can get back to the matter at hand. I'm sure there will be plenty of time for that later..."

Amie slowly slid her arms down from around my shoulders as her cheeks began to flush a brilliant scarlet. She went back to the desk she had been working at, looking down at her feet as she passed COLUS, seemingly sheepishly, as though she had been told off by a teacher. After finishing up in the lab, COLUS called a meeting including everyone to allow us to pass on what we found. Or what we didn't find in this case...

     COLUS didn't seem at all surprised when we came back empty-handed, admitting to knowing there was a chance that we wouldn't find anything there anyway. However, he was intrigued to learn that the outpost now showed signs of total abandonment. We told him that there wasn't a single guard anywhere near the place, and as well as from every cell door being open, there wasn't a single scrap of paper in the place. Especially nothing that would help us find these five Eyes of Ender...

"Was there anything else there that might suggest it's been abandoned? Or possibly being knocked down...?"

"There was no sign of life there at all, and everything we came across points to it being abandoned. I don't think it'll be destroyed."

"I was wondering if it would be worth possibly occupying that space if they can no longer make use of it, but it wouldn't be a very secure place to take shelter in. There are multiple points of entry and if you're trapped in the tower, you're pretty much done for..."

"What now then...? Short of either waiting for SERVERE to return or heading North and trying to find the HoN Co. headquarters ourselves, there's little else we can do..."

"Well, that seems to be the only available option really. If you three return to the wooden shack and wait for SERVERE there. He's most likely to return there than this base so you'll hopefully learn first if he's found anything. If he comes here, we can redirect him down to you."

"I'd like to go with them..."

COLUS looked at Amie, and then looked at me; I could tell from the look on his face exactly the reason she wanted to come with us, but gave her the option to explain her reasoning behind it.

"I can help THEROS document the layout of the old building we found with the portal. It might help for future excursions into that place, and reduce the time it takes to find it again."

I could see COLUS pretending to weigh up the usefulness of this excuse, but I could tell from his expression he was going to say yes. He eventually said yes and seemed incredibly excited about it. She quickly reigned in her excitement however, and joined us in getting ready. We headed down to the wooden shack where we were to wait for SERVERE. On the way down, Amie and I held hands, following UOPETA and THEROS.

"I could tell he was going to say yes too..."

Beautiful, intelligent, witty, fun and perceptive...

Syeonyx signing off

Day 142: Data husk

     I forgot how invigorating it felt to awake to only the elements surrounding you, and to set eyes on the first rays of light piercing the Eastern horizon. The fire had all but died out by this point, leaving only burning embers and ash. The rain hadn't started up again, and looking up into the sky, it seemed like it wouldn't return at all; a perfectly clear sky which began a dark blue, slowly beginning to brighten. Instead of starting a new fire up to have breakfast, we instead decided to have something that didn't require cooking. Afterwards we packed up our sleeping gear, kicked the remaining embers away to prevent them from catching again, and headed out to the boat. THEROS would be first to row today, so he settled into the rowing seat whilst me and UOPETA pushed the boat out into deeper water. Climbing onto either side to balance it, we settled in for a long journey. I took over THEROS's position of keeping us on track by comparing our position against the map. From the island we had to just stay on course and continue heading due South towards the tower. It wouldn't be too long now until we reached the edge of the coast where we would have to disembark and continue on foot. We still hadn't decided whether we were going to head in through the entrance set off to the North, or head right up to the tower.

"If we head up to the tower immediately then we make the journey shorter, but we risk being seen from the tower platform above us. If we go through the entrance to the North then it takes a little longer to get there, but we've less chance of being seen."

"True, but if SERVERE is right, we've got a better chance of being surrounded by guards if they catch us. Although it would allow for us to check if HoN Co. are holding any other miners."

"The Northern entrance it is then..."

In the distance the outpost began to rise out from behind the hill. As we got closer, so too did the Northern entrance. Instead of heading straight to it, we edged off to the East so as to not draw attention to ourselves. We had to assume that security had been bumped up massively to the point where there could potentially be guards on the outside of the entrance to the tower. After securing the boat, we let UOPETA take the lead allowing him to safely scout out the area ahead. We headed South from our position taking us onto a slight rise that allowed UOPETA to look out across the tower. There were definitely no guards on the outside, but that didn't mean there wasn't anyone inside. Once satisfied UOPETA headed down to the other side of the hill towards the entrance. Once there, UOPETA peered through the opening in the door, before opening it slowly with the switch above. There was no sign of human life so far, so we continued down the stairs towards the second set of doors. Still no-one... We managed to reach the doors that flanked either side of the thin corridor; the one to the left led to the sewage outlet that I escaped via, and to the right was the room I was questioned in... Still no-one...

"Where is everyone...? It's like they just upped and left."

"Maybe they've concentrated their security forces higher up, or spread out across the area. Or maybe they no longer deem this place to be a viable place to throw resources at any more..."

We headed down the corridor with all of the cells lining the walls, but each and every door was open. There was definitely no-one being kept in any of them, so why were they open, and where were the guards? We managed to make it all the way along to the end of the corridor and up into the main section, and still not a single guard!

"Right then. It's entirely possible that all of the guards are up on the next level or higher so we're going to have to be extra careful from here on..."

UOPETA began to climb one side of the ladder whilst I climbed the other. THEROS remained at the bottom until one of us reached the top, just in case we had to make a hasty retreat. But we both made it to the next level without drawing any attention to ourselves. Waiting for THEROS to meet us, I sent a quizzical look in UOPETA's direction, and he just shrugged. Taking a moment to look out across the area around us, I got the feeling UOPETA was expecting to see a few guards, but there was no-one around at all in any direction. Was it possible that HoN Co. no longer made use of this tower?

"Up to the final level. I don't think we've got anything to worry about. If they're not this far, they're not likely to be any higher..."

We individually made our way up to the top of the tower within the upper most room. It had contained mass amounts of files and information, and we had learned of the obsidian plant here. Then it struck me! Mid way through the climb, I got an idea as to why this place seemed totally abandoned, but I obviously waited until we all reached the room at the top. Not surprisingly, the room was practically bare; only a few chairs and a chest remained, and even that was empty. Turning to UOPETA and THEROS, I told them my suspicions; when we destroyed the obsidian plant, had we also cut off the need for this outpost to remain?

"That's a good point... Those letters we found that seemed to be a communication between two of the HoN Co. officials indicated that this outpost had some connection to the plant. If that went then it's possible this place was no longer needed..."

"But why would this place become useless to them...? It still has enough use to them to maintain, surely...?"

"True, but this place was likely to hold captured miners before being sent off to the plant to be put to work. If there's no plant, there's no need to hold miners, so there's no need for this place..."

"So where did they go...?"

"They've likely to have gone back to the main headquarters with all of the information. They've been very meticulous; I can't find even a scrap of paper left..."

"What now then? Do we return to the base empty handed...?"

"Looks like we have no choice..."

One by one, we headed back down to the sub-basement of the area before heading North towards the entrance, back through the cells. It seemed slightly odd that the entire building had been entirely abandoned over a small thing as the destruction of their obsidian plant... I didn't mind though because it meant we were heading back. Hopefully SERVERE would be back with us soon and would have access to more information that could prove useful to us... That and I was heading back to Amie.

Syeonyx signing off

Choppy journey

     UOPETA flicked the external switch to close the door behind us, hiding it again afterwards by placing a large rock in front of the opening. Form here we would have to make our way down and around the cliff mine to the South where we had hidden the boat after using it the last time. Let's just hope that firstly, that it was still there after all this time, and secondly, it was still in a good enough condition to use safely. I am very proud of my handiwork when I finished that boat, and I even impressed myself when I waterproofed it using tree resin. Logically that boat should last us years! Then again, I did have to saw it into two pieces once to be able to drag it from one side of my wall to the other. That was likely to weaken its structural integrity, but we had used it quite a few times since and we hadn't sunk yet, even with three of us in it at once!

"So, uh Syeonyx? Have you and Amie got something going on between you...?"

As soon as UOPETA mentioned Amie's name I couldn't help but think back to the kiss we had shared back at the base entrance... She was... So many things; beautiful, intelligent, witty, fun... We had shared a few moments together now, and I was beginning to think something was going on between the two of us. But I thought it was a little early to say anything to anyone else just yet. Although it seems everyone else is quite good at observing the obvious; we had hardly kept the small moments between us a secret. I mean, why would we? We had nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of.

"Syeonyx!"

I was snapped out of my daydream immediately. I fumbled and pretended I hadn't heard him right, asking UOPETA to repeat the question. In reality I had heard him perfectly well the first time, but by asking him again, I was granted a few saving grace seconds to think of an answer that seemed believable. But I didn't really need the extra time. I knew the answer! Well, I knew my answer. The only real question was did Amie's answer to this question match mine...

"Well...? Yes, no, or is it complicated...?"

The latter option seemed the most enticing to me at that moment; I had feelings for her definitely, and technically she had feelings for me too. Heck, she kissed me first! I couldn't think of any better sign that could tell me what her true feelings were... That was enough. In the end I answered 'yes'... UOPETA smiled at me and patted my shoulder, whilst THEROS continued on looking at the map, seemingly unfazed by my answer. UOPETA began to real off this long speech about how we were 'made for each other' and that we 'made a good couple'... He didn't shut up until we reached the boat, and even then he continued on about it... The odd thing was it didn't annoy me. Well, it didn't annoy me anywhere near as much as I thought it would. It was like rubbing it in, only in reverse... I was the one who had something to brag about, and yet UOPETA was the one making all the comments... Luckily though me and THEROS designated him to row for the first stretch of the journey, and he found talking and rowing exhausting. I got the feeling THEROS was beginning to grow annoyed of his voice too...

----

     We've had to call it a day a little earlier than initially intended. At about the quarter way point, we swapped over and I was put in the rowing seat. I wasn't bothered all that much as it was a boring task that allowed me to purposely think about other things. I could just sort of set my arms on autopilot and let my mind wander, like I had done so many times before. Within minutes of beginning, I was thinking about Amie already, and again I felt alone, despite THEROS and UOPETA being less than three feet away from me. Being away from her almost made me sad, and it was then that I truly realised that I did have proper feelings for her. I just hoped that she reciprocated... Within an hour or so of rowing from the quarter way point, it began to rain, rather heavily. It wasn't anything we hadn't encountered before, but as we neared the halfway point, the water began to get rather choppy, and UOPETA seemed concerned about ending up capsizing... THEROS scanned his map for any areas close by where we could make camp, and the only logical place was about fifteen minutes further South. It was a small island out in the middle of the water, so it was highly unlikely any HoN Co. guards were there. I battled the currents for a further ten minutes before the island came in to view. Not wanting to gun it and risk turning us over, I took it slowly. We were soaked by the time we reached the island, so when we jumped out to drag the boat on land we weren't fazed at all. We quickly secured the boat and sought shelter in the trees a little further along. Once there, THEROS immediately got a fire going beneath the canopy of a large tree. This would prevent the fire being put out by the torrential rain. But as luck would have it, as soon as the fire began to gain strength, the rain stopped almost as quickly as it had started!

"Good job this island was here. We'd have had a right job trying to land the boat along the shore. The rain was driving North, so this island broke the force of it enough for us to get here."

"Can I be the first to say I'm not a fan of boats... Not now anyway..."

UOPETA went into his bag and fetched out a few bits and pieces, including a feet slabs of meat, which he put onto the fire. Within minutes the sweet smell of cooked beef began to waft our way. We too were also gaining benefit from the fire, as we were beginning to dry nicely.

"We've got tomorrow to look at the tower. Hopefully we get there with no further issues. Let's just hope that either us or SERVERE find something about the Eyes we're meant to find. Or we're stuck..."

We settled in for the night, feasting on succulent meat and talking long into the night about what we're likely to expect, and how to deal with it. Like SERVERE said, the security is likely to have increased quite a bit, and not only are we looking for anything related to the Endermen, we may as well check in on the cells beneath the tower. There hadn't been any other people there last time we checked, but that didn't mean there wouldn't be this time. I just wanted to go in, get out and head back to Amie. It was almost becoming painful not being around her... As pathetic as that sounds...

Syeonyx signing off

Day 141: Saying our goodbye's

     Despite all that has gone on over the past couple of days, the early night really allowed me to get a great night's sleep! When I was finally awakened in the early hours of the morning, I half expected to see either Ami, THEROS or UOPETA at the door, trying to wake me up. But instead, I was actually awakened by Chiron, who was stood on top of me on the bed, sniffing my face with his cold, wet nose. After realising what was going on, I playfully pushed him aside and sat up on my right elbow, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. I got the feeling that Chiron knew something I didn't; he say there wagging his tail and panting rather excitedly, which he never really did in the mornings. I got up, dressed myself and headed out the door, only to have Chiron bound after me. I spent the better part of ten minutes trying to convince him to stay in my room,but he was having none of it. In the end, he accompanied me to breakfast. As THEROS and UOPETA woke up and joined me at the table, they took looked rather confused about Chiron being sat beside me, looking very happy about something...

"What's up with Chiron...? He's not usually like this in the morning..."

I shrugged, telling them that he was likely trying to tell me something I didn't yet know about, or of something that I was currently unaware... I still hadn't decided if that was a good thing or a bad thing, considering the recent circumstances.

"I don't know... Dogs are usually really good at picking up on things much earlier than humans. They're supposed to be really good at picking up stark changes in human emotion, that would otherwise be unnoticed..."

"Since when were you the expert on dogs? If that's the case then you've got to be giving out a good vibe for him to be acting like that."

If that was the case then it was very odd indeed; I didn't feel any different to how I normally felt. I hadn't done anything differently to how I normally do things, and aside from the recent events involving the Endermen, I hadn't really thought about things differently either...

"Maybe he can sense that we're close to the end of our campaign against HoN Co.! Maybe he's picked up on everyone's heightened sense of success!"

"'Heightened sense of success...'? I don't think any of us are feeling like that. We've got a long way to go before we can feel like that. And if it were the former, that would suggest that dogs could look into the future. Or at least Chiron could anyway..."

"How do you know they can't? It's not like we can ask them about it..."

"If Chiron could see int the future, I can guarantee he wouldn't be here right now. The moment he saw Syeonyx, he'd be like 'Uh oh, trouble seems to follow him! I'm staying well away...'"

Trouble? What trouble? I played along with the joke, pretending that I was genuinely offended by his comment, and I couldn't really understand where he was coming from with a statement like that...

"You know what I mean. We've all experienced the same hell so he'd have the same response to all of us if he'd seen us initially. That is under the hypothetical assumption he can see into the future."

Looking down at Chiron, he stopped panting and cocked his head to one side, his tail still wagging furiously. I somehow doubted that, but then again there was so little we knew it was possible... Then again, anything was if the stuff we've experienced is anything to go by... COLUS came in from his room at this point and seemed happy to see the three of us already awake and getting ready.

"Are you ready to set out ASAP?"

We all nodded, knowing that giving the answer 'no' wasn't acceptable. COLUS ran us through the plan of action one last time: we were to head off to the outpost, tower thing, search fir any information or data relating to Endermen, The End, Eyes of Ender or the portal and come back with it.

"I'm afraid Chiron will have to remain here, for your safety. But on the plus side I'm allowing you to leave through the cliff mine entrance. It's still locked from the inside, so it'll allow you access into and out of the base with reasonable security. Just be careful about your actions and don't draw attention to yourselves. Good luck!"

COLUS left us to finish our breakfast which we hastily finished before preparing a few things we would need for the journey. Food, sleeping gear, blowpipe and darts, pickaxe, map and a few other odds and ends. Once packed and ready to go, we headed for the entrance to the base where we could access the cliff mine and head out to the surface through there. Ami was waiting for us at the entrance, and she said her goodbye's to us as we left. Before I passed through into the tunnel, she grabbed my arm, spun me back around and kissed me. I froze... I'd never been in this position before, and I didn't really know how to react. After she stopped, she looked down a little sheepishly, as her cheeks began to flush with colour.

"Good luck... Come back safely, wont you..."

I was under the impression that she felt ashamed about the kiss, and maybe she thought I wasn't really into it. Reaching out my hand to hers, I lifted it up and held it softly. She looked up and smiled. I leant forward and kissed her. Her cheeks practically aglow now, she tried to hide her face, but I brought her eyes level with mine by pushing her chin up with a finger on my free hand. I smiled and told her I would be back in no time. Letting go of her hand, I instantly felt something odd well up within me. I turned to go, and headed out towards the tunnel. For the first time in my life I had felt... Alone...

Preparation for a raid!

     OROTHO continued trying to take one of the Eyes out from its holder, but it remained stuck where it was. It seemed that once placed inside, they remained there until the portal became active. I suppose that was a good thing because it potentially prevented anyone trying to sabotage another's attempts at activating it. Not that it helped us much. Even with only five Eyes left to find, we still wouldn't know where to look. We had maps for possible portal locations and possible HoN Co. operational sites, but not for strange objects contained in the Nether. I doubted even HoN Co. would have any idea about them, unless... Unless they were the ones who had already placed the first seven in... But that didn't add up as there was no other way into this place that we could find. However we hadn't searched the entirety of it, but judging from its maze-like construction, I doubted we ever would.

"What about HoN Co.? Have they found any information telling them about this? Maybe they found something which pointed them in the right direction..."

"I don't know... I wasn't able to gain access to much of the system because of the security protocols in place. It blocked access to the more sensitive stuff..."

"Is there any way you could gain access to that information? With no other leads, this is literally our only direction we could head in..."

"I can try, but I doubt I can get much further than I did last time. I might have to take a few risks. The system is secured by a physical lock as well as passwords... I know who has those passwords, so I suppose I could make use of this suit and find out what they are..."

"Good! Meanwhile you three can check on the status of the master portal and the primary portals. See how much time we have on our hands..."

"Actually it might make more sense for them to head over to the tower off to the far South... There might be a few documents that could indicate a more accurate direction to head in."

"Tower...? HoN Co. tower? I thought that was where you were going? Syeonyx was imprisoned there for a few days after being captured by HoN Co. ..."

"Oh no, that's not where I'm going. That's just an outpost. They occasionally post important HoN Co. dignitaries there which sometimes results in documents being left behind. No no, the place I'm going is the main HoN Co. headquarters. That's way off to the North."

"Oh! Well... How do you mean it's just an outpost?"

"HoN Co. have a series of towers set up as outposts all across this region because of the master portal. When the scientists and officials aren't at the master portal, they're likely to be in a nearby outpost, waiting for pickup."

"So you think it's worth checking the outpost to see if any documents pertaining to this portal have been left behind?"

"It wouldn't be the first time... But obviously be careful; they've been beefing up security a lot recently, and last I heard the conducting tower is going to be nigh on impossible to get to. If you find anything, act on it quickly!"

We all headed back over the strange levitating bridge, across to the other side, and spent the better part of half an hour following UOPETA back out. It was a good sight to see the mouth of the obsidian tunnel before us, but I think next time we need to leave a trail so it becomes a faster operation...

     SERVERE left us outside the wooden shack, allowing the rest of us to continue on up to the base. He said that he had already spent too much time with us and was worried he might be drawing attention to himself. As SERVERE never really stated how far away this main HoN Co. headquarters was, we can only assume if it's far up North, then we've got plenty of time to search the tower. Well, outpost now... COLUS says that there's no point starting the journey off now, but when we do, we should take my boat again. It's faster and more direct, even if it is a little more dangerous. It was more or less due South the entire way. Although we had to ensure the boat was still in working order. We hadn't use it for a while and the last we had seen of it was when we had piled leaves on top of it in its usual hiding place. That would be the first task of tomorrow, so we had to guarantee we got a good night's sleep. COLUS arranged a meeting in the discussion room to get everything sorted and out of the way first. To make sure everyone was on the same level. Amie's still being really quiet about the whole incident, but nods occasionally when she agrees with certain experiences with the Enderman. I was initially under the suspicion that she had experienced a different vision or something as she hadn't really said that much since we had found the portal. She had also remained with me quite a lot; when we had all gone off to our separate rooms to calm down for a few minutes before the meeting, I found her waiting for me outside my door. She smiled and followed me to the discussion room. Now here, she's seated next to me, something else she's never done before.

"So it's settled then. THEROS, UOPETA and Syeonyx will head over to the outpost and look for any information linked to the portal we found. Meanwhile the rest of us will prepare a few supplies and equipment for a trip to the Nether. We then wait for either you three to return with something we can work with, or SERVERE."

"But if SERVERE doesn't ever come into our base for security reasons, how are we going to find out when he's returned."

"Knowing SERVERE, we'll probably meet him on our way back to the base. It's happened so many times before it's practically becoming predictable."

We continued to discuss the events after that; we were to head into the Nether, find the Eyes of Ender, if we could, return, and head over to the portal. We would then activate it and myself, THEROS and UOPETA would head in to retrieve the Keystone. There was no sense in all of us going, just in case it was a trap, or if HoN Co. were waiting to destroy the portal behind us. If everything went to plan, we would return with the Keystone, head to the tower and find a way in. I've got a feeling that all of us would be heading that way, and an entire operation to just get inside would need to be devised based on the amount of security SERVERE said there would be there. Once there, we would place the Keystone into the open site of an active primary portal and wait. Hopefully everything would go according to plan, but I knew right then that it wouldn't. There were far too many places it could go wrong; complications and errors in judgement were going to mess something up. Let's just hope it wasn't too serious...

"Right, well it's probably best if we all get some rest. It's going to be a tough few days ahead of us, especially for you three."

We all headed off to our rooms; Amie remained with me up until reaching my room. She held my hand, looked at me and smiled.

"Goodnight Syeonyx..."

I paused a moment, said goodnight, and watched her go off to her own room. Staring at the front of my door for a few moments, I then opened it and went inside. I wonder if she likes me...?

Syeonyx signing off

Next step anyone...?

     The platform seemed to be supported purely by a single pillar of stone, positioned directly beneath it in the centre. However, looking further into the room, we couldn't see anything else holding it up. This included a pathway to get over to it. There was no path that we could see that led directly over to the platform. Instead there was a large drop right before us to the bottom of the chamber, which was shrouded in almost total darkness.

"Is that the portal we're looking for...?"

UOPETA shrugged and peered over the edge of the path hoping to see something that could help us get across, but he just shrugged again.

"I don't know... We're not going to be able to find out at this rate either. There's no visible path that I can see and there's no rubble below indicating that the bridge over to it has collapsed. I don't know whether the lack of rubble or the lack of a bridge is a good thing..."

"Could the bridge be invisible...? Maybe it's a bridge that only exists physically in the Aether, but isn't visible as result..."

"Are you serious? Where did that theory come from?"

"Look, we've encountered a lot of weird stuff in our time... A trans-dimensional bridge that's invisible wouldn't be one of the weirder ones, I can tell you that."

UOPETA turned back to face the gap and went to place his right foot forward, as though he was continuing across to the platform. Instead of his foot hitting a solid surface, it passed beneath the edge of the path and he stumbled forward slightly. THEXIS grabbed his arm just in case, and when UOPETA had composed himself, he turned around and gave OROTHO a stern look.

"It was worth a try..."

Then we heard a low, guttural sound emanating from somewhere inside the chamber, and UOPETA span around to look inside! We couldn't see anything, and oddly enough it wasn't followed by a whistle, which usually it had done. None of us had disappeared either, so it was likely to mean something else. Were the Endermen trying to contact us again...? Without warning, the harsh sound of stone grating against stone was audible, and UOPETA immediately looked down over the edge once more. When he turned back, he had a look of shock on his face, and merely pointed below the edge. Curious, I left Amie at the back of the group and pushed forwards. Getting to UOPETA, he just continued to point down. Holding on to UOPETA's arm, I looked down to where he was pointing, and could see nothing... Wait! Something was moving! As I peered into the darkness below, I could make out the movement of a large portion of stone; long and thin, it appeared to rise out from the stone chamber itself, and it continued to move inexorably upwards towards us!

We stood away from the edge, and watched as the long stone bridge continued to rise, now making no sound at all, until it was in line with the edge of the path on our side and the platform holding the supposed portal on the far side. UOPETA looked back at COLUS, who nodded, before turning back around. UOPETA once again tentatively placed one foot on the bridge to test if it was stable and secure. I can only assume he was testing to make sure it was even there! And not just some mirage or figment of our imagination... When his foot touched the surface, it made contact with the stone and went no further. The stone bridge also remained still, and UOPETA transferred his entire weight onto it. Standing there with his back to fully on the bridge, he was sure it was secure enough for us all to walk across. He stepped back onto the path and looked back at COLUS.

"Right, we can't guarantee the stability of that bridge, so we'll go across one at a time. No-one go across at the same time as any other. UOPETA, you go first."

UOPETA turned back around, ready to cross the bridge.

Placing his right foot onto the surface once more, he then transferred his entire weight onto the first few inches, before continuing across at a slow but steady pace. He made it to the centre of the bridge, before stopping and making the fatal mistake of looking down into the murky blackness below. I for one knew that you were never supposed to do that when suspended above a high fall, but UOPETA looked back up seemingly unfazed by it, and continued across. Once he got to the other side, COLUS crossed over, followed then by THEROS, THEXIS, AMPHIS, Joe, OROTHO, Amie, me and finally SERVERE. Once across on the platform, we circled the strange construction in the centre, peering over the side of what appeared to be a giant bowl.

"Is this the portal...?"

"It must be... Look!"

OROTHO pointed to the strange objects that were positioned in small openings on each of the twelve main sections of the frame. There looked like odd spheres with strange symbols on them; a main slit forming across the entire length of each pointed in one direction, as it did with every one of them. The main frame itself seemed to be comprised of an odd, sickly yellow stone with strange markings on them. Each had a strange top, as though it had been hollowed out and had this strange cover placed within the newly formed hole, allowing the strange objects to sit.

"These just be the Eyes of Ender... But... Why are some already here...? I thought they were all in the Nether...?"

OROTHO ran his fingers across one of the strange objects, trying to pry it from the hole of one of the stone pieces, but it remained where it was. In the centre of the portal however, was an alarmingly large pool of lava, which sat in the centre, bubbling and spitting occasionally.

"Now what...? We've found the portal... Do we go out and find the Eyes of Ender...?"

"That would be the next logical step, but..."

"But? But what?"

"Who's recovered these Eyes already...? Maybe HoN Co. has access to this place after all! With or without the help of the Endermen, I'm sure they would work out how to activate it on their own..."

"True, but that doesn't help us. Even if we do go back to the base and head to the active portal, we've no way of knowing where to look for the Eyes... There's no map, and the Endermen gave no indication of locations in that vision..."

We all stood there, staring at the portal wondering what the next step was. Without access to a list of locations for these Eyes of Ender, we couldn't really proceed. But judging from the looks of it, someone had been busy already; seven Eyes already sat in their respective places, which left only five. I couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not...

Syeonyx signing off

Around in circles...

     COLUS remained with us, despite all of us thinking that he would be shortly following SERVERE. Instead he remained where he was standing looking as confused as we were. A few minutes later, SERVERE appeared out of nowhere looking incredibly disorientated. Leaning against the wall trying to catch his breath, we all went over to him to see if he was okay.

"What did you see? Did you see the Endermen? Did you learn about the Keystone and how it ties in with the master portal?"

SERVERE stood against the wall, quiet for the time it took to gain his breath before standing up, inhaling sharply once and beginning his account of what he experienced. We found out it was very different to what we experienced, and we all began to get worried.

"No no, nothing like that... Well... I was just standing here, then I felt nauseous and had to close my eyes. When I opened them I was face to face with this... Thing. It was gripping me by my arms and screaming in my face! There was all this other noise, and strange shapes in the background, before a flash of light. After opening my eyes again, I was in this strange place. It was oddly quiet, and there were more of the same creatures everywhere. But there was only one that seemed to take any notice of me... It knew my name. It said... It said 'You are not of pure intention. Be gone from this place!', before grabbing me again and throwing me back."

"Are you sure? Didn't it say anything about Keystones...?"

"That image was incredibly vivid, and I don't remember anything like that..."

"Odd... We're all working towards the same goal, and yet you receive a different response... I wonder what it meant by that...? 'You are not of pure intention.'..."

"It probably thought I was part of HoN Co. from the suit I was wearing..."

"I hope so... But why wasn't I taken as well? Why did I remain here...? I've never been here before."

"No idea, but there's no sense in just wasting time worrying about that now. We all know why we're here, so let's find this portal!"

UOPETA led the way, with SERVERE, myself and Amie at the back. Looking back over my shoulder, SERVERE looked incredibly shocked by something, and was less coordinated than usual. He was more stumbling than walking, and was staring at the floor the entire time. It was a little odd, but then again we couldn't all guarantee the outcome after an experience like that. I bet everyone else was like that when they returned...

     We had been wandering around this place for some time now, probably a few hours; with UOPETA in front, we thought we could find the portal relatively quickly. But the size and complexity of this place was insane! Every corridor looked the same! Each corridor had random rooms containing only lit torches and no other indication the portal direction or any other object. The stone brick walls all looked identical, and on a number of occasions, I was under the impression we were going around in circles.

Each room or wall partition possessed the same grating at the base of it, as though there was a purpose to them. I was beginning to wonder whether there were used to allow water to drain away, but from the layout of the place, it was hard to determine where it drained to. It was deep underground, so was it possible it was often flooded by underground springs? Or maybe... maybe this building had actually been on the surface at some point, and eventually, over time, it had become buried. It was entirely constructed of stone bricks though, even the ceiling, which suggested this was one huge complex. It was certainly disorientating...

"UOPETA, do you know where you're going? I'm sure we've seen this place before..."

"No I don't know my way around this place, obviously, but I know we haven't been here before. Trying to determine the correct direction to go in is hard when this building doesn't seem to comply with any of the basics that we know as standard building layouts. There are just rooms and openings everywhere, but with no indication of where they lead..."

Going around a corner to the right, we found the first change in the layout since entering the place; a stone staircase leading up suggested an entirely new layer to this building, which possessed the question: how many staircases were there...?

UOPETA led us around for some time after the initial staircase, and despite the small glimmer of hope after finding it, it was quickly quashed when we found little else of interest or value.

"Where are these writings and scriptures that you say HoN Co. found...? I thought there were engraved into the wall or something..."

"Some of them were, but most were on pieces of paper, similar in construction to the paper we use. The ones on the walls were lifted out, brick by brick and taken back with the exploration team."

"So there are potentially some large holes around here which indicate HoN Co. have been here?"

"Somewhere yes, but I don't know where. I don't even know where their entrance to this place is! If this is only one building that belonged to the Endermen, then it's likely the writings were right."

"How do you mean? I thought you said you had very little access to them...?"

"I do, but I found mention of the word 'city' amongst the data collected by them, which could mean this building is one of many. Maybe hundreds, or even thousands. The Endermen were meant to be an advanced civilisation... Who knows how far they spread out..."

We continued following UOPETA until we found something else of intrigue, which a few of us thought was a clear sign we were going in circles. A staircase, this time leading up hinted as though we were indeed going in circles, but after climbing to the top and finding a long, straight tunnel, everyone stopped complaining.

"I think we might be on the right track..."

Following it all the way down, it wasn't long before in the distance we could make out a small room which seemed brightly lit. If my expectations were anything to go by, then everyone was likely to be in an excited state of mind right now. But as we drew closer, we were able to see that it was merely a room containing a staircase, leading up again. We searched the small room for a few minutes, to see if there was anything more to it, but found nothing... Ascending the stairs first, we followed UOPETA. The stairs were much shorter this time, and once again led to a tunnel, but this was almost shorter. In fact we could make out a small construct ahead of us. It looked like a platform was suspended above a plinth...

"I think we may have found... Something..."

Syeonyx signing off